The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread

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This is the BEST vegan pumpkin bread you’ll try! It’s incredibly moist and tender, uses simple ingredients, and features a homemade pumpkin spice blend that takes the flavor over the top. A must make during pumpkin season!
Prep 15 mins
Cook 55 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins
5 from 83 votes

This is, hands down, the best vegan pumpkin bread. It’s moist and tender, not too dense like many pumpkin breads, and is packed with a warming homemade pumpkin spice! It’s loved by tough critics and vegan skeptics, and unless you announce it ahead of time, no one will ever guess it’s vegan!

Plus, it’s so simple to make and no fancy baking equipment is needed. It’s adapted from my fan-favorite easy Vegan Banana Bread recipe, so you know it’s gonna be good! 

Serve it plain for breakfast or afternoon snack. For dessert, dress it up with one of two icing options: a sweet and nutty maple tahini icing or a decadent cream cheese frosting!

Table of Contents
1. Why this recipe works
2. Ingredient notes
3. Step-by-step instructions
4. Tips for making this recipe
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. YouTube recipe video
7. Recipe card

vegan pumpkin bread with icing on a wooden cutting board

Why this recipe works

Not too dense or heavy

Pumpkin puree is itself very dense, and vegan loaf cakes are often too dense. As a result, most vegan pumpkin breads are too dense and heavy. 

Despite the natural density of pumpkin bread, this pumpkin bread recipe is the most tender and moist variety I’ve tried, thanks to two ingredients: aquafaba and vegan buttermilk.

The type of vegan egg substitute used in baking use should depend on the type of baked good you’re making and your desired texture. With a cake, light and fluffy is always good. When you lightly whip aquafaba, it turns foamy. This, in turn, gives a nice lift to cakes and makes them fluffier.

While this pumpkin bread isn’t fluffy per se, it is significantly more tender than most.

As for the vegan “buttermilk,” its acidity—when combined with baking soda in the oven—enhances the amount of rise in the bread. 

Real pumpkin spice and flavor

Many pumpkin desserts are lackluster because (1) not enough pumpkin spice is used and (2) a store-bought pumpkin spice blend is used.

This recipe calls for 4 teaspoons of a homemade pumpkin spice blend, so that pumpkin flavor really comes through.

Tip: Spices lose some of their potency shortly after being ground. As a result, any store-bought spice will be less flavorful than its freshly ground counterpart.

And when you combine several pre-ground spices into one pumpkin spice blend, the flavor will always be lackluster. Plus, there’s no way to tell how fresh the pre-ground spices were when the manufacturer bottled them into a pumpkin spice blend.

Plus, if you’re relying on last season’s pumpkin spice bottle in the back of the cupboard, the bread will lack that deep pumpkin flavor.

Takeaway: Make the homemade spice blend. It takes less than 5 minutes and is so worth it.

Ingredient Notes

ingredients for pumpkin bread with names of ingredients

Vegan buttermilk. This is simple a mix of plant-based milk and a source of acid, like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. I use oat milk for its superior browning capabilities in baking, though some readers have used soy milk successfully.

Aquafaba. Just the liquid from a can of chickpeas! If your can of chickpeas has salt added, scale back on the salt in the recipe a bit. It’s a crucial ingredient, so I recommend you don’t skipping or subbing it.

Canned pumpkin. A whole can for lots of serious pumpkin flavor. If canned pumpkin is not a thing where you leave, check out the FAQ section to see how to make this with whole pumpkin.

Homemade pumpkin spice: Freshly grated nutmeg adds a sweet, spicy zing and a generous amount of cloves brings a uniquely pungent, warming-sweet flavor.

Organic brown sugar: Adds more moisture and caramel-y flavor than cane sugar.

All-purpose flour. Necessary for structure. We have not had good results when using gluten-free flour, but you can try my gluten-free kabocha squash banana bread for a similar flavor profile.

Step-by-step instructions 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and homemade pumpkin spice. 

In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar and oil using a hand mixer until well combined. 

Add your lightly whipped aquafaba to the brown sugar mixture. Mix until the aquafaba is well incorporated.

Add in the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vegan buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix again until smooth. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold the ingredients into each other. 

Mix just until the flour pockets are gone, then stop mixing. The batter should be somewhat lumpy and thick.

Pour the batter into a lined 9×5” (23×13 cm) loaf pan and smooth out the top with the spatula.  

Bake at 350ºF/1765ºC for 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using the parchment paper handles, remove the bread from the pan and cool on the wire rack for 30 minutes before slicing. 

baked vegan pumpkin bread in loaf pan on top of wire rack

When ready to serve, drizzle with tahini icing (or serve on the side), or spread with the cream cheese frosting. 

Tips for making vegan pumpkin bread 

Opt for conventional canned pumpkin puree (not organic), if possible

I noticed a difference in canned pumpkin brands when making this recipe. When I used organic canned pumpkin puree instead of the conventional canned pumpkin from Libby’s, the pumpkin puree was more watery, resulting in a somewhat more liquid-y batter and a soggier bottom bread. 

If you only have organic canned pumpkin, be sure to strain the pumpkin puree until all the excess water runs off.

Be Precise 

  1. Use a digital scale. It yields the most exact results and baking is a science.

    If you don’t have a digital scale, measure your flour using the spoon and level method. Spoon your flour out of the bag/jar into the measuring cup, spoon by spoon, until almost full, then use a butter knife to level it off.
  2. Get an oven thermometer and allow adequate time to preheat. Every oven is different, and if yours isn’t calibrated, chances are it’s a bit off. Plus, most home ovens don’t reach the stated temperature when the preheat cycle is over.
  3. Use a toothpick for doneness. Insert a toothpick in the top sides of the cake at an angle, not straight down. This angled position is a much more reliable indicator of whether a tall loaf cake is baked through. See a few moist crumbs? The bread is done.

    If the toothpick reveals batter that is still a bit gooey, return the pan to the oven for 5-10 more minutes. Worried about the top overbrowning? You can loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil.

No overmixing! 

Overmixing is one of the most common baking mistakes, and it can cause the gluten to overdevelop, resulting in a cake that is dry and tough, or dense and gummy.

Once the wet and dry ingredients are just incorporated and flour pockets are gone, stop mixing. The batter doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) smooth.

Know your pan size

I use a standard 9×5-inch loaf pan (23×13 cm), but if your pan is slightly smaller (e.g., 8×4-inch), there will be a small amount of excess batter. Don’t try to fit it all into the loaf pan, or it might rise too high and make a mess in your oven.

woman's hands slicing vegan pumpkin bread on cutting board

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use homemade pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin puree?

Yes. Here’s how:
1. Slice a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin in half using a sharp knife and rocking motion (you can also use a kabocha squash). Don’t use the really large carving pumpkins – they are pretty flavorless and don’t have much flesh. If it’s too tough to slice, pop it in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Lightly salt the flesh of the pumpkin, then place the pumpkin halves on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cut side down. Bake in the oven at 400°F/205°C until fork tender, about 30 minutes for a small pie pumpkin, or 40-45 minutes for a larger one.

3. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, the skin should peel off easily. Add the flesh to a food processor and puree for about 2 minutes, or until you have a really smooth puree.

4. Place the puree over a fine mesh sieve and stir with a spoon to let any excess water drain out. If you have cheesecloth, line the sieve with that and drain. This step is essential since homemade puree is more watery than canned.

5. Finally, measure out the appropriate amount of pumpkin puree for this recipe: 425 grams, or about 2 tablespoons shy of 2 cups.

Can I substitute the aquafaba?

Aquafaba is one of the ways I keep this pumpkin bread light and tender, so I wouldn’t recommend substituting it.

How should I serve pumpkin bread?

If you want to eat this bread for breakfast or as an afternoon teatime snack, you can serve it plain! It’s a little sweet but not too sweet.

If you want something more dessert-like, there are two icing options! 

First, the maple tahini icing, which was the original pairing for this recipe. The tahini brings a unique nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with the classic pumpkin spice flavors. Max said that this icing tastes like halva, a delightful Middle Eastern dessert made from tahini and sugar, and I’d have to agree with him. I recommend pouring the icing only on the amount of bread you plan to eat to prevent any sogginess.

Second, the vegan cream cheese icing. This is the more decadent option of the two and my recent favorite. The frosting is a bit tangy from the cream cheese and lemon juice and it perfectly balances the sweetness. When you refrigerate the bread, the icing sticks to it like a traditional frosting and it is SO good. 

How should you store pumpkin bread?

If unfrosted, store it covered or wrapped in plastic on the counter for up to 5 days. If you make the maple tahini icing, you can leave it at room temperature but it’s best to pour the icing only over the amount of bread you plan to eat that day (to prevent sogginess). If making the cream cheese icing, store the bread covered in the fridge for at least 5 days.

Watch! How to make The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread

The best vegan pumpkin bread you'll ever make
The best vegan pumpkin bread you'll ever make

More delicious pumpkin treats

For more pumpkin treats, check out my Pumpkin Tart or my Pumpkin Pancakes.

And if you love this Vegan Pumpkin Bread recipe, please rate and review the recipe below :)

vegan pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing and pumpkin seeds sitting on white platter

The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread

5 from 83 votes
This is the BEST vegan pumpkin bread you’ll try! It’s incredibly moist and tender, uses simple ingredients, and features a homemade pumpkin spice blend that takes the flavor over the top. A must make during pumpkin season!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Baking
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 10 slices

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bread Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP (~90 mL) aquafaba
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) oat milk, or unsweetened plant-based milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (75 -80 mL) sunflower oil, or any neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 cup + 2 TBSP (170g) organic brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 15-ounce (425g) can pumpkin puree (I recommend not using organic canned pumpkin)*
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (see “Tips” section above)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Homemade Pumpkin Spice

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Frosting option 1: Cream Cheese Icing

  • 4 tablespoons (56g) vegan butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 ounces (56g) vegan cream cheese**, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 TBSP (135g) organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Frosting option 2: Maple Tahini Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) organic powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality tahini***
  • 3 tablespoons oat milk, or unsweetened plant-based milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C. Arrange a rack in the middle or bottom third of the oven. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan (23×13 cm) with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the long sides to form a sling.
  • Stir the vinegar into the plant-based milk and set aside to curdle. This is the vegan “buttermilk.”
  • Pour the aquafaba into a small bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, whip the aquafaba on medium speed for 45 seconds, or until uniformly foamy.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and all of the pumpkin spices. Whisk well to ensure the leaveners and spices are evenly distributed.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the brown sugar and oil. Mix using the electric mixer or a whisk until well combined. Add the whipped aquafaba and mix until well incorporated. Add in the “buttermilk,” pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix until smooth and the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Using a silicone spatula or large wooden spoon), add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently stir until the ingredients are just barely combined and no flour pockets remain, then stop mixing! The batter doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) smooth. Some lumps are normal.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top of the batter using a spatula or spoon.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top sides of the cake comes out mostly clean with just a few moist crumbs.
    Note: I like to check the bread at 53-55 minute mark. If the toothpick reveals batter that is still a bit gooey, return the pan to the oven for 5-10 more minutes. If you’re worried about the top overbrowning, you can loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10-15 minutes. Then, using the parchment paper handles, remove the bread from the pan and cool on the rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
    Serve plain, or with the Cream Cheese Icing or the Maple Tahini Icing and scatter with handful of pepitas or chopped pistachios.
    If using Maple Tahini Icing, pour it only on the amount of bread you plan to eat (or serve it on the side).****

Cream Cheese Icing (optional)

  • To a medium mixing bowl, add the softened vegan butter. Beat on low speed with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until well incorporated and creamy. Add half of the powdered sugar, mix on low speed to combine, and then add the rest of the sugar. Mix until well combined and fluffy, scraping down the sides as you go. Add the vanilla, salt, and lemon juice and mix until smooth.
    If too thick, add a splash of plant-based milk. If too thin, briefly refrigerate.

Maple Tahini Icing (optional)

  • Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl (sifting gets rid of the lumps in the sugar). Add in the tahini, milk, and maple syrup. Whisk to combine until the icing is thick but pourable. If too thin, add more sugar. If too thick, add more milk.

Notes

* Organic canned pumpkin tends to be more watery than regular. If that’s all that is available, strain it to get rid of excess water. To make homemade pumpkin puree, read the FAQ section.
** My favorite vegan cream cheese brands are Tofutti and Kite Hill Foods. 
*** My favorite brands for tahini are Soom Foods and Seed and Mill, as well as Baron’s or Beirut Sesame Paste. 
**** See FAQ section for how to store pumpkin bread depending on how you serve it. 

Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 6632IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg

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142 comments on The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread

  1. Cameron

    5 stars
    I used this recipe to make muffins. They were delicious and had the perfect amount of spice in them.

  2. Rachel

    5 stars
    This was incredible!! I am not really a fan of pumpkin flavored things, but I got a request and this looked like the most promising recipe I could find. I am changing my tune about pumpkin! I was blown away by the flavor and the texture. So light and fluffy! Thank you!!!!!!!

  3. Ginger

    5 stars
    This was amazing!!!! I made it with kombucha squash. Incredible and the tahini glaze was perfect. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Ginger! We’re delighted you’re a fan of the recipe!

  4. ari

    Hello! I was wondering if this bread could be made ahead and then stored in the freezer? I have an event in a couple weeks so trying to get ahead on the menu front. :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Ari, yes! To freeze, wrap in foil or plastic wrap and place in a tightly sealed container or ziploc bag bag. Then you’ll thaw it wrapped at room temperature!

  5. Sam

    If I add a jarred pumpkin spice mix, I am assuming that I would use 4 teaspoons?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That sounds about right, Sam! :)

  6. Rola

    Is there a way to make this receipe oil free and still come out good?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Rola, we haven’t tried this recipe without oil but we are almost 100% positive it would not come out nearly as delicious with the omission of oil. Sorry we couldn’t be of more help, though!

  7. JoAnn Williams

    I apologize for my comment about sugar not being vegan. I see that your ingredients are organic, therefore, it is organic as the process of mixing the sugar with animal bones is not used when organic.

    1. Catherine

      I have bought at Costco organic raw sugar and brown sugar that supposedly have not been processed with bone char. Can’t even imagine WHY or HOW animal bones have been used to what? Purify the sugar? But I know it is true.
      I have not made this recipe yet because have to get some non organic canned pumpkin so cannot rate it.

    2. Mike White

      Incredible! I made the vegan buttermilk and totally forgot to add it and was broken-hearted. However, it was still amazing. Looking forward to making it again and remembering the buttermilk. Thank you!!!

      1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Glad to hear the recipe turned out well despite the omission! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  8. JoAnn Williams

    I just discovered you on YouTube and you are amazing. In case you’re not aware of it, I wanted to let you know that most white/brown sugars are not vegan. I was shocked to find out that sugar is filtered through animal bones. C&H and I believe its Dole and others use this disgusting process.. I found your recipes to be the most desirable of any vegan cooking programs I’ve watched and I plan on using many of them very soon. You are a pleasure to watch and I wish you the best.

  9. Elisabetta

    5 stars
    This was my first time making one of your recipes and I was blown away! I’ve tried making other vegan pumpkin breads before and they always left something to be desired. I’m an American in NZ and really wanted to introduce my partner to all things PUMPKIN. Grating fresh spices was a game-changer!! I also added an extra TBSP of maple syrup. Instead of using the sunflower oil, I subbed in 2 TBSP of virgin coconut oil and a little less than 1/4 cup of applesauce. PERFECTION! I wanted to take a photo for the Gram but the loaf just did not live long enough.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Elisabeth! So glad you love the pumpkin bread :)

  10. A

    Fantastic recipe! I skipped the glaze and instead added Guittard chocolate chips (leftover from Nisha’s vegan brownies) to the batter before baking and it was heaven.

    1. A

      5 stars
      Oops, forgot the stars!

    2. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  11. Rubaab

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice. Both my mom and dad are born in fall so I made one (with the frosting) for both of their birthdays— and the whole family loved it both times. Thank you for another lovely recipe.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Rubaab. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  12. Sharon

    Can I make this with Gluten free bread?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Many readers have used an all-purpose gluten-free flour like this with fairly good results (it’s going to be less fluffy and a bit more dense but overall pretty good):

      https://www.amazon.com/Purpose-Gluten-Baking-Flour-Ounce/dp/B07FW7N9MR/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=bob%27s+red+mill+all+purpose+gluten+free+flour&qid=1586525715&sr=8-9&linkCode=sl1&tag=ainbolantife-20&linkId=4b5bdaa6b22854009259b53c7fc8e07b&language=en_US

      Enjoy!

  13. Sarah B Wiederhold

    5 stars
    I make muffins with this recipe. 34 minutes in the oven, and they are perfect. They are delicious as is, and decadent with the tahini glaze and pistachios.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sarah, So glad to hear you loved this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Lily

    5 stars
    I love this recipe so much! This time around I realized I didn’t have aquafaba, so I substituted apple sauce and it still came out wonderful.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Lily!

  15. Jessica

    I cant find fresh nutmeg at my local store. Any advice?

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