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 121 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 121 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 (75g) 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 (250g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Homemade Pumpkin Spice

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

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 for a few minutes. 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 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 very well incorporated (this is important so you don't overmix 6).
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Note: the batter should be quite thick and almost fluffy at this point.
  • 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 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top sides of the cake comes out mostly clean with just a few moist crumbs.
    I like to check the bread at 53-55 minute mark. To test if it's done, insert a toothpick downwards at an angle (not just straight down).
    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, loosely tent the pan 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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206 comments on The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread

  1. Bray

    5 stars
    I screwed up..but it still turned out amazing! I accidentally bought and opened “pumpkin pie mix” instead of pumpkin puree. I could have cried in the moment of having all ingredients spread out with an opened can of pie mix in my hand. Luckily my 92 year old grandmother was visiting and she helped save the day. She told me to reduce the sugar..and cut spices in half ( due to those things being in the pie mix already).
    Well it worked!!!! BEAUTIFUL pumpkin bread was the result 😍. My family loved it. Next time I will make it the proper way…but damn sometimes those grandma’s know how to improvise a recipie :) We were all super happy with this gem.

  2. Amanda

    5 stars
    You were right, best pumpkin bread ever. I brought it to an Omni thanksgiving and people loved it and asked for the recipe. The cream cheese frosting took it to another level, I can’t believe it was optional!!

    I used miyokos cream cheese and earth balance butter, and it was delicious but after sitting for a bit after mixing, the consistency looked a bit off, like the oil was separating or something. Curious to see if other brands would be better but it didn’t impact taste or texture so it was all good.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Amanda, thanks for making the pumpkin and sharing it with others! You could try using another butter possibly? Which Earth Balance butter did you use? We love Miyoko’s vegan butter.

  3. Erica

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! Even my picky kids and pumpkin hater husband loved this. I made the tahini icing to go along with it but wasn’t a fan, but I think it was because my tahini was a little on the bitter side. Can’t wait to try it with the cream cheese icing, but it is amazingly good on it’s own!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wonderful, thanks for trying the recipe Erica!

  4. Sarah

    5 stars
    Very very very good! Making for the second time now!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wonderful, Sarah! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Jella

    5 stars
    A lovely fall/ winter recipe! The bread turned out great! It’s fluffy, moist, warm spiced and not to sweet (which I prefer) :) the glaze turned out a little less great. The taste was good but when I added the lemon juice it was no longer smooth, like the lemon juice and butter didn’t want to emulsify. the glaze/frosting the tendency to slide off the bread. However I still was able to put it on the bread. It didn’t look as smooth as in this recipe, but it was fine and still tasted delicious! Definitely would make this again!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re delighted you think so, Jella! Too bad about the icing, we’re sorry to hear it. Good to hear you’re still a fan despite the icing not going as well as originally intended.

  6. Maddalena

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! Very moist and flavourful. Everyone loved it including my non vegan colleagues. They could not believe the icing was not dairy.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Lovely, Maddalena! Thanks for sharing the recipe with everyone :)

  7. Alisa

    5 stars
    This was sooo good!!!!! 😋😋😋

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  8. Kimberly

    5 stars
    Perfect amount of spices, soft texture, and pairs perfectly with the cream cheese icing (used the brand Fynd for the first time which worked great). My only blunder was remembering 5 minutes into baking time that I had forgotten the salt, so I quickly took the pan out of the oven and stirred it in as best as I could…. Another delicious go-to seasonal recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Kimberly, So glad to hear you loved this recipe! Thanks for sharing :)

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