Pumpkin Bread

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This Pumpkin Bread recipe — a University of Tennessee original recipe from the kitchen of Smokey — makes two loaves. One to enjoy, one to share! It is two loaves of festive, sweet, and tender pumpkin flavor and your favorite fall spices!

slices of pumpkin bread in a loaf pan siting on top of a napkin.

Enjoy this festive pumpkin bread recipe on your own or as a seasonal family treat. Bonus, it makes for a great holiday gift!

Package the loaves in cute to-go pans and cover them in plastic wrap, all tied up with string and a sweet note wishing the receiver happy holidays. Gift this pumpkin bread to family, friends, teachers, neighbors, or anyone who needs a little holiday love!

Looking for more pumpkin recipes for the fall season? Check out my pumpkin desserts, like these Pumpkin Bars with White Chocolate Chips or Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

If you’re searching for something extra special, try this sensational Pumpkin Pasta Sauce with Mushrooms and Sage.

Even better, my Pumpkin Dip Recipe is beautifully displayed in a carved-out pumpkin bowl and perfect for dipping apple slices and ginger snap cookies. 

ingredients for pumpkin bread on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for UT’s Pumpkin Bread

  • Canned pumpkin — Not only does the pumpkin bring a seasonal flavor, but it also adds to the moisture of this bread. You’ll use a can of pure 100% pumpkin or make your own pumpkin puree. Keep in mind not to use pumpkin pie mix for this recipe. 
  • Sugar — Add sugar to this quick bread for some subtle sweetness.
  • Vegetable oil — Vegetable oil makes the bread light and moist. If necessary, you may use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. 
  • Eggs — A couple of eggs will help the bread rise with a fluffy texture.
  • Flour — Use all-purpose flour to give the bread structure. You may use whole-wheat flour if you prefer.
  • Baking powder and baking soda — For this recipe, you’ll need baking powder and baking soda because of the lack of acid. Together, these ingredients will help the bread rise.
  • Spices — What would pumpkin be without the spice? Add cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon to this autumn recipe. If necessary, you may also use a pumpkin pie spice which contains all of these spices and typically a couple more.
  • Vanilla — Vanilla brings rich and creamy notes to the flavor of this bread. If desired, you may use bourbon vanilla extract.
  • Water | Water is essential to make the batter consistency fluid. When baking, this will help create a light and fluffy crumb texture.
  • Chocolate chips | Chocolate chips are optional. But if you’re a chocolate lover, I highly recommend including them in your pumpkin bread. You could also use chocolate chunks or white chocolate chips if you’d like.

How to make the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

UT’s Pumpkin Bread recipe is easy to make, and the perfect fall treat for breakfast, afternoon snack, or even as a dessert!

STEP 1 | Preheat and prep

To get started on this better than Starbucks pumpkin bread, preheat the oven and then grease and flour two loaf pans. And if you need more to give away, make the recipe in mini loaf pans!

whisking together sugar, pumpkin, eggs, and oil for pumpkin bread batter.

STEP 2 | Make the pumpkin mixture

Next, grab a large bowl and add the first set of ingredients: sugar, oil, pumpkin puree, and eggs. Whisk those ingredients together until well blended.

mixing spices with flour and adding to a bowl for pumpkin bread.

STEP 3 | Complete the batter

In a separate bowl, stir the dry ingredients together– flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices until they are thoroughly incorporated. Then, add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the two are combined. 


  • Reminder: Don’t get alarmed when you mix up the batter and it seems thin. This batter is naturally a little thin and will bake just fine.
  • Chocolate chips in this recipe are totally optional, but if you do add them, toss them with a tablespoon of flour before folding them in. This helps to suspend them in the batter. Refrain from stirring too much, or they will all sink to the bottom! Also, I like to sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of the batter once it is in the pan.
  • Feel free to make this recipe into muffins! Pour the batter into a lined muffin tin and adjust the baking time accordingly. 
pouring water into batter for pumpkin bread.

Finally, add the remaining wet ingredients—vanilla extract and water. Give that all a good stir until silky and creamy good.

Now, if the batter looks a little runny, that’s how it’s supposed to be — don’t add anything to thicken it. Just leave it as it is and trust the process.

STEP 4 | Add the optional chocolate chips

If you’d like to add some sweet chocolate chips to your pumpkin bread, go ahead and toss them in a medium bowl with a tablespoon of flour. Then gently fold them into the batter.

folding chocolate chips into pumpkin bread batter; a loaf pan with batter ready for the oven.

STEP 5 | Pour and bake

Next, pour the batter into the prepared baking pans and bake until done, as directed on the recipe card. 

The best way to check if the bread is done is by inserting a wooden pick in the center. If it comes out clean, the pumpkin bread is finished baking! Or, if you happen to have a digital cake tester, you can use that!

two loaves of pumpkin bread with chocolate chips cooling on a wire rack.

STEP 6 | Cool and serve

Remove the pans from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Then, carefully remove the loaves from the pans and allow the bread to finish cooling completely before slicing.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to remove the loaf from the pan without making a mess?

Because you are greasing the pan and adding flour, you shouldn’t encounter this issue. However, there’s a chance you didn’t use enough of the two, causing the bread to stick to the pan when you try to remove them. Or, your pan could be old or low quality, making it more prone to sticking.
Remember to allow the pumpkin bread to cool before removing it from the loaf pans. Not only will it be easier to handle, but the bread sticks less when it’s not fresh from the oven.
If your pumpkin bread is still sticking to the pan, grabs a small and flexible metal spatula, a butter knife, or another thin-bladed knife. Use it to carefully run along the sides and loosen the bread.

What else could you add to this bread besides chocolate chips?

If chocolate chips aren’t your thing, but you’d still like to add something special to the bread, check out the following ideas. For one, you could sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top of the batter. Or, think of this easy pumpkin bread like a slice of banana bread. Add chopped nuts, like pecans, walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, to the batter. 

How should you store this pumpkin loaf recipe?

Store pumpkin bread at room temperature for about two or three days on the kitchen counter if stored in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator to store pumpkin bread for up to seven days. 

To freeze pumpkin bread, this recipe keeps for up to three months. It may be helpful to slice the bread first so it defrosts quicker. When ready to serve the bread, let it thaw at room temperature or toast it.

slices of pumpkin loaf on a white platter.

Serving suggestions

If you like, top the warmed slices of pumpkin bread with a smear of sweetened cream cheese or drizzle with this cream cheese frosting. And, of course, butter melting in the nooks and crannies is delightful.

Serve a warm slice of this delicious pumpkin bread with your favorite ice cream, like this Homemade Peach Ice Cream or Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream.

I often enjoy this seasonal loaf with a hot fall beverage, like Chai Tea Hot Apple Cider, or Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha — YUM!

two slices of pumpkin bread with chocolate chips on a plate with the remaining loaf in the background.

Behind the recipe: UT’s Pumpkin Bread

We are a Tennessee Orange-blooded alum family — in other words, VFLs, Vols for Life! We love the University of Tennessee, football in the SEC, and sharing good tailgating food, whether at the game or watching from home.

Students and alumni take pride in many well-known University of Tennessee traditions — Rocky Top, the Vol Walk, the Pride of the Southland’s “salute to the hill,” and UT Bakery’s signature recipe for Pumpkin Bread.

Pumpkin Bread was one of the most popular bakery items when I was a student on campus (don’t ask, but it was more than 20 years ago) and remains so even today.

slices of pumpkin bread in a loaf pan siting on top of a napkin.

Pumpkin Bread

A great campus tradition from the kitchen of Smokey
4.43 from 19 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Quick Breads
Cuisine American
Servings 2 loaves
Calories 156 kcal


  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon cloves
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • teaspoon allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • cup water
  • ½ cup chocolate chips optional


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, pumpkin, and eggs until well blended.
  • In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until incorporated. Add the vanilla and water, stirring until all ingredients are well blended. NOTE: the batter will be runny.
  • If using chocolate chips, toss them with a tablespoon of flour then gently fold into the pumpkin bread batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans. and bake for 55 50 60 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Transfer the loaf pans to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then, carefully remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely before slicing.


  • Reminder: Don’t get alarmed when you mix up the batter and it seems thin. This batter is naturally a little thin and will bake just fine.
  • Chocolate chips in this recipe are totally optional, but if you do add them, toss them with a tablespoon of flour before folding them in. This helps to suspend them in the batter. Refrain from stirring too much, or they will all sink to the bottom! Also, I like to sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of the batter once it is in the pan.
  • Feel free to make this recipe into muffins! Pour the batter into a lined muffin tin and adjust the baking time accordingly.


Serving: 1gCalories: 156kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 124mgSugar: 15g

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword pumpkin bread, pumpkin,
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been eating UT’s pumpkin bread for 35 years. I’m retired now and so happy to have this wonderful recipe so I can continue enjoying! My 12-year-old granddaughter asked me for my recipe today. I share some with her last week! Good recipes never die!

  2. Hello
    We love this pumpkin bread! Ever since my son was a freshman at UT, more than 10 years ago, and we had some at the parent coffee, I have been making it in the fall. I believe I asked the UT Parents’ Association for it:) I am wondering about the 1/3 and 2/3 tsp. measurements. I have never seen these and just use 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. and adjust. Also, a little chopped apple is great in this pumpkin bread, too.

    1. It is a great pumpkin bread recipe, for sure! The measurements were taken directly from the original UT recipe, so adjusting as you do is absolutely fine. I’ve never tried the bread with chopped apple, but that sounds delicious!

  3. I wonder if you could say what size can of pumpkin you used. I made the recipe and it turned out well although a bit more moist than even the UT pumpkin bread tends to be. It is possible I needed just a bit more cook time but I wondered if I also might have used a larger can of pumpkin (thus, half would be more than anticipated). Love the recipe and am ready to make it again. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi, Mary! I use 1/2 of a 15-oz. can of pumpkin in this recipe. I can understand how it could be confusing, so thank you for the question——I’ll update the recipe ingredient list to make it more clear. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. 5 stars
    I have been looking for this recipe for years! Thank you so much! One of my fondest memories I’m going to UT was getting a cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin bread in the art and architecture building before going to my 8 A M class.

    1. Mary, glad you found the recipe! It’s one of my favorites and I can’t help but think back to my college days every time I bake this delicious bread! #VFL

  5. The pumpkin bread from UT is my favorite ever!!! I have been looking for it for years!!! It is the BEST EVER!! I ate at least 2 pieces everyday in the art and architecture cafe. Thank you!

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