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Healthy Pumpkin-Spice Bread

Rachel loves searching for and finding healthier versions of her favorite treats so she can enjoy them more often.

A wonderfully hearty pumpkin bread.

A wonderfully hearty pumpkin bread.

A Few Effortless Changes for a Healthier Classic

This pumpkin bread is an irresistible fall favorite in our home. The original Bon Appetit recipe, published back in November 1995, is fantastic and decadently rich. With a few easy changes to cut calories and boost nutrition, this bread remains a crowd-pleaser but becomes a healthier classic.

My Healthier Changes to the Recipe

  • I've reduced the sugar from 3 cups to 2 1/4 cups, so the sweetness remains but the spices can really shine.
  • The original recipe called for a 16-ounce can of pumpkin, but I increased it to about 20 ounces for an extra pop of flavor.
  • I replaced the vegetable oil with Canola oil, which is high in healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • I replaced one cup of all-purpose flour with white, whole-wheat flour, which has a milder flavor than regular whole-wheat flour but still packs extra nutrition. One thing to note about any whole wheat flour, though, is that it requires a bit of extra sifting to produce a more airy result.
  • I used unsweetened applesauce in place of half of the oil. This cuts fat but still maintains a moist result.
  • Although vanilla does not appear in the original recipe, I've added it because I think it complements the spices beautifully.
  • The spices can be changed up. I've tried cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom to make up the three teaspoons of spices. My favorite combination, though, is the one I've listed in the recipe below. Feel free to experiment!

Cook Time

Cook timeReady inYields

1 hour 10 min

1 hour 10 min

2 loaves


  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 3 eggs, large
  • 20 ounces canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.
  2. Beat sugar, oil, and applesauce in a large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin, and finally the vanilla.
  3. Sift flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda, salt and baking powder in another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture gradually, in two additions. Mix in walnuts, if desired.
  4. Divide batter equally between prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean—approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer to racks and cool for 10 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife, turn loaves onto racks and cool completely.
  6. Pumpkin loaves can be frozen for up to one month.