I made pumpkin bread using 3 recipes from celebrity chefs, and the best was the easiest to make

Food writer Paige Bennett with three different kinds of pumpkin bread.
I made three different kinds of pumpkin bread from celebrity chefs. Paige Bennett
  • I made pumpkin bread from celebrity chefs Carla Hall, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown.
  • Hall’s buttermilk-infused bread takes no time to make. Brown’s method includes shredding pumpkin.
  • I enjoyed all recipes, but Flay’s was my favorite. It was moist and sweet with a nutty crunch.
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When fall rolls around, I love to whip up an easy pumpkin bread to enjoy for breakfast or dessert.

So I tried recipes from celebrity chefs Carla Hall, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown to see which would produce the best fall treat.

Hall’s recipe for pumpkin spoon bread had the most involved process out of all the recipes

Ingredients for pumpkin spoonbread.
Carla Hall’s recipe requires butter, milk, buttermilk, cornmeal, eggs, and roasted pumpkin. Paige Bennett

Spoon bread is similar to a soufflé and cornbread, so I was excited to try Hall’s recipe for a pumpkin-flavored one.

I’m used to sweet loaves of pumpkin bread, but this version has a cornmeal and buttermilk base that’s infused with chipotle powder, fresh parsley, dried sage, and roasted pumpkin.

I started by gutting a fresh pumpkin, covering it in vegetable oil, then roasting it for 30 minutes. It’s important to let it cool before handling it.

Before and after images of cornmeal dough with a whisk in them.
The base uses cornmeal. Paige Bennett

While the pumpkin cooled, I started on the base by combining butter, milk, and buttermilk in a pot. I then added cornmeal and, finally, roasted pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, I whisked the egg whites until they formed soft peaks. I also separately whisked three egg yolks with spices and herbs.

Egg yolks and spices together.
I whisked egg yolks and spices together. Paige Bennett

I added the cornmeal to the yolk mixture, then folded in the egg whites.

Pumpkin bread batter in a pan.
I poured everything into a loaf pan. Paige Bennett

I poured my batter into a loaf pan and baked my spoon bread for 40 minutes.

I loved the unexpected savory flavor of this pumpkin bread

Pumpkin bread on a white plate.
I enjoyed the flavors from the herbs and spices. Paige Bennett

This bread was very soft and moist in the center, similar to a savory pudding or soufflé. It was more solidified along the top, sides, and bottom.

I loved the flavor of it with all the herbs and spices, plus it was incredibly buttery.

My only real complaint is that I couldn’t taste any of the pumpkin. Still, this would be delicious served with fresh greens or even a fried egg.

Flay’s recipe is easy, but I had to make it twice

Ingredients for Bobby Flay's pumpkin bread.
Bobby Flay’s recipe uses pantry staples. Paige Bennett

Flay’s easy pumpkin bread is mostly made with pantry staples.

Instead of spending time roasting a pumpkin, he relies on canned pumpkin puree, which I almost always have in my cabinet.

He doesn’t skimp on spices, either, and includes cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a bowl.
You’ll need cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Paige Bennett

I started by whisking the dry ingredients, sans sugar, in one bowl.

In a separate bowl, I combined pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then butter that I melted and cooled so it wouldn’t cook the eggs.

Pumpkin batter with pecans.
I used nuts in this recipe. Paige Bennett

I slowly mixed the dry and wet ingredients together until they were fully incorporated. I folded toasted pecans into my first batch and walnuts into my second.

Pumpkin batter in a loaf.
Bobby Flay’s recipe didn’t say how much time the bread needs. Paige Bennett

The recipe says to bake it in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs but doesn’t give any time estimation. I started with 30 minutes and planned to bake it for about an hour.

At the 30-minute mark, a toothpick still came out slightly wet, so I decided I’d bake it in 10-minute increments until it looked done.

At about 40 minutes, the toothpick came out clean.

The recipe says to cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. But when I flipped my pan after 10 minutes, the bread collapsed into a pile of goop.

A failed pumpkin bread.
I had to make the bread twice. Paige Bennett

The interior was so oily from the butter and pumpkin that the toothpick came out clean even though the bread was undercooked.

I gave Flay’s recipe another shot, and it turned out amazing

Bobby Flay's pumpkin bread in a loaf.
My second attempt worked out better. Paige Bennett.

This time, I didn’t rely on the toothpick method as much. I ended up cooking the bread for an hour and 15 minutes.

It held together well, although it did look slightly overdone.

This bread was worth making twice. It had the most prominent pumpkin flavor of the three recipes, and it was the sweetest of all, too.

Bobby Flay pumpkin bread.
This bread was crunchy and sweet. Paige Bennett

Even if the second loaf was slightly overbaked, it was still moist in the middle.

The nuts added just enough crunch for a good textural contrast.

Brown’s recipe includes fresh, shredded pumpkin

Recipes for Alton Brown's pumpkin bread.
You’ll need a fresh pumpkin for Alton Brown’s recipe. Paige Bennett

Known for his scientific approach to cooking, Brown’s pumpkin bread intrigued me. Instead of using roasted or canned options, the chef incorporates raw, shredded pumpkin.

Aside from this and some pumpkin seeds, this recipe calls for basic pantry items and looked easy to make.

But shredding 3 cups of raw pumpkin took a lot more arm strength than I was prepared for.

After giving my hand some time to rest after shredding all that pumpkin, I mixed the dry ingredients in one bowl.

In another dish, I combined sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.

Pumpkin bread dough in a bowl.
I mixed the wet and dry ingredients together. Paige Bennett

Then I poured the dry mixture into the wet ingredients, mixed them thoroughly, then folded in the shredded pumpkin and seeds.

The recipe called for a full cup of pumpkin seeds, but I only had half.

Pumpkin bread dough in a tin.
I added less seeds than the recipe called for. Paige Bennett

I decided to just go with it, and I’m glad I didn’t add the original seed measurements.

I loved that this pumpkin bread wasn’t overly sweet, but I wished there were fewer seeds in it

A slice of pumpkin bread with visible seeds.
I wish there were less seeds. Paige Bennett

This turned out great and reminded me a lot of zucchini bread.

Although it had a lot of shredded pumpkin in it, it didn’t have much of that flavor. I liked that it didn’t taste super sweet.

The texture was perfectly moist on the inside and had a crunchy top and sides.

I did think there were too many seeds, even after cutting the recipe’s listed amount in half. I think about ¼ cup would be perfect, so I’ll keep that in mind the next time I make it.

I loved all three loaves of bread, but Flay’s was my favorite

Freelancer Paige Bennett holding up a slice of pumpkin bread.
Bobby Flay’s recipe was a winner. Paige Bennett

It’s hard to choose a winner because these recipes were all very different.

I enjoyed each bread in different ways, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose Flay’s. It’s quick and easy to whip up, plus the ingredients are simple yet flavorful.

I plan to make all of these pumpkin breads again, and I’m already looking forward to eating and repurposing the leftovers. Flay even has a bonus recipe for French toast using the day-old bread, which sounds like a perfect brunch.