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Mary-Linh Tran

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

There are two types of people in this world: Those who love pumpkin spice and those who despise it. What began as a clever marketing campaign turned into a cultural phenomena, one that the internet loved disputing in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and, well, I wouldn’t be writing this article if it was a downward trend. Search #pumpkinspice on Instagram right now and you’ll find over two million hits.

Despite its highly contested place in the hearts of many, I have a feeling our relationship to the autumnal delicacy isn’t as black and white as we think. For one thing, I don’t consider myself a pumpkin spice enthusiast but I do love all the individual spices in it. A cozy blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and sometimes cardamom, all of which are often overlooked when doused in sugar or additives, like in processed pumpkin spice-flavored foods, and more specifically, the Starbucks beverage that catapulted pumpkin spice from being a home baker’s secret to dominating the mainstream.

The arrival of pumpkin spice-flavored foods on the shelves of supermarkets signals the inauguration of fall, but, perhaps more than anything, it activates the associations we have of the seemingly brief season filled with flannel jackets, pine needles, pumpkin picking, and hot apple cider. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of pumpkin spice opinions, one thing is certain: Pumpkin spice encapsulates all the woozy, warming flavors of fall, and unless you have an aversion to the season itself, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep a stash of it in your pantry.

How to make pumpkin spice

It’s important to note here that pumpkin spice doesn’t contain any pumpkin, nor does it need to be paired with it! Pumpkin, the vegetable, eaten on its own, tastes earthy and sweet with a slightly savory bite. On the contrary, pumpkin spice is made to recreate all the autumnal flavors we love so much from pumpkin pie.

It’s made with just five spices that, chances are, you already have on hand. If your spice rack is looking spare, then see this as an opportunity to stock up on the seasonal notes you’ll definitely be turning to throughout the fall and winter: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Add all the spices to a small jar, shake to combine, and store in a dark and cool place for up to one year. If using whole spices, simply blitz them into a fine powder before mixing them together.

The benefit of making homemade pumpkin spice is that you’ll end up with something fresher and customized to your taste. I like to go heavy on the cinnamon and ginger, with pinches of cardamom for a light floral touch. Want something a bit sharper or more robust? Bump up the amount of cloves or allspice. Use the recipe below as an outline and increase or decrease certain spices depending on what you personally like!

Homemade pumpkin spice

Homemade pumpkin spice

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How do I use pumpkin spice?

You can use pumpkin spice for any recipe that calls for it, or, wherever you think could benefit from an extra dose of warmth. For me, any recipe with cinnamon is fair game, including savory ones, like this butternut squash soup. In the realm of baking, nothing is off limits. From pumpkin spice muffins to pumpkin spice cakes, cookies, waffles, granola, bread, donuts—there’s nothing that won’t improve with a dash of pumpkin spice. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. So with that in mind, go forth and pumpkin spice everything.

Recipes to spark your imagination

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

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Gluten free pumpkin blueberry pancakes

Gluten free pumpkin blueberry pancakes

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Pumpkin-swirl brownies

Pumpkin-swirl brownies

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Pumpkin pancakes with bacon and blackberries

Pumpkin pancakes with bacon and blackberries

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Pumpkin spice cheesecake

Pumpkin spice cheesecake

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Naturally sweet pumpkin squares

Naturally sweet pumpkin squares

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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake

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Homemade pumpkin spice latte

Homemade pumpkin spice latte

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Are you a pumpkin spice aficionado? Let us know in the comments how you like to use it or upload your favorite pumpkin spice recipe to our app and share it with the community!

More delicious ideas for you