Whole-Grain Pumpkin Yeast Bread: the after-Thanksgiving-dinner sandwich essential

A large turkey, a small group of friends, and The Big Game makes for the best of Thanksgiving holidays to me.

And I’ll bet that many of you have the same thought as I do when the turkey comes out of the oven. Sure, you’re excited about the first round of turkey and gravy on your plate, but aren’t you already thinking about the cold turkey sandwiches that come later in the day? I know I am.

In fact, I think about those sandwiches often enough that my hubby and I will make them even in the height of summer. While I do skip the actual roasting of the turkey, we pick up a roasted chicken at the store, make the stuffing, open the cranberry sauce, and bake up a loaf of homemade bread. Ah, the delight of such a sammie is just as strong in July as it is in November. Mmmm-mmm!

Most often our Thanksgiving sandwiches are stacked on a soft and tender dinner roll from my age-old recipe, but this year I’m going to be adding some flair to our bread basket with Whole Grain Pumpkin Yeast Bread. I’ve been testing it out in the kitchen here, and it’s become one of my favorites. My husband loves it for toast in the morning, too. Once you get a taste of the rich, mellow pumpkin, lightly spiced and not too sweet, you’ll be a convert, too.

photo 1.o

While you can certainly add all of the ingredients straight to your mixing bowl or bread machine bucket as listed in the recipe, I like to break it into two stages. First add:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup canned or puréed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour (white whole wheat or premium)

Mix everything together by hand and let the mixture sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. There’s a lot of moisture here, and it takes time for the flour to fully hydrate. By giving the ingredients a chance to sit, the flour can get a jump-start absorbing the liquids, which can save you from adding too much flour later on.

photo 1

Once you’ve let the initial mix sit, you can add the rest of the ingredients:
1 3/4 to 2 cups (7 1/4 to 8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Now at first I was skeptical about adding spices to the bread. I didn’t want to end up with something that tasted like pumpkin pie, as much as I love it for dessert. Happily, the spices don’t overpower but instead play lovely background notes against the pumpkin. Like a whisper instead of a shout, they get the point across right when you need it.

Continue to knead the bread by hand, in your mixer, or using the dough cycle of your bread machine. Check to be sure the dough isn’t too wet and sticky, and add more flour by the tablespoonful as needed.

This dough will still be softer and moister than that of regular sandwich bread. As long as it doesn’t stick to you like glue, you’re good to go.

photo 5-001

I’m stopping the mixer at this point so you can see that my dough is nearly ready. It’s not too wet, nor too dry. I still have a small amount of flour around the edges of the bowl,but the main body of dough is holding together nicely.

Some bread doughs are going to be naturally more sticky and wet than others, and even as you work more flour into them, it will keep getting absorbed; so it’s easy to add too much. By stopping here and working the dough gently by hand until smooth, you’ll have much better control over the final outcome.

Can you keep going in the mixer or bread machine? Absolutely! For me, I still like a little hands-on during the process.

photo 2-001

Set the dough aside to rise, covered, for about 45 to 50 minutes. Be patient as you watch the dough; it doesn’t start to rise for about 20 minutes or so, but will be full and puffy by the end of the rise time.

Check out my handy-dandy rising method of popping a bowl over my mixer bowl. Apparently, it also makes a pretty good mirror, too. Say “cheese”!

Gently deflate the dough and shape it into a smooth log. Place itin a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan and cover again for the final rise.


There you go, a nicely domed loaf that isn’t overflowing the edges of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a digital thermometer reads 190°F when inserted into the center of the loaf. Remove the loaf from the oven, and after a couple of minutes transfer it to a rack to cool.


Brushing the finished loaf with melted butter is completely optional, but yields the softest crust. Be sure to cool this bread completely before slicing, otherwise the interior can be gummy. I know it’s torture, but sometimes we just have to suffer for our art.

So, during this holiday season, pick up an extra can of pumpkin while it’s on sale, and make up a few of these sumptuous breads. A baked loaf will keep in the freezer up to 3 months – right about the same time you run out of turkey leftovers!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Whole Grain Pumpkin Yeast Bread.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. waikikirie

    Looks great. Will give it a try. IF not for sandwiches, maybe for the bread basket on Thanksgiving. Either way, will be enjoying this some time during the holiday season…(Can’t believe it is almost here!)xoxoxo

  2. Margy

    Could this be adapted to fit two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch bread pans? Or would it be easier just to double the recipe and bake the excess as a couple of rolls? I like to bake the smaller loaves, one to keep and one to give to a co-worker every week. Sounds like a good recipe to tweak with some maple sugar and boiled cider.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ll be better off doubling the recipe and baking the excess off! Just make sure to not double the yeast. Jon@KAF

    2. maw2map

      Am I understanding that if you want two loaves you double everything except the yeast you still use 2 tsp.? Is this often the case in doubling yeast breads?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      That is correct! We only double the yeast if the amount of flour is greater than 8 cups after doubling. Jon@KAF

  3. Eric Mooney

    is that a misspelling that there’s only a quarter cup of water because I’m making it now and it’s pretty dry

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The recipe is correct, but you can always add a bit more water if it feels too dry. Barb@KAF

    2. Vicky

      Thank you! I, too, am making it now and the starting ingredients were wayyyy to dry! And, yes, I did spoon the flour into the cup instead of “scooping” it. I added at least another 1/4 cup, and am waiting the 10-15 to see what it looks like before adding the white.

  4. June Chi

    I made this yesterday and had lots of problems. I made it in the bread machine and used the whole wheat setting. I am sure this was the wrong setting because the loaf looks dried out and shrunk. (I have not sliced the loaf yet because due to poor planning the loaf was not done until 11:30 P.M.)

    I used the ounces instead cups measurement and I am pretty sure these measurements are way way off. I had to increase the water amount another 1/4 cup I am not sure of the exact amount, I just know it was a lot more than 2 ounces

    I just looked at the recipe and it calls for 1 cup of pumpkin, but 9 1/2 ounces of pumpkin. I think this is too much pumpkin and that may be why the mixture was so dry.

    I may try the loaf again if the flavor is there, but with so many pumpkin bread recipies on the net I probably won’t bother

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’m sorry you had so many issues with this recipe, June! MJ may have some more pointers for you, but in the meantime feel free to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253 to troubleshoot this recipe. Barb@KAF

    2. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi June,
      Sorry to hear you had troubles with the loaf being dry. The measurements are correct, as 1 cup of pumpkin by volume is 9 1/2 ounces by weight. The pumpkin helps keep the bread moist, so if you cut it down at all, that could account for the dryness. Also, adding some more water to a bread dough is perfectly normal and hydration will vary depending on the flour, the humidity, etc. The real goal is the look and feel of the dough, so if you need to add a bit more liquid or flour to get the right consistency, that’s the thing to do. As Barb said, you can definitely contact the baker’s hotline to go over the recipe and troubleshoot, we’re happy to help. ~ MJ

  5. Angela

    Hi! This looks yummy and I was wondering if it could make dinner rolls instead of a loaf. Would that work? Thank you for all your work and great recipes!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure, yeast doughs can be shaped and formed into pretty much whatever you like. Just remember that they will take less time to bake! Jon@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’m sorry to say that we have not tested this as a gluten free version. However, there may some options for you on the internet! I will also make sure to pass along the suggestion for a gluten free recipe. Jon@KAF

  6. Marla

    oohhhh…I’m with Eric. My dough was not wet at all. It immediately came together like a tennis ball. So, like June, I doubled the water. It still didn’t seem right. I didn’t know to keep kneading it in the mixer or not. It barely rose at all the first time. I’ve made lots of bread in my bread machine, but yeast bread by hand is relatively new to me. Instructions like “not too wet or not too dry” didn’t really help me. I now have it in the bread pan for the final rise, but I really have no idea how much time to give it.

    My yeast is fresh, I put it in a warm place. The only thing I can think of, is the other recipes always call for warm water. This recipe didn’t. And, I was using pumpkin left over from a large can, so it had been refrigerated. Maybe using cold water, combined with cold pumpkin retarded the yeast?? IDK.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Cold pumpkin and cold water could definitely slow down your rise. I hope your bread rose in the oven! For troubleshooting this recipe please give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF

  7. David Hoch

    If I wanted to make this with white flour rather than whole wheat flour, would you recommend substituting one-for-one, or is there a different measurement that you’d recommend?


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would hold back a bit of the liquid (2-3 tablespoons) when using only white flour, or adjust by using a few extra tablespoons of flour if the batter seems too thin. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  8. Leslie B

    Has anyone at a Higher Altitude made this bread? If so did you do any adjustments? I sure want to try this soon..and a bit of help would be appreciated. I am almost 4000′. thanks.

  9. Francie

    Would these make good croutons? I’d like to toast these up to add to a fall salad (mixed greens, candied nuts, dried cranberries, goat cheese).

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      What an outstanding idea Francie! I can’t wait to give this a try. Truly gourmet thinking there! ~ MJ

    2. corina

      Francie that is a fab idea

      king arthur
      thank you so much
      I have been looking for the pumpkin bread recipe that we ate as children and this looks like it thank you so much

  10. Helen

    I had the same problem with my bread not rising very much for both rises. I think the fact that warm water was not used really impacted this. I don’t understand how you got your bread to rise within the time you provided??

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This bread is not a very high rising bread. It will dome in the pan but barely crests the edge of the pan. The dough must be very sticky. Please do use warm water for a faster rise. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

  11. jsfox

    Tried this for the first time today. Results: taste is wonderful. However like others this needs far more water than the recipe calls for. Question what is the weight of the pumpkin purée in the recipe and the brand used. This may explain the disparity between recipe and result I and others are having. Also trying again with 2 1/4 tsp of yeast since the rise was weak on mine with very fresh yeast. SAF gold instant yeast may be a better choice for this bread. Will make again with tweaks.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The weight of the pumpkin puree is 9 1/2 ounces. MJ says she used Libby’s. You are correct that the SAF gold may give you a quicker rise. Let us know how your tweaks workout. Barb@KAF

  12. Lisa Futterman

    This bread looked perfect for my Thanksgiving crowd! Dough came to ether great. After the second rising I brushed the crust with some water and added pumpkin seeds to the top. I tripled the recipe. Thanks for publishing it.

  13. lindsey hall

    I should have read the reviews before making because I am having the same issues. My bread dough is like a brick even after doubling the water. I will let it rise but I am not expecting much unfortunately. I wonder if using honey instead of brown sugar would help increase the liquid?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The honey will add moisture to the bread. Try using the SAF Gold because this is a fairly rich loaf, and use warm water. Have your pumpkin at room temperature as well. Remember, your kitchen may be a bit cooler than ours, so let it rise a bit longer if needed to achieve the correct volume. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Lisa, I would divide into 2-2 1/2 oz rolls and allow to rise for about 45-60 minutes. Baking temperature should be the same, but baking time will be more like 20-25 minutes. You might also enjoy this recipe: . Barb@KAF

  14. Rebecca

    I just baked this bread and it turned out amazing, it rose beautifully and the texture was perfect thank you so much for the recipe

  15. Evelyn from Canada

    I doubled the spice amounts and added a few more tablespoons of sugar (not really needed but I liked it a bit sweeter) and this recipe is foolproof. Perfect every time

  16. Janet

    I mix a batch of pumpkin pie filling, bake one pie, add bread flour – Sir Galahad, of course – and yeast to the remaining pie filling and bake up a loaf of pumpkin pie sweetbread. Sells like crazy at Farmers Market!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      We’re sorry to hear you had trouble MJ. Please give the hotline bakers a call, or drop an email. We’ll be happy to help troubleshoot. ~ MJ

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you feel your dough is a bit too stiff, feel free to add a few extra tablespoons of water or you can hold back the last 1/2 cup of flour and add it during the kneading process only if the dough seems sticky. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  17. Nancyc

    You have taught me to read comments before I use an online recipe. My dough was too dry; I hope I’ve salvaged it.

  18. Brian Mayhew

    I used a 15 oz can and it was perfect.. It made up for the dryness. I used honey instead of brown sugar. I like the stages in the recipe. I think I might try butternut squash in this one day.

  19. Lana

    I made this and it immediately formed into a ball in the dough form.

    Was I supposed to cook it the entire way in the bread machine ?

    1. PJ Hamel

      Lana, we haven’t tried baking this bread in a bread machine; but we do find you can easily make the dough in the machine, then take it out after the completion of the dough cycle and bake it in a conventional pan in the oven. If it formed a ball in your bread machine during the kneading cycle, that’s good; that’s what it’s supposed to do. Hope this helps — PJH

  20. Dr. C

    The loaf turned out very delicious. If I had read the comments before trying the recipe, I might have been tempted to add more liquid, but I did not. Instead of water, I used Half and Half. The pumpkin was homemade which is much more juicy and flavorful than store-canned. I assumed that the yeast needed to be proofed, so I mixed the Half and Half, pumpkin, and oil together and warmed them before adding the yeast. After a couple minutes, I added the whole wheat flour and then waited for it to hydrate. My mix was soft and sticky. I used exactly 2C of white flour and had a dough that was soft, but kneadable. The loaf rose only about 3/4″ above the pan, but it baked up tender on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Nice complement to our roast chicken and roasted root veggie supper.

  21. Abby

    I made this bread last night for a potluck at a preschool, with very small changes: mashed winter squash, KAF bread flour, corn oil, and molasses; mixed and kneaded by hand; 4.5 hour initial rise time (so I could get some sleep); baked a round loaf on parchment paper in a dutch oven; painted crust with salt water. The preschoolers liked the soft texture and the parents were happy it was vegan. For spices, I used a small amount of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, and I loved how the bread smelled faintly of these. We offered honey butter on the side.

    The hardest part for me was getting the moisture level of the dough correct. I was completely happy with the results after letting the bread cool for several hours after baking.


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