This pumpkin chocolate chip bread delivers tender slices packed with warm spices and gooey bursts of cocoa. No need for fancy equipment as this quick-bread comes together in just a bowl.
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It’s time for seasonal fall baking! This sweet pumpkin bread makes for a quick on-the-go breakfast or snack, but I also enjoy a decadent slice after dinner too. Pumpkin puree is the main ingredient that adds the vibrant orange hue, natural sweetness, as well as nutritional benefits like fiber and vitamin A. Paired with various warm spices, your home will fill up with amazing aromas as this loaf bakes.
No need to reinvent the wheel, I’ve taken my classic pumpkin bread recipe, but loaded it with chocolate chips and crunchy nuts. Let’s just say my kids prefer this version better! To ensure tender slices that don’t dry out, the extra starches from the puree and adding cornstarch lock in the moisture.
For a quick and convenient option, I use store-bought canned pumpkin puree. However, avoid using products labeled with pumpkin pie mix. They are pre-sweetened and already contain spices that would overwhelm this recipe– great for a pumpkin pie, but not for bread.
If pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins are available at the market, you can use them to make homemade pumpkin puree. It’s delicious!
Boost the pumpkin flavor
Pumpkin puree on its own can have a neutral and bland flavor, but it’s the perfect blank canvas to add flavor. In this recipe, I use a generous combination of five bold spices; cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. During the baking season, I make a big jar of pumpkin pie spice to just grab and use.
Salt helps to enhance the taste of the ingredients, boosting the characteristics of the ingredients. Vanilla extract adds a more well-rounded sweetness to the bread. A little bit of sour cream adds richness, while the acid balances the sweeteners.
For a moist texture
All-purpose flour is the base of the bread. However, adding in cornstarch provides extra insurance that prevents the texture from becoming dry. When the starch hydrates with the liquid ingredients in the batter then baked, it swells and creates a gel-like matrix. This process traps some of the water instead of it all baking off in the oven. It also helps to reduce gluten-formation, keeping the bread tender instead of tough.
For a domed top
I use three leavening agents to help the bread batter rise; baking powder, baking soda, and eggs. The chemical leavening agents work quickly to create carbon dioxide gas bubbles that push the batter up. They get trapped once the proteins in the flour gelatinize and set. The egg whites have a foaming ability, so whipping them with sugar until pale is a good indication that air has been incorporated before baking.
Add flavorful mix-ins
Chocolate chips add a rich cacao taste to the pumpkin bread. I recommend semi-sweet, although you can substitute other types of chocolate if desired. Dark chocolate for a more bitter taste or white chocolate for sweeter. A combination also gives a nice appearance and a variety in flavor.
Nuts provide a nice contrast in texture. I add chopped pecans for small crunchy bites in each slice, but other types of nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are tasty alternatives.
Preparing the bread batter
Make sure to gently fold the wet ingredients and dry ingredients together. If you overmix the batter, too much gluten will form, causing a tough texture. You want the flour to just hydrate, with a few streaks of dry areas left. Now you can stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.
I use a metal 9×5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray to prevent sticking. This type of pan heats up fast and cools quickly, so there isn’t too much carryover cooking during the brief cooling period.
Bake at a moderate 350-degrees for about an hour. This temperature gives plenty of time for the bread to cook evenly, without over-browning the top and sides. I like to let the bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes to complete the baking process, then immediately transfer it to a wire rack to cool down. My kids usually can’t wait too long, so we enjoy the warm slices.
Serve this with
To visually check, insert a toothpick in the center of the loaf and if it comes out clean with only a few moist crumbs, and the top is golden brown you’re good. You can also place an instant-read thermometer in the center and it should hit about 195 to 200ºF (90 to 93ºC). There will be some carryover cooking as it sits in the pan for 10 minutes.
Adding in too much pumpkin puree or wet ingredients causes a dense loaf. When there isn’t enough flour and sweeteners to absorb the moisture, the texture gets gummier instead of light and spongy. Also, make sure not to overmix the batter or too much gluten will form, making the structure more compact and chewy.
Since there is fresh pumpkin puree in the batter, this can shorten the shelf life. It’s best to cool the slices completely, then store them in an airtight container at room temperature for about 4 to 5 days, or 1 week in the refrigerator. Slices can be frozen for up to one month.
Brown sugar adds flavor and moisture
Using brown sugar not only sweetens the pumpkin bread but also changes the texture. This type of sugar is a humectant, which means it attracts moisture. As the bread cools, it will get softer because the sugar draws moisture to the surface and keeps it from leaving. The pieces will taste tender even after storing them for several days.
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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- 1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup semi sweet chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ cup pecans, or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Set the oven rack to the center position—Preheat to 350ºF (176ºC).
- Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice together. Thoroughly mix with a whisk until combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk the vegetable oil into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk in pumpkin puree, whole milk, sour cream, and vanilla extract until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture. Gently fold the batter until just moistened, making sure to scrape the bottom with some lumps and flour spots remaining. Do not over mix!
- Gently stir in the chocolate chips and pecans (if using).
- Pour the batter into the greased pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs or the internal temperature reaches 195 to 200ºF (90 to 93ºC), about 50 to 60 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes.If needed, cover the bread loosely with foil about 45 minutes into baking to prevent the top from getting too brown.
- Carefully run a knife or small spatula around the sides of the pan, remove the pumpkin bread and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.
- Using pumpkin pie spice: The cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice can be substituted for 2 ½ teaspoons of store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice.
- Storing: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days.
- Freezing: Slices can be individually wrapped in plastic and stored in a bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat by wrapping in a paper towel and microwave on medium power for 60 to 90 seconds.
- Make it Dairy-Free: Use unsweetened cashew or almond milk instead of cow’s milk. Use dairy-free sour cream or dairy-free yogurt. Use dairy-free chocolate chips.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 baking flour.
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