Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

honey pumpkin bread recipe

Well friends, I had every intention of posting a recipe or two last week, but a sore throat got in the way. I lugged my laptop along on a four day trip to Cleveland but spent every spare moment trying to sleep off this head cold. I’ll try to share more about my trip later this week, once I get my thoughts organized and my life back in order. I will say this: Cleveland is a delicious city!

I’ve already made two batches of this pumpkin bread, which is adapted from my ultimate banana bread recipe. It’s my trump card and I’ve been waiting until the right time to share it. Today I present it to you as a peace offering for my lackadaisical posting schedule.

honey and coconut oil pumpkin bread

This quick pumpkin bread is everything pumpkin bread should be: moist but not too oily, with a delectable spiced crumb that rises high in the oven. It’s made with 100% whole wheat flour, unrefined coconut oil and sweetened with honey, but you don’t have to tell anyone it’s healthy—they’ll just think it’s the best pumpkin bread they’ve ever had. Topped with a smear of peanut butter or a drizzle of coconut butter, it’ll stick with you from breakfast to lunch time.

And, bonus! This bread is easy to make and only requires one bowl, hence its title as the “ultimate” pumpkin bread recipe.

pumpkin bread batter

I’m sure some pumpkin purists would argue that I should have used homemade pumpkin purée for this recipe. I’ve heard mixed results on homemade pumpkin purée, though, and I justified my decision to use canned, organic purée by assuming that most of you would use it, too.

If you’re interested in learning how to make your own, here’s a post that shows you three ways to make pumpkin purée. But hey, if you get a craving and crank open a can of pumpkin in an off season, I won’t judge!

healthy pumpkin bread recipe

whole wheat pumpkin bread

See all those pale yellow, round dots in the bread below? It’s millet, which you may recognize as bird seed, but people can eat it, too! It took a couple of slices for me to warm up to the crunchy element, but now I really like it.

If you’re feeling adventurous, mix some millet into your batter. It’s an idea I got from Joy the Baker’s whole wheat and millet banana bread recipe.

pumpkin bread with millet

Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
4.4 from 18 reviews
Whole wheat, honey-sweetened pumpkin bread that only requires one bowl to make. You don't have to tell anyone it's healthy!
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or regular whole wheat flour
  • Optional- ⅓ to ½ cup rinsed millet
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda*
  • ¼ cup hot water*
  • Optional- turbinado (raw) sugar for sprinkling on top
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat oil and honey together. Add eggs, and beat well.
  3. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla, then the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Stir in flour, just until combined. If you’re adding millet, stir that in as well.
  4. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then mix briefly into batter until it is evenly distributed. Spread batter into the greased loaf pan.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and swirl with the tip of a table knife for a pretty marbled effect. Sprinkle a big pinch of turbinado sugar on top for a light, sweet crunch.
  6. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. Be sure to check that the bread is done baking by inserting a toothpick in the top. It should come out clean. If the top of the bread jiggles when you pull it out of the oven, it’s NOT done! Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
  • Adapted from my Ultimate Banana Bread.
  • If you need a great loaf pan, I love my Le Creuset stoneware loaf pan. It's non-toxic, heats evenly and cleans easily.
  • *Update 10/13/14: After several years of being baffled by the hot water/baking soda trick, I can now definitively report that it's an unnecessary step. If you prefer, you can just stir in ¼ cup water or milk (any kind) into the oil/honey/eggs and whisk the baking soda in with the spices.

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  1. says

    This looks great! I love millet in baked goods…I’ve tried it in a few different yeasted breads, but never in pumpkin bread before. Yum! :)

  2. says

    I love pumpkin bread, and this looks like a delicious (sneaky healthy) kind. I’m putting this on the list, but first I need to get rid of my zucchini. So I am going to try your zucchini brownies.

  3. says

    Love that this is a one bowl recipe and absolutely adore the bright orange! Hope you are feeling better. I’ve never been to Cleveland, but I do spend a fair amount of time in Ohio (my husband is from there) :)

  4. says

    This bread looks absolutely wonderful! I love using coconut oil in baked goods and I also love that you use honey as the sweetener. I just might try this baked in a muffin tin for breakfast tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  5. Rebekah says

    I made this recipe a few days ago. My whole family loved it, and they are not used to “healthy” foods. I’m making it again per my son’s tearful request this morning, as his older brother was eating the last piece. Seriously good stuff!! Thanks!

  6. Reg Klubeck says

    Have you ever done pumpkin-banana bread? OMG, it’s truly amazing. Throw in a handful of craisins, and as George Takei would say, “Oh, MY!” ;.)

  7. Diana says

    This recipe is just fabulous! I made it yesterday and it turned out just as expected. I added the millet and ground flaxseed, as I love the stuff and the taste and texture was superb! This recipe is a keeper!

  8. Arc says

    Hi kate, followed your recipe exactly and it turned moist crunchy sweet.. Going to have one right after going home thanks for the recipe

  9. says

    Hi Kate! I love your blog :) I made this recipe yesterday, and it was delicious! My entire family loved it, even my brother, who hates vegetables and healthy food! We all became fans of this recipe! The texture of the bread was marvellous! I used canola oil, because it was the one I had at home and the results were great! Greetings from Argentina!!!!!!

      • olivia says

        Although the bread’s still in the oven, I figured I should get my comment up here before I get too dozy and/or have a perimenopause moment and forget entirely.
        Already the kitchen smells divine, so tomorrow morning can’t come soon enough; this bread will be perfect in the a.m. with coffee!
        I added a wee bit more spice, a handful of pecans and since I’m on a bundt-pan tear, baked it in that.
        Thanks! :)

        • says

          Thanks for commenting, Olivia! How did the bread bake up in the bundt? I just baked my first bundt cake this weekend and never thought to try baking this quick bread in it.

  10. Valerie says

    This bread is AMAZING! I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of healthier breads and cookies lately, but when my dad (unhealthy eater) ate this he said, “Finally something I love!” I didn’t add any millet to the recipe, however, I will try that next time I make this. Highly recommend this recipe to any pumpkin lovers out there!

    • says

      Hooray, glad you and your dad enjoyed the bread! If you like bananas, I’m sure you would enjoy my banana bread as well. It’s basically the same recipe!

  11. Camelia says

    Made this last night, added pecans and pumpkin seeds in place of the millet, Delicious! Wonderfully moist, just the right amount of spice, and perfect hint of sweetness! This recipe is a keeper!!

    • says

      Thanks, Camelia! I’m so glad you enjoyed the pumpkin bread. You’d probably also like the banana bread, it’s basically the same recipe!

  12. Jennifer Creech says

    If I don’t have WW pastry flour, how much white whole wheat flour should I use? Thank you! I can’t wait to make it!

  13. Christine says

    This looks absolutely delicious! And healthy to boot! I only have whole wheat flour on hand, is it fine to make with that or should I go out and grab the whole wheat pastry flour? :)

  14. Lasin says

    Oh my goodness – I can’t stop eating this!!! I used homemade pumpkin purée that I made this morning, low carb pastry flour, and I left out the millet and cloves because I didn’t have any. I shared samples with several friends and we all completely love it! I froze a loaf and also some fresh purée so I can make more this winter. :) Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  15. says

    As soon as the weather gets a little cooler, (praying), instead of making my banana bread, i’m going to try this! It looks delicious! You could even cut the fat out from the oil by using apple sauce. I buy the organic cinnamon apple sauce to put in my banana bread, and it keeps it just as moist.

  16. Katy says

    Tried it and it turned out great!!!! First with walnuts, and now with hazelnuts (currently baking)
    Everyone loved it!!
    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!
    Any other ideas for unusual mix-ins?

    • says

      Hazelnuts sound like an amazing addition. Millet adds an interesting crunch, you can’t go wrong with dark chocolate, finely chopped candied ginger might give it some kick.

  17. Jodie Vasichek says

    This bread is FABULOUS! Thank you so much for the delicious recipe. It is so refreshing to make this without having to modify the heck out of traditional recipes calling for a stick of butter and a cup of sugar. My family loved it!

  18. Haider says

    Hi Kate,

    I just wanted to ask can baking powder be used instead of baking soda, or would you recommend only using baking soda?

    Thank you!

  19. says

    Just wanted to let you know that I loved this recipe! I used 100% pure maple syrup instead of honey because that is what I had. It turned out great. It was the first whole wheat recipe I’ve done in awhile that actually turned out tasty. Thank you!

    • says

      So happy to hear it, Natalie! I think I tried it with maple syrup last winter and really enjoyed it. If you like bananas I think you’ll like my banana bread recipe, too!

  20. says

    Hi, loved your recipe, I used it for two loaves of the pumpkin plain, one loaf with chocolate chips, then a huge batch of muffins filled with honey cream cheese filling. The kids and relatives ate every bit. I did do a substitution of unsweetened natural applesauce for the oil and pumpkin pie spice for the individual spices. Turned out very moist if there is anyone out there who even wants to go a little more light. I blogged about my recipe and gave you credit for a wonderful recipe! Will try the banana bread one you used originally next! Thank you for providing a recipe using honey and whole wheat flour!

  21. hala Zakhour says

    thank you so much for posting this recipe! i’ve had multiple requests for it since i made it the first time and shared it with friends. its definitely a healthy hit!!

  22. Maria says

    I’m another one who has to say this recipe is great! Had tried the banana bread before and fell in love, so when I thought of pumpkin bread came right to your blog looking for a recipe- Absolutely love them! Thanks for sharing them :)

  23. Whitney says

    Yum! I did half the oil and put in some applesauce. Probably shouldve used a banana as I cut the honey. Its just a little bit sweet (oh well…put some honey on top in the morning). I also put some sliced almonds and brown sugar on top. Also I didnt have whole wheat pastry flour so I put 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour sifted and 1/2 c white flour.

    So good…I plan on eating it with a little butter and honey and an egg for breakfast. Thanks!

  24. Kat says

    Loved the receipe Kate and I made it yesterday! substitute milled flax seeds for millet and also added walnuts! yum….thank you

  25. Madison Pard says

    Girlfriend – I can’t remember how in the world I stumbled upon this recipe this morning – but I went to whole foods and bought all the ingredients and planned my day around this bread. I couldn’t stop eating it the second it came out of the oven and I’ll be making it all season for my friends and family. Thanks so much!

  26. says

    I’ve made this a few times and absolutely love it! I love that it is sweetened with honey so that’s one less sub I have to do! I have begun to convert this into a sourdough bread. I use a 100% hydration sourdough around 8 ounces after being fed and left on counter overnight.

    This eliminates one cup of flour and around 4 ounces water and or liquid. I use 1/2 cup spelt flour and 1/4 cup brown rice flour for the remaining 3/4 cup of flour. I add a little cardamon to the spices as well. This time around I soaked dried cranberries overnight in orange juice.I strained them before baking reserving 1/4 cup of liquid.
    The 1/4 cup of liquid I heated replacing the 1/4 cup of water to mix with the baking soda. I chopped up about 2 ounces of 80% dark chocolate into chunks to fold in along with the cranberries and millet.
    I really love this recipe. Thanks so much for

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your substitutions, H! I’d love to sample a slice of your version. I don’t have any experience baking sourdough bread, but I do love it.

  27. Jodi says

    loved the bread! Made it with the kids tonight for a healthy treat-did not have millet, substituted quinoa, which we toasted and cooked prior to adding-gave it a nutty sweet crunch :) I have been adding quinoa and flaxseed meal into lots of quickbreads and muffins with great results. Even the hubby loved it;)

  28. says

    well I was looking for a healthy whole wheat pumpkin bread recipe- oh and I wanted it to be delicious too- and I found it! Thanks! Love your blog. I’ll be back. :)

  29. Kerry says

    I have made this bread over 20 times and love it more each time I make it!! A fantastic recipe and really simple to use in my mixer. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!!!

    • says

      Thank you, Kerry, for your comment! You have made that pumpkin bread more times than I have. So glad you love it. If you like bananas, I know you’d love my banana bread recipe, too.

  30. Susanna says

    Hmm. Did any readers try this or just think it sounded good? I made it to the letter and it was too dense to cook properly through. So yes, it is moist, but that’s because the centre of the loaf is heavy and not fully cooked. I added a little time on to the recipe and a toothpick came out clean. Flavour is great but won’t make this one again.

    • says

      I’m sorry the banana bread didn’t turn out well for you, Susanna. I have made the recipe many times myself and received positive feedback from other readers as well. Are you sure your oven is properly calibrated and your baking soda isn’t expired? Sounds like something went awry for you.

  31. Laura says

    My family loves this pumpkin bread! Which honestly shocked me. We have tried and enjoyed many classic pumpkin bread recipes that include a lot of sugar. We are making better choices now and I thought I would give this recipe a try. Instant hit! My 3 year old son is my biggest critic, so I was most curious about his response. He literally took a bite, looked up at me with big, round surprised eyes and said, “Mommy, this is the yummiest pumpkin bread ever.” So, THANK YOU! He helped me make another batch just this morning. I love how much pumpkin is used in the recipe, the use of whole wheat flour and how light and yummy it turns out. Here’s to yummy food and fun family memories!

    • says

      Hooray! I’m glad this recipe is a hit with your family, Laura. If your kids like bananas, I bet they would enjoy the banana bread version, too.

  32. Michelle says

    Just made this and wow! It is so moist, not too sweet and I don’t feel any guilt eating it. Tastes great plain, but can’t wait to try it with almond or peanut butter. Thanks for the recipe :)

  33. Courtney says

    I made your pumpkin bread last night (didn’t use millet, though. just made it traditional-style). It’s soo good. I love your banana bread recipe, too. I’ve made the banana bread recipe a few times, which is so sweet and delicious, and it’s a brilliant recipe made of all healthy things! The whole wheat/honey combination just makes it taste so warm and home-y. The pumpkin bread is also just as amazing for a sweet pumpkin treat that’s healthy. Thank you so much for sharing your smart, awesome recipes. I really appreciate it!

  34. Courtney says

    Also, if anyone else is interested, I substituted a banana for the two eggs, and it still turned out really well. If you are conscious about your cholesterol, a half of a banana can be substituted for one egg in a baking recipe, if you didn’t already know that. However, depending on the recipe you’re using, bananas might ruin the flavor, so be careful.

    Thank you again, Kate!

  35. Maggie says

    I made this into muffins using maple syrup to sweeten and adding the millet. Oh my gosh, it’s totally my new favorite muffin (I prefer muffins for portion control). So tender and the perfect level of sweetness. Thank you!

    • says

      Maggie, I’m happy to hear that you are enjoying the pumpkin bread! I’ll have to try making it into muffins. I could really go for a muffin right now…

  36. Maria says

    I made this bread and it came out very dense and heavy. The only change I made was with the honey. I used Sohgave, its a blue agave sweetener. I do not know if it this that made the difference in the bread. I have made a banana bread and did not use this as the sweetener and my bread came out really nice.

    • says

      Hmm, Maria, I’m not sure what went wrong. Different liquid sweeteners behave differently so it could have been the agave. You might also want to check the expiration date on the baking soda.

  37. RG says

    Hello Kate,
    I am relatively new to baking. I tried the pumpkin bread recipe as described, but ended up with a denser, heavier center. It tastes alright, but feels slightly underbaked, with a brown crust.
    However, I did use unsifted white whole wheat flour and not pastry flour. I mixed the batter well (can over mixing be an issue?). I did read about over mixing causing a denser loaf. The batter felt smooth without any grittiness at the end of mixing.
    I dispersed the baking soda in cold water and added to the batter before mixing well.
    I will retry with WW pastry flour, sifted, with parchment paper lined loaf pan. I was hoping to have a good loaf made tomorrow. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes.

    • says

      Hi RG, I’m very sorry your comment slipped by me. Your dense loaf could have resulted from a few factors. Overmixing the bread does toughen up the gluten, so easy does it! I measure my flour using the scoop and swoop method—if your flour is more packed in your measuring cups than mine, that would make the loaf more dense. Check the expiration date on your baking soda, too. Also, the recipe specifies mixing the baking soda with hot water, not cold, so that might have something to do with it. Apologies again for not getting back to you sooner!

      • RG says

        Thank you Kate. I did manage to make several versions and experimented with several ratios of white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour. Results were interesting and since I needed it before a particluar date settled on a ratio of 1:3 of WWWF : WWPF. Followed the rest of your advice. I wasnt fully satisfied with the end product, but the person I made it for was kind enough to say it was good. I will try some of your other recipes soon.

  38. Kelly says

    We’re having a cool spell & a can of pumpkin has been catching my eye in the pantry. So glad I stumbled upon this recipe. Perfectly sweet with a great texture. Baked up beautifully. Added the millet and everyone enjoyed the crunch. Will try to sub the eggs next time. Thx for the recipe.

    • says

      Kelly, I’m so glad you enjoyed the pumpkin bread! Thank you for commenting. I just heard from another commenter that flax eggs worked well in my banana bread recipe, which is almost the same as this one.

  39. says

    I just baked this recipe to welcome in the first day that really felt like fall in NYC. Fantastic. Couldn’t find millet when I was buying supplies, but I can’t wait to try that next time. Love your whole site!

  40. kirsten says

    my eight year old asked if she could bake pumpkin bread. I told her that if she could find a recipe without refined sugar and using whole wheat bread, it was a go. she found this recipe (and website!) and she baked it all by herself. She also found five or six other salads/breakfast/dinner recipes that she is dying to make next week. Thank you! for inspiring my little chef to eat whole foods in a delicious way!

  41. Kimberly says

    Love this bread! (Also tried your peach & oat pancakes, and again a delicious success!)
    I really like the crispy texture on the top — have you ever tried baking the loaf pan first, then pouring in the mixture and baking? I haven’t, but I’m wondering if that might give it a crispy kind of outside all around? Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • says

      Hey Kimberly! Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying the recipes! No, I haven’t tried making bread like that, but it’s probably worth a shot. You might need to decrease your baking time a bit. I bet you could also bake the bread in a wider pan—maybe a square baker?—for maximum top crust. Again, you would need to decrease baking time. Please let me know if you try either method!

  42. Katie says

    I have tried this twice now (and made two loafs the second time) and they both came out raw inside, even after a full hour+. I am using a glass pyrex bread pan – maybe this is the difference. What is cooked though and what I have eaten, has been AMAZING. I will not rest until a bake a perfect loaf of this bread!

  43. Ash says

    I recently made this bread and I wanted to say it that I think it was the best pumpkin bread I’ve ever had. I’m ditching my sugar and fat laden old standby recipe and making this one from now on! I added some frozen cranberries in as well, they make a great addition :)

  44. Rachel says

    I made this bread this afternoon and I can’t keep my hands off it! I keep cutting tiny little pieces, thinking that just one more bite will be enough. :) All that to say — I love it! (Though my oven must run too hot; I over-baked it.)

  45. zara says

    I didn’t expect this to turn out great but it was really amazing.delicious and healthy at the same time.I used olive oil this time but I rather use another oil next time,I didn’t like the olive oil taste so much.can I use another kind of oil?(where I live we don’t have coconut oil here)
    thanks for the recipe

  46. Nella says

    Just made this with my 3-yr-old son: easy, delicious and great way to incorporate leftover pumpkin in a recipe.
    Will make this again for sure!
    Thanks for sharing!

  47. Bill Boyd says

    Cookie and Kate,

    That’s a really enjoyable bread; fun to assemble and very, very edible. The first time making it, I followed your recipe fairly closely, going real easy on the sweet and oil. Second time, today, I sweetened (~1/4 cup) with a blend of honey and maple syrup and added about 1/4 cup of freshly brewed (drip method) black coffee. Like the first time, I added half-handfuls of raisins and raw sunflower seed, plus a dozen or so almonds.

    As testimony to the bread’s worthiness, my spouse, who rarely touches my home-made whole-wheat bread, devoured more than half that first loaf.

    You’ve got a winner!


    P.S. I rate this five stars (rating tool below seems not to be working well).


  48. Robin says

    Wonderful recipe (I didn’t try millet) thank you! I was looking for a healthy recipe for my 2 yr old and she couldn’t get enough of it! I especially liked the cane sugar on top which added just the right sweetness.

  49. Annie says

    Just made this! The amount of sweetness is perfect – so many other pumpkin bread recipes I’ve looked at just use waaaaay too much sugar (and oil). The extra sugar and cinnamon on top is a great idea. I used only whole wheat flour because I don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, but I think making it again I would use 50% regular whole wheat and 50% AP flour. Some people may like the extra texture but I’m not a huge fan. Thanks Kate!

  50. Morgan Reece says

    Thanks for a great recipe! We have tried MANY versions of pumpkin bread (talking years here), and never were satisfied with the outcome (always too flat, or waaaay too much sugar).
    I made minor changes: doubled the recipe, used AP flour (handy), butter for the fat, 1 can of pumpkin + 1/4 C. applesauce for the doubled pumpkin, and added about 12 oz. of mini chocolate chips for 2 loaves. Sprinkled lightly with cinnamon suger. Placed a baking sheet in the bottom of my oven to keep the crust lighter, and baked a little longer, with foil covering for the last 15-20 minutes to be sure it cooked through and wouldn’t fall. These rose beautifully, yielded tender loaf w/great flavor. At long last success! Can’t thank you enough! If I make this with whole wheat flour, I will either adapt the recipe to allow for soaking the flour first, or add 1/2 tsp. Calcium Carbonate per loaf, to break down or lock up the phytic acid present in whole grains (AP flour is very low in phytic acid, so this step is not required). I am a very happy camper, and so grateful that you posted this! God bless you and yours.

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