Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Bourbon

Let’s talk about how pumpkin flavors are forced into everything at this time of year. I know this isn’t a universal feeling, but I kinda run screaming from pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin ale, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin pie flavored vodka (blech) and many of the “pumpkin spice” type commercial products that hit the shelves in October like so many fallen leaves after a windstorm. These flavors just feel forced to me.

But pumpkin baked goods, oh, those leave me smitten. Before the year is out I will indulge in soft, puffy pumpkin cookies with a shiny, lemon-zest flecked glaze. I will make pumpkin spice waffles “for the kids” and go back for seconds, topping mine with pecans and maple syrup. And I will make pumpkin bread…oh, pumpkin bread.

This particular version of pumpkin bread is tarted up with dark chocolate chips, walnuts and bourbon. These additions give a grown up note to the cake, but feel free to leave out any or all of these items depending on your preferences.

Far too easy to eat for something so rich and decadent, this bread makes me happy both for comforting fall flavors and big cozy sweaters that forgive a little seasonal over-indulgence.

Although I grow a lot of winter squash, including butternut squash which makes a lovely rich puree, I generally use my homegrown squash in more savory applications and use store-bought canned pumpkin puree for recipes like this.


I’m in the habit of keeping my winter squash cellared, and when Pumpkin Bread mania strikes, I don’t really want to take the time to roast and puree a winter squash to order. So, canned it is. If you are better at that “planning ahead” thing than I am, you can keep roasted, pureed squash in the freezer for recipes like this. Pumpkin puree cannot be safely home canned, so don’t bother.

Pro tip: get parchment paper. It will ensure that every loaf of quick bread you ever make for the rest of your life comes out of your pan without sticking. I use the roll kind from Costco right now (you can see it here but buy it in store for a far better price), and while the roll is okay, I am a happier baker when I have pre-cut sheetpan-size sheets like these.


For loaf or square cake pans, I just cut the parchment into a “sling” that fits along the sides and bottom of the pan. This parchment sling makes it a snap to remove a loaf of quickbread or cake from a pan without any flipping or sticking.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Bourbon

Adapted from All Recipes

Makes 2 – 9×5 loaf pans OR 2 – 9×9 inch square cake pans OR about 24 muffins.



Wet Stuff

  • 15 ounces (1 can) pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. bourbon. I use Jim Beam. (Optional – substitute water or apple juice if you prefer not to use bourbon)
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar

Dry Stuff

  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour. (Substitute up to half white whole wheat pastry flour if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Add Ins

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (Optional)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pans and either flour or line them with parchment paper. If making muffins, grease and flour or use muffin liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Wet Stuff. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, bourbon and sugar until well blended.

Place a kitchen sieve over the bowl and add the Dry Stuff to it: dump the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger into the sieve. Gently shake the sieve until all the Dry Stuff has been sifted together into the Wet Stuff bowl.


(I introduce the Dry Stuff to the Wet Stuff in this way only so that I only dirty one bowl, but if you prefer you can sift all the Dry Stuff ingredients together into a second bowl and then dump the Dry Stuff into the Wet Stuff.)

Stir the Dry Stuff into the Wet Stuff until just blended with no flour streaks.  Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips and fold them into the batter until evenly distributed.


Pour batter evenly between the prepared pans or portion into muffin tins.

Bake for about 60-70 minutes in the preheated oven for 9×5 loaf pans, about 45-55 minutes for 9×9 square pans, or about 25-35 minutes for muffins. Because baking time will vary based on your oven calibration, oven size, pan, etc., it’s really best to rely on the the toothpick test to determine when your Pumpkin Bread is done. Loaves or muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let Pumpkin Bread cool in pan until firmed up, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cake rack and let cool completely before slicing. This is harder than it should be, but the texture of the quick bread is better if allowed to fully cool before you cut it open.

This bread freezes well if well wrapped.

What do you think about pumpkin flavored everything at this time of year?


  1. Thom Foote says

    The only things different I did was to substitute olive oil (it does not affect the taste and makes it healthier), 1/2 C less sugar (I use Costco’s organic), white whole wheat flour and 1/2 tsp more baking soda. It still came out yummy.

  2. says

    I love pumpkin flavoured everything this time of the year, it makes me feel all seasonal.
    This looks like a great recipe, how can you go wrong with chocolate, pumpkin and bourbon!?
    I have 25 pumpkins, we grew way too many this year, so the more yummy pumpkin recipes the better!

  3. Jennifer says

    Hey Erica. try your pumpkin in the slow cooker. I too hate ramping up the oven but a friend suggested the slow cooker and it was perfect! Just quarter the pumpkin, take out the seeds and pop in the cooker with a splash of water. Cover and ignore for a few hours than scoop and mash.

    I am actually finding I am using my slow cooker more for preparing foods than cooking actual dishes. Beets are awesome in the slow cooker too. I even read this summer you can do corn on the cob too (though I didn’t try that).

  4. Lindsey says

    I have about 25 pumpkins/winter squash I grew, now hanging around in a cool room. When I bake a chicken, I also use the opportunity to bake a pumpkin—better use of the energy and having to deal with the pulp of only one pumpkin at a time is easier. By the time dinner and the dishes are over, the pumpkin is cool enough to be scooped out and put into 1-cup containers or freezer bags.

    I LOVE the pumpkin everything that shows up this time of year, even if I don’t eat a lot of it (like I hate coffee, so lattes don’t interest me). Just seeing the ads gives me a fall feeling!

  5. says

    I tried pumpkin beer. It tasted like beer with a cinnamon finish, so… meh?
    Pumpkin-spice everything is basically “chai” everything, from what can tell, so I typically ignore it.

    That said: I love the winter squashes with the fierce devotion of religious fervor (when I had a garden, it was my main crop) and I delight in making squash soups and pumpkin butter every year – I use the latter in pancakes (in lieu of eggs and sugar, for the most part) and it makes the fluffiest, most velvety pancakes you ever tasted.

    I guess: I’m not a particular fan of All Things Pumpkin-Spice, but (butternut, buttercup, delecata, marina di chioggia, thelma saunders, winter luxury and musquee de provence) winter squashes & pumpkins are a big part of how I conceptualize things like “plenty” and “abundance” and “enough”. So the sight, taste, and smell of them (raw or cooked, on their own or with other flavours, whole or in pieces) are really special to me.

  6. Greg says

    I make pumkin/squash butter from whatever I have available from our csa. The recipe is from Preservation Kitchen, u double roast the pumkin with a stick of butter and spices, its fantastic! I just freeze it because it doesnt have enough sugar to b safe water canned. U can use it in place of the canned pumkin in any recipe that calls for pumkin pie spiced pumkin or just substitute some of it with some regular canned pumkin because it is so rich it can be diluted a bit, a half cup of it in waffle batter is probably what i use it for the most, my 5yr old loves waffles so we eat them 1nce a week. I am not huge on savory pumkin other than for soup, I also cook then freeze plain pumkin/sqaush and then i can turn it into thai pumkin soup or pumkin soup with chipoltle and sour cream etc, its a good base for almost anything. I usually wait till all my other late season canning is done since the pumkins and squash stay good in cellar for a long time. And I totally agree i am scared of those pumkin spiced lattes they are wierd and often have way to much sugar.

    • Heather says

      Could you direct us to the recipe for the pumpkin? I have lots of winter squash to process and this might be a good way!

      • Greg says

        Preservation kitchen by Paul Virant he is a michelen rated chef from chicago that is really into food preservation. I have made at least 8 or 9 different things from this cookbook since i purchaced it and all have been great and they push your creativity because you spend 3 hrs canning carmel cipolinni onion agre doux you are going to find different ways to use it.

  7. Sarah says

    I dislike that everything is pumpkin this time of year. I basically feel pumpkin-ed out.
    It’s somewhat like the shock of going to a “garden center” to get wood chips for my smoker on October 5 only to find there is no garden center. It is now Christmas town… in Arizona… where it’s still over 80 degrees…
    That doesn’t mean that I don’t love pumpkin though! I will definitely give this a try, maybe even next weekend.

    • Greg says

      Trader Joes has pumkin dog treats?? Poor spoiled dog who has to eat that because his owner thinks he should eat like a human. L

  8. says

    Definitely tweaked my taste buds enough to try. What I really WANT is your pumpkin cookie recipe. A local bakery years ago made a pumpkin cookie so yummy I felt called into walking there from my business 2 blocks away daily for an afternoon cookie break during pumpkin’s seasonal run.The recipe has been lost by the baker, who sold the business years ago and is my friend. It was a big, puffy, soft cookie with the perfect glaze. I don’t usually eat sweets and I prefer my cookies thin and crispy, but these… I can still taste their perfection. I’ve tried a few recipes, but can’t seem to get it just right.

    • says

      You’re good. :) These walnuts were actually taken from an infusion of Caramel Walnut Bourbon. Waste not, want not, I always say. There’s a giant post coming up on infusions, but for this recipe, bourbon soaked walnuts are unnecessary. The normal chopped kind work just fine.

  9. says

    You know, I do get sucked in by the holiday-season eggnog-flavored things (albeit more in “I made coffee and bought a carton of eggnog to put in it” way than a “BUY ALL THE LATTES” way), but pumpkin-flavored food is generally not at the top of my list. Fall in California never seems sufficiently fall-y for pumpkin to be appropriate. Plus I usually just like my coffee to be coffee-flavored. :) HOWEVER, I would absolutely go for a loaf or two of this bread! The parchment paper trick is one of my favorites too.

  10. Karen says

    I always find that chocolate chips never seem quite right in pumpkin bread. I use golden raisins, and most of the friends I’ve given it to agree that its fabulous. Or perhaps it’s just that I jealously hoard a spectacular pumpkin bread recipe…
    Trader Joes had a brilliant pumpkin pancake/waffle mix last year that my brother turned me onto…it was addictive!

  11. Heather says

    Made this yesterday, the very day it came in! Was a great reason to open the bourbon I had purchased this summer for “southern” recipes. Had an ancient jar of “pumpkin pie filling” so I had to make up how much sugar to leave out, etc, but it came out great. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. says

    I love pumpkin desserts. I don’t really drink coffee or any of the other pumpkin-explosion fall stuff. Being so far away from my childhood home (and a place with a fall), makes me want to trying baking. I will definitely have to buy a can of pumpkin during my next grocery trip…and chocolate chips (of course).

  13. Lisa says

    Look at that virtuous teeny tiny slice of bourbon chocolate pumpkin bread (I changed the name to better reflect the order of importance). Or is that fork the size of a Bible?

  14. Austin says

    Oh. The kitchen sieve trick is BRILLIANT. I hate having to wash all those bowls after making a cake… and it’s kinda like sifting all the ingredients in, but without using the sifter. One less thing to wash! Brilliant. Thank you…

  15. Kirsten McCulloch says

    Oh dear, I keep forgetting, Akismet seems to have decided I am a spammer. trying again without my website entered.

    Erica, if you do find my original comment in your spam filter, could you please tell Akismet it is not spam (and then delete this one?) thank you.

    And I will not type my whole original message again, but suffice it to say, it’s looks yum!

  16. jb says

    About the time this post was written I was at Costco and progressively laughing harder as I came across more and more bizarre pumpkin flavored foods. Pumpkin marinara sauce? Maybe if I dressed it with some coconut milk and curry… Pumpkin dumplings (maybe to go with the sauce?)…And my fav pumpkin tortilla chips. What do you dip those in?

    I do admit to buying 1 pumpkin spice latte, for $4.95 I am ashamed to admit. What can I say, I was tired and stressed!

  17. Vy says

    I’ve been making this for gifts this year, a huge hit! I made it with rum soaked raisins instead of bourbon and chocolate chips, but the inspiration is all you. Miss you!


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