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I've been making pumpkin butter every fall for years. My standard recipe involves loads of brown sugar and cinnamon, and the results taste almost exactly like pumpkin pie filling. It's delicious, but not exactly novel. This year, I decided to change things up a bit by incorporating a few bold new flavors: honey, apple, and freshly grated ginger.
Recipes for pumpkin butter vary, but they all have one thing in common: brown sugar. While there is no denying that the spicy molasses flavor of brown sugar pairs wonderfully with pumpkin, I also feel that it can be overpowering at times. What if I replaced it with a mild, floral clover honey?
Once I had made that substitution, fresh ginger was an obvious next step. My resulting pumpkin butter is lighter in flavor than traditional versions, with a delicate sweetness and pronounced zing. The grated apple lends a juicy, fruity note, while spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves add warmth and a hint of familiarity.
Unfortunately, pumpkin butters or purees are not safe for shelf-stable canning. But it will last a month or two in the fridge, and can be frozen, too, so you can whip some up now and enjoy it straight through Halloween and Thanksgiving.
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Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.
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