Spiced Maple Pumpkin Butter & 20 Ways to Use It

I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and spied a perky little jar of Pumpkin Butter. I must be years behind on this, but that was my first encounter with this luscious spread.

I quickly made up for lost time and located several other promising pumpkin butters, namely:

I sampled the first three (each delicious in its own way) and can’t wait to try them all. My favorite thus far is Oregon Growers & Shippers Pumpkin Butter. They use Cinderella pumpkins, which lend a surprising apple-like flavor to the spread, and a hint of cardamom. I nearly ate the entire jar while jotting down the tasting notes.

Recipes for homemade pumpkin butter include a wide range of flavor options: lemon, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, candied ginger, peach, rosemary, white grape juice, apple juice, apple cider, and all the usual pumpkin pie spices.

I decided to give maple syrup a strong supporting role in my version. The affinity between pumpkin and maple syrup is well known to pastry chefs. It’s a pairing made in heaven.

I also chose to add a hint of cardamom to the typical pumpkin pie spice blend and just enough fresh lemon zest and juice to offset the sweetness of the maple syrup and brown sugar. The final grace note is a whisper of vanilla to round out the other flavors.

The recipe below makes 2½ cups of Spicy Pumpkin maple Butter, which may seem overmuch. However, it disappears in days. Here are some of the ways you can use it.

Twenty Lip-Smackin’ Ways to Use Spiced Maple Pumpkin Butter

  1. Blend with cream cheese, spread on toasted sourdough bagel, and dust with cinnamon.
  2. Stir into caramel sauce, warm, and serve over vanilla bean ice cream.
  3. Stir into yogurt and top with granola.
  4. Swirl into your morning oatmeal.
  5. Blend with peanut butter and spread on toasted English muffin. Drizzle with honey if desired.
  6. Stir into muffin, pancake, ebelskiver, or beignet batter.
  7. Stir into a latte or hot chocolate.
  8. Stir into ice cream batter before or after churning.
  9. Blend into cheesecake batter.
  10. Stir into cake or tea bread batter.
  11. Swirl into brownie batter.
  12. Combine with hummus.
  13. Use to fill flakey pastry turnovers, homemade pop tarts, or ebelskiver.
  14. Use in place of pumpkin puree in your Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie. (Wow!)
  15. Slather onto French toast or pancakes. Garnish with caramelized pecans or pumpkin seeds.
  16. Fold into sweetened whipped cream for the topping of your dreams.
  17. Serve alongside warmed Brie and artisan crackers.
  18. Serve with pecan-crusted pork chops.
  19. Add to cream cheese frosting.
  20. Sneak bites with a spoon while standing in front of an open frig. For double pleasure, sneak bites of Häagen Dazs butter-pecan or dulce de leche ice cream at the same time.

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Butter

A couple of years ago, while devouring Ken Haedrich’s Pie cookbook, I learned about the flavor affinity between pumpkin and maple syrup. I used the newfound knowledge to make the best pumpkin pie of my life. Now I can hardly look at a pumpkin without wanting to grab a bottle of maple syrup.

This Pumpkin Butter uses both brown sugar and maple syrup as sweeteners, but neither to excess. The finished butter is richly spicy but only moderately sweet, making it a very versatile addition or accompaniment to other dishes.

29-ounce can of pureed pumpkin, about 3½ cups puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
¾ cup golden brown sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch ground cloves
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin puree, brown sugar, maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and salt. Bring to a slow simmer. The mixture is so thick, you will see only an occasional large bubble.
  2. Simmer, stirring occasionally at first, and then more frequently during the final 15 minutes, until reduced and thickened (but still moist), 20-30 minutes. The puree should reduce to 2½-3 cups and have a silky, spreadable consistency.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Cool, and then refrigerate until needed.
  5. If Pumpkin Butter is too thick after chilling, thin with a little warm water or apple juice.

Makes about 2½ cups.

Additional Inspiration

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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.


  1. This is Yummy! I cut way back on the spices cause we think our daughter is sensitive to cinnamon so the pumpkin and ginger really shined. Warm over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, mmm.

  2. Hello, Tidy write-up. Likely to trouble with your site inside world-wide-web traveler, might examination this specific? Firefox ‘s still industry innovator in addition to a significant portion of other people will take out your wonderful composing due to this difficulty.

  3. Wow, it’s that easy? I was imagining starting with an actual pumpkin– starting with a can of puree makes this much more approachable. I’ve looked at the pumpkin butter at TJ’s and haven’t bought it, thinking I should be able to make some myself. I know that you (like me) favor cardamom, so I like seeing that in your list of ingredients.
    Mary (Fit and Fed)´s last blog post ..Fig, Strawberry, and Toasted Hazelnut Salad with Fig VinaigretteMy Profile

  4. Just made this, and it is now chilling in the fridge. Already thick enough to hold its shape, like egg whites at “stiff peaks”. Yuummmmmmyyyy! Recipe was enough to fill two smaller size wide mouth mason jars, with enough left over for a cook’s treat. The maple flavor is quite subtle, and a very nice touch. Great recipe!

  5. I used to LOVE Trader Joe’s version, then the formula seemed to change and it was more gel-like in consistency. Thank you for pairing my favorites and posting–definitely going to be making this one!

  6. Love the tips for how to use this. Mine would disappear with #2 and #20! This sounds fabulous with the flavor of maple.
    lisaiscooking´s last blog post ..Rice Pudding, Three WaysMy Profile

  7. Wow Susan. Love the new cool little window that you’ve got going there. Niffty! You are always up to something cool on your site. Do love pumpkin butter and everything pumpkin these days. ;O)
    Dana Zia´s last blog post ..Scary things to do to your pizza!My Profile

  8. This looks so delicious! I just made another 7 cups of pumpkin puree yesterday, what great timing!

  9. Looks delicious. They sell a different variety of pumpkin here, much more watery. Do you think I can use butternut squash for this recipe?

    • Sarah, butternut squash will work. The recipe, however, is written for a puree, so first steam and then puree the squash before proceeding with the recipe. Let me know how it turns out. :-)

  10. Pumpkin butter sounds divine! Thanks for sharing!
    Baker Street´s last blog post ..Homemade Pumpkin PureeMy Profile


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