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Behind the Seasoning: Pumpkin Pie Spice

A bundle of cinnamon sticks, a jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice, a pumpkin (left to right)

The crisp weather and the chill in the air mean fall flavors are in full swing. Instead of juggling loads of spices this fall, make things easier on yourself with our Pumpkin Pie Spice. Full of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and more, it has fall wrapped up in one small jar. The spice goes way beyond just pumpkin pie, too! Keep reading for all the details about this seasonal spice blend.  

What is Pumpkin Spice?

While the pumpkin spice trend has seemed to grow in popularity throughout recent years, the spice blend can actually be dated back to the Dutch East India Company in the 1600s. When the Dutch colonized the Spice Islands, the European collection of spices expanded. 

With so many more spices at hand, the Europeans started to mix and match. This resulted in the creation of speculaaskruiden, a blend of spices similar to pumpkin spice with the addition of cardamom and pepper. The blend inspired pie spice, baking spice, and other sweet & savory mixes. In 1796, the combination of spices found a place in the first known American cookbook. It was included by Amelia Simmons in a pumpkin pie recipe that used a blend of mace, nutmeg, and ginger. 

How is pumpkin spice made and what is in pumpkin spice?

Pumpkin spice is made by combining some of the best fall flavors. Popular blends of pumpkin spice include warming flavors that are often found in baking, like ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. While different blends vary in proportions and some other spices may be be included in smaller quantities, those spices tend to be the most popular.

Does pumpkin seasoning have pumpkin in it?

Don’t be alarmed, but there is not actually any pumpkin in pumpkin spice! The spice blend gets its name from its prevalence in pumpkin-based recipes, both sweet and savory. The rich, aromatic spices pair seamlessly with creamy, earthy pumpkin flavors. The fact that they are almost always used together is why many assume there is some kind of pumpkin in the blend. 

What is the difference between pumpkin seasoning and Pumpkin Pie Spice?

Pumpkin seasoning and pumpkin pie spice are essentially the same thing. However, allspice is sometimes used as a pumpkin seasoning on its own since allspice has enough flavor to bring those warming spice notes to classic pumpkin recipes without anything else. Because of that, it is left out of some pumpkin seasoning blends. Our pumpkin pie spice includes allspice for added depth, as well as ginger, nutmeg, mace, cloves, and cinnamon.

Allspice isn’t the only spice that can complement the flavor profiles of a pumpkin dish. Many spices that work well with squash also pair well with pumpkin, both in the sweet and savory categories. Warm spices like chiles can provide a great balance to the sweetness of pumpkin, like in our Pumpkin Turkey Chili. The earthy and spicy flavors of curry is another great option with limitless possibilities.

Herbs are also a great pairing with pumpkin, especially when you think of seasonal fall flavors. Try Poultry Seasoning in pumpkin soup and sage or rosemary in a savory pumpkin bread or dinner rolls.

A drawing of a pumpkin made from Pumpkin Pie Spice with whole spices around it

What is Pumpkin Spice Flavor?

Even if you know what spices are in Pumpkin Pie Spice, you might still be wondering what it actually tastes like. Let’s break it down. Cinnamon is the base of our pumpkin spice, so there’s a slight sweetness and warm baking spice flavor. Spices like nutmeg and ginger have a slight spicy heat or peppery quality. Allspice and mace create a well-rounded spice flavor. These spices are all commonly found in all-purpose Baking Spice, which is sometimes called pie spice or apple pie spice. So think of that warm, classic, oatmeal cookie, baking flavor.

What sets Pumpkin Pie Spice apart though is the addition of cloves. This distinctive spice has a bold, astringent, warm or peppery, and slightly eucalyptus-like flavor. Some pumpkin pie spices will have dried citrus zest included too, which can add a slight brightness to the flavor.

If you are a big pan of pumpkin coffees, lattes, and other hot beverages, you might be surprised to know that Pumpkin Spice isn’t actually sweetened. That’s right, there’s no sugar in the actual spice mix. The flavor you’re probably familiar with is pumpkin spice syrup. The syrup enhances the traditional pumpkin flavor and is sweeter than just the spice. Sometimes, it even has more pumpkin flavor or actual pumpkin puree added to it. 

What Goes with Pumpkin Spice

With pumpkin spice already being a blend of spices, there are many pairings that suit the flavor profile. Other warming spices or blends with citrus tend to mix well with the fall seasoning. Our Pumpkin Pie Spice highlights cinnamon, so adding flavors like cardamom or chai blends compliments whatever you are making and can take the classic fall spice to a new level. Our Mt. Baker Chai Spice Mix or our Honey Powder are great choices for pairings as well. 

While pumpkin is most commonly associated with sweets and baked goods, pumpkin spice is a great flavor for savory cooking, too. Spices like chili powder, chipotle, cayenne pepper, and even Cajun spice mix well with the blend. Don’t let the association with sweets hold you back from trying the blend in a savory dish. 

Two bowls of Chipotle Pumpkin Soup with pretzel buns in background

Where to Buy the Best Pumpkin Spice Seasoning

Throughout the fall, you won’t run into trouble finding pumpkin spice seasoning. Most local markets have it front and center near their baking section. Many stores also carry plenty of pumpkin spiced desserts, treats, foods, drinks, and more. Our stores carry Pumpkin Pie Spice, which lets you control the added sugar, even if you want to sweeten up your morning latte with a taste of fall.

What is a Substitute for Pumpkin Pie Spice?

There is no need for concern if you find yourself with an empty pumpkin pie spice jar. As we’ve already mentioned, our Baking Spice blend has many of the same spices as Pumpkin Pie Spice. So just add a pinch of cloves to make a great pumpkin spice substitute. 

Don’t have any Baking Spice? Chances are you have the replacements that you need in your pantry. A combination of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger will be a solid replacement.

What Are Pumpkin Spices Benefits for Health?

There isn’t much research into the health benefits of pumpkin spice, likely because people often confuse the spice with the syrup (like we touched on above). But when it comes to pumpkin spice, there is plenty of research that supports the benefits of the individual spices in this seasonal favorite. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, ginger can prevent nausea, nutmeg and allspice have anti-inflammatory properties, and cloves can lower inflammation. When breaking it down by parts, each spice has beneficial properties that are great for your health…as long as you don’t add too much sugar! 

A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream dollop and whole pie in background

How to Use Pumpkin Pie Spice

Ok, we do love the classic holiday pie but don’t let the name fool you! Pumpkin Pie Spice has many more uses than just making traditional pumpkin pie. The spice is great when making cookies, cakes, pies, and quick breads. The blend is also a secret weapon when it comes to savory cooking. Try it when making soups, chilis, curries, or even with meats like pork. The spice blend is (obviously) also great when making drinks like lattes or cocktails. 

How to make Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ditch the line at the coffee shop and embrace your barista skills with a homemade pumpkin spice latte. Our Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe breaks down the details of how to make this signature fall beverage right at home. 

Pumpkin Pie Spice jar with pumpkin spice latte and pumpkins

Pumpkin Spice Recipes

Make use of your pumpkin seasoning all season (and year) long with these excellent pumpkin-based recipes. Just grab an extra can of pumpkin puree this fall and keep it in your pantry for the next time a pumpkin-craving hits. These recipes will get your wheels spinning on how to use pumpkin spice in all sorts of ways. 

Pumpkin Spice coffee

  • Pumpkin Spice Latte - We have to lead with this recipe because it might be the most popular seasonal drink ever. The pumpkin spice base can be made ahead. Reheat, blend, and add to your coffee whenever you need a PSL fix.
  • Coffee Shop Pumpkin Spice Sauce - Making this syrupy sauce yourself means you can skip the additives and preservatives. Just a 1-2 Tbsp. of this sauce to your latte, French press, drip, or instant coffee for a seasonal favorite. Hint: it’s also great with black tea!

Pumpkin Spice cake & Pumpkin Spice cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Spice in savory recipes

  • Pumpkin Pie Spice Chili - The warming notes of the spice pair perfectly with a roasted pumpkin for a knockout of a fall meal. 
  • Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo - Bring restaurant-quality food into your home with this pasta dish. The pumpkin mixes with a classic recipe to put a fall twist on a favorite dish. 

Pumpkin Pie & baked goods

  • Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie - Would it really be pumpkin season if you didn’t have a classic pumpkin pie? This pumpkin pie spice shows off in this must-make dessert. 
  • Spiced Pumpkin Tart With Orange Graham Crust - If you want something a little different than classic pumpkin pie, try this tart. It’s everything you like about pie but with a graham cracker and citrusy twist.
  • Pumpkin Spice Bread - Put the pumpkin pie spice on full display with this pumpkin spice bread. This dessert proves there is nothing wrong with a true classic. 
  • Butterscotch Pumpkin Bread - The basic pumpkin flavor of pumpkin bread gets an upgrade with butterscotch extracts and butterscotch chips. 

Pumpkin Pie Spice snacks & treats

  • Pumpkin Black Bean Granola - Don’t be scared of this recipe. Adding beans into this well-spiced granola gives it a boost of protein, perfect for hiking or camping.
  • Pumpkin Pie Party Mix - Give the classic cereal party mix a flavorful fall spin with sweet seasonal spices.
  • Pumpkin Pie Dip - Forget about chips and dip. This pumpkin pie dip is about to take its place. The dip is great with fruit or pretzels! 
  • Pumpkin Spice Crispy Rice Treats - Who doesn’t love cereal treats? This childhood favorite gets a grown-up twist with pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice. No tricks, all treats!

Pumpkin Spice Crispy Rice Treats

Go Behind the Seasoning to learn about other seasonal favorites like Mulling Spices, Poultry Seasoning or Chili Powder. Browse more Fall Flavors. Learn how Savory Spice's Pumpkin Pie Spice might be featured at your local brewery or business and if you see it "in the wild" take a photo and tag us @savoryspiceshop on Instagram!

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