Pumpkin alternatives for Thanksgiving


Despite what most retailers are saying, Christmas is not around the corner — Thanksgiving is. And while Starbucks may already be slinging red cups filled with candy cane flavored coffee, pumpkin is still the flavor of the week.  

Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple, and arguably the end all, be all of pumpkin-based foods. However, for those looking to change it up or try something new this Thanksgiving, there are several other relatively easy recipes that can add a little flair to the dessert table or even put those leftover cans of pumpkin mush to good use.  

Pumpkin roll

A well-made pumpkin roll looks far more difficult to make than it really is, and tastes fantastic. The pumpkin-based dessert is traditionally filled with a cream cheese frosting, but also goes well with vanilla or cinnamon fillings. Various recipes for the crust and the fillings can be found online and generally require a bit of culinary skill to pull off.

The loaf is very thin and usually baked in a jellyroll pan, but can also be prepared in a deep cookie sheet or large Pyrex pan, depending on the desired size. The key to making a pumpkin roll lies in the cooling. As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle powdered sugar on a cake cloth or large, thin kitchen towel, flip the contents of the pan onto the towel, roll it up and leave it to cool. This will ensure the dessert keeps its shape after being filled.

Frosting can be purchased premade, but is also very quick and easy to make from scratch. Wait until the crust is rolled up and cooling before preparing the frosting, this will allow the loaf enough time to cool. After the dessert is filled and rerolled, sprinkle powdered sugar on top for a more impressive look.

Pumpkin bread

It’s important to start off a day almost entirely dedicated to eating with a hearty breakfast. Pumpkin bread packs all of the sweet and spice-filled goodness of pumpkin pie into a slightly more socially acceptable breakfast food.  

For those who would like to make their pumpkin bread from scratch, several recipes are available online that vary in difficulty. For amateurs in the culinary arts, there are many different brands of box mixes available at any store that sells cake mix.  

Pumpkin bread is usually pretty delicious on its own, but can go very well with cream cheese.

Pumpkin pasties

This treat, made famous by the Harry Potter series, is so easy to make it’s like magic. A pumpkin pasty is a small envelope of dough packed with a sweet pumpkin filling, and looks like something you may have picked up from a gourmet bakery.

The dough is regular pie crust, which can either be made fresh, or for those in a hurry, purchased premade, rolled-out and ready to go from the grocery store. Several recipes for filling are available online, and generally consist of very few ingredients that can be whipped together in a matter of minutes.

The easiest way to get the pumpkin filling into the pasty is by cutting circles, about four or five inches in diameter, out of the pie crust, dropping a spoonful of filling into the middle and folding the dough circle in half. Wet the edges of the dough circles prior to folding them shut and use a fork to press the edges together in order to ensure they stay closed. Before stuffing the pasties in the oven, make sure to cut small slits in the tops to allow steam to escape.