Applesauce Pumpkin Bread

I really do love baking.     OK, let’s not kid each other here: I love the benefit of making the house smell like a slice of heaven; licking the bowl doesn’t hurt any, either. My signature dessert gift is pumpkin bread.  Thank you for acting surprised even though we both know you’re not – I’m not called ‘the crack-pot who puts pumpkin in her black bean soup’ for nothing. 

I make many loaves, wrap them in saran wrap and festive holiday paper and give the bread to neighbors, family, and friends.  I’m not the only one who uses the holidays as an excuse to bake.   I’ve seen many foodie blogs with gorgeous photos of their own traditional creations and think, what a work of art.  They truly are, too. 


What’s so unfortunate about many of these holiday desserts though, is that many recipes call for vegetable oil which can be a killer to those of us who are watching our weight.  For example, I have a pumpkin bread recipe that makes two loaves.  Among other ingredients it also calls for one cup of oil.  That may not seem like a lot for the overall size of the recipe, but one single tablespoon has 124 calories and 14 grams of fat.  So now, let me just get out my calculator here……yes, adding one cup of oil means you’re adding 1,927 calories and 218 grams of fat to your recipe.  That’s just insane. 

I know you’ve heard about it; I know you’ve wondered how it must taste.  I’m here to tell you: replacing the oil with an equal amount of sugar free applesauce will not only taste as good but it adds only 100 calories to the recipe.  I am not kidding. 

Still not quite sure that you want to give up all of that oil?  If you simply cannot part with it, consider using half oil and half sugar-free applesauce.  You’ll still save plenty of calories and will feel better about what you’re putting into your body. 

One note about using applesauce in baking:  even though it’s a miracle substitute for recipes that call for oil, do NOT use it as a substitute for butter.  Trust me on this one. I’ve tried it, each time thinking that I will MAKE it work.   It just wasn’t meant to be :(

Why does applesauce work, anyway?  Although oil adds texture, the primary reason why we use oil is to prevent a reaction that would give cake-like substances the texture of a piece of rubber. This is also why recipes usually include instructions about keeping the liquid and dry ingredients separate until the very end and then just barely mixing them by hand until moist. Remember to use that same technique when mixing with applesauce, too.

This is generally the week when my baking is high priority around here; I don’t want to bake too soon before Christmas so that the food ends up sitting around begging to be eaten, yet not too late in the season when I have so many other things to tend to that I don’t enjoy it.  Today I’ll be baking, and here is the recipe I’ll be using:

Low Fat Pumpkin Bread

Two cups of sugar
One 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin
One cup of unsweetened cinnamon-flavored applesauce
1/2 cup of egg substitute, like Egg Beaters
3 1/3 cups of flour
Two teaspoons of cinnamon
Two teaspoons of baking soda
One teaspoon of baking powder
One teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, egg substitute in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice. 

Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir just until mixed.  Spray two 8×4 loaf pans and pour batter evenly into each.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until bread springs back in center when lightly pressed with your finger.

Let bread sit for 5 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack.  Once cool, cut each loaf into 10 slices.

Calories per slice: 106

25 thoughts on “Applesauce Pumpkin Bread

  1. Michele

    This looks like a very simple and very good recipe for pumpkin bread. I'm just about DONE with breads, cookies, and sugar in general, but I'm printing this recipe to use when it's been long enough to appreciate these tasty treats again.
    My recent post Home for the Holidays

  2. Karen

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I just made pumpkin bread again when I had company and it had a whole lotta oil in it! I have wondered how it really is with applesauce. Pumpkin bread is sort of a holiday favorite in our house. Glad to have a measurement for egg substitute too. Have you tried it with whole wheat flour before?
    My recent post Keen What

    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Karen~
      I have not tried this with whole wheat flour but would not be afraid to in the least. I think it would be just as good; this an extremely versatile recipe and I've changed it around several times.

  3. Vickie

    is the 2 cups sugar the original amount required (in the recipe)? Or have you already reduced it?

    I have found I can almost always reduce sugar amount by half.

    So I am asking – was it 4 cups originally? or was it 2? and if so, have you tried taking it down to 1 cup and seeing if it impacts the taste?

    I have been using the no sugar added applesauce as a substitute for oil for years and years and you are right – it always works.

    the concept of adding sugar to fruit is just odd in general. it is amazing how many canned fruit products do have sugar added.
    My recent post Yes- since the jeans have almost no stretch in them- they are very much like getting on the scale- but the biggest factor is having my food in line

    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Vickie~
      The two cups are the full amount. It is not currently over sweet but I wouldn't hesitate to reduce the sugar to 1 cup and add a couple of bananas, or even reduce it and not add anything else. I've not thought of doing any of that until your question, actually.
      I have added one cup sugar and one cup sweetener before and it tasted too rubbery so I wouldn't recommend doing that.

      1. Vickie

        now that I have mentioned the reducing sugar by half, you will be amazed at how many times that works and you don't even notice the difference.

        I once had a mock pecan pie recipe (kidney beans instead of pecans, oldest is allergic to tree nuts). I tried reducing sugar by half and it did not work. I mentioned this to lady who gave me recipe and she laughed. She had already reduced by half when she gave me the recipe and she said she thought the lady who gave it to me had already reduced by half too. So we think we were already at 1/4 the original amount. when I tried to take it to 1/8 original amount, did not work. That is why I asked if you had already reduced it.

        (and I never use artificial sweetner in anything)
        My recent post Positive Self Talk

    1. Ellen Post author

      Hey, Christina
      I love pumpkin bread the most when it's filled with nuts and chocolate chips. Ah, the good old days when I could do that and not care less! lol

  4. Stephanie

    I love pumpkin too! I bought all the ingredients to try your black bean pumpkin soup, but just haven't gotten around to cooking it. Now I need to add pumpkin bread to the list.

    Too bad you don't have smellavision on your blog. I'd love to get a whiff of all those good things cooking.

    1. Ellen Post author

      I don't know what it is about me and pumpkin this year, but I've had it every day for the last 3 months. Maybe this kick will end after the first of the year; if not, I may have to change the name of my blog!

    1. Ellen Post author

      Really? Do you like pumpkin in general? I've found that people either like it very much or they don't like it at ALL. If you do give it a try I really hope you enjoy it :)

      1. elliens

        I love pumpkin pie, but haven't really tried it in anything else. I'll try it after the holidays since I'm up to my ears in baking/cooking right now. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Ellen Post author

      Baking at the last minute is a huge improvement for me; I usually start baking earlier and then the goodies linger, which is definitely NOT good for me – much too tempting.

  5. Pingback: What do I know? | Fat Girl Wearing Thin

  6. Sara

    Just found this recipe and gave it a whirl and it was fantastic! It was so moist and flavorful and I didn’t miss the extra fat. I will play with the sugar next to get that down but it was a great treat, thanks!

  7. Kaye Black

    I just made this and used half whole wheat and half white flour and converted the eggs to vegan (one egg equals one quarter cup water, one tablespoon chia seeds and one tablespoon ground flax-mix and let sit til absorbed, so i did 2 times that) and sprinkled raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds) on top before baking. It was really moist and flavorful. Thank you for a recipe that takes some of the forbidden out of a comfort food!


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