Dessert/ Snack

Healthier Marbled Pumpkin Bread

This marbled pumpkin bread is both a trick and a treat for Halloween as no one will guess that it’s made with whole wheat and lower in sugar than traditional pumpkin bread!

How cool is this bread?! I love making quick breads as they’re easy to make, moister than traditional cake, and delicious with a spread of peanut butter or cream cheese (seriously, cream cheese + banana bread is dangerously addicting). But even the most delicious quick bread doesn’t really have that awe factor worthy of a holiday celebration. Think about it, what’s more enticing: a slice of cranberry bread or a frosted sugar cookie in the shape of Rudolph at Christmas? I’d pick Rudolph every time. But this pumpkin bread isn’t just another orange loaf at a bake sale. This is the Rudolph of pumpkin breads.

When I saw this marbled banana bread over at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I wanted to try out the technique, but with something other than banana. So a couple weeks ago when I was brainstorming a recipe perfect for Halloween week, I started thinking about how perfect the dark chocolate swirl would be against the orange of pumpkin bread.

As proud as I am of my marbling, I’m sure many of you could make an even more impressive pattern. And for any of you who are creatively challenged like I am, trust me when I say that it’s hard to mess this up as there’s no “right” way for it to look. Once you have your “base” batter made, you’ll separate it into two separate bowls. To one bowl you’ll add ¼ cup of dark cocoa powder and to the other you’ll add ¼ cup of white whole wheat flour. Next, alternate dropping spoonful’s of each batter into a greased loaf pan. The idea is to make almost a checkerboard pattern with the batter. Once all the batter is used up, take a sharp knife and make 2-3 figure-8’s all the way through the batter.

While most pumpkin breads take about 55 minutes to bake, I found mine was ready after 50 minutes, and honestly could have even been taken out 2 or 3 minutes earlier. It all depends on your oven, but I recommend setting a timer for 45 minutes and checking in 5-minute intervals until a toothpick comes out almost clean – it’s okay if there’s a few crumbs sticking to it.

This bread is delicious on it’s own, but my personal favorite is eating it with a spread of almond or peanut butter on top!

Even if you did most of your Halloween celebrating over the weekend, I hope you have something sweet or scary (or both) in store for Wednesday! Sunday was Bry’s official birthday (even thought we’ve been celebrating almost all month 😉 ). For the official celebration we headed up to the mountains with deep-dish pizza delivered from Chicago, drank wine, played with the pup, and ended with a hike up a 13ner – not a bad start to another year older ;).

So here’s a toast to a treat-filled Halloween!

Healthier Marbled Pumpkin Bread

This marbled pumpkin bread is both a trick and a treat for Halloween as no one will guess that it’s made with whole wheat and lower in sugar than traditional pumpkin bread!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Healthy, Pumpkin Bread
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Kelli


  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk any milk will work
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cup ~141 grams plus ¼ cup (~28 grams) of white whole wheat flour, separated
  • ¼ cup 24 grams dark cocoa powder


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease loaf pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together oil, maple syrup, and eggs. Next, add pumpkin, milk, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.
  • Slowly stir in 1 ¼ cup (141 grams) of flour until just combined.
  • Pour half of batter (about 1 ½ cups) into another mixing bowl.
  • Add remaining ¼ cup (28 grams) of flour to one bowl and the dark cocoa powder to the other bowl. Stir both until just combined.
  • Alternate drops of batter into prepared pan, in a loosely checkerboard-style pattern. Run a sharp knife through batter in a figure-eight pattern. Make about 2-3 figure-eight’s.
  • Place pan in oven and bake 50-60 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


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  • Jenny Shea Rawn
    October 30, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    What a gorgeous pumpkin bread. Can’t wait to try this! Love that you added dark cocoa. YUM.

  • Nina | feel good eating
    October 30, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I don’t really make ‘bread’ (banana, pumpkin etc), but this has got me thinking I really want to – I think the addition of the cocoa has got me haha!