Our favorite pumpkin-flavored foods of the season

Our tasting panel tried 18 seasonal products, and these were the ones they liked.
Publix's pumpkin pie ice cream
Publix's pumpkin pie ice cream [ Publix ]
Published Oct. 8, 2019|Updated Oct. 8, 2019

We may not have changing leaves or cooler temperatures to usher in the fall in Florida, but we have grocery stores filled with pumpkin-laced foods. Some of our local stores have large sections set aside with all of the pumpkin products being rolled out. Admittedly, some are just weird (pumpkin spice Spam) and some didn’t work for our judges (pumpkin pie M&M’s). But tasters were impressed with a couple of options and can’t wait to share the goodies with friends and family this season. Two of their favorites tied for first place in our recent sampling, and both were among the only foods to make it into our 2019 Taster’s Choice Hall of Fame with 90 or more out of 100 points.

Publix Premium Pumpkin Pie Flavored Ice Cream

93/100 points

This pale orange ice cream was as pretty as it was tasty. Judges liked the subtle pumpkin flavor and the texture. “The chunks of pie crust are a happy surprise,” said one taster. “This is delicious ice cream and would be a great addition to a holiday dessert.” Another said, “Publix has done it again with a seasonal ice cream that is nice and decadent without being too much.” All of the panelists appreciated the ice cream for its soothing color and flavor. “It just looks and tastes great,” added one judge.

Serving size: ⅔ cup

Calories: 220

Fat/fiber: 11g / 0g

Sugars/sodium: 21g / 85mg

Carbs/protein: 28g / 3g

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

$5 for a half-gallon from Publix.

Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

93/100 points

“Popcorn is an inspired vessel for the flavors of pumpkin and pumpkin spice,” said one judge. “I love the addition of pumpkin seeds in the mix.” Another described this treat as “super festive and delicious,” as well as addictive. “The twist of the allspice makes this a great fall sweet treat,” said a judge who liked the balance of sweet and salty flavors as well as the crunchy texture. “I really like this,” she said.

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 209

Fat/fiber: 6g / 4.5g

Sugars/sodium: 12g / 209mg

Carbs/protein: 34g / 3g

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

$3.69 for a 7-ounce bag from Target.

Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps

88/100 points

Judges said these thin, sweet crisps would be great on a holiday charcuterie plate or alongside a creamy spread. Little bits of cranberries were discernible in the crackers, adding a slightly chewy texture that panelists enjoyed. “This is a really appealing little cracker with nice flecks of nuts and seeds visible on each cracker,” said one taster. “The light orange color of the cracker hints at the pumpkin flavor.” Another said, “The look of the crisps is perfectly festive with fall tones. This would be a great addition to a fall or holiday spread.”

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Serving size: 11 crisps

Calories: 80

Fat/fiber: 1.5g / 1g

Sugars/sodium: 6g / 115mg

Carbs/protein: 16g / 2g

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

$3.99 for a 5.3-ounce box from Trader Joe’s.

Great Value Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

86/100 points

With little effort, this quick mix baked into a beautiful loaf of soft and understated pumpkin-spiced bread. “Finally, a food that actually plays well with pumpkin flavor,” said one panelist. “It’s a natural pairing and it’s quite well-baked, too. It’s nice and moist and evenly baked. Bravo!” Another said, “This bread looks beautiful. It’s nice and fluffy with good spice and pumpkin flavors.” All of the judges said they liked the denseness and the moistness of the loaf. “It’s got a nice, tight crumb and would be great with coffee,” said one.

Serving size: 1 of 14 slices

Calories: 190

Fat/fiber: 10g / 0g

Sugars/sodium: 13g / 280mg

Carbs/protein: 25g / 2g

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

$1.98 for a 15-ounce box from Walmart.

Also sampled

Spiced Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies ($2.99 for a 3.6-ounce bag from Trader Joe’s, 78 points); Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Almonds ($3.69 for a 5.5-ounce bag from Target, 78 points); Pumpkin Butter ($2.29 for a 10-ounce jar from Trader Joe’s, 71 points); Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Pretzels ($5.99 for an 11.4-ounce bag from the Fresh Market, 68 points); Soft Baked Positively Pumpkin Biscotti ($8.99 for an 8-ounce container from the Fresh Market, 68 points); Pumpkin Greek Nonfat Yogurt ($1.98 for a 5.3-ounce container, 60 points); Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice Cookies ($3.89 for a 7-ounce bag from Publix, 53 points); Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows (98 cents for an 8-ounce bag from Walmart, 45 points); Pumpkin Tortilla Chips ($1.99 for a 7-ounce bag from Trader Joe’s, 40 points); Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice Flavored Filled Baking Truffles ($2.48 for a 9-ounce bag from Walmart, 24 points); White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s ($2.47 for a 2.4-ounce bag from CVS, 12 points); Hostess Iced Pumpkin Cupcakes ($3.16 for a 3.1-ounce pack of two from CVS, 11 points); One Pumpkin Pie protein bar ($2 for a 2.1-ounce bar from Publix, 4 points).


Michelle Stark, Times food editor; Julie Plummer, catering manager at Cafe Ponte; Laura Jolly, food blogger at; and Helen Freund, Times food critic.