It is Thanksgiving time in the United States and we are adding some seasonal flair to the traditional challah and making it a Pumpkin Spice Challah. Our recipe adds pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and vanilla extract to add dimension and warmth to the bread. If you’re expecting lots of kids at your table, you can also bake it into the shape of a turkey. The Pumpkin Spice Challah pairs great with our sweet potato kugel too!

More about the history of Challah

In America’s modern Jewish communities, challah refers to a thick, chewy, sweetened bread made with egg. However, the word challah actually means any bread prepared for use in a Jewish ritual, like Shabbat. If we go back thousands of years to the beginning of Jewish life in the Middle East, challah was pitas, Jewish Yemeni bread known as kubaneh, or saltier bread known as lepyoshki by the Jews of Central Asia.

What to do with leftover Challah

Lastly, if you’ve got leftover challah do not throw it away. Challah has many delicious uses including challah bread pudding, challah croutons, or challah French toast. Around Thanksgiving time you can even make challah stuffing.

Check out more Jewish recipes on our blog.

Pumpkin Spice Challah


  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup of warm water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk for the dough, whisked, and 1 egg yolk for the glaze
  • 4 cups white bread flour
  • Pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, for garnish


  1. Put yeast in a mixer and whisk with warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let yeast stand until it foams and puffs up about 10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam, yeast is bad or water temperature wasn’t right. Try again!
  2. Mix in remaining sugar, pumpkin, oil, vanilla, 1 egg, and 1 egg yolk into yeast. Add spices and combine them. Gradually add 3 cups of flour and salt.
  3. Knead 5-10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Finish kneading by hand on a counter until dough is smooth.
  4. Place dough in a bowl greased with oil and cover. Let dough ferment in a warm place (or on top of a heated oven) until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
  5. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide dough in half, and keep one half covered. Divide each half into 3 pieces, stretch out into 3 strands, and braid. Tuck ends underneath. Repeat with another half.
  6. Place loaves on parchment-lined baking sheets, cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°. Brush last egg yolk over challah and sprinkle with seeds.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and with an internal temperature of 190°, rotating pans halfway through. If they brown too fast, cover with foil until done.