According to Starbucks, the answer is no. This year, Starbucks unveiled its highly anticipated pumpkin spice latte (PSL) on August 24. That’s about a month before the official start of the fall season.
Pumpkin spice’s ubiquity during autumn—and late summer—have made it a strangely contentious ingredient. While some are tired of seeing it on seasonal menus, the reason for its popularity is no mystery. That sweet and warm blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves is versatile and comforting. Even if pumpkin is nowhere to be found, just the word can evoke the colors and flavors of fall.
It’s not too early in the season to introduce pumpkin spice to the menu, and it’s also not too late to experiment with different ways to add it across dishes and beverages. Here’s some inspiration to welcome pumpkin spice season.
It’s hard to go wrong with pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and other classic baked goods. But diversifying the fall dessert menu could grab the attention of pumpkin-loving patrons. Pumpkin gelato made with pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and warm maple syrup is perfect as we transition from the warmer months. Restaurants can also use the spice to add an autumnal spin to classic desserts, like tiramisu, crème brûlée, or bread pudding.
Snacks & Small Plates
Pumpkin spice can pack big flavor into small bites. Pumpkin spice granola and oatmeal make for a quick breakfast or snack at coffee shops. Pumpkin spice popcorn, pretzel bites, and pumpkin hummus are great for sharing at bars. Candied nuts or pepitas dusted with pumpkin spice can serve as a snack on the go. For an elevated appetizer, try prosciutto-wrapped figs with a pumpkin spice honey drizzle.
To really catch customers by surprise, find ways to inject fall flavor into main dishes with pumpkin spice. For recipes that often call for cinnamon spice blends—like Cincinatti-style chili, jerk chicken, and Moroccon chicken—simply replace the usual blend for pumpkin spice. Serve with a side of squash salad, root vegetables, or roasted pumpkin for extra autumnal flare.
It’s hard to talk about pumpkin spice without bringing up beverages, but baristas don’t need to limit themselves to PSLs. A pumpkin spice cold brew can give consumers that fall flavor in August. It also makes for a great addition to chai teas and hot chocolate. After hours, add the spice to cocktails and mocktails, like White Russians, eggnog, apple ciders, or dessert martinis.
To add a twist to the classic PSL, introduce new ingredients to the spice blend. Garam masala adds a hint of pepper, and cayenne brings in an extra kick.
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