Three Food Writers Try To Save Pumpkin Spice In This Cooking Challenge

Ahh pumpkin spice, you either love it or…

Nope. You hate it. Everyone hates it. Pumpkin spice is is the Guy Fieri of flavors: Easy (and fun!) to ridicule. But just like the King of Flavortown: The hate is mostly nonsense. As Shane Torres says about Fieri in his famous stand up bit, “People shit on that guy all the time. And, as far as I can tell, all he ever did was follow his dreams.”

Pumpkin spice is just trying to follow its dreams. And those dreams are simple: Not to be distilled down to the microgram level and then combined with pure-liquid sugar into a syrup for your dumb latte. Instead, pumpkin spice longs to inspire the feelings of fall — warm, earthy, curl-up-by-the-fire feelings. Hygge, as they call it in the Nordic regions.

After our summer barbecue competition stretched into September, we took a big risk by staying seasonal and decided to take on fall with “pumpkin spice.” It’s worth noting that we all interpreted that as “pumpkin & related spices” and not simply “the spices you use to flavor pumpkins.” The result was a contest that had a solid guiding principle with three widely varying takes and some inventive techniques (no sous vide, though ?).

Take a look and see what you think. Hopefully, after reading you’ll be ready to give pumpkin spice a clean slate — besides it’s more fun to save your snark for the three chefs than waste it on an inanimate flavor combo. As always, your shares, Tweets, and comments are much appreciated.

— Steve Bramucci, Managing Editor, Uproxx Life