Pumpkin mousse is a soft, airy dessert that makes an excellent alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. This fluffy mousse is filled with pumpkin pie spices and is perfect for serving a crowd.
Pumpkin mousse is an easy no-bake dessert to serve at your next fall family meal, like Thanksgiving or Halloween. This mousse is so good that it led to the creation of my pumpkin icebox cake recipe!
This mousse is made by folding together homemade whipped cream and sweetened and spiced pumpkin puree. Perfect for fall, this light and fluffy dessert is filled with spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
Best of all, no baking is required for this easy fall dessert. With just a few minutes of cooking on the stove top, your pumpkin mousse will be ready in less than an hour.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Heavy cream - Necessary to make whipped cream for this recipe. Heavy cream is a must because it contains 36% milkfat. The high percentage of fat is what allows heavy cream to be whipped into whipped cream and hold its shape. A lower fat dairy, like milk or half & half will not work for this recipe.
- Pumpkin puree - A can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) is needed for this recipe. You are welcome to substitute this with homemade, cooked pumpkin puree if you have it on hand.
- Brown sugar - Can be substituted with granulated sugar, but I prefer the caramelized flavor that the brown sugar adds to the recipe.
- Spices - Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves can be substituted with an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice blend.
- Vanilla extract - Enhances the flavor of the mousse.
- Optional garnishes - You may also want to add garnishes like gingersnap cookies (as shown in the photos), a dash of cinnamon, and a dollop of whipped cream.
Tips and tricks
- Tips for making whipped cream - Use very cold heavy cream. Whip the heavy cream using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) on medium speed, not high speed. It's less messy and there's less of a chance of overmixing your cream.
- Use a large bowl - your cream will double in size and there will be some splashing while you mix your cream.
- Allow mousse to refrigerate before serving - Refrigerating allows the mousse to set and firm up, as well as gives the flavors a chance to meld.
- Add toppings for visual appeal - My favorite topping for pumpkin mousse is a dash of cinnamon and a gingersnap cookie, or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
- Use mousse to build parfaits - Crumble a few gingersnap cookies or graham crackers and build a parfait by adding thin layers of mousse and crumbled cookies to a decorative glass.
Frequently asked questions
Pumpkin mousse is best served in small, individual serving size bowls or parfait glasses. Each serving size is about ½ heaping cup, so a small bowl, martini glass, or parfait/sundae glass is best.
Mousse is a lightly sweetened, fluffy dessert that isn't meant to be overly sweet. If you'd prefer a sweeter mousse, feel free to add more sugar.
Even though mousse may seem delicate, it will keep for several days in the refrigerator and hold its shape and texture. Your pumpkin mousse will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but is best served within 1-2 days.
Yes, mousse can be frozen for 1 to 2 months and thawed in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
If you're planning to make your mousse ahead of time for a holiday or event, I suggest preparing your mousse in serving dishes, covering and storing, then decorating with garnishes just before serving. Homemade whipped topping weeps after about a day, and cookie crumbles soften within about 30 minutes.
- 15 ounces (426 g) canned pumpkin puree
- 2.5 cups (568 g) heavy cream, divided
- 1 cup (213 g) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 10 gingersnap cookies, optional
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add pumpkin puree, 1 cup of heavy cream (set aside remaining heavy cream for a later step), brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract, and stir to combine.
- Transfer pumpkin mixture to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, add remaining 1 ½ cups of heavy cream. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until medium peaks form.
- Once the pumpkin mixture has cooled, gently fold into the whipped cream until evenly incorporated. Separate mousse into individual serving containers. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top each serving with a gingersnap cookie (or cookie crumbles) just before serving.
- Once prepared, pumpkin mousse will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Mousse can be made ahead of time, but is best served within 1-2 days for best flavor and texture.
- Crunchy additions like cookies, cookie crumbles, or graham crackers crumbs will begin to soften within 30 minutes of preparing. If a crunchy texture is desired, assemble parfaits or add toppings just before serving.
- Each serving of mousse will be about a heaping ½ cup to make 10 servings.