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 made by folding together a homemade whipped cream and a 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 is needed 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.
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.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves can be substituted with an equal amount of pumpkin pie spices.
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.
Whipped cream tips and tricks
If you’ve never made homemade whipped cream before, you may want to check out my detailed post here, for extra pictures and a full list of tips and tricks: Homemade Whipped Cream
Here are my favorite tips for making homemade whipped cream:
- Use very cold heavy cream. Cold cream will whip up much more easily than a room temperature or warm cream.
- If your home is very warm, and for a higher chance of success when making whipped cream, refrigerate your bowl and whisk (or hand mixer beaters) for 20 minutes before beginning.
- Whip your heavy cream 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.
Serving pumpkin mousse
Pumpkin mousse is easiest served in small, individual serving size bowls or parfait glasses. Each serving size will be about 1/2 cup, so a small bowl, martini glass, or parfait/sundae glass is best.
My favorite topping for pumpkin mousse is a dash of cinnamon and a gingersnap cookie. Or, a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
You can also use your pumpkin 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.
Make ahead tips
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 4-5 days in the refrigerator, but is best served within 1-2 days.
If you’re planning to make your mousse ahead of time for a holiday or event, I suggest preparing your mousse, then decorating with garnishes the day of serving.
A whipped cream topping will begin to weep after a day in the refrigerator, so it is best added the day of serving.
Layers of cookies in a mousse parfait, or cookies garnishes, will soften as soon as 30 minutes after assembling. Add cookies just before serving if you’d like them to keep their crunchy texture.
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin puree
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream divided
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 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. Or, allow to set at room temperature until mixture has cooled completely.
- In a large bowl, add remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Whip for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until medium peaks form. Once you begin to see ripples in the cream from your mixer and it appears to be holding its shape, stop the mixer and pull the whisk out of the bowl. If the tip of the whipped cream mostly holds its shape and eventually droops slightly, your whipped cream is ready.
- Once pumpkin mixture has cooled, gently fold into whipped cream until 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 1/2 cup to make 10 servings.