Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle

Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle Recipe by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

Let’s talk trifles.

Trifles are pretty fabulous creations, aren’t they? Layers of cake, creamy filling and whipped cream in a pretty glass bowl. It makes a stunning presentation, plus it’s incredibly easy to put together, not to mention delicious. During the summer, I love the ol’ red, white and blue trifle, but when the cool weather hits, give me this ginger and pumpkin version all day, everyday. Cubes of spiced gingerbread, a pumpkin cream filling and fresh whipped cream? Yes, PLEASE!

Our family usually goes the traditional route at Thanksgiving with pumpkin pie, but oh boy, this is one killer substitution if you are looking for something different.

Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle Recipe by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

I originally made a version of this recipe nearly ten years ago, but it was pretty much boxed everything; this time around I wanted to get as close to 100% homemade as possible. The only packaged ingredient I used here is instant vanilla pudding mix, which you could certainly substitute with a homemade vanilla pastry cream for an extra-special dessert. The combination of homemade gingerbread and freshly whipped (and sweetened) whipped cream make a huge difference.

Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle Recipe by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

It would have been exceedingly easy for me to sit down with a spoon and eat this until I was past the point of no return. The flavors, especially once the trifle has chilled, meld together beautifully. I didn’t trust myself with the whole thing, so I kept a little bit for myself and my Chief Culinary Consultant, and gave the rest to my mom to take to work. She said people were huddled over the dish with spoons scooping serving after serving… This is a crowd pleaser, if there ever was one.

I have a feeling that this trifle might become a traditional of its own, if I have anything to say about it πŸ˜‰ Β Move over pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle Recipe by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

One year ago: Mrs. Waterman’s Stuffed Mushrooms
Two years ago: Cranberry Sauce
Three years ago: Pumpkin Pie
Four years ago: Lebkuchen Cookies

Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle

Yield: 16 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

An almost completely from-scratch version of the popular Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle recipe.


For the Gingerbread:
2β…“ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
β…“ cup granulated sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
¾ cup hot water

For the Pumpkin Filling:
2 cups cold milk
1 (3.4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
β…“ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Make the Gingerbread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together the vegetable shortening and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the molasses and egg and beat to combine, an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the hot water, beating well after each addition.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.

5. Cut the gingerbread into ½-inch to 1-inch cubes; set aside.

6. Make the Pumpkin Filling: In a large bowl, whisk the milk and instant vanilla pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for an additional 2 minutes.

7. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Gently stir the pumpkin mixture into the pudding; set aside.

8. Make the Whipped Cream: In a large bowl, beat the cream on medium speed until it begins to thicken, then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form.

9. Assemble the Trifle: Set aside ¼ cup of the gingerbread cubes. In a large trifle bowl or glass serving bowl, layer a third of the remaining gingerbread cubes, then top with a third of the pumpkin filling and a third of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers twice more. Crumble the reserved gingerbread and sprinkle over the top of the trifle. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The trifle can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator, for 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Taste of Home)


57 Responses to “Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle”

  1. Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate on November 13, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Pumpkin and gingerbread in one dessert? Is that allowed? Oh well, I’ll take it!


  2. bakeaffairs on November 13, 2013 at 3:12 am

    This trifle looks very delicious!!!


  3. ThisBakerGirlBlogs on November 13, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Oh my! That looks delicious – I love all the layers πŸ™‚


  4. Ellen on November 13, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Holy heck I need this!


  5. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on November 13, 2013 at 3:28 am

    This trifle is absolute perfection!


  6. Maxine on November 13, 2013 at 4:38 am

    Wow! Last year I made your layered carrot cake for Thanksgiving and it was such a hit…I know what I’m making this year! This looks so delicious, I imagin when it’s layered and has been chilling for hours it tastes absolutely amazing. Ingenious recipe! Can’t wait to make it…thanks!


  7. Megan - The Emotional Baker on November 13, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I’ve never made a trifle, but this one looks like the perfect treat! I can’t wait to try it πŸ™‚


  8. Nancy P@thebittersideofsweet on November 13, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Words can not even express how awesome this trifle is! The gingerbread, the pumpkin the homemade whipped cream! This needs to become a new tradition for Thanksgiving!!!


  9. Stasha T on November 13, 2013 at 6:08 am

    If I wanted to make this from prepackaged items like you mentioned you had first created it doing so what would you use??


    • Michelle on November 13th, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Hi Stasha, You would use a box gingerbread cake mix and Cool Whip in place of the fresh whipped cream.


  10. key2cakes on November 13, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Smooth, velvety perfection…perfect treat! Looks amazing and I am sure taste just as amazing.


  11. Erica on November 13, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I have been making this for a few years and it is fabulous! A nice change up from your traditional Thanksgiving desserts.


  12. Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron on November 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I LOVE trifles! And this one sounds super good and unique!


  13. Carrian on November 13, 2013 at 8:58 am

    This looks fantastic! I want to try this!


  14. Jess on November 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I just bought a trifle dish and was looking for something like this for Thanksgiving. Thank you!


  15. Emily on November 13, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Oh! This looks amazing–sure to try this for the holidays! Thanks!


  16. Marcie @ flavor the moments on November 13, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I know I would have to give a lot of this away as well because desserts like this — especially in these flavors — are a huge weakness of mine. It looks delicious, Michelle!


  17. Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent on November 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ Yum!


  18. Sara @ Dear Skim on November 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Haha, every time I see a trifle I think of that episode of FRIENDS when Rachel makes half a trifle and half a shepherd’s pie…but this sounds down-right delicious. Or, more of, it looks so good I’m willing to overlook the fact that I’ll be half-expecting to bite into minced meat and sauteed peas & onions.


  19. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on November 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Oh my goodness! Yum!


  20. Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts on November 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Wow! It’s beautiful and so perfect for Thanksgiving. Love love love!


  21. Rosa on November 14, 2013 at 1:41 am

    I make a pumpkin mousse parfait with crumbled toffee in between the layers, it’s also a little junky as I use a butterscotch pudding mix in the pumpkin mixture. It’s really good, I may have to add the gingerbread to the parfait…. Oh yum. Hurrah for the trifle, easy and soooo delicious.


  22. Sharon T on November 15, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    On the first attempt, I used a package of gingerbread mix. The secont time, I made the Pumpkin Gingerbread and have been using that recipe ever since. Now I have another recipe to try, but the basics are still fantastic. A hot cup of fresh coffee and a dish of this cold, creamy concoction and you will be in heaven.


  23. The Foodie RD on November 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I love trifles, and I absolutely love the idea of a pumpkin gingerbread trifle. Sounds awesome! I have never even considered making a gingerbread like that before. I guess the “bread” in the name has to come from somewhere! Thanks for sharing!


  24. Lulu on November 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    can you give an alternative to vegetable shortening please ?


    • Jeannette on November 18th, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Coconut oil or butter.


    • Michelle on November 19th, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Hi Lulu, You can try butter, but I’m not sure how it would affect the texture of the cake.


  25. Jessica on November 19, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Hi there! I love your blog so much. I’ve made so many of your recipes and have loved every one. (:
    I have a question about this recipe. If I were to make pastry cream instead of using the vanilla pudding mix, how much of the pastry cream would I use? I love making things from scratch and hate using boxed mixes so I try to make everything completely from scratch as much as possible. (:


    • Michelle on November 19th, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Hi Jessica, You would need 2 cups of the pastry cream.


      • Lynn on November 27th, 2013 at 12:53 pm

        It might seem obvious, but unfortunately, I just made this mistake… If you’re using pastry cream (the recipe on here makes exactly 2 cups), OMIT THE COLD MILK from the recipe. I wasn’t even thinking that the milk was for the pudding… No worries though– I just added an extra can of pumpkin and I think all is well!


  26. Laura Dembowski on November 20, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    This would be a star on any Thanksgiving table! So flavorful and beautiful! I bet it would be so good with homemade pudding or pastry cream as you suggest.


  27. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures on November 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Yum! I would love this for Thanksgiving dessert!


  28. christine on November 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I’ve referred this recipe to my BBF (best baking friend), now we’re BOTH making the same dessert for our Thanksgiving Day dinners. HAH!

    Anyway, my question: When you list “milk” as an ingredient (in this, and in your other posted recipes), are you calling for 2% milk unless otherwise specified to use whole milk?



    • Michelle on November 24th, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Christine, Yes, I typically use either 2% milk or whole milk for recipes, for this, I used 2%. Enjoy!


  29. Amanda on November 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

    How big of a bowl should I use?


    • Michelle on November 24th, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Amanda, The trifle bowl that I use holds 6 quarts, and it is filled to very top with this dessert.


  30. liz k on November 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I’m making it for Thanksgiving. Making it extra special by making my own vanilla pastry cream πŸ™‚


  31. plasterer bristol on November 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I love anything with ginger in, and looking for loads of recipes…This looks lovely, thanks for sharing…



  32. Leah on November 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Made it today for Thanskgiving…’twas a hit. Definitely saving this recipe! I did, however, make extra of the pudding filling after using most of it up in the first layer. Thanks!! πŸ™‚


  33. Julie H. on November 29, 2013 at 10:24 am

    For this the canned pumpkin is plain & not pie filling correct? I’m making tomorrow for second Thanksgiving. Looks so good. You have a fabulous site! I have yet to be disappointed in any of your recipes. Thank you!!!


    • Michelle on November 30th, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Julie, Yes, just plain canned pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling.


      • Stace on December 9th, 2014 at 5:17 am

        Hmm what would happen if it was pie filling? We dont have canned pumpkin where I live πŸ™


        • Michelle on December 14th, 2014 at 5:37 pm

          Hi Stace, Pie filling has the extra sugar and flavorings added to it, so you would need to adjust those things in the recipe. By how much, I couldn’t say, because I’ve never used pumpkin pie filling.


  34. Katie on November 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit.


  35. DPLK on November 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Michelle, I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! I’m pretty sure we’re all going to be dreaming about this dessert for months to come! I used butter in place of the shortening and it came out fine; the cake was soft and fluffy and melded with the pumpkin layer beautifully. Thank you for this fabulous recipe!


  36. Brenda Kupchick on December 1, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I made this for thanksgiving this year.
    I wanted something to make something different than the typical pumpkin pie.
    Amazing! Everyone absolutely loved it!
    Light and delicious!!!
    I made the ginger bread the night before and prepared the rest the morning of Thansgiving, assembled the trifle and put it in the fridge until dinner to keep it cool.
    This receipe is a keeper! I’ll be making it every Thansgiving!!!

    Thank you!!!


  37. Mindy on December 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    OMG! I’ve read through this fabulous recipe, and agree with the rest of the reviewers! It looks amazing. I’m going to purchase the trifle bowl @ Macy’s and make this for our Pot Luck Christmas Luncheon at the Garden Club. Can’t wait. I love your blog, and placed you on my “frequent tool bar” as a regular! Keep on the excellent work and continue to inspire us all!


  38. Mindy on December 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    P.S. We had our Garden Club Luncheon, and this fantastic trifle was the hit of the Pot Luck. Thank you so much for sharing! They all are eagerly waiting for me to email the recipe and, since many are elderly, I’ve explained what a “food blogger” is, and they are all in awe! Love, love, the blog!


  39. Amy Grossman on January 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I made this decadent and yummy trifle for Thanksgiving. Since then, everyone is asking me for a copy of the recipe. It was beautiful, and more important – Fabulous. I’m copying it down now, for a family friend. Thank you!


  40. Cindy on January 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I made this this weekend and everyone loved it, even my husband who doesn’t care for pumpkin in general! I used butter instead of vegetable shortening and the gingerbread came out fine. I thought at first that the pumpkin mixture wasn’t going to be sufficient, but when you actually eat the finished product, it’s the right proportion. You wouldn’t really want more of it. One more note–it’s not terribly sweet, so people that like their desserts a little less sugary will enjoy this one.


  41. Kel on October 7, 2014 at 1:21 am

    I’m in Australia and we don’t have canned pumpkin at all. What do you suggest I use in the way of fresh boiled pumpkin? I’m assuming the pumpkin in a can is just boiled, drained pumpkin? Thankyou for posting this recipe, most american recipes seem to be instant everything! And we just don’t seem to have the array of instant goods u guys do πŸ™‚ thanks.


    • Michelle on October 9th, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Hi Kel, Yes, it’s cooked, pureed pumpkin. Just be sure to drain it REALLY well!


  42. Sarah on November 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I make a variation of this..
    Ive used boxed gingerbread mix or boxed spice mix if Im in a hurry..plus, if you can find it, instead of vanilla pudding with the spices, look for Pumpkin spice pudding..its only out this time of year, so I buy a BUNCH to hoard..;)..
    I take it to our thanksgiving meal..I never have ANY left and its requested each year in leiu of pie!


  43. Heidelind on November 26, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I made this for Thanksgiving tomorrow, but I made a tiny little sampler for hubby and me to try:) It’s fantastic! my mother-in-law introduced me to trifles, and I love them! I’m still in the early stages of recipe gathering, so thank for this keeper:) I made one small change because one of our guests is allergic to eggs. I substituted the 1 egg with purΓ©ed pear. It appears to have worked.


  44. Jean E on December 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I “found” this dessert for Thanksgiving 2014 it was a total hit & requested again for Thanksgiving this year. I used to make a traditional English sherry trifle for both Thanksgiving & Christmas but it has been demoted for the first holiday!
    Keep up the great work!


  45. Peri on January 19, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Hi. first of all thanks for this amazing recipe,
    In my country is hard to find molasses, can i use sugar or honey instead of it?


    • Michelle on January 21st, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Peri, I would definitely not use sugar; if you can find golden syrup, I would sub that. Honey will be too light, I think. Even golden syrup will alter the flavor quite substantially, but I think it’s the only thing close enough.


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