Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Is there a trick to a good pumpkin pie? Yes, in fact there are a couple of them. Pre-baking the crust is one, keeping the filling warm-hot until the pie crust is ready is another. Combined, these techniques keep the crust from getting soggy. Other tricks include using a contemporary deep-sided pie pan, which will help eliminate cracking and weeping (for more on that see upcoming posts). For this recipe (which I swiped from Cook’s Illustrated and changed to suit my tastes) you’ll need:

1 recipe pie dough for a single-crust 9-inch pie
16 ounces (2 cups) canned pumpkin
7 ounces (1 cup packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs

Prepare the pie dough according to directions, a day ahead of time if you prefer. Roll and rest the dough according to the directions here. To pre-bake the crust, heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack on a lower-middle position. Lay a sheet of tin foil over your dough-lined pie plate, gently folding the edges over to shield the edge of your crust. Pour pie weights, dried beans, uncooked rice or loose change into the shell. Put the pie plate into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Gently remove the foil and weights. Bake the shell another 5-6 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

While the pie shell is baking, prepare the filling. If you have a food processor, process the pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices all together for 1 minute to chop up any bits of tissue and give the pie a silky texture. If not, just mix them thoroughly in a bowl. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat until it starts to simmer, and cook it for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the milk and cream. Bring the mixture up to a simmer, the turn the heat down to low until the shell is ready. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and have them standing by (since your food processor is dirty already, you can process them for ten seconds in there if you wish).

When the shell is finished, remove it from the oven. Take the pumpkin mixture off the heat and promptly whisk in the eggs, then pour the whole mixture into the hot shell. Bake about 25 minutes, until he filling doesn’t “slosh” when you move the pan, but jiggles. Cool the pie on a rack for an hour before serving.

23 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pie Recipe”

  1. Hi Joe,
    The ingredient list in my pumpkin pie recipe is almost identical to yours with the exception that mine uses all cream and no milk. One problem I have encountered is that the cream gets very bubbly verging on foamy and the bubbles do not disperse before or during cooking. So the top of my pies look bubbly and not smooth. I don’t go crazy when I stir everything together, and I do not heat my mixture like you do. Any ideas on how to avoid this?

    1. When does the cream start to foam? That’s the key to shoving the problem, I think.

      1. I looked at my recipe and I add the cream at the end. So mix eggs and sugar thoroughly first, added spices and pumpkin. Then add the cream. Could the foam be from the eggs and sugar holding too many bubbles?

        1. Hey Eva! I’m thinking that beating the eggs and sugar is the problem. Sugar turns to syrup when it comes into contact with water (egg whites). Bubbles made of a more vicious liquid like syrup will be less inclined to pop. That may be the problem right there. While I like the method I’ve outlined, the order of the ingredients for the filling doesn’t really matter. Add the scrambled eggs last and that will probably solve the problem.

          – Joe

  2. Have you ever tried using squash other than pumpkin? I’ve tried it with butternut squash, and something called cheese pumpkin. Both of them produced incredibly silky and creamy pies, which makes me wonder why pumpkin is used so much.

    1. Interesting you should ask that. Yes, I certainly have heard of other types of squash pie. And indeed you can make a similar pie using any type of firm-fleshed winter squash. Butternut squash and acorn squash pies recipes are pretty common on the web. If you’re curious I recommend giving them a try!

      – Joe

  3. This is very much like the pie recipe I use and it’s a keeper for sure. The pie doesn’t crack or weep and it’s so smooth! However, in my heart of hearts I much prefer pumpkin cheesecake to pumpkin pie.

    1. If I were a cheesecake eater I might be able to relate. Pumpkin pie is one of my very favorite pies (along with most of the others).

      – Joe

  4. Hey Joe,

    Dont forget your non-american based readership! What the hell is canned pumpkin? Is it just pumpkin puree or what? Does it have any spice pre mixed into it? Can I just boil up my own pumpkin and puree it down? Do tell … I live in Australia and canned pumpkin just does not exist here.

    Oh and while you are at it, am I right in saying Americans dont really eat pumpkin? As far as I know the English, Irish, and Australians all roast it, it in salads and soups; I even have the most wonderful authentic italian recipe for a pasta sauce made out of the stuff. Maybe it was because of the revolution? Maybe I am wrong? But I do have this vague memory of someone telling me that USers see it as pig food. Any light you can shine on the subject????

    Cheers mate


    1. Bruce!

      Hard as it is for me to imagine a civilized society without canned pumpkin, I believe what you’re telling me. Pumpkin can be bought here in the States either with or without seasonings included (the stuff with the seasoning is called “pie filling” and I tend to avoid it). But yes, it’s a thick puree.

      The best way to prepare fresh pumpkin for a pie is to cut small (maybe 2-pound) pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and bake them in a 375-degree oven until soft…then scoop up the flesh and purée it in a food processor. Other methods like boiling (and perhaps steaming) will leave you with too much moisture.

      Regarding Americans and pumpkin consumption, we’ve been big pumpkin eaters since the very early days. Nationally we consume about a billion and a half pounds of pumpkin every year. It’s Europeans who used pumpkins for animal feed — at least at first. Nowadays they eat it, but frequently as a vegetable versus a sweet. Pumpkin pie is popular in the States all year round, but mostly in the winter months for obvious reasons.

      Cheers and thanks for the important email. What an oversight!

      – Joe

  5. Hi Joe..
    Been following your web recentlyt, very nice web!
    Anyway, I live in Indonesia, where lotsa fresh pumpkin available on the market everyday. Can I use those, or I should stick to the canned one? Because it’s easier to get the fresh one. I’m thinking about having the pumpkin steamed or boiled, but I haven’t tried it. Should I add more sugar?

    1. Hello Ingrid!

      You can use either. If fresh pumpkin is easier to come by, use that. When I’ve use fresh pumpkin in the past, I’ve cut the flesh into long strips and simply baked it. I’d suggest doing that versus boiling, which will cause you to lose some of the flavor. Steaming should work well, too. Good luck!

      – Joe

  6. Hi, I was just wondering if there was a certain point that I could stop the process and bake the next day?


    1. Sure, Gabe. The crust will keep overnight, no problem. Also you can pre-mix the filling (without the eggs) and keep it handy in the fridge. Then all you need to do is pre-bake the crust, heat the filling and you’re ready to go!


      – Joe

  7. This recipe sounds almost exactly like the one in the Americas Test Kitchen cookbook, even down to the phrasing about beating the eggs in the food processor (though they have you pour half the pumpkin+cream+milk mixture into the running processor before mixing the rest together). It’s a great recipe, though I use 1/2 t powdered ginger because otherwise it becomes !!GINGER!! Pumpkin Pie.

    1. Indeed it is! That recipe was the basis for this one, edited to reflect the steps that I prefer. Processing the entire batter introduces too much air, and that gives you a bubbly, rough top when the pie bakes. Otherwise I’m down with that procedure for the most part.

      – Joe

  8. My recipe said nothing about warming the filling beforehand. It called for evaporated milk instead of milk and cream. The pie came out with a sort of bubbly, lumpy top and, now that I think about it, it was probably more thin tasting than I expected. I’ve never had an issue with any problems in my pumpkin pies before and I believe I generally just follow the recipe on the can. I did that this time the purée was purchased at World Market. I’ll have to find the can and see if maybe the recipe may have been written for a different market.

    Thanks for the recipe; I’ll have to make sure I file that away and remember to not use evaporated milk again.

  9. I’ve got this recipe in the oven right now – to go with bone-in ham for dinner. I first made your version a couple of weeks ago when visiting my parents in NC. My mother said it was the best pie she’d ever eaten and she’ll never be able to eat pumpkin pie made by someone else (or a bakery) ever again. Well, unless they use this recipe I guess. I used the extra filling in ramekins which I cooked in a bain marie for about 10 minutes. Once cold, I served them with a dollop of whipped on top and they were equally awesome. Thank you so much for posting about this!

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