Nothing beats the rich, creamy texture and the spicy flavor of a pumpkin pie, prepared from scratch, with a flaky homemade crust—it's what the holidays are all about!
Pumpkin Pie, a Homemade Treat Made with Love
It seems like it was just yesterday that my son and I were in the kitchen together, elbow deep in pumpkins, seeds strewn, making a pumpkin pie from scratch, at his request.
But in reality, it was over 6 years ago already, when he was around 15 years old, and not the manly 21 year old Marine that he is now.
I remember him telling me that rather than purchasing an already prepared pumpkin pie from the store, he longed for us to make our very own homemade pumpkin pie using some sugar pumpkins we had.
He wanted the experience of making a pumpkin pie completely from scratch, from start to finish, to see what the process was for making one his ultimate favorite desserts.
And so we did, and what a blast we had!
I can't tell you how thrilled and excited I was to have him want to get into the kitchen with me to do some baking like that; because as anyone with teens that age (not to mention sons) knows, it's a very rare thing.
It was a heck-of-a-lot of work, scraping the seeds out of sugar pumpkins, roasting them until tender, then pureeing the flesh.
We also made our pie dough from scratch and blind-baked the shell, then filled it with our perfectly spiced and silky-smooth filling.
And then, we eagerly waited for the pie to bake and then cool before enjoying bite after bite.
It was a long process, but well worth the effort.
And though it was tedious work, it was also sweet, glorious, love-filled work, the most rewarding sort of work that I could ever ask for.
It was a precious moment in life, one of those cozy holiday moments that when I think back upon, it warms me to my center and fills me with gratitude.
How to Make Pumpkin Pie
Now, I won't “sugar coat” (pun intended ) the fact that it takes a bit of elbow grease to prepare a homemade pumpkin pie, but I can tell you that the difference between a from-scratch pie versus a store-bought pie is worlds apart, and it's a real treat to experience that difference, at least once!
And even though I mentioned making our pumpkin pie using sugar pumpkins (that we actually roasted and pureed), the good news is that this is not at all necessary!
Good quality canned pumpkin is the perfect thing to use in a pumpkin pie recipe, not to mention a much quicker (and cleaner!) option, and that is what I use for my recipe here.
Also, you can divvy things up and do a little prep ahead.
For instance, you can make and blind bake the pie crust the day before you plan on preparing the actual pumpkin pie, then fill and bake it the next day.
And if you're really looking to cut back on prep, you could buy prepared pie crusts and use those. Just prepare the filling from scratch and proceed with the recipe.
Here's a quick overview of my pumpkin pie recipe:
- I begin by preparing my pie crust in my food processor, and allowing the dough to chill
- Then, I blind-bake the crust and allow it to cool completely. (I usually do this step the day before baking my pie, and keep my blind-baked pie shell at room temp.)
- When I'm ready to bake my pie, I move my oven rack to the lower third of the oven, whisk together my filling ingredients, and pour the custard into my prepared crust.
- I bake the pie for roughly an hour (55-65 minutes), until set along the edges yet still a bit wobbly in the center.
- When done, I allow the pumpkin pie to cool completely at room temp (5-6 hours) before placing into the fridge to fully chill.
- To serve, I top with fresh whipped cream!
Tips & Tidbits for the Best Pumpkin Pie:
- Good quality canned pumpkin: When preparing your filling, be sure to use good quality pure pumpkin in this recipe. Do not use “pumpkin pie filling”, as this has other ingredients already added to it.
- Prep and blind-bake the crust ahead: I find it easier to follow the recipe when I divvy things up a little. I prep, chill, and blind-bake the pie crust the day before baking the actual pie, as this saves a lot of time the day of.
- Fool-proof blind baking: I found that the method of placing parchment into the crust, filling with dry beans, and then baking at 350° for 1 hour makes for a perfectly blind-baked crust. There's no babysitting it, which I love. (And if you allow the beans to stay in the warm crust for 10 minutes after you've removed it from the oven, it will help keep that bottom nice and flat!)
- Fresh spices: Make sure you're using fresh jars of pumpkin pie spice for this fragrant pie—expired spices aren't good eats!
- Reach for the cream: I have found cream to be the best liquid to use in this recipe. Half & half works too, but the cream has less water and makes the baked filling quite velvety, very smooth and creamy, which is what makes pumpkin pie so delicious.
- Don't whisk the filling too aggressively: Because you're not looking to incorporate extra air into the filling, take care not to whisk the filling ingredients too aggressively. This may cause your filling to “souffle” up too much during the baking and cause cracks.
- Cool completely: Be patient and allow the pie to completely cool at room temp before even placing it into the fridge to chill. It will take about 5-6 hours at room temp, so keep that in mind for when you plan on serving it. (I personally always bake off my pumpkin pie the day before I plan to actually serve it.)
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 10
Nutrition Info: 372 calories
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (includes 45 minute inactive “chill” time for dough)
Cook time: 2 hours (1 hour for blind-baking the crust, 1 hour for the pie)
Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Crust Ingredients (adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated):
• 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut up into pieces
• ¼ cup cold vegetable shortening (I use “Spectrum” brand organic), cut into a few pieces
• 2 tablespoons vodka (80 proof)
• 2 tablespoons ice-cold water
• 1 egg white, whisked, for blind-baked crust
• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (not “pumpkin pie filling”)
• ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon corn starch
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon (slightly heaping) ground ginger
• ¼ teaspoon (slightly heaping) ground nutmeg
• ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
• 3 whole eggs
-Begin by preparing your crust: into the bowl of a food processor add ¾ cup of the flour along with the salt, and pulse to combine; add in the cold butter pieces along with the shortening, and pulse or process until a crumbly dough comes together.
-Sprinkle in the remainder of the flour, and process for a several moments to incorporate that flour in.
-Dump the flour/butter/shortening mixture into a bowl; in small increments, drizzle in the vodka/water mixture, and using a rubber spatula, fold the vodka/water into the dough, pressing it down until it is slightly tacky and moist, and comes together.
-Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and form into a disc; place into fridge to chill for at least 45 minutes to an hour, or until ready to roll out and blind bake. (Can be done ahead of time, and kept chilled.)
-Roll out your chilled dough disc on a lightly floured work surface, until it is quite thin and slightly larger than your pie dish (I use a 9.5” glass pie dish, and place it into the freezer to keep it chilled).
-Place the dough into the pie dish, and cut off any long overhangs, leaving just enough so that you create a rustic-style crimp by pinching around the dough with your thumb and forefingers; place into the freezer to chill and firm while you preheat the oven 350°.
-To blind-bake the crust, place a piece of parchment paper into the chilled crust, and pour in some dried beans or pie weights; place onto a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour on the middle rack.
-Remove from oven with the baking sheet, and allow to sit for 10 minutes with the parchment/beans still in to keep the bottom flat.
-Carefully remove the parchment and beans, then brush very lightly with the whisked egg white (it will cook to the surface with the residual heat—this will help create a barrier between the filing and crust).
-Cool completely before filling, about 40-45 minutes total.
-Prepare the filling and bake the pie: into a large bowl add the pumpkin puree along with the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the ground cloves; using a whisk, combine the ingredients until completely smooth and silky.
-Add in the cream along with the eggs, and gently whisk those in just until everything is well-blended; take care not to whisk too aggressively, as you do not want to incorporate air into the filling—this will cause it “souffle” up as it cooks, and get cracks.
-Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust, and bake on the oven rack in the lower third of the oven for about 55-60 minutes (mine took about 60 minutes) or until the sides of the filling are set but the center is still a bit wobbly/jiggly, which is good—it'll continue to cook as it cools.
-Allow the pie to cool at room temp completely (for about 5-6 hours) before chilling in the fridge.
-Serve cold with whipped cream!
Cook's Note: This post was originally published in 2016, and has been updated with even more love!