How to Make the Best Pumpkin Pie

You know it’s autumn when pumpkin pie is what’s for dessert.

pumpkin pie with pastry leaf cutouts on top

Pictured: Chef John’s Pumpkin Pie | CREDIT: VANESSA GREAVES

It’s one of the iconic flavors of the fall season, with its popularity peaking around Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of expectations for such a down-to-earth pie to bear. Read on to learn how to make pumpkin pie from scratch, and get top-rated recipes to try — including pie fillings made from fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin, crustless pumpkin pie, and no-bake pumpkin pie.

How to Make Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a custard-based pie with a sweet filling typically made of pumpkin purée mixed with eggs, evaporated milk, and warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Pumpkin pie is typically an open-face, single crust pie baked in a pastry crust or a graham cracker crust, or you can make a crustless pumpkin pie, if you prefer.

Here, we’ll show you how to make from-scratch pumpkin pie based on this top-rated Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie recipe from recipe creator Nancy Scott. Note: If your pumpkin is large enough, you may double this recipe to make two pies.

Ingredients:

Pastry for the Single-Crust Pie:

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 3 ½ tablespoons cold water

Filling:

  • 2 cups mashed, cooked pumpkin, or about 1 1/2 pounds skin-on, raw pumpkin; Shortcut: You can substitute with canned pumpkin. Before you buy, you should check the label to make sure of what’s in the can; if it’s labeled “pumpkin pie filling” it’s already spiced. If you plan to sweeten yourself with the ingredients below, go for unflavored canned pumpkin.
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
whole pumpkin for pie

CREDIT: SARA TANE

1. Prepare Mashed Pumpkin

Unless you’re using canned pumpkin, you’ll first need to prepare the mashed pumpkin. Start with 1 1/2 pounds of skin-on, raw pumpkin to yield 2 cups of mashed:

halved pumpkin

CREDIT: SARA TANE

1. Halve pumpkin and scoop out seeds and stringy portions. You can save the seeds for a roasted, crunchy snack.

raw pumpkin chunks

CREDIT: SARA TANE

2. Cut the pumpkin into chunks.

boiled pumpkin chunks

CREDIT: SARA TANE

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, cover the pumpkin chunks with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.

mashed pumpkin

CREDIT: SARA TANE

4. Drain, cool and remove the peel. Return pumpkin to the saucepan and mash with a potato masher or use a food mill.

2. Preheat Oven

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

cutting fat into pie dough

CREDIT: SARA TANE

3. Prepare Pie Crust

1. Prepare pie crust by mixing together the flour, sugar, and salt.

2. Cut shortening into flour; add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time (you may need only 3 tablespoons, or up to 4 tablespoons).

liquid mixed into pie dough

CREDIT: SARA TANE

3. Mix dough and repeat until dough is moist enough to hold together.

pie dough wrapped in plastic

CREDIT: SARA TANE

4. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

floured pie dough

CREDIT: SARA TANE

4. Form Pie Crust

1. With lightly floured, hands shape dough into a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.

2. With a sharp knife, cut dough 1 1/2 inch larger than the upside-down 8- to 9-inch pie pan. (You can use any dough scraps to make decorative shapes using small leaf-shaped cookie cutters and place them on top of the pie filling.)

rolled pie dough

CREDIT: SARA TANE

3. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it right-side up onto the pie pan. Unroll, easing dough into the bottom of the pie pan. Form a crust by folding the overhanging edges under and crimp as desired.

pumpkin pie filling ingredients

CREDIT: SARA TANE

5. Make Pie Filling

1. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt with an electric mixer or immersion blender. Mix well.

mixed pie filling

CREDIT: SARA TANE

2.  Pour the filling into your prepared crust.

unbaked pumpkin pie

CREDIT: SARA TANE

6. Bake Pie

Bake 40 minutes or until when a knife is inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. See below for more tips on how to tell when your pie is done.

baked pumpkin pie

CREDIT: SARA TANE

How to Tell When Pumpkin Pie Is Done

Pumpkin pie can be a little tricky because you want the custard filling to be cooked but you don’t want it to be overcooked — that’s what causes pumpkin pie filling to separate, or “crack.” And while that’s not the end of the earth, it’s not pretty. So, how can you tell when pumpkin pie is done? Here are some ways to tell:

  • Pie filling temperature is about 170 degrees F (77 degrees C) when measured near the center of the pie.
  • A table knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out cleanly, with no liquid pie filling sticking to it.
  • The pie filling is very slightly wobbly towards the center of the pie when you give it a jiggle. The pie filling will continue to cook and set up even after you remove it from the oven, due to its residual heat.

Pumpkin Pie Recipes to Try

slice of keto pumpkin pie

Pictured: Keto Pumpkin Pie | CREDIT: ANGELA SACKETT SUPERHOTMAMA

With 130+ recipes to choose from, we’re sure to have the right pumpkin pie for you. Here’s just a sample of what you’ll find in our full collection of pumpkin pie recipes.

completed pumpkin pie

CREDIT: SARA TANE

How to Store Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie needs to cool at room temperature so the cooked filling can continue to set up. Since it’s made with perishable ingredients such as eggs and milk, don’t leave it out for more than two hours for food-safety’s sake. Pumpkin pie should be lightly covered with plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, if it even lasts that long.

How to Freeze Pumpkin Pie

If you’re an over-achiever, you may choose to bake your pumpkin pie in advance and freeze it. If you do intend to freeze, we’d suggest baking your pie in a disposable aluminum pie pan. Here’s how:

  1. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack (this may take several hours).
  2. Tightly wrap the pie with a few layers of plastic wrap, and follow with an additional layer of aluminum foil.
  3. Label the pie with the freeze date. Freeze for up to 1 month.
  4. To thaw, remove the aluminum foil and thaw in the fridge overnight.

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