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Nov 2, 2010 04:27 PM

How to make pumpkin pie?

So, I am going all out on the autumn theme and wanted to make pumpkin pie for the first time. Anyone have some good recipes for how to do it?


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  1. I highly recommend the Cooks Illustrated recipe. The filling is pre-cooked and doing so both reduces the baking time and eliminates that strange "tinny" flavor that you get from canned pumpkin. Just google "cooks illustrated pumpkin pie" and you'll find it. Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Foodielicious

      I will agree the end product is great but for me, the zillion steps it takes and the zillion dishes you dirty to make the Cooks Illustrated version is too much for me.

    2. SouthToTheLeft,

      If this is your first time, I highly recommend that you buy yourself a can of Libby's pumpkin pie filling and follow that recipe to a tee. It's nearly fool-proof and produces one-darn fine pumpkin pie.

      Once you've got the hang of it, then venture out to more exotic recipes.

      Good luck.

      14 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Ditto on that recommendation. Why complicate things the first time around. Pumpkin pie is easy enough, and the OP can move onto using fresh pumpkin or more involved techniques next year.

        Next question to the OP: Are you making pie crust for the first time as well?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Making your own pumpkin pie filling from canned pumpkin is only marginally more complicated than using the canned filling, and pretty much foolproof. And to me, there is some fun involved in figuring out my own personal spice/flavour tweaks (cardamom? black pepper? orange rind?).

          1. re: julesrules

            I have gutted and peeled too many pie pumpkins in my life to agree that opening a can is only "marginally more complicated". Then you have to cook it down. I've tasted pies made from both methods and couldn't tell the difference. It's not worth the effort in my point of view. For a new pie maker, I'd recommend spending the effort on the crust.

            1. re: momskitchen

              I was talking about canned, plain pumpkin vs. canned pumpkin pie filling. Not fresh pumpkin which is a PITA and requires the ability to judge whether the pumpkin is drained (or cooked off) enough to set up.

                1. re: momskitchen

                  I cut a whole pumpkin in half, scoop the seeds and then place cut/flat side down on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. I roast at 400 until soft. Probably 40 minutes or so. Not a PITA, pretty easy really.

                  I don't eat a lot of sweets, but my daughter says this method is best, and its better than canned.

            2. re: julesrules

              "Libby's pumpkin pie filling"

              The recipe ipsedixit linked uses canned pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie filling mix (which ain't all that bad, either.)

              Of course it's fun to tweak anything you cook, but mostly it's better to do foolproof and tried and true the first time out, instead of getting complicated and possibly experiencing failure, until you have wet feet and can build on skills. Yes, even with something as elementary as pumpkin pie.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                This is a good clarification for someone who has never baked a pumpkin pie before--the difference between canned pumpkin, which is only pumpkin, and pumpkin pie filling which has everything added in and all you do is pour it in a shell and bake. I've never used the latter but the former makes a very good, foolproof pie, in the recipe that ipse posted. And, you can tweak it with the spices.

                The bigger question is whether the OP wants to attempt his/her own pie crust--that is far more challenging.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  So based on her post the OP should buy pie filling and use it in a recipe that calls for plain pumpkin? Foolproof, indeed.
                  I'm no purist. I generally buy my pie crusts. But IMHO:
                  - if you are going to make your own pie crust, surely you can handle making this simple filling
                  - if you are buying the crust *and* the filling, you might as well buy the pie

                  1. re: julesrules

                    "So based on her post the OP should buy pie filling and use it in a recipe that calls for plain pumpkin?"

                    What? No, of course not; I believe ipsedixit may have mistated her post by writing "pumpkin pie filling," then linking a recipe using canned straight pumpkin, but I'd rather let her tell us what she had in mind than me deciding for her. I though you would draw that conclusion without me being too obvious. Using the premixed filling in a plain canned pumpkin recipe will be a disaster, fer sure. Glad we got that established.

                    Yes, if you can make pie crust, you most likely have the skill set to go all the way, and use fresh pumpkin, make pumpkin chiffon or pumpkin pecan or other type of specialty pumpkin pie, or just plain ole pumpkin. If you are buying the premixed filling and the crust, the only reason not to buy a pre made pie would be to bake if off for the resultant wonderful aroma, and so you can claim, "I baked it myself," which you essentially did.

                    At this point, there's no telling what the OP has in mind for the crust.

                    The outcome depends on the skill level/adventurous spirit of the OP. Whether it be homemade pie crust and canned pumpkin, or bought crust and canned pumpkin, or any of the other options, we shall see.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      I believe ipsedixit may have mistated her post by writing "pumpkin pie filling," then linking a recipe using canned straight pumpkin

                      Yes, that was a mistake on my part. Apologies all around.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        So, to answer everyone's question:

                        Yes, I plan on making my own crust. I've made pie crust a number of times before, so that is not what concerns me. I've just never made a pumpkin pie, so was wondering how complex (or not) it was, and how to do it.

                        What I'm a little confused about is the difference between the two items. My local supermarket seems to have canned pumpkin chunks, so I am not sure if that is a mix or not? What do you all suggest?

                        1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                          Canned pumpkin chunks? Are you sure it's not solid pack? I don't doubt you, but canned chunks are not often available.

                          Get the pureed (it's frequently labeled to as "solid pack pumpkin" NOT "pumpkin pie filling," which is already sweetened and flavored) and just follow the Libby's recipe.

                          The pumpkin pie filling itself is basically a custard base, and couldn't be easier.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                thats the recipe my 88 yr old mom swears by and it is very good. You can up the spicing a bit. I happen to have enjoyed some other recipes more but this is a very simple and good one.

              3. Buy Libby's canned pumpkin (NOT the canned pumpkin pie filling), and follow the directions on the label for making pumpkin pie. It's as good as most, simple, and for your first attempt nothing wrong with it.

                1. Great info here--thanks to all the posters!!! To all you very experienced cooks and bakers---

                  What then, would be the "Prefect" crust for a Pumpkin Pie---I ask, based on the nature of the filling (wet, heavy)---what crust holds up best to deliver that flaky goodness but can remain as much for up to a day. Not sure Im asking my question correctly, though I hope. Partly the question is, is there a best crust for a PP vs. an Apple Pie vs a Coconut Cream vs. etc? Appreciate all feedback in advance---from just a guy that likes to cook.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: mtomto

                    I'm the OP, so I'm just as new to pumpkin pie as you, but I was going to use a typical dough crust made with cold water. In other words, the same crust I'd use for an apple pie.

                    What do the wise bakers think?

                    1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                      You'll get a wide variety of responses on what is"best" and on what is the "best" technique. I personally like all butter crusts (flour, ice water, butter, sugar, lemon juice) or lard or some combination. Same crust as apple pie.

                      1. re: chowser

                        'wide variety of responses" true that, chowser. I'm sure whatever crust the OP chooses to make will be the best.

                        I prefer the CI vodka crust, made with a combo of butter and veg shortening or lard for all types of pies, but more importantly, I believe there was a thread or post or two last year about par-baking the crust slightly first to avoid the soggy uncooked bottom often found in pumpkin or other baked custard pies. I would think baking the well chilled weighted crust for 15 minutes first could eliminate that problem.

                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                          Last year at Thanksgiving we had two pumpkin pies. One made from the Libby's recipe, and the one I made from the Cook's Illustrated recipe. The CI is vastly, vastly better. Maybe a few more steps than the one on the can but no higher degree of technical difficulty.

                          1. re: bugsmum

                            The one with sweet potatoes or yams and maple syrup? I haven't tried it, don't have access to the original recipe, but maybe the OP does. Here's some comments from posters here and at CI about that pie:



                            And here's an adapted recipe (don't know how this compares to the original CI version.) I dare say any pumpkin pie would be better with sweet potatoes, maple syrup and rum:


                            Btw, to the OP: there's no reason to use evaporated milk in the Libby's recipe if you object or don't like the flavor, heavy cream is fine.

                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              I think most people like a plain pumpkin pie - like the libby's recipe.
                              I have made recipes with heavy cream like the original CI that are very good, pumpkin chiffon pies, and sweet potato pie which I much prefer to pumpkin. The pichet ong squash pie recipe is also wonderful. But many of my guests prefer a traditional pumpkin pie to any of the others. I cant see any virtue to the newer CI recipe which multiplies the complexity. by adding ingredients (like so many of their recipes). Stick with something simple and time tested and both you and your eaters will be happy.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                My feeling exactly; my point was to give the OP some options and info, since this CI pie recipe was mentioned in glowing terms by other posters.

                                I'm all for ease of preparation at the holidays anyway, and I'm making both pumpkin and sweet potato as it is.

                      2. re: SouthToTheLeft

                        Sue the vodka pie crust recipes that others have suggested.

                        Also, don't overlook the possibility of using a graham cracker crust. Not only is it something different, but it's hella simple. Grind some graham crackers, along with a bit of saltines (or pretzel sticks), and some unsalted butter, and away you go!

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Perhaps a silly question, but how much unsalted butter? And do you cook the crust first like a dough crust?

                          1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                            Here's my formula for graham cracker crusts for one 9 inch pie or springform pan:

                            Measure 1 1/2 cups (about 24 graham crackers) of graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl. This can be all graham cracker, or a mix of whatever sweet cracker/biscuit you like. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the graham crackers. Add 3 oz (6 T) melted butter. Stir together with your hands until fully incoporated. Press into the pie plate or other pan with hands. Using a drinking glass works well to press the crumbs into the corners of the pie plate. Bake the pie crust, bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F. oven. Cool before filling.

                            1. re: SouthToTheLeft


                              This is what I generally do for graham cracker crusts, you can use it for just about anything, including (of course) cheesecake as well as "pumpkin pie".

                              It's very similar to bushwickgirl's method, except I don't prebake.


                              1 cup graham cracker crumbs
                              1/2 cup of crushed Saltines (or pretzels)
                              1 tablespoon white sugar
                              4 - 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

                              In a bowl combine the graham cracker, pretzels, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate, until pie filling is ready.

                              1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                If you decide to go the cookie route, gingersnaps or a combination of gingersnaps and graham crackers work well w/ pumpkin pie.

                        2. If I make the pie the day before, can it be left out on the counter? (Afraid there won't be room in the fridge.)

                          Should I pre bake the crust for 10 min before I put in the filling?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: walker

                            absolutely. Much better than refrigerated tho you might want to store it out of harms way and in a cooler room than your kitchen..

                            1. re: walker

                              As to parbaking, sure, it cuts down on the likelihood that the bottom crust will be soggy, which tends to happen with custard pies. I wrote about this upthread:


                              While baking the pie, if the edge of the crust starts to darken too much, wrap it in a folded length of aluminum foil, unless you have one of those pie shields that protects the crust from burning.

                              And as jen kalb wrote, no need to refrigerate.