HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Costco Pumpkin Pie Why?

What is the deal with Costco's Pumpkin pies?

I keep trying to make a really good pie from scratch including pie crust but I always get compared to Costco. Friends and in-laws swear it’s the best pie they have ever tasted. Crust certainly is not, but I give trying to win the home made argument. Anyone know what spices they put in their pies?

I can gather so far is they really bump up the spices, like double normal recipe. Yet one friend commented how theirs are not over spiced like other places. I am guessing processed food like that is probably out of a can and people are mostly responding to the flavor of the spices and not texture of the filling or the quality of the crust.

Any suggestion? Copycat recipes?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is it possible they have the research and resources to develop a pumpkin pie for the masses?
    Everyone I know seems to like it.

    There will always be Costco pumpkin pie snobs....The ones that buy the $25 pumpkin pies here in Los Angeles.

    1. I am a big fan of the Costco pumpkin pies, and really all of their baked goods.

      But when you say ... "I am guessing processed food like that is probably out of a can and people are mostly responding to the flavor of the spices and not texture of the filling or the quality of the crust." ... do you realize that the best pumpkin pies (in most people's opinions, mine included) are from canned pumpkins, and not fresh roasting pumpkins?

      What's that old saying? If you can't beat them, join them?

      11 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Or make a pie that Costco doesn't make.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Libby's a subsidiary of Nestlé has an 80%-90% market share of the canned pumpkin market. Chances are pretty good most people are using the same canned mix.

          You said you were going to make the pie from scratch....you know the jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren't the pumpkins to use for pumpkin pie?

          1. re: monku

            you know the jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren't the pumpkins to use for pumpkin pie?

            Yes, of course I know that.

            Carving pumpkins are too stringy, and have no taste. If you are going to use fresh pumpkins, you must find the smaller "roasting" pumpkins.

              1. re: monku

                It's so hard to find decent, much less good, roasting pumpkins.

                If the OP intends on going the fresh route, better to use kabocha squash (or Japanese winter squash), which in both texture and taste is very similar to pumpkin, with a bit of a sweet potato flair. Very very good squash for making pies.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                I disagree wholeheartedly about Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins being no good for pies. That is all I use, and I have even converted a couple of "I hate pumpkin pie" people. Every year I get raves about the pies that I make. I did 6 this past week. I use the standby Eagle brand recipe , but my spice mix is cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom.

                The crust was Mom's favorite, the Spry water whip crust. 3/4 c shortening, 1 tbs milk, 1tsp salt, and 1/2 c boiling water, and 2c flour. I whip everything except the water, and flour till it looks like whipped cream, then add the water , and again whip till it looks like whipped cream. Add the flour, and bump the mixer just enough to cut the mix together. Makes 2 crusts.

                One of the main compliments I get is that my pies is that they have some texture, and are not smooth like baby food. To prep the pumpkin I cut it into strips, cut the skin off, then cube it up as it goes into the pot. Add a quart, or two of water, and simmer till soft. Mash with a potato masher, and it is good to go. When I get ready to use the cooked pumpkin I drain it first of any excess water before measuring it out. This helps with the cooking times.

                Use canned if ya want, but I won't be changing anytime soon, as I would have a bunch of people mad at me if I did.

                1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                  Doctor, I hope with your fondness for experimentation, that you give this one a try, too.

                  We had 3 pumpkin pies at our celebration -- 2 made with "cinderella pumpkins" -- the ones the French call potiron. The third pie was made with a jack-o'lantern pumpkin.

                  The difference was palpable -- the three recipes were very similar, but the jack-o'lantern pumpkin was grainy and the flavor very bland. The potiron pies were a nice color, velvety smooth and with a distinctly "pumpkin-y" flavor -- huge difference, and based on the state of the pie plates, hugely preferred.

                  If you get raves with your recipe, I'd chalk it up to the recipe itself -- and if you were to try pie pumpkins, I'm guessing you'd make eyes roll back in their heads in ecstasy.

              3. re: monku

                I think I read 90% of all pumpkin pies in America are Libby's. So given that, I think even if I went that route, it would still not taste like Costco. I dont know what thier recipe is.

              4. re: ipsedixit

                I agree with ipse- and have made a policy to buy a pumpkin pie at Costco whenever they have them for the duration of the season. I would do the same for their cherry pies if they didn't quit making them after a year or two. Go ahead and be a pie snob if it makes you vfeel better, but i'm not into baking, will likely never be good with crusts, and I can always put somethng extra on top of a Costco pumpkin pie if the flavor is a little mild for my taste. Usually it's not.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  But what if at some point Costco stops offering pumpkin pies? Or if they change the recipe, maybe using cheaper ingredients? Those are a couple of reasons to try and duplicate it.

                2. A friend and I used to make something like 25 pumpkin pies each holiday season, starting with real pumpkins that I roasted in my oven. We set up an assembly line with Kitchen Aid mixers, Cuisinart food processors, blenders etc. We used to do it at her parent's two-family brownstone so that we would have access to two kitchens with double wall ovens. It was a lot of fun, and they tasted great, but the product could never stand up to a great pie from a bakery in terms of texture. There is virtually nothing that you can do to get the pumpkin puree as smooth unless you strain it at some point. The crusts were certainly better than commercial pies, but we found the commercial pies bland and literally doubled or tripled the pre-ground spices called for in the recipe, and the pies were not too spicy at all. This was according to our friends and families, who were certainly comfortable enough with us to offer suggestions while we were baking. In those days, your cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg were all pre-ground in a can, so they were probably not as potent as what you can get today. No Cassia cinnamon in those days.

                  As for the Costco mystique, I think it is to some degree the taste and texture, but there is something gratifying about buying a giant pie at a reasonable price, which conveniently just happens to be sitting there waiting for you when you are picking up one of their rotisserie chickens. I wouldn't call them the gold standard, but they are very good. Still, nothing resembled the texture and taste of those old home made ones. Keep trying and good luck.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: RGC1982

                    hats off to you!
                    This is exactly why people don't make pumpkin pie from scratch... it's an assembly line, scalable process.

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      Yes, I even buy real cinnamon that you can only get at a specialty spice merchant. So based on comments here is my new guess.

                      Triple all the spices
                      Bump up the salt
                      Bump up the sugar
                      Use Libby's for the filling

                      I guess what I am getting at is something I read somewhere that American taste buds are dulled by fast food and processed food loaded with salt and sugar. The masses have become so used to that ration to cover up bad food, that even good food tastes bland if not kicked up with salt and sugar.

                      I do think there is also an added mystique of cheap, easy and massive amounts that add to the Costco thing.

                      Maybe this should be on Myth Busters. Anyone up to the challenge of making your own bumped up version and switching it out on a Costco snob to see if its still their favorite?

                      1. re: kjonyou

                        People like to throw the word "processed" around.
                        Libby's pumpkin pie filling can says "100% Pumpkin", Ingredient: Pumpkin (nothing else).
                        You said you use "real cinnamon", does Costco not use "real" cinnamon?....is there imitation cinnamon?

                        I assume they would have to "bump" up the ingredients because the Costco pumpkin pie is maybe twice as big as a home made sized pie. Do you not use sugar or salt when making your pumpkin pie?

                        From your comments it doesn't sound like you've ever tasted a Costco pumpkin pie.

                        1. re: monku

                          Most of the spice that is sold as 'ground cinnamon' in the U.S. Is actually cassia and not true cinnamon.

                          1. re: John E.

                            Thank you, John E. There is "real cinnamon" and the cinnamon we know in America. They are not at all the same, and you'd NEVER want the real thing in your pumpkin pie.

                          2. re: monku

                            Actually I have, all the time because as I said, other people who get into the holidays brag about buying a Costco Pie, which is odd since I dont brag about buying Costco toilet paper.

                            1. re: kjonyou

                              sniff. nobody brags about what toilet paper they buy.
                              I brag about Costco olives, because they're fantastic!

                      2. I have no idea why people like the costco pies so much. I've only tried one once and wasn't blown away. I did notice, however, that it was far sweeter than the pies we make from scratch.

                        As with anything pre-made, I'm Guessing that the salt and sugar are used less sparingly than when made at home.

                        And, as I've made this mistake when I was a kid, don't use anything other than a pie pumpkin when trying to please the masses. Buy a small pumpkin that is called a "pie pumpkin" and see if that helps. I do like to try other pumpkins but found the jack-o-lanterns to be "bleh" and kind of savory.

                        We use individual spices, never "pie spice" and we only use fresh, organic spices. Okay, when we can't afford organic we just buy regular fresh spices but not the ones in the jars that could be from any decade! We get our spices from Vitamin Cottage in bulk and in small amounts so they don't sit in the cabinet foreverrrrrr. Also, don't store your spices in the sunlight.

                        I do think there are a great many folks who actually prefer the pre-made taste to the home-made taste; I am not one of them. Okay, I AM one of them when it comes to hummus. But, that is only because they salt it an a way I would never do at home...mmmm.

                        I also think that it is a bit odd that someone would tell you your pie is not as good as a store bought pie. That would have hurt my tender feelings if it was me :( Maybe they don't want homemade...

                        1. According to this article from a couple years ago, it sounds like Costco makes their pumpkin pies like folks do at home except on a larger scale.


                          1. I think the suggestion that getting a giant pie at a good price is as good a reason as taste as to why people might rave about a Costco pie. I happen to think that most pumpkin pies pass the taste test for the filling while most crusts are forgettable. I don't think pumpkin pie is about the crust anyway.

                            (Last Thanksgiving someone brought a pie, I assume it was some sort of pumpkin/squash/sweet potato pie, that was the worst color for a pie. It was yellowish, orange, brown but closer to a baby's diarrhea in color. As I recall, not a single piece was missing. My apologies for the graphic description).

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: John E.

                              (Last Thanksgiving someone brought a pie, I assume it was some sort of pumpkin/squash/sweet potato pie, that was the worst color for a pie. It was yellowish, orange, brown but closer to a baby's diarrhea in color. As I recall, not a single piece was missing. My apologies for the graphic description).

                              That's what happens when you use fresh, as opposed to canned, pumpkins.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I've made plenty of pies from fresh (though I've used canned plenty of times too) and I've yet to have one turn out a gross color. In fact, they basically turn out identical to pies made with canned pumpkin.

                                Canned pumpkin doesn't necessarily lead to a *better* pie. It is a pretty consistent product though, so if you're unsure of what you're doing or have trouble getting a suitable variety of pumpkin, then it might be better. I think the point is more that when you do it from scratch, it will likely be identical to a pie that started from a can - so most people are happy to just skip the steps to prep the pumpkin.

                                I almost always have canned pumpkin in my pantry, and am happy to use it for pies among many other things. But I do start from fresh too, because sometimes there are nice pumpkins at the farmer's market and I can roast a couple, puree the amount I need for pie, cube the rest for use in something else, etc. Given the good results I've consistently gotten with either method, I personally think insisting that one way or another is the ONLY WAY is pretty silly.

                                Also, you know, some people would just rather not use things they didn't process themselves, and I think that's a perfectly valid choice. If someone has any questions about canning materials or standards of cleanliness and safety in warehouses, then they should do what makes them feel comfortable. If other people like a certain pie from a certain store , then go buy it and use the time in some other way.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  ipsedixit, if you are close to me I will send you one of my pies to try out. I'm in S.NV outside of Las Vegas.

                                  Could be the variety of Jack - O - Lantern pumpkins that are grown out this way, or just my way of making them, who knows. All I know is that my pies get great responses at the dinners I take them to. I do try to make them a day ahead to let them sit so the spices work their magic.

                                  I picked up a dozen pumpkins to experiment with this year, as I have one preparation method that I have been wanting to try out on a pie. I also love pumpkin in other dishes.

                                2. re: John E.

                                  guess your example shows that people eat with their eyes! costco's pies are a good bright orange color.

                                  the costco pies generally have pretty good crust,, esp for a commercial pie, and the price is right, but I dont particularly like the taste of the costco pumpkin pie. for whatever that is worth. Its certainly not an improvement in taste over the standard libby's label pie.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    Brown sugar, instead of white, will make for a less-appealing color. Nice flavor, but it isn't as pretty.

                                    1. re: antimony

                                      That's why I cover it up with.....whipped cream! Mmmmmm :)

                                      1. re: antimony

                                        I think that in the case of the pumpkin pies at our Thanksgiving brown sugar was not used and would have been an improvement. I would think that brown sugar would add a darker color to the filling. These pies were pale yellow and the wrong texture too.

                                    2. I ALWAYS bump up good housekeeping spices. for everything. My taste, maybe not yours.

                                      1. I've never tried a Costco pumpkin pie, so I can't comment on its flavor, but could the taste difference stem from aging as the pie sits from the time it was baked until when it gets bought and served? A homemade pie more often than not gets baked and served within a day. I've found that a pumpkin pie tastes better and better the more it ages and the spices mellow out (though at the expense of the crust's texture). Of course, if a Costco pie is also baked and served the same day, ignore all this and move along. :)

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: stilton

                                          I have found that the egg makes a far bigger difference than I first thought. I usually follow the Joy of Cooking recipe, which says to use 2 eggs for a firmer pie with a pronounced pumpkin taste, or 3 eggs for a softer, more custardy pie.

                                          When I started using just 2 instead of 3 (curiosity killed the cat), I started getting raves about my pumpkin pies.

                                          For pumpkin, by the way, I use potiron -- a flatter pumpkin variety that is a dark rusty orange, with deep ribbing -- my niece used to call it a Cinderella carriage pumpkin (yes, it DOES look like that!)

                                          The flesh is very smooth and soft when cooked, and has an outstanding flavor. I prefer to use it, and don't mind not being able to buy tinned pumpkin at all -- this variety makes a much better pie!

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            Sunshine, your comment about the eggs is interesting. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie but when I make it for others I typically follow my mother's recipe, which calls for 3 eggs. However, last year I made one from Epicurious that only called for two (plus sour cream and a lot of heavy cream), and although it still tasted like pumpkin pie (i.e. not anything I would want to eat!) the texture was markedly better to my taste. I figured it was the cream and sour cream, but perhaps it was the eggs.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              That's interesting. I don't really care for pumpkin pie, generally associating it with something cold, custardy and eggy. I only make sweet potato pie now, but I bet using fewer eggs would greatly improve pumpkin for me.

                                              I don't remember every trying a Costco pie, but the look of their pie crusts is such a turnoff, I don't think I ever will.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                I used Cinderella pumpkins as well. Incredible flavor. I had a store bought sugar pie pumpkin sitting on the counter, so I baked that as well. It had no flavor at all, compared to the Cinderella.
                                                I am curious to the difference between the flavor of a store bought pumpkin and a home grown.
                                                Need to check that out.

                                              2. re: stilton

                                                I think you are on to something. I didnt factor in the time that thing sat on a shelf. I have no idea how long that is.

                                                Curiously, I stubled on a video from Marie Callandars chef giving up some tips. He would not reveal thier secret pie recipe, but he did say one of thier tricks is to let the batter sit 24 hours in the fridg for the flavors to meld before baking.

                                                1. re: kjonyou

                                                  costco pies are generally baked the same day you buy 'em. I've gotten them hot from the oven.

                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                    My MIL reported that when she was at Costco the day before thanksgiving, they had pallets of pies wheeled out into the aisles. I know that costco can make lots of pies in one day, but pallets of them seems tough especially considering that people were buying so many (she said there was one in every cart!). Me? I avoid costco at all costs for the week leading up to Turkey Day.

                                                    1. re: LaureltQ

                                                      I work in Costco's bakery, and yes we produce that many pies in the few days leading up to Thanksgiving. I know that my store made and sold 2,000 pumpkin pies Tues/Wed(and another 1,500 apple and pecan) and we do put them on pallets to store in the cooler until we need them

                                                  2. re: kjonyou

                                                    That doesn't mean they didn't let their batter sit.

                                                2. My husband says the pie reminds him of his mom's. I'm guessing that it's just a typical, "pedestrian" if you will, pie filling recipe. The filling's texture is light and custardy-- really delightful. The flavor is good but not amazing. I love cooking but I suck at baking so I always buy my desserts. Considering the high quality of everything else I get from Costco (including produce superior to the 8 nearby grocery stores) I doubt anything they make in house is just processed crap. The pie tastes at least better than that, and I'm pretty sensitive to processed chemical-y flavors.
                                                  a Costco apple pie has also appeared at one of my gatherings too and I have to say its pretty good too.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: iheartcooking

                                                    I had some of their rugelach at work and was running around the office to see who baked them. Costco is opening near me in the near future, goodbye BJs!

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      When they do, follow your nose to the twin pack of roasted garlic loaves in the bakery dept.
                                                      It is a rustic loaf with a sourdough tang, packed with caramelized garlic cloves. I slice it all right away, then wrap and freeze one loaf in a Rubbermaid container so the garlic does not permeate the entire refrigerator. The other breads are good too, but this one's special.

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        I can see I'll be spending a lot of time there (and money too I guess). Can't wait!

                                                  2. We enjoy their pumpkin pie. I'd rather spend my cooking energies on other things. I do wish the crust was a little less crumbly, but for $6 for a giant pie I'm not complaining.

                                                    Here's some interesting facts about the pies from their monthly magazine:

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Jen76

                                                      You reminded me of something. My parents have really good friends and the wife is a really good cook. She taught French cooking classes for the local community education, they did dinner parties all the time etc. That being said, she did not want to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. She insisted that Mrs. Smith's was good enough. Her husband disagreed and wanted homemade pumpkin pie. (Our first thought now is why not have HIM make it? Well, they are in their mid 80s now and that just wasn't gonna happen). Anyway, our family was at their house for Thanksgiving the culmination of this disagreement. Alice made a pumpkin pie and baked a Mrs. Smith's pumpkin pie. She brought Ted a piece of each pie in a blind taste test. He basically had to admit that there was not much of a difference. This story might make it sound like Alice made a lousy pumpkin pie but actually Ii think it was more about her not having to make it in addition to everything else. I don't think she cared what Ted thought about her pie.

                                                    2. Virtually no one cares about good piecrust any more; too few of us make it for people to know what good crust is.

                                                      This is just a guess, but I suspect that Costco pies use more sugar than you do. In terms of spices, the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg you use should add to the sweetness of the filling but I have noticed that sugar, or HCFS, is commonly added to almost every processed food, and I think it has created a tolerance, and even a desire for highly sweetened things.

                                                      If you are roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin, it may be that the flavor of the pumpkin is different from Libby's in a can. Or that, as you suspect, the texture of the filling differs. You can compare canned pumpkin to your home made pumpkin to see if the taste or texture differ.

                                                      And one more thing: many home cooks have moved to a different version of pumpkin pie. You might try a version that uses yogurt or cream cheese, or something else that gives the pie a unique taste. (I use a very old recipe that uses evaporated milk, so I think of myself as old-fashioned here. But your situation might require a different strategy.)

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        I've never made a pumpkin pie that did not include evaporated milk. Of course I always use the recipe on the label of the can of pumpkin.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Oh, is the recipe still there? I use an old BH & G cookbook recipe, from the seventies. Somehow I think a more modern recipe might use something else. I was thinking today that I might add yogurt sometime.

                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                            I'm willing to bet that the majority do use the recipe on the can. I actually know the ingredients by heart: For a 9-inch pie, 1 small can pumpkin, 1 can evaporated milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and spices. I use brown sugar, and sometimes only 2/3 cup, and spices to taste, when I make this.

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Your recipe is very similar to the one I follow. I like your idea of using brown sugar and decreasing the amount. My pie turned out well. I just broke my low carb ways and had a second piece tonight, after a piece yesterday. I did use Penzey's baking spice instead of measuring out the different spices. I have only ever had good results using that spice blend for baking. There are many variations of pumpkin pie, but in the early seventies, when my grandmother had that pie, she pronounced it perfect. So I've made it ever since.

                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                Your recipe is quite similar to mine, except it uses both evaporated and regular milk.

                                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                                            Pies are normally sweet, whether commercial, restaurant or home made. I had some Costco pumpkin pie tonight. While pleasant enough, it was not exceptionally sweet or spicy. I like their pecan pie better. It's actually sweeter, as should it should be.

                                                          3. I think its a trade-off between time spent in kitchen vs value added to flavor. After cooking an entire meal from scratch, is the somewhat marginal flavor benefit worth the time spent finding appropriate roasting pumpkins, roasting them up, straining them, and so on.
                                                            For some, it just isn't worth the bother.
                                                            I personally do my pie crusts from scratch and have no problem using a commercially prepared pumpkin (not pie filling, just processed pumpkins) and go from there.
                                                            For others, its a stressful enough day with more than enough kitchen time. If a Costco pie or any other commercially made pie is what you like, and it reduces your stress, go for it. Doesn't make you any more nor less capable in the kitchen.
                                                            I suspect Costco doubles or triples the spices in their pies. I do too, for a real burst of flavor.

                                                            1. To quote Garrison Keillor: "The best pumpkin pie you ever ate is not that different from the worst pumpkin pie you ever ate". He's got a point, which translates into getting a storebought one if you don't like piemaking and/or are pressed for time.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                There were two pumpkin pies (among many pies) at our Thanksgiving gathering today. Neither one of them looked particularily appetizing and the piece of pumpkin pie I ate (part of) did not taste as good as it looked. The filling was not a dark enough color and the texture was somewhat grainy. I wish whomever that made them had used the recipe from the side of the can. It looks like I'll have to buy a pumpkin pie on sale to get my annual pumpkin pie fix.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  Ya know, I think especially on CH we all assume that "home made is best". I wonder if there are foods that are actually better commercially made? Might start a thread about this..hmmmm

                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                    Candy canes!!! Don't ask me how I know :-)

                                                                2. re: greygarious

                                                                  Ohhhh, I've had bad ones. One was vegan and ovewhelmingly overspiced with clove.

                                                                  1. re: loraxc

                                                                    Clove is bad enough, but I had a commercial one recently that uses allspice. It just wasn't right.

                                                                3. One of my favorite TV moments ( don't remember the show) was wife telling hubby that she gave up trying to recreate his grandmother's and Mother's awesome pie and she said, I just used canned pie filling. One taste - "That's it! You finally did it!"

                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                  1. re: calliope_nh

                                                                    This makes me laugh! I would rather have my pumpkin pie, than any storebought one, of any sort.

                                                                    Pumpkin pie is so easy! You just mix up the ingredients and pour it into unbaked pie shell. How can you mess it up?

                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                      You could mess up the pie crust. You could over bake the custard. Your crust could be soggy (from the wet ingredients). Your crust could be mealy, if you use oil, or tough if you overwork the dough. The color of the custard could be off (someone was just asking about a green pie). You might have to make a last minute run to the store for evaporated milk (see the 'dissasters' thread). You could have trouble finding canned pumpkin in the stores (previous years). You could have a bland or string puree (if you use the wrong kind of pumpkin).

                                                                      How about this apple pie disaster?

                                                                      or pumpkin pie disaster

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        OK. I admit you could mess it up, but I don't know of an easier pie to make. If you buy your crust, it is simply a matter of mixing the ingredients by hand, even, and pouring it into the pie shell. And then baking it.

                                                                        I suppose there are recipes out there that are for people with food allergies or who practice certain ways of eating which might have iffy results. I have no idea how a Splenda sweetened filling would taste, for instance. But with a normal everyday recipe, pumpkin pie is dead easy. And pecan pie isn't hard either.

                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                          It's been at least three years in a row now that the pumpkin pie at our big Thanksgiving feast has been revolting. Last year I brought a lemon pie, this year I broght a crack pie (it was OK, I don't know why ut got so many raves), but next year I'm bringing a standard pumpkin pie. I might even buy it at Costco.

                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            Well, if I was confronted with revolting pumpkin pie 3 years in a row, I'd take matters into my own hands too. By the way, what is crack pie?

                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                              I too was wondering but was afraid to ask...

                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                The famous pie at Milk Bar in NYC. I've seen the recipe - It's a crumb crust made from oatmeal cookies and a sugary milky baked filling. Some say it's addictive and some say its disgustingly sweet and overpriced.

                                                                            2. re: sueatmo

                                                                              The thing is if you're buying the crust and using the Libby recipe w/ evaporated milk, that's what the Costco pie is and it's cheaper than making your own. If I were doing that, I'd buy the Costco pie. But, if I'm making the crust and roasting my own pumpkin and not using evaporated milk, that's the way to go. It is far more work, though. Pecan pie, crust aside, is far easier.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                They are both easy to put together, if you have mastered pie crust, or if you are using purchased crust, in my experience. I think homemade crust, more than anything else, is probably the reason why I want homemade pie. I am doing a little research on different pumpkin pie recipes. Alice Waters has an intriguing one that I looked at.

                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                  Mine has sour cream, heavy cream, maple syrup, and rum. It is not overly sweet and is very complex.

                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                    I was thinking bourbon would be good in it, but didn't want to go too crazy this time.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      I know what you mean. If I am making something once a year at most, I have a hard time making too many changes, because it's hard to compare different versions made year(s) apart, plus there is the added pressure of things needing to be just right for the holiday.

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        I made a bourbon pumpkin pie YEARS ago from Camille Glen's cookbook of Southern cooking.

                                                                                        I made it the morning of, not thinking, and it was AWFUL, as the bourbon hadn't all aspirated out.

                                                                                        By the next day, however, it was stellar...though I've never made it since.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          I notice that my pumpkin pie was better the second day this year. I think someone else referred to this elsewhere in the thread, also. Note to write on the recipe for next year: This pie is one of the few that should be made a day ahead.

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                            Actually, I saw a video clip from a chef at Marie Callanders. They would not reveal their secret recipe but the chef did give one good tip.......Refrigerate the batter overnight before putting it into the crust. It give the flavors a chance to meld.

                                                                                            I have two great tips a lot of people don't know about that I discovered from other chefs.

                                                                                            1. Refrigerate the mixture overnight before baking
                                                                                            2. Simmer the filling for 5 minutes to evaporate some of the moister out.

                                                                                            You will get a more complex flavor from the time, and simmering either before baking or before it goes into the fridge will keep the filling from developing any cracks. Oh and if its grainy you have overcooked it. should be 175F or giggly in the center.

                                                                            3. re: sueatmo

                                                                              You could mess it up by using a bad recipe, not following the recipe, etc. I still do not know what my cousin did to make such a crappy pumpkin pie but the color, texture, and flavor were all wrong. It looked like new-born calf diarrhea.

                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                Every year my SIL offers to bring pumpkin pie. The one time she I said yes, she had a new stove and kept thinking it wasn't done for some reason. She brought over a dark brown hard disk inside a burnt pie shell. I was so mad she didn't at least stop somewhere on the way and buy another pie, any pie. I had to go out the next day and buy one immediately, so I could have my fix even if a day late.

                                                                              2. re: calliope_nh

                                                                                Calliope_nh, this joke parallels a family story wherein my mother, newly married, tries to recreate her mother-in-law's spaghetti sauce recipe, to my father's repeated disappointment. Finally, she works up the courage to ask Grandma for her recipe. Turns out, it's Franco-American in a can.

                                                                                Happily, I grew up on mostly homemade tomato sauce. The canned stuff worked its way in and out of Mom's rotation pretty quickly.

                                                                                For the past several years, I've been making this Pumpkin Pie recipe from the Food Network Kitchens:


                                                                                I love it and plan to make another batch, crust-free in ramekins, this week. At least half of a pie goes home with my Dad each year, so I always make two for Thanksgiving Day.

                                                                              3. I don't like their pies. Now their cake on the other hand yummy.

                                                                                1. hey it's a pretty good pie, an exceptional price and for a commercial product even the crust is good, accept it and enjoy.

                                                                                  1. Just thinking out loud, but I wonder how a pie made with a mixture of canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes would turn out? Might be the best of both worlds (or worst).

                                                                                    33 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                      Why don't you come up with your own special recipe? It might be amazing.

                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                        Could be a new trend, sounds good to me!

                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                          Have you eaten kabocha squash (a.k.a. butterCUP)? I have not bought other winter squashes since discovering kabocha a year ago. It is drier than butternut or acorn, tastes like a cross of those with sweet potato. For me, all it needs is baking. No butter, no brown sugar, no nothing.
                                                                                          Baking a pie with it is on my to-do list.

                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                            If you puree it with the skin, you'd get an interesting green pie (possibly green speckled).

                                                                                            Sometime I should make this Japanese steamed squash cake

                                                                                            shows mashed squash cakes - speckled with the green skin

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              I know some people eat the skin but I don't, I halve, bake cut side down, then scoop. Kabocha's cooked flesh comes out of the skin very easily.

                                                                                          2. re: Antilope

                                                                                            I knew I'd seen something about this, and turns out it was an America's Test Kitchen recipe: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                              Whoa! Ask and you shall receive. Thanks! I'll try this recipe the next time I make pumpkin pie.

                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                Not arguing that Costco doesn't have good Pumpkin Pie, it may be absolutely delicious.
                                                                                                But there was good pumpkin pie before Costco came into existence, and even before Libby's (or whoever), put it in a can.
                                                                                                I have known about the debate over canned pumpkin making a better pie than fresh, and was leaning in that direction this year, because of that argument.
                                                                                                But the day before I was looking at the three Cinderella pumpkins that I had grown in my garden, and the eggs from our chickens, and thought why would pumpkins be any different than any other home grown vegetable. The most ordinary of vegetables (celery),
                                                                                                has sooooo much more flavor. So, I made it from home grown pumpkin.
                                                                                                It was incredibly easy to do. Cut the pumpkin in half, scooped the seeds, and roasted it, while I prepped other dishes. Scraped the flesh from the skin and threw it in the processor, then made the usual recipe.
                                                                                                It was silky smooth and delicious. Really surprisingly simple. Not really much more work than a canned pie. Once you've made the commitment to the crust, pies are pretty easy.
                                                                                                I put in less spices than I usually do because experience told me the fresh pumpkin would deliver more flavor, and that was true.
                                                                                                I think it is great that there are so many options available to us. All good.

                                                                                                1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                  I think the people who rave about factory pies have probably never tasted home-made crust, or filling made with fresh pumpkin. I had a few bites of a Costco pie at Thanksgiving this year, and the crust was as bad as ever. My host & hostess are great fans of Costco (I think the poor turkey came from there too -- they raved about how cheap it was) and I doubt they really know how good a pumpkin pie could be. Since I fly to be with them every year (Im into my second decade with this) I cannot bring them MY pie to taste. They probably wouldn't like it anyway,

                                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                    "I think the people who rave about factory pies have probably never tasted home-made crust, or filling made with fresh pumpkin."

                                                                                                    Bad assumption. I grew up on homemade pumpkin pie (made from a fresh pumpkin - not a can) with homemade crust. I still like the Costco pie. Maybe i have bad tastebuds.

                                                                                                    1. re: Jen76

                                                                                                      I love that you said that. I'm looking for any excuse not to make homemade pumpkin pie.

                                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                        why? I totally get if you don't have the time -- but it's really, really simple to make -- it's mixed and into the crust in 5-10 minutes (not counting cooking and pureeing the pumpkin) and then you can do something else while it bakes.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          Yes it's the time, and I do plenty of baking. I like pumpkin pie, but for Thanksgiving especially when so many other things are being made I'd rather pick one up and make other desserts. It's never 5 to 10 minutes when you've got other things going on and a ton of dishes to wash.

                                                                                                          1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                            I don't see how making a pie is 5 or 10 minutes, unless you're using a premade crust which to me kind of defeats the purpose. If you make a pie from scratch, you're looking at around 10 minutes for the crust alone, mixing, rolling, prepping the pan...add another 10 minutes to get the pumpkins prepped for the oven, a good hour plus downtime while roasting then add bit of cooling time, 10 minutes to scrape and puree and press through a sieve. Then 5 minutes minimum to add evaporated milk, spices, sugar etc. and pour it into the pan. Then baking time. Then cooling time. OH don't forget the cleanup time (food processor, countertop etc.) I don't see a 5 minute pie from scratch here...

                                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                                              True, and I especially lose momentum when I'd rather be making something else. This year I didn't have enough Tiramisu and almost all the hot apple crumble gone, with just a few wedges of the pumpkin pie eaten. I guess in my case it makes sense to go out and buy one if only for this day, if there are pumpkin pies out there that are good enough. Almost forgot the pecan pie which always goes over well, much more than the pumpkin pie.

                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                See, it all comes down to an assessment of time available and "bang for the buck" so to speak. Knowing what your family really enjoys, and what is there because, well, its always there and I'll have some but really its kind of meh, is what planning for these days are all about. And it really IS so individual. For holiday meals I do homemade perogies, all from scratch, start to finish. Its a whole day thing, well worth it for me. I have friends for whom this is not time well spent and they'll buy frozen and heat and eat. As for pumpkin pie, for me its not the star of the show and I treat it accordingly LOL....

                                                                                                              2. re: freia

                                                                                                                I wasn't counting the crust -- I said "five minutes until it's IN the crust". I don't make judgments about homemade versus storebought pie crusts -- that's up to each chef, and wasn't a part of my discussion.

                                                                                                                And it wasn't counting pureeing the pumpkin, either...whether it comes out of a can or out of the microwave. (I keep a package of puree in the freezer, so it's in the micro defrosting while I get out the ingredients.

                                                                                                                If time is a factor, you're going to buy a premade pie crust and open a can of puree.

                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                  No one here is disrespecting your decision to do so.

                                                                                                                  1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                    I didn't think anyone was -- only clarifying Freia's objection that "it's not a 5-minute pie" --

                                                                                                                    I have to make my own puree, because canned isn't available here - -but as I said, I keep it in the freezer.

                                                                                                                    Sometimes I make my own crust, sometimes I buy it - depends on my schedule and my mood. I don't apologize or feel guilty about either choice (and both get devoured with impunity).

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      I read this thread with interest wondering if my pie wasn't getting shunned because of Costco. I wouldn't be surprised. In any case, I get too overwhelmed over the holidays so I'm looking upon this all as a very positive thing with one less thing to worry about. Plus I'd rather enjoy my pumpkin pie when I don't have to worry about it competing with everything else. Homemade apple pie too.

                                                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                        that's the bottom line -- we all have to do what works best for us.

                                                                                                                        The Costco pies are good - better than the pumpkin brought to our dinner from a pricey deli in Paris (burned beyond recognition on one side, which the deli tried to camouflage under a hefty sprinkling of granulated sugar, so it was burned AND gritty - I ate the only piece out of that one) -- and better than a LOT of homemade pies.

                                                                                                          2. re: lilgi

                                                                                                            Ditto, namely because pie crust is my nemesis. I can make a pie crust, but it isn't my grandmother's pie crust. As the thread about the magical "pedestrian recipe" oatmeal cookies has discussed ad infinitum, her crust had a magic to it that I cannot replicate no matter how hard I try; therefore, I buy my pies from other bakeries with crusts that are nowhere near grandma's but, in my opinion, still better than a Pillsbury crust.

                                                                                                            1. re: Jen76

                                                                                                              Well that thread is taking a different direction because it's no longer about magic and duplicating a cookie, now it's about shortening. In any case the pumpkin pie here has to compete with every other dessert so it takes a back seat. The best crust in the world wouldn't really matter here, but excellent Tiramisu does. As Freia said, it's about priorities.

                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                Agree with that, too. We love pumpkin pie, but it isn't the star.

                                                                                                                1. re: Jen76

                                                                                                                  I will have to give the Costco pie a whirl soon, I'm just glad that someone that appreciates homemade pies likes them so I'm sure I will too :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                    It's not the be-all and end-all of pie, but our family likes it well enough. I'll feel a little bad now if you hate it! ;)

                                                                                                                    1. re: Jen76

                                                                                                                      Not at all Jen! I'll always make a homemade when time allows, but I'm sure this one will be wonderful on Thanksgiving when all else tends to shine at dessert, especially when we're all still so full :)

                                                                                                                    2. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                      They often do samples of the pie at my Costco and that would be a better way to try it because it's one big pie. I read an article about what how it's made and it's no different than buying a storebought crust and mixing up pumpkin puree and evaporated milk that most people do. As I said above, if I were making a pie completely from scratch w/ roasted pumpkin, no evaporated milk, that's the optimal route. If I were going to buy a crust and add the Libby's recipe, I'd buy the Costco pie. Cheaper, easier and about the same.

                                                                                                        2. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                          mendogirl: thanks for sharing your experience. The food processor makes it easy doesn't it? Did the home cook have to use a food mill in years past? Perhaps that is why canned pumpkin is around--because of the extra work the home cook would have had pureeing the pumpkin. And the pumpkin in your pie was not precooked, right? I imagine the flavor was indeed lovely.

                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                            " And the pumpkin in your pie was not precooked, right?"

                                                                                                            She roasted it. That probably contributed to the good flavor.

                                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                              I think you are right.
                                                                                                              There are modern inventions that really make life easier, like penicillin and food processors. I try to cook as much as possible with fresh ingredients, either grown by myself or local small producers.
                                                                                                              BUT, I learned that cooking like it's the 18th century can be incredibly tedious, and entirely beside the point (except for cooking over an open fire, which is pure fun). Kneading bread in a bread machine or mixer makes it more likely that I will make fresh, healthy bread, for example.
                                                                                                              I bought a food mill for processing tomatoes. Complete pain in the. Bought a food mill attachment for the Kitchen Aid. Much better.
                                                                                                              The trick is being able to differentiate between what is actually difficult and what is not. In the world of processed foods where roasting a chicken is seen as complicated, easy and difficult are relative terms.
                                                                                                              Well, that was more than anyone asked for, LOL.
                                                                                                              Yes, the pie was lovely. Just like most home grown produce, the pumpkin had almost a gentle flavor, but it actually tastes like what it is, and is more than a backdrop for the seasoning. It is the main event. Combined with a butter/leaf lard crust...yum. Even better the next day. Like lasagna ;)

                                                                                                        3. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                          I made this pie last week and the 1 tsp salt in the filling made it grossly oversalted. We did not have solid pack pumpkin so I used 15 oz pack from our freezer - the pie did not have a pumpkiny enough flavor - too much egg and milk , too little spice and pumpkin for us. Finally, even with pre-chilling the crust and the 400 deg oven to start, the bottom of the pie did not brown in a metal plate. I will try glass or ceramic the next time.

                                                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                            Yeah, 3 eggs + two yolks probably gives you insurance against a pie that won't set, in case you use watery squash or a jack o lantern pumpkin. But I wouldn't want to eat it, either.

                                                                                                      2. As others have mentioned, I've had the best results using firm-fleshed squash (I actually like to use butternut, nuked, scooped out of the shell, and pureed) and fewer eggs. I like a traditional dense pie rather than the custard type pie.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                          I can't buy canned pumpkin where I am, and this is what I do -- 2 eggs, not three.

                                                                                                          If I have time, I roast the pumpkin in the oven -- it gives it a much deeper flavor -- but I don't worry much if I'm in a rush and need to nuke it.

                                                                                                        2. Try the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk recipe, it is all I have ever used. I change the spice mix sometimes while experimenting. 2 eggs, no evaporated milk, and easy as pie to make.

                                                                                                          The old Spry water whip crust is also an easy pie crust. I posted the crust recipe above. The biggest thing with the crust is not overworking it. In my convection oven I don't have to cover the crusts, but in my old oven I had to use the crust covers to keep them from getting over cooked, and too brown.

                                                                                                          I cook till the center will take a skewer without anything sticking on it. This is a judgment call, as I have had them come out clean, but gave it another 5 or so minutes to firm it up a little more. Watch the skewer as it goes in the pie.

                                                                                                          As to the Cinderella pumpkins, are they the same as the Mexican calabaza squash? The ones at my local Mexican Supermercado are pretty flat with deep valleys, and very pronounced rounded vertical ridges.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                            A cinderella pumpkin can be turned in to a coach if you lack transportation to the ball. :)

                                                                                                            'calabaza' is as general a Spanish name as the English 'squash'.

                                                                                                            1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                              The cinderella pumpkins are shaped like Cinderella's coach. Very pretty as decoration before you use them.

                                                                                                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                This is what I mean - the French call it a potiron, but it looks like Cinderella's carriage:


                                                                                                                and here:

                                                                                                                http://dico-cuisine.fr/news/potiron (the orange one at the top of the page)

                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                  That is the one I see at the Mexican markets. They run .33-.50 a pound at the moment which is a bit more then the .05 a pound I paid for the Jack-O-Lantern ones.

                                                                                                                  They list these as calabaza de castilla in the advertisements.

                                                                                                                  I have been meaning to grab part of one to try, but haven't had much time to deal with it if I did get it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                    Oh calabaza is my favorite squash right now, so delicious and the texture is out of this world.

                                                                                                                    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                      I was in a hurry the other day, and cut one into chunks and microwaved it -- it came out more than fine, although I prefer the taste when I roast it.

                                                                                                                2. I think they differentiate their pies by using liberal amounts of nutmeg.

                                                                                                                  1. Label on Costco Pumpkin Pie: (label from 11/26/11)
                                                                                                                    (from photo on Google Images)

                                                                                                                    Pumpkin Pie
                                                                                                                    Fresh Baked #60809

                                                                                                                    Pumpkin, Sugar, Water, Eggs, Enriched
                                                                                                                    Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin,
                                                                                                                    Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Canola
                                                                                                                    and/or Soybean Oil, Nonfat Milk, Corn Syrup, Contains
                                                                                                                    2% Or Less Of The Following: Salt, Spices, Corn
                                                                                                                    Sugar, Mono & Diglycerides, Modified Food Starch.

                                                                                                                    Sell By:
                                                                                                                    11/26/11 $ 5.99

                                                                                                                    Net WT 58 oz (3.62 lb) Kirkland

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. So this raises an interesting question that may or may not have to do with what Costco does.

                                                                                                                          Food science exists for a reason. It works. The field is able to produce cheaper, longer-lasting foods that taste and look better. Try spending some time on industry websites and you'll understand: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/.

                                                                                                                          For example, an ad on their site at the moment links to Kalsec Inc, which reads:

                                                                                                                          "Perhaps you want your consumers to experience an intense sensation on the tip of their tongue, a milder heat in the back of their mouth, or a cleansing nasal sensation. Whatever your specifications, we can customize a HeatSync System to create the right heat expression."

                                                                                                                          So perhaps Costco doesn't use anything you wouldn't have in your kitchen, perhaps it does. But I think the idea that homemade foods are inherently better tasting is something that has become very hard to defend.

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: rockcreek

                                                                                                                            Looks like the costco pies contain pretty much the same ingredients as home pies....they are not made for long term staying power but for current consumption. They are certainly good value and pretty much straight up, standard pumpkin pies. There crust is pretty much as good as most home crust, superior to that of most commercial pies. In the end, I prefer the pies I make at home, but this is a damn good product at an amazing price point.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                              Yep I am one who loves their pumpkin pie. From the ingredients posted, it appears that they use an oil pie crust recipe, which is interesting. It's still good, though!

                                                                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                jen, do you put soybean oil, corn syrup, modified food starch, and mono- and diglycerides in your homemade pie?

                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                  "...mono- and diglycerides..." Just another way to refer to vegetable shortening.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                    I use starch, vegetable oil corn syrup and shortening from time to time in my kitchen, yes.
                                                                                                                                    I used all of them in some phase of my thanksgiving cooking this year

                                                                                                                                2. re: rockcreek

                                                                                                                                  rockcreek, spoken like a person in the industry.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rockcreek

                                                                                                                                    I have to hastily agree with you. I think we are way past the days when everything made outside the home was not as good.

                                                                                                                                    Certainly, most people could never match up to the multiple skill set a bakery might have in its collective knowledge. let alone a big one with money to do actual research on how to improve flavor and texture. Very grey lines.

                                                                                                                                  2. What is the deal with Costco's Pumpkin pies?
                                                                                                                                    They are big and cheap. In the U.S. often that's that's all you need to say.

                                                                                                                                    OTOH, how good (or bad) can pumpkin pie be? It's a once a year food. It's good because most people don't have much to compare it with.

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: splatgirl

                                                                                                                                      If they make a standard product equal to or better than the average home made product and sell it at an inexpensive price thats a lot to say. The merits of standard pumpkin pie can still be debated of course.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: splatgirl

                                                                                                                                        Bingo. You buy one Costco pie, everyone gets a piece, for just a few shekels. Doesn't have to be a "gourmet pie."

                                                                                                                                        BTW, can you divulge how you got the name splatgirl? 8<D

                                                                                                                                        1. re: splatgirl

                                                                                                                                          Well yes, but it's more then just being cheap. That once a year treat is sold everywhere. The market, cafes, bakeries. But I swear, people go out of their way to talk about a Costco pumpkin pie, and its about how good it is not how cheap.

                                                                                                                                          Thanksgiving is not about gourmet for most people its about memories. So maybe Costco figured that out.

                                                                                                                                        2. My homemade pumpkin pies smoked the competition again this year. Woo Hoo!

                                                                                                                                          1. We see what the ingredients are, they use a modified food starch to probably thicken the pie.

                                                                                                                                            Another technique, used by some home bakers, is to cook the canned pumpkin filling in a saucepan until it is slightly caramelized before adding the other ingredients to the mix.

                                                                                                                                            These two things would make a different pumpkin pie than is usually made at home. This would make a thicker, more flavorful pie.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                              HA! I do that! If you cook the pumpkin filling with some of the sugar for a few minutes what it dose is evaporate some of the water from the cells of the pumpkin. This has two benefits, flavor and a totally smooth pie that dose not crack on top when it cools.

                                                                                                                                              The other trick I researched out was to mix everything the night before and let it hang out in the fridge. It give the spices a chance to mingle.

                                                                                                                                              Alas, I made my perfect pumpkin pie for my first real thanksgiving only to find out my guests (all related) have never like pumpkin pie. They would not even touch it. They brought their own apple thing.

                                                                                                                                              Oh well, more for me. At least my other friend who I admire for his cooking skills said he was jealous.

                                                                                                                                            2. Pacific Telephone Cafeteria PUMPKIN PIE from 1922

                                                                                                                                              PUMPKIN PIE

                                                                                                                                              Makes 12 Pies.

                                                                                                                                              1 can pumpkin, No. 10 size (gallon).
                                                                                                                                              2 pounds and 13 ounces sugar.
                                                                                                                                              2 quarts cold water.
                                                                                                                                              10 cans evaporated milk, 6 ounce size.
                                                                                                                                              15 eggs.
                                                                                                                                              3 teaspoons allspice.
                                                                                                                                              2 teaspoons nutmeg.
                                                                                                                                              3 teaspoons ginger.
                                                                                                                                              5 teaspoons cinnamon.
                                                                                                                                              4 teaspoons salt.

                                                                                                                                              Line pie tin with pastry in the usual way, crimp around the edge with the hands or a knife.

                                                                                                                                              Beat pumpkin until very smooth, add unbeaten eggs. Stir in carefully until well mixed. Mix spices and salt with sugar and add. Stir in water; lastly add milk and stir slightly; remove any scum that appears.

                                                                                                                                              Fill pies, 3 cups to a pie.

                                                                                                                                              Start in a hot oven (400-F); then reduce heat and bake until well set.

                                                                                                                                              Serving: Serve on 4-inch plates. Cut pies into 6 pieces.


                                                                                                                                              PIE CRUST-OPEN PIES

                                                                                                                                              (Custard, Apple Cream, Pumpkin and other open pies with filling cooked in the pie).

                                                                                                                                              Bottom Crust for 17 Pies.

                                                                                                                                              3 pounds pastry flour.
                                                                                                                                              1 pound shortening (use Selix, similar to Crisco).
                                                                                                                                              2 ounces sugar.
                                                                                                                                              2 3/4 cups ice water.
                                                                                                                                              1/2 ounce salt.

                                                                                                                                              This pastry is especially prepared with less shortening in order to prevent sogginess.

                                                                                                                                              Mixing and Preparing--Keep ingredients cold and use cold utensils. Sift salt with the flour, mix flour with the shortening by pressing it into flakes between the hands. Pour water into the mixture a little at a time, mixing well with a spatula or knife. On account of the difference in flours it is sometimes necessary to slightly increase or reduce the amount of water used. Empty onto work board, knead and roll lightly. Handle or roll pie dough as little as possible. Prepare from 24 to 48 hours in advance. Age in the refrigerator. Roll on a cold table, marble preferred, using a light rolling pin.

                                                                                                                                              Gauging Dough for Open Pies--Gauge 5 ounces of dough to a pie, net after trimming. This is best done by cutting dough into 6-ounce pieces. This allows for trim and can be easily handled according to the following:

                                                                                                                                              6 pounds or 96 ounces prepared dough cut into
                                                                                                                                              16 pieces of 6 ounces each alter using trim will make
                                                                                                                                              19 open pies.

                                                                                                                                              This scale allows one ounce extra to each six pounds.

                                                                                                                                              Pie Tins: Use 8-inch tins; 1-inch deep, inside measurements.

                                                                                                                                              Source: "Recipes For Use In The Dining Service Department Of The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, July 1922"

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                I think the key to pumpkin pie made the way we remember it is to use fresh spices and evaporated milk. Its been made with evaporated milk for ages, and chances are the taste is what we expect. My old recipe (for one pie) uses both regular milk and evaporated.

                                                                                                                                                However, an awful lot of people have dumped old fashioned pumpkin pie for desserts with embellishments on the theme. Pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin-pecan pie, etc. I have a fondness for the simple pumpkin pie though.

                                                                                                                                                I don't buy that Costco makes a better pie than homemade. I'm betting that the difference is in the sweetness. People have been educated to expect really sweet when just sweet would do.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                  This thanksgiving, I did two identical pies, one was with evaporated milk, the other with cream and milk. Honeslty, they both tasted the same, it was more of a texture thing. The real milk and cream version was smoother, but also took longer to bake. The evaporated milk version was a little more dense in texutres or firm.

                                                                                                                                                  So I came to the conclusion it's really the combiniation of spices that make or break the pie. That and a good crust.

                                                                                                                                              2. I love Costco, in general, and I like their cakes occasionally ( I like my homemade better though) but I don't see the appeal of their pies. Mostly it's the crust I don't like. It tends to be soggy on the bottom. Plus I'm a decent baker and I prefer my pie crust to most store bought ones. It's probably mostly freshness since we are eating it the same day it's made.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                  I absolutely love Costco cakes, and I have been a cake baker/decorator for 15 years. Ha!