A classic Pumpkin Pie with a soft, perfectly set filling, perfect amount of spicing, not too sweet and a bronzed surface that’s crack free! Simple to make, it’s perfect in every way. Use a homemade pie crust or store bought for ease, fresh or canned pumpkin!
For a recipe that’s actually incredibly simple to make, perfecting The Pumpkin Pie was irritatingly difficult – hence why it’s taken me until 5 years to share it.
Not enough spicing, weird blend of spicing, too sweet, not sweet enough, unpleasant “curdled” filling, severe cracks, overcooked, undercooked. I feel like I’ve battled every possible variation of pumpkin pie to confirm that this is The One.
It’s based on the filling recipe from Smitten Kitchen albeit I tweaked the spices (I found them too subtle) and reduced the oven temperature because I discovered by trial and error that this is the easiest path to avoid cracks on the surface of my Pumpkin Pie.
Isn’t she a beauty? There are the teeniest of cracks on the edges, and truthfully I could’ve just photoshopped them out (and I bet some food magazines DO!!). But there is no need – she’s pretty near to perfection!
What you need for Pumpkin Pie Filling
Here’s what you need for the filling:
- Pumpkin puree – canned or homemade (see below). If using canned, make sure you use pure pumpkin, not pre spiced pumpkin pie filling;
- Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg; and
- Sugar, cream and eggs.
Homemade Pumpkin Puree for Pumpkin Pie
After much trial and error, I’ve found that the best way to make pumpkin puree for pumpkin pie is to steam pumpkin pieces then pass through a sieve. Boiled pumpkin is too watery. Roasted pumpkin, albeit arguably the “best” pumpkin flavour, dries out too much so once mashed, it’s too thick which results in a pie filling that’s not as soft as it should be.
Steamed, mashed and passed through a sieve yields pumpkin puree that is, in my opinion, virtually identical to canned pumpkin.
Pumpkin Pie Crust
How to make Pumpkin Pie
99% of Pumpkin Pie recipes out there are as simple as dump-and-mix. I credit Smitten Kitchen for leading me to the Cooks’ Illustrated method to gently cook the pumpkin and spices just for just 5 minutes to remove a bit of the excess water in the pumpkin (canned OR fresh) and let the spices bloom for improved filling texture and superior flavour.
Once that’s done, it does become a dump and mix job!
How to avoid cracked surfaces on Pumpkin Pie
This is a problem I kept running into. They were never severe, and when the pie was cooling it always deflated a bit so the cracks would largely “self heal”.
But it annoyed me enough to persist with trying to solve the problem of cracked Pumpkin Pie, and here’s how I resolved it:
- Don’t overbeat the eggs – Once you add the eggs, don’t whisk to death because it creates air pockets in the filling which = cracked surface.
- Add eggs last, one by one – I thought whisking eggs first would reduce air pockets but in fact, it created more and made the cracks worse!
- BANG the bowl before pouring into the pie crust – this will make bubbles rise and pop on the surface (bonus: it’s super fun 😂)
- LOWER oven temp – baking temperatures vary wildly from recipe to recipe. For me, I found that by using a lower temperature, the filling sets more slowly and avoids cracks. Whereas at much higher temperatures (200°C/390°F and above), the filling would puff up early on in the bake time, causing cracks. (Bonus: Lower temp = more even golden pie crust colour).
And that, my friends, concludes The Pumpkin Pie Project once and for all. I’m so happy with it, it’s all my Pumpkin Pie dreams come true.
Serving with a generous dollop of cream is not an option, it’s essential! The extra texture, that extra hit of creaminess…. it’s the perfect finishing touch. – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Recipe video above. The perfect Pumpkin Pie that’s soft custardy rather than lumpy and curdled. Perfect level of spicing – you can taste it but it doesn’t overwhelm the natural pumpkin flavour – sweet but not crazy sweet. And NO CRACKS on the surface!
- 1 homemade pie crust OR
- 1 9″/22.5cm store bought crust
Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (, from 15 oz/425g can or homemade puree (Note 1))
- 2/3 cup (145g) sugar, white/granulated
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1/3 cups (330 ml) cream, heavy / thickened (cold)
- 3 eggs
If using store bought, blind baking is not necessary (but if you want to, follow the Pie Crust recipe).
Preheat oven to 170°C / 335°C (150°C fan).
- Place pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices into a saucepan over medium heat. Once you see steam, cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes (this removes excess moisture and lets spices bloom).
- Remove from stove and scrape into a bowl. Add cream, whisk.
- Whisk eggs in one by one, mixing just enough to incorporate. If you whisk vigorously for ages, it will aerate the mixture, leading to cracks.
Pour into Pie Crust, transfer to oven.
Bake 45 – 55 minutes or until the centre is set but still has a slight jiggle and the toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean but damp (if it still has pumpkin batter, keep cooking). (Note 2)
- Cool completely for 4 hours+ before cutting to serve. Serve with cream and dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg if desired!
- use pure canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
- measure this using cups as the density and therefore weight of pumpkin does differ between canned and fresh homemade. Volume is relevant here, not weight.
- Homemade pumpkin puree – use a 1 kg / 2 lb sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (weight with skin and seeds). Peel and remove seeds, cut into 2.5cm/1″ pieces then steam until very very tender (I microwave steam 10 minutes). Mash then pass through sieve (use a tablespoon and mix vigorously then rubber spatular to scrape from underside, you’ll figure out method that works best for you). Measure out 1 3/4 cups, place in bowl, leave for 10 minutes. If water pools around edges on surface, place paper towel across surface to absorb, then proceed with recipe (ie cooking on stove)
2. Baking time – If you see slight cracks around the edges of the surface, that’s a good sign that it’s either ready or very near ready. Because this has eggs in it, you will get minor cracks around the edges but once it cools and sinks, these minor cracks kind of self-heal. See photos in post – pure and not photoshopped!
3. Cup measures between the US and most of the rest of the world do differ a bit but for this recipe, I found that it’s not enough to affect the outcome of the recipe.
Life of Dozer
Oh boy, Dozer has had a LOT of Pumpkin Pie over the past few weeks!!!