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How to Make Pumpkin Pie

From the easiest recipe ever to how to make pumpkin pie completely from scratch, here’s everything you need to know about fall’s favorite dessert.

Introduction

Let’s be honest: the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are all perfectly tasty Thanksgiving foods, but what everyone really looks forward to is the big meal’s finale, which has long been a spread of decadent homemade pies. Few pies are so closely associated with the holiday as pumpkin pie, and for good reason! With its flaky crust, creamy filling and heavy dose of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, pumpkin pie is the quintessential dessert of the fall season. Even better, it’s easier to make than you think; whether you’re a novice baker hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, or a pie expert who wants to try your hand at a crust and filling made completely from scratch, all of the most essential tips to make your very best pumpkin pie are housed right here.

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Crust

First thing’s first. No pie is a pie without the flaky, buttery crust! You can choose your own adventure at this starting point depending on how much time (or baking experience!) you have. Read on for a step-by-step tutorial for how to make homemade pie crust, but know that an easier option is here for you, should you need it, thanks to Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust.

Pre-Made Pie Crust

Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust is easy to work with and comes out tasting just like your grandma’s scratch recipe (don’t worry, we won’t tell!). Starting with pre-made pie dough saves you a whole lot of prep time, and gives you more wiggle room to make the filling and fancy up on the pie crust edges with a few styling tricks.

Have even less time? Head over to the frozen aisle at the grocery store and pick up a Pillsbury Pet-Ritz frozen crust. All you have to do is pour the pie filling in and bake—no rolling or styling required!

Homemade Pie Crust

Have some extra time on your hands? Then making a pie crust from scratch may be the avenue for you. Plus, there’s a certain bit of pride that’ll come along with seeing your finished pie on the table being devoured by your guests, knowing that you whipped it up from scratch. A little bit of labor and love goes a long way when it comes to making the perfect homemade pie crust. Keep these tips and step-by-step instructions at the ready and you’ll be a pastry pro in no time.

What you’ll need:

  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Pastry blender (or a fork, if you don’t have one)
  • Plastic wrap or waxed paper
  • 9-inch glass pie plate

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, shortening or lard, very cold
  • 5-7 tablespoons ice-cold water

First, combine the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl until well combined. Then, cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender. You can also use shortening or lard in place of the butter—just make sure it’s super cold! Do this until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces sprinkled throughout.

Pro tip: butter, shortening and lard can all be used to make pie crust, but each ingredient has its own texture, color and taste to bring to the finished crust. Click here to learn more about the great “butter vs. shortening vs. lard” debate and decide for yourself which ingredient is right for your pastry.

First, combine the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl until well combined.

Next, sprinkle in the ice water just a tablespoon at a time, lightly mixing with the fork, until the dough is just wet enough to form a ball when pressed together. You don’t want the dough to be too wet (it’ll be all sticky and difficult to work with!) but you don’t want it to be too dry either because it’ll crack and be hard to shape when you roll it out.

Shape the dough into two equal-sized balls and flatten them slightly to make small discs. Wrap each in some plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Let stand for about five minutes at room temperature before rolling out each disc.

Shape the dough into two equal-sized balls and flatten them slightly to make small discs. Wrap each in some plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc out into an 11-inch circle. Gently fold and place it into the pie plate and unfold—this is your bottom crust layer. Usually for pumpkin pie you don’t top with a second crust like you would for most fruit pies like apple pie. You can either make some decorative pie crust designs to place on top of your finished pie later, or put the second disc in the freezer to save for another pie day.

Pro top: pie dough will keep in the freezer for a couple months—wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a sealed freezer bag for best results. When you’re ready to make another pie, simply allow it to defrost in the refrigerator, then proceed with rolling it out as instructed above.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc out into an 11-inch circle.

Now your crust is ready to be filled and baked! To make it look really impressive, follow a few of these tips and tricks for tricking our your pie crust.

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Filling

Easy Pumpkin Pie

One of the best things about pumpkin pie is that the filling is quite simple—you only need to add a handful of ingredients to get the perfect blend of spices that’s necessary to bake a winning pumpkin pie. Whether you start with a can of pumpkin puree or make your own completely from scratch is up to you! We’ll show you how to do it both ways.

Canned Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is the key ingredient to pumpkin pie filling. Not to be confused with canned pumpkin pie mix, of course! If you’re unsure of the differences between the two, canned pumpkin pie mix is ready to go. It already has the spices added to the pumpkin puree, so it’s a good option for when you’re in a real time crunch. But making your own filling isn’t hard and a tad more fun! Our favorite pumpkin pie filling recipe only requires five ingredients. Here’s how it’s done:

What you’ll need

  • 9-inch glass pie pan lined with Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
  • Large bowl
  • Knife
  • Wire whisk

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk (1 1/2 cups)

Step 1: In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk.

Step 2: Stir in the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, pumpkin and evaporated milk until well blended. And ta-da! Your pumpkin pie filling is done and ready to be poured into the crust for baking.

Stir in the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, pumpkin and evaporated milk until well blended.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Though we usually like to reach for canned pumpkin puree for convenience, there’s something special to be said about baking a pumpkin pie that starts with the source. Grab yourself some pumpkins—but not the kind you’re used to carving. If you want to eat the pumpkin insides, you’ll want to buy a sugar or pie pumpkin at the store or your local pumpkin patch. These are typically smaller in size than your typical Jack-O-Lanterns and they have thicker flesh and lower water quantity, too.

What you’ll need:

  • Sharp knife
  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sturdy spoon
  • Potato masher, blender or food processor
  • Large bowl
  • Storage containers

Ingredients:

  • 2 pie pumpkins
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

First, wash your pumpkins, remove the stems and then slice each in half with a large, sharp knife. Take a spoon and scoop out all those seeds and stringy bits of flesh in the middle. (Don’t throw away the seeds! You can roast those later.) Season the insides of the cleaned pumpkin with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then place each half of the pumpkins face-down on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

how-to-make-pumpkin-pie_06

Set your oven temperature to 400°F and roast for about 30 minutes. Check the pumpkins at the 30-minute mark for doneness—you’ll know they are ready if you poke the pumpkin with a sharp knife and it easily pierces through the skin and flesh. Allow the pumpkins to cool a bit until you’re able to handle them. Then, take a large spoon and scoop out the flesh and place into a large bowl. Take a potato masher and mash, mash, mash! You can also use a blender or food processer at this point too, but a little work (and less dishes to clean!) never hurt anyone!

how-to-make-pumpkin-pie_07

There you have it—your very own, homemade pumpkin puree. Portion it out into freezer bags, label and freeze for later, or proceed with the steps above to make your pumpkin pie filling!

Pumpkin Pie Spices

To make the pumpkin filling really sing, you’ll need to add the right dash of spices to the pumpkin puree mixture before baking your pie. You will see a lot of recipes call for “pumpkin pie spice,” which you can find at the store in the spice section of the baking aisle. But did you know that pumpkin pie spice is actually just a blend of spices you probably already have in your pantry? Most pumpkin pie spices are made from a mix of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground allspice and ground cloves. Our friends at Betty Crocker have a super easy recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice—it’ll make you enough to keep on hand all season long!

How to Bake Pumpkin Pie

Now that you know how to make the crust and filling, let’s put it all together, shall we?

Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the pie cool for two hours, then serve!

Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean

Keep an eye on your pie towards the end of baking time—over-baking custard pies like pumpkin pie tends to make them watery. You’ll know your pie is done when the knife comes out clean, but the center still looks a little jiggly.

Avoid over-baking the crust edges by adding some aluminum foil over the edges about halfway through baking.

Pumpkin Pie Toppings

Pumpkin pie tastes delightful on its own, but a little somethin’ extra on top makes it even better. Don’t believe us? Try these recipes and see for yourself.

 

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie

Beat a bit of whipping cream and sugar together on high speed until soft peaks form to make a simple, sweet topping for your pumpkin pie. Make it even more special by sprinkling with extra pumpkin pie spice!

Get Recipe


Streusel Topping

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

A crunchy, sweet oat crumble sprinkled on top perfectly complements creamy pumpkin pie filling.

Get Recipe


Marshmallows

Pumpkin-Ginger Pie with Golden Marshmallow Topping

Who said marshmallows were just for sweet potato pie? Lightly toasted marshmallows add just the right amount of gooey decadence to the humble pumpkin pie.

Get Recipe


Pecans

pumpkin-pecan-slab-pie_hero

What’s better than pumpkin pie? A crowd-sized pumpkin pie with pecan pie filling nestled right on top!

Get Recipe

How to Store Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie will keep covered in the fridge for up to four days. It’s possible to freeze a baked pumpkin pie, but the texture of the crust and filling won’t always hold up, so we wouldn’t recommend doing this unless absolutely necessary. If you do want to freeze, wrap the pie rightly in plastic wrap or foil, then freeze for one or two months, max. Thaw the pie in the fridge before eating, ideally overnight the day before serving!

More Pumpkin Pies to Try

Need more excuses to make pumpkin pie now that you’re a pastry pro? Say no more.

Learn how to make apple pie next!


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