Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Tested & Perfected Recipes

For such a seemingly simple dessert, pumpkin pie can be tricky to make. This recipe promises a tender, flaky crust and gently spiced pumpkin filling that won’t crack as it cools.

pumpkin pie

After all these years, I finally have a fabulous pumpkin pie recipe to share with you. What took me so long? Well, for such a seemingly simple dessert, pumpkin pie can be tricky to make. Over the years, I’ve tested at least a dozen recipes and each one was plagued with either a filling that wouldn’t set properly, a massive crack down the center, or a lousy crust (i.e., soggy, doughy or shrunken). Whoever coined the term “easy as pie” had obviously never baked a pumpkin pie!

What you’ll need to make Pumpkin pie

ingredients

How to make pumpkin pie

Part of the challenge with pumpkin pie is that there are a lot of variables. First, there’s the type of pan you use: ceramic, glass and metal all behave differently.

Second, no homemade pie crust is ever the same — plus, crust by nature is finicky.

And, finally, pumpkin pie filling is a custard, which makes it difficult to gauge doneness. Most recipes instruct you to remove the pie from the oven when the filling is still a little jiggly — take it out too early and it never sets up; cook it too long and it cracks down the center (or, take it out at just the right time and still have it crack down the center). 

rolling-1

In coming up with this recipe, my first step was to tackle the crust. I tried just about every kind — from butter to lard to shortening to combinations of all three — as well as a few tricks, like adding vodka to the dough. In the end, I went with a mostly butter dough with a little bit of shortening (which helps the dough hold its shape). This gave me a crust that tasted buttery, held its shape, and was easy to work with.

To solve the problem of shrinkage during baking, I added a tiny bit of baking powder to the dough (a genius trick borrowed from one of my favorite pastry chefs, Nick Malgieri), which helped the crust expand into the pan rather than slip down the sides. And, finally, to prevent the dough from becoming soggy from the wet filling, I blind baked the crust until it was completely cooked.

blind-baked-crust

With the crust perfected, I got to work on getting rid of those unsightly cracks in the filling. Cracking is supposedly caused by over-baking, but I found that the cracks formed even when I under-baked my pies or cooked them perfectly.

After much experimentation — and many sad-looking pumpkin pies — I discovered that adding a little flour to the filling and replacing some of the whole eggs with egg yolks stabilized the pie. Reducing the oven temperature helped too. Finally, no more cracking — even if I accidentally left the pie in the oven a few minutes too long.

At last, with my crust and filling conundrums solved, I had the foolproof pumpkin pie I’d been searching for. Here’s how to make it…

cooled-pie

Begin with the crust. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine.

dry-ingredients

Add cold butter and shortening.

adding-butter-and-shortening

Pulse until the mixture is crumbly with lots of chickpea-size clumps of butter and shortening within. These chunks of fat will steam as the dough cooks, creating a tender and flaky crust.

cutting-butter-in

Gradually add the ice cold water to the dough, pulsing until the dough is just moistened. It won’t come together into a mass; it will be very crumbly. That’s what you want.

crumbly-dough

Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface. It will seem all wrong but don’t worry, it will come together.

crumbly-dough-1

Gather it into a crumbly ball.

bringing-dough-together

And shape it into a disc about 4-inches wide and wrap in plastic.

ready-to-chill

Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes — this allows the gluten to rest, which makes a tender dough less prone to shrinkage.

ready-to-roll

Dust a work surface with flour and roll the dough into a 14-inch circle, dusting with more flour as necessary so it doesn’t stick. It will have a marbled appearance — that’s good!

rolling-2

Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie pan.

transferring-dough

Fit it into the pie pan, easing it inwards rather than stretching it outwards.

dough-in-pie-dish

Patch any tears, then trim the edges to about 1/2-inch beyond the lip of the dish.

trimming-dough

Fold the dough under itself along the rim, building it up.

folding-edge

Next, press the edges down against the rim — this will help the crust stay put as it bakes. Otherwise, it’s prone to slip down the edges of the dish, especially if you use a glass or ceramic pie pan.

pressing-rim-against-lip-of-pan

Crimp the edges with your fingers or press with the tines of a fork.

ready-to-freeze

Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you preheat the oven. As I mentioned above, it’s important to “blind bake” your crust before filling it, otherwise, the wet filling prevents the bottom of the crust from cooking, leaving you with a raw, doughy bottom crust.

pie-weights

To blind bake the crust, cover it with a sheet of parchment paper and fill it halfway with dried beans or pie weights. This will hold the crust in place and prevent shrinkage. Cook for 20 minutes until the crust is set. Remove the parchment and beans, then tent the edges with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from browning too much.

blind-bake-1

Bake for another 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and completely cooked. This is long compared to most recipes but the crust won’t cook any more once you add the filling, so it’s important to make sure it’s flaky and crisp.

blind-bake-2

While the crust finishes cooking, make the filling by combining all of the ingredients in a large bowl. 

filling-1

Whisk until smooth.

filling-2

Add the filling to the cooked crust.

filled-pie-ready-to-bake

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until just set — it should look dry around the edges and set in the center, but if you nudge the pan, the center should jiggle slightly.

baked-pie-just-out-of-the-oven

The pie will look a little puffed when it comes out of the oven, but it will settle as it cools. Let cool to room temperature before slicing. Enjoy!

Perfect-Pumpkin-Pie-1

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Perfect Pumpkin Pie

For such a seemingly simple dessert, pumpkin pie can be tricky to make. This recipe promises a tender, flaky crust and gently spiced pumpkin filling that won’t crack as it cools.

Servings: 8-10 (Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie)
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 15 Minutes, plus time to chill the dough and cool the pie

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, in 4 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons ice cold water

For the Filling

  • 1 (15-oz) can pumpkin (about 1-3/4 cups)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large eggs yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 cups evaporated milk

Instructions

  1. Make the Crust: Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the pieces of butter and shortening and pulse until you have coarse crumbs with lots of pea and chickpea-size clumps of butter and shortening within. Add half of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate. Add the remaining water and pulse until the mixture is just evenly moistened and very crumbly. It will not come together into a mass -- that's okay. Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface and gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a 5-inch disc -- don't worry if the edges crack -- and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes to rest.
  2. Take the dough out of the refrigerator (if it was in the fridge for a long time, let it sit on the countertop for 10-15 minutes so that it's malleable enough to roll). Dust your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on top; sprinkle a little flour over the dough. Use your hands to quickly work the dough into a smooth disc -- don't over-work it or warm it up too much, just smooth the edges as best as you can so it's easier to roll. Roll the dough, adding more flour as necessary under and on top of the dough so it doesn't stick, into a 13-inch circle. Carefully drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a 9-inch deep dish pie pan (it should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep). Gently fit the dough into the pan, easing it inwards rather than stretching it outwards. Don't worry if it tears, just patch it right back up. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch beyond the lip of the pie pan. Turn the edges under to create a rim on the crust (you can use the scraps to patch in any thin areas); then press the rim against the lip of the pan, forming it into an even edge as you go. Using your fingers, crimp the rim. Place the crust in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you heat the oven.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and place on a baking sheet (this makes it easy to move in and out of the oven). Cover the crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill it about halfway full with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Take the crust out of the oven; remove the parchment paper and beans/pie weights and tent the edges with a few strips of foil folded in half lengthwise. This will protect the edges from getting too dark. Bake for another 20 minutes, until the dough is dry and golden. Don't worry if the bottom puffs up; just press it down gently with a flat spatula, such as a pancake turner, taking care not to puncture it. Remove the foil but don't throw it away; you may need it again.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  5. Make the Filling: Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust.
  6. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is just set. It should look dry around the edges and the center should jiggle just slightly if you nudge the pan. Keep a close eye on the pie as it bakes; if ever the crust looks like it's browning too quickly, tent the edges again with the foil strips. Cool the pie on a rack (leave it on the baking sheet) to room temperature, a few hours. Slice or refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Note: If you use a store-bought crust, follow the instructions on the package for blind baking.
  8. Make Ahead: Pumpkin pie can be made one day ahead of time and refrigerated.
  9. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The dough can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. If you freeze it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. The pie can be frozen after baking for up to 1 month. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Calories: 335
  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 45g
  • Sugar: 27g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Sodium: 287mg
  • Cholesterol: 103mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Hey, Jenn! I made your recipe but I didn’t use your pie crust! It was a big fail for me! So, I used a different pie crust and I’m still failing but I will use your filling! I’m going to make it for a birthday and I’m excited! I hope it tastes delicious!

    • — Julie P. on March 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello Jenn,

    Thanks for this recipe. It was delicious, however since it’s my very first attempt at any pie… ever, I have a few questions and comments:-
    1) There wasn’t enough dough for my 8 inch pan. Can I increase the flour by maybe 1/4 cup?
    2) Should I not use all the 4 tbsps of water. My dough was a little too sticky but I managed to make it work.
    3) The amount of filling was way more then the pastry but I suspect it was because I did not have enough dough.

    Comments welcome. 🙂

    Thanks
    Guhan

    • — Guhan Subramaniam on February 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Guhan, sorry to hear you had a problem with the crust! If there wasn’t enough dough for your 8-inch pie pan, I suspect you may have measured something incorrectly as I use a 9-inch deep dish pie pan and there is enough dough for that. If you’re certain you measured everything correctly, next time, I would try increasing all of the ingredients for the dough by 1/4.

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Your wonderful recipe for pumpkin pie is requested frequently by my grandson…. it is the best. I have noticed the last two times I have made it that there are large cracks in the filling. I made it many times before with no cracks. It doesn’t affect the taste but I am wondering what I am doing that is causing this. I always follow your recipe instructions because I have such success. Thank you for any assistance you can provide. Also, just made your delicious pecan bars. They were perfect in every way. Family added these to their list of favs!

    • — Jennie on February 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennie, glad to hear you like the pumpkin pie but sorry to hear you’ve had a problem with it cracking the last few times you’ve made it. Have you made any adjustments to the recipe or used any different brands of ingredients? Also, you may want to check the accuracy of your oven temperature. Here are some tips for how to do that. Please let me know if I can help in any other way!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is the creamiest and lightest pumpkin pie. You do not have to worry about it cracking either.

    • — Susan s. on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This truly is the perfect pumpkin pie. I was definitely an ‘on the back of the can recipe’ lady as it was the flavor that was comfort. This took all the comfort of our family’s traditional recipe and lifted it to a new level. The crust is perfect for the texture of the pumpkin custard. Thank you for opening my mind to something new and giving our family a new traditional recipe!

    • — Quinn on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is absolutely the BEST pumpkin pie recipe! Creamy filling and the perfect balance of spices. I’ve used the recipe from the back of a can of Libby’s pumpkin purée for 50 yrs. – because my mother always did…and last year I decided to try a new recipe (because I was tired of the filling being a bit watery and the crust getting soggy). I am so glad I tried Jen’s recipe + her pie crust recipe. The pie was a huge success and this pumpkin pie recipe and crust is now my (and my son’s) favorite recipe!

    • — Kathleen on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • First time making this pumpkin pie and my family loved it. Perfect amount of seasoning and easy to make even for a beginner!

    • — Robyn on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this at Thanksgiving this past year and it was fantastic! Definitely the best pumpkin pie we’ve ever had. Mother in law requested it again at Christmas! Thank you!

    • — Stephanie on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Throw out every PP recipe you have and use this one only including the pie crust! Everyone raves over my PP when I use this recipe that I’ve tossed my PP spice bottle and only use Jenn’s PP recipe. It’s has such a deep flavor and the crust turns out perfect every time – just be sure to l et the pie crust rest as needed. Super-awesome PP recipe. Every year, even COVID 2020, friends asked for a piece of my (Jenn’s) PP so we made more pies than just what our family needed. In fact, our pies at home go so fast that I barely get to have more than one piece myself. Don’t change a think and share this fabulous recipe with friends!

    • — Susan on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This pie is amazing and THE best I’ve ever tasted. Ill confess i used refrigerated crust for convenience. This filling is easy to put together, and has a beautiful consistency and a smooth, silky bite. The spices are perfect, and we loved the pepper note. A definite keeper!

    • — Barbara Sweet on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The filling flavor is phenomenal. But I had difficulty getting it to set. So it was sort of a soupy delicious mess. Will try again soon. Must have been cook’s error!

    • — MarthA on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I tried this recipe after years of being frustrated with my bland pumpkin pie recipe. This is what we needed. This recipe is fantastic! Everyone loved it! It is the new family pumpkin pie! Thanks so much, Jenn!

    • — Rhonda B. on December 29, 2020
    • Reply

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