This easy pumpkin pie only takes fifteen minutes to prep before baking. Use store-bought pie dough or make your own simple homemade pie crust in advance (recipe below) — either will produce a yummy homemade pumpkin pie that’s perfect to cap off any Thanksgiving feast!
Even though I don’t do much baking (e.g., cake, bread, rolls, etc.), I love making pie. Apple pie is my go-to, everything from the traditional with notes of cinnamon and thinly sliced apples, to a more robust apple pie with cardamom and a crumble topping.
And during the cold weather holidays through New Year’s Eve, the variety of pies I can’t help but make goes on hyper-drive.
Ah, yes. Pumpkin pie … the quintessential Thanksgiving holiday treat.
Even when there’s no guarantee guests will have a slice, hosts *always* have a pumpkin pie ready to serve on the desserts table.
Easy Pumpkin Pie
There are a million ways to make pumpkin pie, some more difficult than others.
Since I don’t love to bake (the preciseness with measuring makes me tense rather than calm), I prefer recipes that are simple to pull together — both in the ingredients, as well as the steps and time.
Let’s talk about pumpkin pie.
Do you have to make the crust from scratch?
No! In fact, I buy pre-made pie dough in the refrigerated section of the grocery store all. the. time. It’s actually really good (even the generic brand at ALDI) and perfectly fine to use regularly, as opposed to just “when you’re in a pinch.”
That said, with only four ingredients (five, including ice water) and a food processor, making really good easy pie dough from scratch isn’t tricky.
If you’re dead set on making a homemade pie crust for pumpkin pie, you can do it. Truly! (And my recipe is below.)
What’s the main ingredient for pumpkin pie — is it fresh pumpkin?
While the main ingredient *can* be fresh pumpkin, I’m happy to report that pretty much no one actually uses it. Not even the baking pros.
Instead, what you want is canned pumpkin purée. Not “pumpkin pie filling,” but plain, basic, puréed pumpkin in a can.
Obviously there are other ingredients that turn the purée into the pumpkin pie we’ve all grown to love, but pumpkin is definitely the star.
How do I know when the pumpkin pie is ready?
One of the trickiest parts of this type of custard pie is the tip-toe between underdone and overdone.
Take it out too soon and risk a pile of sauce atop soggy crust, instead of a slice of pie.
Take it out too late and it’s like eating sand.
Some folks like to use the “knife” method: stick a knife into the center and if it comes out clean the pumpkin pie’s done. This works, it’s true, but at best it’ll leave you with a knife mark in the pie (easily masked with a dollop of whipped cream), and at worst it’ll leave you with a bigger crack down the middle of your pie. Doesn’t affect the taste one bit, but if aesthetics matter to you, this method may be one to avoid.
Another method is the “jiggle.” As you approach time, give the pie a slight jostle and if the interior doesn’t have much wiggle, it’s time to remove it. Some will say there needs to be zero movement, but I find it ends up slightly overdone if you wait that long because of its own residual heat while on the cooling rack. Pulling the pumpkin pie out of the oven while it’s ever-so-slightly underdone will let it set up perfectly while it cools on the counter.
Do I need to bake the pie crust before adding the filling?
The answer is, “Not necessarily.” I’ve baked my pumpkin pies both ways, with success.
If you go with an unbaked crust, it’s true you run the risk of a soggy bottom (as Mary Berry would say). That said, a soggy crust isn’t a given … so feel free to roll the dice.
If you want to play it safe, however, best to partially pre-bake (or blind bake) your pie crust — just be sure to crimp it exactly the way you want beforehand!
- 1 package of refrigerated pie dough, enough a 9-inch pie (or make dough for a homemade crust below)
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Vanilla ice cream (optional)
For a homemade crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup salted butter, chilled and diced into small cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the filling
- 4 large eggs
- 1 28-ounce can of pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup whole milk
For a homemade crust
- Add the flour, sugar, salt and butter to a food processor that holds at least 6 cups.
- Pulse until the mixture looks crumbly, about 10-15 times.
- Turn the processor to low, add the water, and continue processing until the crumbles blend together, about 20-30 seconds.
- Stop the processor and pinch some of the dough mixture between your fingers — if it sticks together and looks smooth, it's done. If it's still crumbly, add a little more water (not even a tablespoon), give another whir in the processor, and then try pinching it again. Repeat, a little water at a time. until you get a dough that sticks together.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a ball (but don't knead it), and then divide it into two.
- Flatten each half into a round disk, cover them each tightly in plastic wrap, and then place them in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
- Spread a little flour on your counter and roll one of the dough disks out to a 1/8" thick circle. It should be large enough to fit in a 9-inch pie plate, with excess around the edges for crimping.
- Gently press the sheet of dough into your pie plate. Use your fingers to crimp the edges or make another decorative edge.
- Repeat with the second dough disk, or keep it in the fridge or freezer to use another time.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Whisk the eggs and the sugars together with a mixer for 1 minute, until it's light and frothy. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and salt, and continue mixing for one more minute. Add the milk and mix until it's *just* incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pie plate.
- Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 325°F and continue baking it for 1 hour (or until the middle is set and just a tiny bit jiggly).
- Remove the pumpkin pie from the oven and set it on a rack to cool completely.
- Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.
After the dough has chilled...
For the filling
To make the pie
Serve this pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream and, once cool, keep the pie (and any leftovers) refrigerated.
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Hamilton Beach 70725A 12-Cup Stack & Snap Food Processor and Vegetable Chopper Black
Farberware Classic Wood Rolling Pin
Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowl Set (3-Piece)
Wilton Excelle Elite 3-Tier Cooling Rack for Cookies, Cakes and More
OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Better Balloon Whisk
Cuisinart HM-90BCS Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer with Storage Case, Brushed Chrome
KitchenAid KSM150PSAQ Artisan Series 5-Qt. Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield - Aqua Sky
OXO SteeL Pie Server
Pyrex Easy Grab Glass Pie Plate (9.5-Inch, 2-Pack)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 568 Total Fat: 26g Saturated Fat: 13g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 134mg Sodium: 508mg Carbohydrates: 77g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 41g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 9g