This outrageously good pumpkin pie is silky smooth, perfectly spiced, and so easy to make.
What’s your go-to holiday pie? First in my heart is usually Dutch apple, but pumpkin pie is a very, very close second.
Yet despite its high marks in my personal pie rankings, I didn’t have a tried and true favorite pumpkin pie recipe in my arsenal.
So this year, I set out to change that. I have tested and tasted *so* many pumpkin pies over the last couple of months, and can now officially share with you, my favorite pumpkin pie.
The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Most pumpkin pie recipes making a classic pie are going to look fairly similar. The dairy they use might vary, you might have an extra egg or yolk in there, maybe there’s a little flour in the custard, but overall the ratios and ingredients for a good pumpkin pie won’t change a whole lot.
So when designing your perfect pie, you’re really tweaking the ingredient levels for optimum deliciousness.
This pie has just the right level of sweetness, with a mix of brown and white sugars. It’s generously spiced, but not in a way that overwhelms the pumpkin flavor the way the spices in some pumpkin pie recipes can.
And the texture is absurdly creamy, smooth and firm (but not too firm!). In short, this pie is perfect, and pretty much everything you want a pumpkin pie to be.
- Sugar: I used a mix of brown and white sugar here because I like the darker molasses flavor the brown sugar gives the pie, but you can use all white or all brown sugar if you’d like. If you prefer a less sweet pie, you can reduce the sugar to ¾ cup.
- Pumpkin pie spices: I really like this particular blend/ratio of spices for pumpkin pie, but if you have pumpkin pie spice in your drawer, you can replace the spices (not the salt) with 1¾ teaspoons of pumpkin spice. If you’ve made my pumpkin pie spice blend, it’s pretty much the same ratio as the spices in this pie, so you can use that and get the same effect.
- Pumpkin puree: Pumpkin puree is pure pureed pumpkin. If you don’t regularly purchase it, double check the can to make sure you’re not accidentally getting pumpkin pie filling, which is already sweetened and spiced.
- Evaporated milk: Same goes for evaporated milk. You can usually find this in a can in the baking or coffee aisle sold alongside condensed sweetened milk. Make sure when you grab it off the shelf, you’re picking the right thing.
- 9-inch unbaked deep dish pie crust: Use your favorite pie crust recipe here. I used a half batch of my favorite buttermilk pie crust (if you are a pie crust novice, this is such a great recipe to start with because it’s suuuuuuper easy to work with). Frozen, store-bought crusts work great as well.
A note on pie crust: If making and rolling out pie dough does not bring you joy, I urge you to just grab a frozen pie crust at the grocery store. They absolutely get the job done and with a pie this good, no one’s going to complain you didn’t make the crust yourself.
How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Pie
1. Mix your dry ingredients: Whisk together granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until well-mixed and no lumps remain. If you get some stubborn brown sugar lumps, run them between your fingers until they break apart.
2. Add eggs and puree: In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla, and the sugar and spice mixture. Whisk until well-combined.
3. Add evaporated milk: Drizzle in the evaporated milk while whisking gently. Once milk is mostly incorporated, switch to a silicone spatula and stir a few more times, making sure to scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl so the mixture is uniform in color, but do not over mix.
Don’t go crazy with the whisking. You don’t want to whip a lot of air into the mixture because you can get air bubbles that will leave little craters in the top of your pie.
4. Fill your pie crust: Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. If you’re using a store-bought crust, you’ll probably have some filling leftover. This is normal.
5. Bake: Place pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and set on the lowest rack in your oven. Bake for 15 minutes before setting the oven temperature to 350°F. The high starting temperature will help the bottom of the pie set up quickly so you don’t get a soggy crust.
6. Continue to bake: Bake for an additional 40 minutes to 1 hour, until the pie is set at least two inches from the crust but the center still wobbles slightly or the pie reads 175°F when tested with an instant-read thermometer.
If at any time your crust begins to get too dark, shield the crust with pie shields or foil. During testing, none of my smaller store-bought crusts needed this, but the pie in the photos got one for the last 10 minutes of baking time.
Pie shield note: If you’ve never made a pie shield before, I really like this simple method.
7. Cool: Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream, and enjoy!
How do I know my pumpkin pie is done?
Pumpkin pie can be a little tricky to test for doneness because a perfectly baked pie always looks undercooked, and if the pie looks fully set in the oven, it’s absolutely been overcooked.
You can tell the pumpkin pie is done when the pie is set (not wobbling) at least two inches from the crust, but the center still wobbles slightly.
Some people swear by using a knife to check for doneness (insert a knife and it should come out mostly clean), but I find this method unreliable and the place where the pie was pierced often develops into a larger crack.
How do I keep my pie from cracking?
Don’t overcook your pumpkin pie. Cracks are caused when the eggs in the custard become overcooked and begin to contract, making the pie pull away from the edges of the pie crust or crack in the center.
To prevent cracking, bake your pie just until the outer edges of the pie look set. The center should still wobble slightly.
And real talk, sometimes though, cracking is just a part of pumpkin pie life. If your pie cracks as it cools, don’t sweat it. It’s still going to be delicious.
Do I have to let pumpkin pie cool for 2 hours?
Yes. The custard will finish cooking and set as it cools. If you try to eat pumpkin pie right out of the oven, it will be a hot liquidy mess and no one’s idea of a good time.
Is it OK to not refrigerate pumpkin pie?
As long as it has sufficient cooling time, you don’t need to refrigerate pumpkin pie before eating it. But custard pies like pumpkin pie should be stored in the refrigerator overnight or if you’re not eating them as soon as they’ve cooled.
Do I need to defrost my store-bought crust before baking it?
Probably not. If using a store-bought, frozen pie crust, follow the instructions on the packaging. Most of them are designed to go straight from the freezer to the oven. There is no need to defrost them first, and starting with a frozen crust will not change the cooking time.
More Pumpkin Recipes
- Pumpkin Bread With Streusel
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Cinnamon Sugar Baked Pumpkin Donuts
- Small-batch Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
- Evaporated Milk Substitutions: You can replace the evaporated milk with a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, simply reduce the sugar to 3 tablespoons (any mix of brown/white sugar is fine) or omit it completely. You can also use 1¼ cups heavy cream (the amount of sugar will stay the same).
- Storage: Store the pie tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing Whole Pumpkin Pies: Pumpkin pie freezes well. If you’re planning on freezing your pie, bake it in a disposable aluminum pie tin. Once cooled, double wrap the pie with plastic wrap and then an additional layer of aluminum foil if you have it. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
- Freezing Pumpkin Pie Slices: Flash freeze slices on a plate or baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once frozen, wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap and then store in a freezer bag for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight or at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
My Favorite Pumpkin Pie
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100g) lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch to ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 large eggs preferably room temperature
- 1 15-ounce can (scant 2 cups) pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 12-ounce can (1½ cups) evaporated milk
- 1 9-inch unbaked deep dish pie crust
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until well-mixed and no lumps remain.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla, and the sugar and spice mixture. Whisk until well-combined.
- Drizzle in the evaporated milk while whisking gently. Once milk is mostly incorporated, switch to a silicone spatula and stir a few more times, making sure to scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl so the mixture is uniform in color, but do not over mix.
- Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Place pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and set on the lowest rack in your oven. Bake for 15 minutes before setting the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for an additional 40 minutes to 1 hour, until the pie is set at least two inches from the crust but the center still wobbles slightly or the pie reads 175°F when tested with an instant read thermometer.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream, and enjoy!
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