How to make a perfect, homemade pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving. Creamy, flavorful and perfectly cooked. Everything a pumpkin pie should be.
Pumpkin pie has always been right up there with my all-time sweet tooth’s favs, and apparently with the rest of the world’s as well. Have you noticed that the rest of the world goes a little pumpkin spice crazy come the fall? And, who could blame them, really? Pumpkin spice is everything nice, and yes, I’ll have another slice, please.
Before the pumpkin spice latte came to be, we had to wait until Thanksgiving day finally rolled into town for that little ol’ slice of heaven. Blasphemous. One could only hope that the person carrying in the pie that festive day knew what they were doing in the kitchen. Lucky for me, it was typically my mom, and she had a tendency to go a little pie crazy every holiday, but more so on Thanksgiving than any other. I’m talking like at least four pies here, people. She would make everyone’s favorite: A chocolate for my brother, a strawberry pie for my dad, an apple pie (cause hey, it’s tradition) and a pumpkin pie especially for me and her. I grew up eating it, have never had a Thanksgiving day without it, and over the years have become quite the connoisseur. So before we get into what makes the perfect slice of pumpkin pie, first let’s talk about what the perfect slice of pumpkin pie is not.
Pumpkin pie should not be grainy or gritty, it should not fall or slouch over when transferred to the plate, and it certainly should not be lacking in flavor. These are my biggest pumpkin pie pet peeves, and this recipe was designed to avoid them like the plague.
HOW TO AVOID GRITTY PUMPKIN PIE
So here’s how you avoid these things: Do not cook the pie at too high of a temperature. After a great deal of experimenting, I can tell you that absolute best temperature to cook pumpkin pie at is 350°, and to keep from overcooking the pie in general, blind bake the crust beforehand. SeriousEats.com has a great article on all that good, science-y stuff — click here if you’d like to delve deeper.
WHAT IS BLIND BAKING AND WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Oh, wait, “What was that?” you say? Yes. I said blind bake — this simply means that you would bake the pie crust prior to pouring in the filling. It’s sort of like giving it a head start. To blind bake pie crust, you roll out the pastry and transfer it to the pie dish. Crimp the edges however you’d like, then, transfer the dish to the refrigerator and allow it to chill. Once the dough is chilled and firm to the touch, cover it with aluminum foil (preferably nonstick) and fill the shell with either dried beans or pie weight. If you don’t have either of those, you could always use rice or something of that nature. The whole point of the weights is to keep the bottom of the pie shell in place so that it does not bubble up while cooking.
Once the pie shell has finished blind baking, it’s time to move on to the custard. Here is where the structure comes in: I was on a mission to bake a pumpkin pie that could stand up on its own, without overcooking it. Adding a little flour to the recipe helped to stabilize the custard, and also helped to keep it from cracking.
CRACKS IN THE PUMPKIN PIE
Another reason for cracks in your pumpkin pie is over-baking it. Determining when your pie is ready can be a little tricky. If you wait until there is no jiggle left to your pumpkin, you have likely overcooked it. Remember that pumpkin pie is actually a custard pie. Custard pies continue to cook once they come out of the oven, so ideally, you would pull your pie when there is still a little jiggle to it in the center, when gently nudged.
WHAT GOES IN PUMPKIN PIE FILLING
So now, onto the good stuff — the filling. I wanted big pumpkin spice flavor for this pie, and people, mission accomplished. You can, of course, choose to make your own pumpkin purée, but if time just doesn’t allow you could always go for the canned stuff. Just make sure it is 100% pure pumpkin purée. The big flavor comes from extra doses of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and my all-time fav, freshly grated nutmeg. Don’t let that ingredient throw you for a loop. Grating nutmeg is easy to do, and if you need a little help picking it out at the grocery store, look for a spice jar stuffed with little gems about the size of small acorns.
This pumpkin pie recipe is pure perfection. It cuts beautifully, yields a smooth and creamy texture, and boosts that big beautiful pumpkin spice flavor we all know and love. It’s easy to make and guaranteed to be your new all-time fav. Please, enjoy.
For this recipe, you will need a rolling pin, 9” pie dish, pie weights or dried beans, nonstick aluminum foil, and a pie shield (or strips of foil can be substituted).
A perfect, homemade pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving. Creamy, flavorful and perfectly cooked. Everything a pumpkin pie should be.
- 1 pastry disk of TAK’s Perfect Pie Crust
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 3 large eggs plus 2 yolks room temperature
- 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin puree
- 1 cup half and half room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Place rack in lower third of the oven, and ready a greased 9” pie dish and preheat the oven to 400°.
Roll out the pie dough into a 13” circle, and transfer to the pie dish. Crimp the edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
To blind bake the pie shell, remove from the refrigerator, and carefully line the pie shell with aluminum foil, and press against the surface of the pie dough. Be sure to cover the edges. Add the pie weights or dried beans, and bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and move the rack to the center of the oven.
Once your pie shell comes out of the oven, immediately begin on the filling. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks until slightly beaten. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, half and half and vanilla. Lastly, whisk in the corn syrup. Slowly begin incorporating the sugar and spice mixture into the pumpkin mixture, whisking constantly.
Have ready a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil, and see note below.
Pour the custard into the pie shell, and bake for 45 minutes. After about 30 minutes of baking, you will likely need to add the pie shield or foil strips so that the crust does not overcook.
The pie is ready when the internal temperature (best gauged using an instant-read thermometer) reaches between 165-175°. If judging by appearances, the edges should be slightly souffléd, while the center should have some jiggle to it when nudged.
Remove pie from the oven and allow to set at room temperature until completely cooled, 2-3 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Depending on how deep your pie dish is, the filling may make more than you need. The filling should sit about a 1/2" below the top of the crust.
The pie will need at least 2-3 hours to properly set after it has finished cooking.