Chiffon Pumpkin Pie

Use a food processor to finely grind the gingersnap cookies, or put in a large freezer bag and roll over several times with a rolling pin.

If you want to make pumpkin purée from scratch, instead of using a can, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, lie face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour.

Cool, scoop out the flesh and run through a food processor or blender to purée. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.

You'll need a 9-inch deep dish (about 1 3/4 inch high) pie plate for this pie. A 10-inch pie dish may also work.

  • Yield: Makes one deep 9-inch pie

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cups finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (from about 10 ounces of gingersnaps)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 envelope gelatin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, separated (or 3 egg yolks and enough egg white substitute for 3 egg whites)
  • 2 Tbsp rum (note original recipe called for 1/2 cup of rum, but I and several others think it's a bit much)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin purée (one 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, softly whipped (for topping)
  • Extra crushed gingersnaps (for garnish)

Method

1 Pre-bake the crust: Set the oven at 325°F. Have on hand a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Butter it lightly.

In a bowl, combine the crushed gingersnaps, sugar, and butter. Press the mixture into the pie plate with the back of a spoon or metal measuring cup, making the top edge even all around.

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Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 325°F. Remove from oven and let cool.

2 Make the custard base: In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the gelatin, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, milk, and egg yolks. Stir thoroughly.

Set the pan over medium heat and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to thicken, then immediately remove it from the heat.

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Do not let it boil! If the mixture comes close to boiling the egg yolks will curdle. (If this happens strain the mixture through a sieve or purée in a blender.)

Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.

3 Add pumpkin purée, rum, then refrigerate: Add the pumpkin purée and the rum. Refrigerate the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens enough to form mounds.

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4 Beat egg whites and fold into filling mixture: In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until the form stiff peaks. Stir a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

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(If you are concerned about eating raw egg whites, use egg white substitute, dried egg whites, that you can find in the grocery store.)

5 Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for several hours. Refrigerate the pie for several hours for the gelatin to set.

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6 Top with whipped cream and gingersnap crumbs: Just before serving, spoon the whipped cream onto the filling and sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps. Cut the pie into wedges to serve.

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Comments

  • Kass

    How far in advance can you make the pie?

    • Elise Bauer

      3 days chilled if you don’t freeze it, and several more if you do. If you freeze the pie, don’t put the whipped cream on it.

  • SJ

    I made this for Thanksgiving dinner for a potluck. While the filling was good, it tasted more like a pudding than pie filling.
    Also, since I used Nabisco gingersnaps (very hard out of the box) the crust was also very hard – sort of like ginger brittle.
    I think a different brand of gingersnaps would work better.

    • Elise Bauer

      You really have to pulverize the gingersnaps to a finely ground consistency. I’ve also reduced the crust pre-bake time to 10 min. That may help.

  • Beth

    I made this pie for Thanksgiving. It was delicious. I found pasturized (real) egg whites at the grocery store (near the egg beaters.) I have a question though…can I freeze the pie?

    I wanted to make one for Christmas Eve dinner. I thought if I could freeze it , I could add the whip cream topping after it is defrosted. I am concerned about texture if I freeze it.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Beth, I actually went ahead and froze one of these pies. Works fine, as long as you haven’t already put the whipped cream on it. Whipped cream doesn’t freeze well. But the pumpkin filling is fine. Defrosting it the filling holds up and the crust is less hard, so all in all freezing works. In fact, you could even serve it frozen or partially frozen. Just add the whipped cream right before serving.

  • Carmen

    Hi Elise,

    Question: is there a good vegetarian substitute I can use for the gelatin? Thanx in advance!

    • Elise Bauer

      Seaweed-based agar agar is sometimes used as a substitute for gelatin, but I don’t know how you would actually make the substitution in this case because I have not cooked with it.

  • Christine B

    After baking the pumpkin, do I need to drain the pumpkin puree I scoop out? I was concerned it would be too wet if I just scoop and use. Thanks!

  • James

    I made the cake with 1/4 cup of rum and it set up great!

  • scott

    Can anyone tell me how long in advance you can make your whipped cream and add it to, in this case, the pie…? Or do I need to get back in the kitchen when it’s time to serve the dessert to finish it? This question has been nagging me for a long time.

  • scott

    Hello…I made this Thursday night and had a slice on Friday night. I used canned pureed pumpkin instead of fresh, for ease. I would increase some of the spices a little, more nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger! Overall though, it was amazing!

  • Suzy_Q

    In response to the spice question: ALlSPICE! That is the “secret” ingredient in my grandmothers famous Pumpkn Chiffon Pie recipe that sets it apart from the average P.C.P. recipe. It is divine. You can find the recipe @ Food.com. Its called “Grandma Joans Pumpkin Chiffon Pie”.
    In regards to the agar/gelatin substitute question, I have made my grandmothers recipe several times using agar very successfully when I was vegetarian. You can find this recipe as well on Food.com if you search Vegetarian Pumpkin Chiffon Pie (Gelatin free). It’s the vegetarian version of my grandmothers recipe.

  • David

    After recently making a pie with a ginger snap crust that tasted great but was too dense and hard to easily cut or chew, I found this webpage with the discussion about it. I experimented by remaking the same pie with a shorter prebake time and it came out perfectly. My mistake with the first pie was prebaking 10-15 minutes until the crust began to brown slightly and had firmed up for filling. It seemed correct after prebaking but made the final crust too dense.

    What worked for me on the second pie was grinding Nabisco Ginger Snaps to a fine powder in a food processor (for a 9″ pie: about 40, which is about 3/4 of a 1 lb. box), mixing in 1 Tb of melted butter per 7 cookies used, and prebaking EXACTLY 8 minutes in a preheated 325 F oven. Allow the crust and pan to cool to room temperature before filling. The prebaked crust will still be fragile, so fill gently. I then finish-baked the filled pie for 40 minutes at 350 F, but my fill recipe was different than this one. The crust tasted great AND the texture was perfect, IMO.

    By the way, I’ve also found through trial and error that I prefer Nabisco Ginger Snaps for these crusts. Archway Reduced Fat is a passable substitute, but Salerno Ginger Snaps make a crust that tastes too bland to me, so I avoid those. Some grocery stores run out of Nabisco Ginger Snaps in November and December!

  • Carolly

    My crust came out too hard also. I think it’s the ginger snaps…Nabisco. They were rock hard out of the box.

  • Christine B

    I screwed this recipe up so many ways and it still came out quite good! Although, one screw up was that I added about twice as much pumpkin (I think) and ended up with enough filling for two pies. I left it in the fridge, went home for the holiday, and just realized last night it’s still there, one week later as of today. One – can I cook it like waffles or pancakes? I’m not sure if it’s still good (smells good and looks darker, but the same), but I HATE throwing it all away. Any suggestions on use?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Christine, one week is pushing it a little. But if it still smells good (take a small taste too), you could add some flour to it, and maybe some milk or buttermilk, and make pancakes or waffles, or even French toast!

  • Julie

    I wanted to say that when I saw this recipe, I literally said “Oh my god” out loud. I was searching for a gingersnap crust as I lost my grandmother’s recipe and lo, appearing from nowhere is this pie. The exact pie my grandmother makes every Thanksgiving and which is the whole reason my family comes together. The exact pie I was making from the old, handwritten paper on which she copied it from some magazine or newspaper. She dropped the booze a long time ago, and doesn’t use extra ginger in the crust, and it never sets as well as it should, but this pie is the thing that waits for me in heaven. Seriously, for my grandmother, make this pie.

  • Heather

    Just want to let you know that this year I will be amking this pie again! Thank you so much for a new beloved recipe. This will be my third Thanksgiving to bring this pie to the table and even those that don’t like Pumpkin Pie at all, beg for this. This year I will make one with rum and one without as I am expecting.

  • Cynthia

    My crust came out too hard as well. I hope someone responds, but my guess is that I :

    (1) crushed the snaps too much
    (2) pressed it into the bottom to much
    (3) cooked the crust too long

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Cynthia, I think 2 and 3 are possibilities. I would finely grind the gingersnaps, make sure they are pressed into the pan just enough to hold together, and bake for 10 min. I originally said 8-15 minutes, but I think that’s too long, so I’ve changed it to 10.

  • Coralie

    The House full of English students is back again. Another school year, another group of Housemates… and better…Another THANKSGIVING!!! I gave thanks this year, for finding this great recipe site, thanks Elise, it’s been a year now!
    I have to admit i switched the recipe around a bit this year though… as well as mixing some of the Meringue mix into the Pumpkin Custard, I put the reminder piled up (as you have piled up the cream) and baked the whole thing (in a Pie crust rather than ginger Snaps) in an effort to make a delicious Dairy free Dessert for Thanksgiving (UKStyle) ThankGod for Pumpkins!
    Though I’m not sure You americans know how lucky you are to get canned Pumpkin!!!

    Thanks again! x

  • EDITH

    I made one too many pumpkin chiffon pies (3 total) and would like to know if it can be placed in the freezer and for how long before it dries out. Many thanks!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Edit, you can freeze this pie (without the whipped cream topping). Not sure how long it will last in the freezer before freezer burn sets in, a couple weeks?

  • Kathy

    Is there anything I can use instead of the cinnamon – and possibly the nutmeg and ginger? I am having a guest who has allergies to many spices …. is there a solution?

  • Maho

    Hi Elise,

    Could you kindly tell me how much gelatine there is in one envelope (preferably in grams)?

    I live in Japan, and the brand I usually buy comes in a large size bag.

    Thanks in advance.

  • g

    Are you sure you want us to eat uncooked eg whites? I have my own chickens for eggs, but most folks don’t and raw eggs are not safe to eat.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi g,
      You can use egg white substitute in place of the egg whites. Thanks for the reminder, I put the note in the recipe.

  • Marlene

    When it comes to the egg whites and sugar… you stir in a few spoonfuls of the blended egg white and suger into the pumpin AND fold in the egg white and sugar? Directions only mention stirring and folding the egg and not the sugar, but directions call to mix together first.

    Can you tell I don’t dabble in the kitchen much?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Marlene, add sugar to the egg whites as you are whipping them. The sugar will give the egg whites more structure. When you go to fold the whipped egg whites into the pumpkin mixture, the sugar will already be incorporated into the egg whites.

  • Dan

    Hi Scott. You can do the whipped cream ahead. Place the whipped cream in a wire strainer and set over a bowl and place in the frig. The water liquid can then drip out. The water is what collapses the cream after setting for any length of time. Old ‘Frugal Gourmet’ Jeff Smith trick I learned back in the day.

  • Lou

    Our Thanksgiving always includes a similar pumpkin chiffon pie made with sweetened condensed milk, orange juice, spices and a tad of rum in a graham cracker pecan crust. Have never added a whipped cream topping but that sounds like a wonderful addition. Thanks! Lou