Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie

The single most requested dessert at our Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. (The second being apple pie.) In fact, pumpkin pie is so synonymous with the holidays that during this time you can find “pumpkin spiced” everything, from lattes to donuts.

My friend Suzanne performed an experiment with her family and me. She baked two pumpkin pies, one using the purée and recipe from a can, the other using purée she made from a ripe sugar pumpkin. Each of us received two slices, one from each pie, without knowing which was which. The winner?

Pumpkin Pie

The adults clearly preferred the pie made from scratch—it had a richer flavor (possibly due in part to added spices). One child preferred the pie made from the canned purée, the other two had no preference. Needless to say, everyone finished both of their slices, and the whipped cream too!

From the recipe archive, first posted 2005

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie Recipe

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pumpkin* or from canned pumpkin purée (can also use puréed cooked butternut squash)
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream or 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1 good crust (see pâte brisée recipe or our no-fail flaky pie crust recipe)

* To make pumpkin purée from scratch, cut a medium-small sugar pumpkin in half. Scrape out the insides (reserving the pumpkins seeds to toast) and discard. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or foil. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on the lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F until a fork can easily pierce them, about an hour to an hour and a half. Remove from oven, let cool, scoop out the pulp.

roasted-pumpkin-800-1 roasted-pumpkin-800-2

Alternatively you can cut the pumpkin into sections and steam in a saucepan with a couple inches of water at the bottom, until soft (strain before using). If you want the purée to be extra smooth, press the pulp through a food mill or chinois.


1 Preheat your oven to 425°F.

2 Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, spices—cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, cardamom, and lemon zest.

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Mix in the pumpkin purée. Stir in the cream. Beat together until everything is well mixed.

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3 Pour the filling into an uncooked pie shell. Bake at a high temperature of 425°F for 15 minutes. Then after 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (About half-way through the baking, you may want to put foil around the edges or use a pie protector to keep the crust from getting too browned.)

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4 Cool the pumpkin pie on a wire rack for 2 hours. Note that the pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up (from the leavening of the eggs), and will deflate as it cools.

Serve with whipped cream.

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Pumpkin Pie with Toasted Marshmallow Topping from David Lebovitz

Tangy, Creamy, Pumpkin Pie from The Traveler's Lunchbox


Pumpkin Pie

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Showing 4 of 171 Comments

  • Deb

    When we make pumpkin pie from scratch we usually just use the regular old pumpkin we have sitting outside with the corn stalks for decoration. Is a sugar pumpkin those smaller ones you see on sale that are advertised as “pie pumpkins?”

    Would a regular pumpkin do just as well–or–is there such a difference in taste it would be wiser to buy a pie pumpkin? Thanks.

  • Andrea

    I enjoyed reading this post. I tried making a pumpkin pie from scratch once, but I used the regular old pumpkin that people typically carve. Perhaps it was too big, or not the “sugar” type. Anyway the pie flesh was quite stringy and the pulp had a yucky consistency. Probably I baked the pie as I would any other squash, and that was not the right technique either. Anyway it was good to see how it is supposed to be done! By the way Trader Joe’s also sells an organic canned pumpkin puree.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Elise, I made this pie out of our jack-o-lantern (a huge sugar pie pumpkin). It was the first time I’ve made pumpkin pie out of a whole pumpkin and it was actually pretty easy and turned out beautifully. My husband said it was the best pumpkin pie he’s ever had!

  • Elise

    Hi Deb – I am told that one should make pumpkin pie with the sugar pumpkins – the ones advertised as “pie pumpkins.” That said, I’ve made pumpkin pies with the leftovers from pumpkin carvings and they turned out great.

    Hi Andrea – I would imagine that some of the bigger carving pumpkins have pretty tough flesh. But if you get rid of the strings and cook it long enough, maybe that would work. Good call on the TJ’s organic purée. Thanks!

    Hi Stephanie – Excellent. Congrats on making your own scratch pie, and three cheers for the husband who liked it.

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