This pumpkin tart combines a pecan pastry crust and simple pumpkin pie filling. Though the 9-inch tart has 8 servings similar to traditional pumpkin pie, the slices are thinner so the tart bakes and cools quicker. If you crave flavorful pumpkin treats, you’ll enjoy this generously spiced filling with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and a touch a black pepper for bold robust flavor.
Do you have a tart pan that you’re itching to use? And love pumpkin pie? Do you want to skip the rolling pin? Are you answering these questions? Can you stand on your head? 😉
Let’s make a pumpkin tart this Thanksgiving!
Tell Me About This Pumpkin Tart
- Texture: Since the slices aren’t as thick as traditional pumpkin pie, it’s not quite as custardy. However, if the tart isn’t over-baked and cools completely, you’ll enjoy a pleasantly creamy texture on a firm crust.
- Flavor: The buttery pecan-speckled crust tastes a step above plain tart crust because you have that additional toasty nutty flavor. For the pumpkin filling, we’re essentially using a scaled down version of regular pumpkin pie. Sweetened with brown sugar and plentifully spiced, this tart is for pumpkin spice aficionados. Feel free to skip the black pepper if you don’t want that extra kick. Fluffy whipped cream and salty caramel are familiar garnishes, but definitely take this pumpkin tart to the next level if you have time to make either. (Whipped cream takes 5 minutes!)
- Baking: Par-baking the crust is imperative before you bake the whole tart. Par-baking takes a little extra time, but you’ll be rewarded with an impressively tasty crust that isn’t overly soggy. A lot of other pie and tart recipes require this step such as quiche, regular pumpkin pie, and chocolate pie. Luckily making the filling is a breeze using a whisk and mixing bowl!
- Time: Set aside 1 hour to prep this recipe, which includes par-baking and getting the entire tart in the oven. Pumpkin tart is ideal after fully cooling, so feel free to make this tart 1 day in advance.
Key Pumpkin Tart Ingredients You Need & Why
- Pecans: The pecan pastry crust obviously starts with—you guessed it—pecans. If you want to skip the nuts, there are alternative crust options and I detail those next. The only substitution I tested was walnuts and it worked just as well.
- All-Purpose Flour: Flour is the base of the pecan crust. If you want a gluten free tart crust, see this chocolate coconut almond tart recipe. I haven’t tested it with this pumpkin filling.
- Granulated Sugar & Brown Sugar: Granulated sugar is ideal in the crust and brown sugar is key in the filling. I tried swapping granulated sugar for brown sugar in the crust (so you’d only need 1 type of sugar) and the crust was simply too moist and tasted denser. If needed, you can substitute granulated sugar for brown sugar in the filling but you’ll lose all of the delicious brown sugar flavor that pairs so nicely with pumpkin.
- Cold Butter: Like in most pastry-style crusts, cold butter is ideal. Even though we’re not making a traditional pie crust, you still need cold butter to properly coat the dry ingredients and produce a tasty, yet sturdy foundation for the tart.
- Pumpkin Puree: No surprise here! Though fresh pumpkin puree worked just fine, taste testers and I preferred the tart made with canned pumpkin puree instead. I usually use Libby’s brand. (Not sponsored—simply love the quality and flavor.)
- Heavy Cream: Just as cold butter is the crust’s best friend, heavy cream is the filling’s BFF. Heavy cream produces a rich and luscious pumpkin filling that half-and-half, milk, or evaporated milk cannot match. Bonus: use extra heavy cream to make whipped cream for garnish.
- Egg: Egg helps the filling set.
- Salt & Spices: If you love cinnamon and ginger, your tastebuds will savor each bite of this pumpkin tart. Black pepper continues to be my favorite pumpkin pie ingredient because it adds a deeper spice flavor that taste testers certainly notice, but never realize it’s black pepper! You could also use homemade pumpkin pie spice here (see recipe Note).
Why Par-Bake the Pecan Tart Crust?
The crust takes longer to bake than the filling, so it requires extra time in the oven. This is when a step called par-baking, also known as blind baking, is beneficial. Partially par-baking this pecan tart crust means you need pie weights to help the crust hold shape during the par-baking process. Note: Make sure you have enough pie weights. I always use 2 packs of these (affiliate link) pie weights.
Find all of the par-baking step-by-step photos below the recipe.
Other Crust Options
If you’d like to skip the pecan tart crust below, here are a few other tested options. Each requires a quick par-bake, but the first 2 options don’t need pie weights. No matter which crust recipe you use, the pumpkin tart must bake in a 350°F (177°C) oven for the same time listed in step 6 below.
- Graham Cracker Crust or Gingerbread Cookie Crust: If you want a cookie crust instead of a pastry-style crust, use the graham cracker crust from this peanut butter cup tart recipe or gingersnap cookie crust from this pumpkin streusel bars recipe. Press tightly into your 9-inch tart pan and pre-bake at 350°F (177°C) for 12 minutes before pouring in the filling and baking the whole tart. Note regarding gingersnap cookies—store-bought gingersnap cookies are ideal as they are the most dry. The ONLY brand that I’ve had issues with is the Nabisco gingersnap cookies. They’re delicious on their own, but they’re too moist for a gingersnap cookie crust.
- Shortbread Crust: Use the crust recipe from this lemon blueberry tart. Add 2 Tablespoons (25g) flour for a firmer dough. Follow steps 3 and 4 in the lemon blueberry tart recipe, which includes par-baking the crust at 350°F (177°C).
- Tart Crust Without Nuts: Follow the exact same crust/par-baking steps instructed in the recipe below at 375°F (190°C), but use the crust from this strawberry peach galette recipe. Chilling the dough for 1 hour as instructed in the galette recipe is imperative. Use a rolling pin to roll out the chilled dough into a 10-12 inch circle. Press firmly into your 9-inch tart pan and trim edges.
Make This Pumpkin Tart If…
- You love pumpkin pie but want to try something different on your menu of Thanksgiving pies
- Crimping/fluting pie crust edges isn’t your forte
- You need a slightly quicker variation of pumpkin pie
- You’re craving sweet & spiced pumpkin flavor
- A traditional pumpkin pie is simply too much
This pumpkin tart combines a pecan pastry crust and wonderfully spiced pumpkin pie filling. Review recipe notes before starting and don’t forget to check out the step-by-step crust photos below the recipe.
- 2/3 cup (85g) chopped or halved pecans
- 1 and 1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1/4 cup (60ml) ice cold water
- 1 and 1/3 cups (300g) pumpkin puree*
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch black pepper (see note)
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Place large baking sheet on center oven rack. You will bake the tart on the baking sheet, which will make it easy to transfer the tart pan to/from the oven AND catch any possible butter leakage from the tart pan.
- Make the crust: If you need a visual for the crust steps, there are helpful step-by-step photos below the recipe. Using a food processor, pulse the pecans, flour, salt, and sugar together until it reaches the consistency of coarse meal. Add the cubes of cold butter and pulse until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Drizzle ice water on top and pulse 8-10 times to bring dough together. Dough will be crumbly, but there should be no more dry flour. Do your best to press dough tightly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Carefully line the inside of the crust with two pieces of parchment paper. Pour in the pie weights. Make sure the weights are evenly distributed around the pan.
- Place on baking sheet and bake (with weights) for 15 minutes. Remove tart from the oven and carefully lift the parchment paper (with the weights) out of the tart. Prick holes all around the bottom crust with a fork. Return the tart crust to the oven (on the baking sheet) and bake for 10-12 minutes to help dry out and set the bottom. Remove from the oven and set aside until step 6. You can par-bake the crust up to 3 days ahead of time. Cover and store in the refrigerator (without weights) until ready to use.
- Reduce oven to 350°F (177°C).
- For the filling: Whisk all of the filling ingredients together until combined and smooth. Feel free to use a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to combine.
- Pour filling into warm crust. Bake tart (on baking sheet) until the center of the tart is nearly set– give the pan a light tap with your oven mitt to check– about 45-48 minutes. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok.
- Remove tart from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool completely for at least 4-5 hours. Serve pie with optional toppings if desired. I used Wilton 1M piping tip for the whipped cream in the pictured pie.
- Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: This tart must cool completely before serving, so it’s perfect for making 1 day ahead. Cool completely, then loosely cover and store at room temperature before serving the next day. Baked and cooled pumpkin tart freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. You can par-bake the crust ahead of time– see end of step 3. The filling can be made 1 day in advance, cover and refrigerate before pouring into warm par-baked crust. No need to bring to room temperature before baking, but bake time may be a couple minutes longer.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 9-Inch Tart Pan, Large Food Processor (one that holds at least 6 cups so there’s extra room for the crust mixture to move around/pulse), Pie Weights (2 packs to fill the pan)
- No Food Processor? You need a food processor in step 2. If you do not have one, chop the pecans as finely as possible. Whisk with the flour, salt, and sugar. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter. Use a rubber spatula or your hands to mix in the water.
- Mini Tarts: My team and I haven’t tested this recipe in mini tart pans yet, so report back if you try it. Par-baking the crusts would definitely still be beneficial– just for a reduced time.
- Other Crust Options: See specific details and instructions in post above.
- Pecans: The only substitution I tested was walnuts and it worked just as well. To skip the nuts, use an alternative crust option detailed in the post above.
- Pumpkin Puree: Though fresh pumpkin puree worked just fine, taste testers and I preferred the tart made with canned pumpkin puree instead.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is best in this tart. In a pinch, you can substitute half-and-half.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Instead of ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper, you can use 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Be sure to still add 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon.
- Pepper: This adds deeper spice flavor that taste testers certainly notice, but never realize it’s black pepper. I usually add just under 1/8 teaspoon of pure ground black pepper for lots of flavor, but feel free to reduce to a tiny pinch or 1/16 teaspoon. If using freshly ground black pepper from a grinder, 3-4 twists of the grinder is plenty.
Keywords: pumpkin tart
Quick Step-By-Step Photos of Crust
This How to Blind Bake Pie Crust video and guide is helpful if you ever need more assistance and help with the par-baking steps!
As instructed in the crust step above, pulse the pecans, flour, salt, and sugar together in your food processor. You’re mostly just breaking down the pecans in this step. (Pictured below, left.) Add the cold and cubed butter and pulse until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. (Pictured below, right.)
As instructed above, add your ice water and pulse. The dough will be crumbly. Press into your 9-inch tart pan.
Fill with pie weights. I use and recommend (affiliate link) these pie weights. You need 2 packs to fill a tart or pie shell.
After baking with the weights, remove them, prick holes in the crust with a fork (pictured below, left) and then return to the oven to dry out/set the center of the crust. The picture below on the right shows the crust after par-baking and before pouring in the filling.
Pour in the filling and bake. Cool completely before serving. Enjoy this one!