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Bursting with flavor, this pumpkin pie recipe is my very favorite. It’s rich, smooth, and tastes incredible on my homemade pie crust and served with whipped cream.

pumpkin pie

Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bars, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin bread, but HELLO what about pumpkin pie?? My Great Pumpkin Pie Recipe is here today.

Did you know that testing the perfect pumpkin pie recipe is a lot more challenging than one would assume!? Fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin, ginger, no ginger, brown sugar, white sugar, cornstarch, flour, no cornstarch, no flour…?

But I finally I cracked the pumpkin pie code. I grew up in a house of pumpkin pie lovers and absolutely no Thanksgiving was complete without a nap and a massive slice of pumpkin pie. What I’m trying to say is, my pumpkin pie standards are high for this classic Thanksgiving dessert.

pumpkin pie garnished with sugared cranberries and pie crust designs
pumpkin pie filling in a mixing bowl

Pie Crust

Let’s start with the pie crust. Every pumpkin pie has to start with a stellar pie crust. My homemade pie crust uses a mix of shortening and butter so you get the most buttery tasting, tender, flaky (so flaky) pie crust. It’s easy to make. And I have a video tutorial and step-by-step photos in my pie crust recipe.

pie crust rolled out with leaf cut outs
leaf pie crust designs on a baking sheet

Fresh or Canned Pumpkin in Pumpkin Pie?

I tested this recipe with both and I truly liked the pie using canned pumpkin better. The canned pumpkin pumpkin pie (say that 3 times fast) was a little more sturdy when baked for the same amount of time. The pie baked with fresh pumpkin puree tasted grainy and a little… herbaceous? I prefer using fresh pumpkin puree in savory recipes, not desserts. This is your call, you can use either fresh or canned pumpkin.

Other Ingredients in Pumpkin Pie

  1. Eggs. Eggs set up the pumpkin pie filling. They give the filling its rich, luxurious texture.
  2. Heavy cream. Heavy cream makes pumpkin pie luxurious and silky smooth. It’s thick, creamy, and absolutely heavenly in this pumpkin pie recipe. I use 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of milk. I found that 1 and 1/4 cups of heavy cream (or more) was simply too much. Too thick, too gloppy! You can also use the heavy cream to make homemade whipped cream for the topping.
  3. Cornstarch. A starch thickener is one of the most important ingredients in a pie filling. I use a touch of cornstarch in my pumpkin pie because it helps set up the pie. Makes it a little sturdier and firm, while keeping everything smooth.
pumpkin pie

My Secret Ingredient

This sounds so incredibly weird, but I add freshly ground black pepper to my pumpkin pie filling. It’s bizarre, I know. But I’m being serious. I got this tip from the genius kitchen crew over at King Arthur Baking. And I am forever grateful. Because this little addition turns your pumpkin pie into the BEST pumpkin pie. No one will know it’s there except for you. And they will all be wondering what makes this spiced pie so good… it’s a pinch of pepper.

I actually add it to my homemade pumpkin pie spice blend, too! Feel free to replace the ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper below with my homemade spice. (Keep the cinnamon in the filling though!)

pumpkin pie with one slice missing

How to Avoid Cracks in Pumpkin Pie

Silky yet thick, this pumpkin pie cuts beautifully as long as it is baked for the right amount of time. The bake time is about 55-60 minutes. At this time, the center of the pumpkin pie will be slightly wobbly. It will set as it cools. Careful not to overcook; overcooking it will cause the filling to crack.

PS: Here is my recipe for mini pumpkin pies.

slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream

So from my kitchen to yours, enjoy The Great Pumpkin Pie Recipe. And if you’re looking for more inspiration for your dessert table, here are all of our favorite Thanksgiving pies.

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pumpkin pie with one slice missing

The Great Pumpkin Pie Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes (includes blind bake)
  • Total Time: 5 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: serves 810; 1 cup sugared cranberries 1x
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Bursting with flavor, this pumpkin pie recipe is my very favorite. It’s rich, smooth, and tastes incredible on my homemade pie crust and served with whipped cream. The pie crust leaves are purely for decor, you can leave those off of the pie and only make 1 pie crust. You can also leave off the sugared cranberries.


Ingredients

Scale

Sugared Cranberries

  • 1 cup (120g) fresh cranberries*
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (240ml) water

Pumpkin Pie

  • Homemade Pie Dough (full recipe makes 2 crusts: 1 for bottom, 1 for leaf decor)
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
  • one 15oz can (about 2 cups; 450g) pumpkin puree*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (8g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg*
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (I use 1% – any is fine)

Instructions

  1. If garnishing with sugared cranberries, make those first: Place cranberries in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of sugar and the water to a boil and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour sugar syrup over the cranberries and stir. Let the cranberries sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight (ideal). You’ll notice the sugar syrup is quite thick after this amount of time. Drain the cranberries from the syrup and pour 1 cup of sugar on top. Toss the cranberries, coating them all the way around. Pour the sugared cranberries on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet and let them dry for at least 2 hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You’ll have extra, but they’re great for eating or as garnish on other dishes. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Make the pie crust through step 5 according to my directions and video tutorial in my pie crust recipe. Or use your favorite pie dough or store-bought.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. Roll out the chilled pie crust: Remove 1 disc of pie dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Make sure to turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch deep dish pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it’s tightly pressed into the pie dish. Fold any dough overhang back into the dish to form a thick rim around the edges. Crimp the edges with a fork or flute the edges with your fingers. Brush edges lightly with egg wash mixture.
  5. Par-bake the crust: Line the pie crust with parchment paper. Crunching up the parchment paper is helpful so that you can easily shape it into the crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. (Note that you will need at least 2 standard sets of pie weights to fit.) Make sure the weights/beans are evenly distributed around the pie dish. Par-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper/pie weights. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork to create steam vents and return crust (without weights) to the oven for 7-8 more minutes or until the bottom is *just* starting to brown. (Review this how to par-bake pie crust page if you need extra help with this par-baking step.)
  6. Make the pumpkin pie filling: Whisk the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, heavy cream, and milk. Vigorously whisk until everything is combined.
  7. Pour pumpkin pie filling into the warm crust. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. (If using a deep dish pie dish as instructed, you should only have a little filling leftover. Use extra to make mini pies with leftover pie dough scraps if you’d like.) Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.
  8. Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours before garnishing and serving.
  9. Decorate with sugared cranberries and pie crust leaves (see note). You’ll definitely have leftover cranberries… they’re tasty for snacking. Serve pie with whipped cream if desired.
  10. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Pumpkin pie freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. Pie crust dough freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. If decorating your pie with sugared cranberries, start them the night before. You’ll also begin the pie crust the night before as well (the dough needs at least 2 hours to chill; overnight is best). The filling can be made the night before as well. In fact, I prefer it that way. It gives the spices, pumpkin, and brown sugar flavors a chance to infuse and blend. It’s awesome. Cover and refrigerate overnight. No need to bring to room temperature before baking.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Mixing Bowl Set, Pastry Blender, Rolling PinPie Weights (you’ll need 2 packs), Pastry Brush, Pie Crust Baking Shield, Fall Cookie Cutters, and Silpat Baking Mat
  3. Cranberries: Use fresh cranberries, not frozen. The sugar syrup doesn’t coat evenly on the frozen berries, leaving you with rather ugly and some very plain shriveled cranberries.
  4. Pumpkin: Canned pumpkin is best in this pumpkin pie recipe. I use and recommend Libby’s brand. If using fresh pumpkin puree, lightly blot it before adding to remove some moisture. The bake time may be longer.
  5. Spices: Instead of ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper, you can use 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Be sure to still add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
  6. Pie Crust: No matter if you’re using homemade crust or store-bought crust, pre-bake the crust. (Step 5.) You can use graham cracker crust if you’d like, but the slices may get a little messy. Pre-bake for 10 minutes just as you do with regular pie crust in this recipe. No need to use pie weights if using a cookie crust.
  7. Pie Crust Leaves: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the balls of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Roll out into any shape you really want (doesn’t matter) and 1/8 inch thickness. Using leaf cookie cutters, cut into shapes. Brush each lightly with the beaten egg + milk mixture. Cut leaf veins into leaves using a sharp knife, if desired. Place onto a parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool before decorating pie.
  8. Mini Pumpkin Pies: Many have asked about a mini version. Here are my mini pumpkin pies. They’re pretty easy– no blind baking the crust!

Keywords: pumpkin pie

Pie Crust Leaves

My pie crust recipe makes enough for two crusts. So with the extra dough, you can make adorable leaves for decoration on your pumpkin pie. Or any pie, really. I’ve seen the pie crust leaves baked directly on top of the rim of the pie – and I tried that – but was not thrilled with the results– too much uneven baking. The underside of the leaves weren’t really cooked through and the tops got a little burnt (even through my pie shield). So, to make things easier, just bake the pie crust leaves separately and place them on top of your pie before serving. You can also sprinkle them with a little cinnamon-sugar right before baking. I was going to do that, but I forgot.

My leaf cookie cutters (affiliate link) don’t have “veins” so I made leaf veins myself using a sharp paring knife. It’s tedious, but if you want authentic looking leaves you can go ahead. Don’t worry if your veins aren’t perfect. That’s a weird sentence.

My directions for the leaves are in the print-out recipe above.

unsliced pumpkin pie with pie crust designs

Sugared Cranberries

Let’s talk about those sugared cranberries! I like to use them on pumpkin pie because they give a vibrant, fresh pop of color to the very brown and very orange pie. Plus, they’re tasty and festive. Simply prepare a sugar syrup, let the cranberries soak in the syrup overnight, drench in sugar (so dentist-approved) and let dry for a couple hours. My recipe for sugared cranberries is in the print-out recipe above, too!

fresh cranberries in a bowl of sugar syrup
sugared cranberries on a baking sheet

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I didn’t have cranberries or brown sugar and I am gluten-free, but even with my modifications this turned out fantastic! The modifications to the filling that I made were that I substituted half-and-half and coconut sugar. I used Trader Joe’s “Wholly Gluten Free 9″ Pie Shells”, which contains two somewhat shallow shells and the filling filled the two of them about 3/4 full or slightly more. I baked for 50 minutes, which was perfect. The pies were darker in color than normal I think due to the coconut sugar, but not an issue at all. I felt that this wasn’t overly sweet with the coconut sugar substitution, but it was sweet enough to forgo whipped cream and not feel cheated.

    The only issue I had was that neither my son nor I could taste any pumpkin. I had used a 15 ounce can of Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin. I will have to try again with a different brand . . . and there will be a next time! With sugared cranberries! Thank you so much!

    1. The mild pumpkin flavor may have been overpowered by the coconut sugar’s strong flavor. I use Splenda in pumpkin pie, but you may have anti-sweetener feelings. Next time try the actual brown sugar.

  2. I didn’t do the cranberries, but I made this for Friendsgiving a few years back and it’s the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. I’ve tried a few recipes and usually tossed the pie because it was gross, and I have lived on frozen. I am so grateful for this recipe! It is amazing!!!

    1. Help! Took the pie out at 50 minutes. Four hours later and there’s a huge crack down the center. And the crazy part – – we cut in the next day and the inside was still gooey and not thoroughly cooked and fell apart immediately while cutting. Would love your input (on why it cracked if it wasn’t done!).

      1. Hi Kate, It sounds like the pie baked a little unevenly if it also cracked and was gooey. If you try the recipe again, see if you can tent the entire pie with aluminum foil after about 25 minutes of baking. Lowering the oven rack should help too.

  3. Best pumpkin pie I have ever had. Everyone loved it. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. OK so I did mine and after 60mins it still like wet not too much but soft. Last recipe I used it was hard ish. Can I take it back?

    1. Hi Itu! It likely just needs a bit longer to bake. You want to bake until the edges are set and the middle just barely has a little wiggle.

  5. I have made this many times because it’s truly the Great Pumpkin pie recipe. Made it today here in Texas in 102 degrees summer heat for my granddaughter. Poor thing had extensive dental work…all she wants is your pie!!!!!!

  6. My very first pumpkin pie attempt was this recipe and although I baked it at the wrong temp for half the recommended time and the crust got overcooked, I’d say it was a smashing success. Dee-licious pie! Now my wife can stop throwing her moms pie in my face over the holidays.

  7. this is our family’s favorite pie for the holidays. My granddaughter wants it anytime! We make it with a homemade or ready made graham cracker crust and it is so good. Thanks for the wonderful recipe

  8. The best pumpkin pie recipe! I use it every Thanksgiving now. I always use the leftover filling to make mini pies, my husband loves those! Thanks Sally!