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How to Make Pumpkin Pie

Updated November 15, 2017
Here’s your guide to perfecting pumpkin pie from the sugar to spice ratio to making homemade crust and serving in style!

A slice of pumpkin pie is the sweetest way to end a hearty Thanksgiving feast. We’ll show you how to treat your guests — and yourself — to a delicious helping of our fan-favorite Pumpkin Pie, served with a delicious dollop of homemade whipped cream. The best part? It can be made ahead of time, so you can keep your eye on the bird.

If you’ve never made a pie from scratch, our prize-winning pumpkin is a great one to start with. All you need are a few simple kitchen utensils and ingredients. While this recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree, you can also make your own filling with fresh pumpkin. We’ll walk you through both methods so you can choose whichever you prefer.

Pumpkin Pie History

Before we get in to baking our scrumptious pumpkin pies, it’s worthwhile to note that the humble pumpkin has come a long way. The cultivation of pumpkins dates back to 5,500 BC in Central America, and pumpkins were one of the first foods the Europeans brought to the new world. They soon became among England’s favorite pie-making ingredients, pairing with spices and sweetened milk and sometimes being served without a crust. By around the 18th century, however, Thanksgiving had become an important American holiday, and traditional pumpkin pies as we know them today began to earn their place at the holiday table.

While pumpkin pie is often beloved for being an indulgent treat, pumpkin itself is actually extremely nutritious. Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as magnesium and iron. Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, and Vitamin E is an antioxidant that’s required for the proper function of many organs in the body. Magnesium acts to regulate blood pressure, and iron is essential for hemoglobin formation. So while we may not be able to get away with eating pie every day (we wish!) the actual pumpkin found in this Thanksgiving dessert does offer up a few hidden health benefits.

How to Make Betty’s Best Pumpkin Pie

To make your pumpkin pie, you’ll just need a few simple ingredients and tools. You’ll also need to make sure the pie has at least 2 hours of cooling time before serving — a nice excuse to make this ahead of time!

What you’ll need:

  • Ingredients for Pumpkin Pie
  • Small bowl
  • Pie pan
  • Large bowl
  • Wire whisk
  • Fork
  • Knife

How to:

1. Pour flour, oil and ½ teaspoon salt into a bowl and mix with a fork.

combining ingredients

2. Add 1 teaspoon of ice water at a time, tossing with a fork until all the water is absorbed. This dough will be your pastry filling.

adding ice water to pastry filling

3. Shape dough into a ball and press into the pan — filling the bottom and sides. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat eggs with a wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in ½ cup sugar, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, ginger, cloves, pumpkin and milk. This will be your pie filling.

pressing dough for crust into pan

4. To prevent spilling, place the pastry-lined pie pan in the oven. Pour filling into the shell. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F; then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

pouring filling into pie crust

5. Insert a knife into the center of the pie — it should come out clean when the pie is done. Let cool for about 2 hours.

How to Make Pumpkin Pie

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Crust

The beauty of making pumpkin pie is that it only calls for a one-crust pastry, which you can make any number of ways from the pat-in-the-pan method described above to a traditionally rolled-out crust or even a store-bought pie crust — we won’t tell.

While you can certainly keep the crust simple (and still enjoy homemade) when serving up pumpkin pie, be sure to check out all of Betty’s tips and tricks for perfecting pie crust when you’re ready to experiment. Learn the basics of making homemade crust, how to make different types of pie crusts — from one-crust to two-crust and even graham cracker crust — as well as how to beautify your pie.

Pro Tip: In a pinch? You can even skip the crust with this 5-star recipe for Impossibly Easy Pumpkin Pie.

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Filling

Making the filling for pumpkin pie can be as simple as buying a can at the store, but you can exercise more control over the flavor of your pie by taking steps like making your own pumpkin pie spice or even roasting your own pumpkin to make puree. We’ll teach you how to make a pumpkin pie filling using canned pumpkin puree and how to make pumpkin pie filling from scratch using a whole, fresh pumpkin.

Canned Pumpkin Puree

When making a filling using canned pumpkin, you’ll want to make sure to use canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix. The mix has sugar and spices already in it, so if you have purchased the pumpkin pie mix, follow the directions on the label.

The benefit of using canned pumpkin puree is the simplicity. You don’t need to break down a pumpkin, roast it or puree it, instead you can grab your can opener and get to work.

Here’s how to make pumpkin pie filling using canned pumpkin puree.

  • Gather your equipment: a whisk or beaters, a medium bowl and a can opener.
  • Mix up a batch of pumpkin pie spice, using: 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves.
  • Then, simply beat the ingredients in a bowl. In addition to canned pumpkin, most recipes call for eggs, pumpkin pie spice, evaporated milk, sugar and salt.

pumpkin pie spice ingredients

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Passionate scratch bakers may want to try making homemade pumpkin puree using a fresh pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are sweet, as the name implies, and great for baking.

Here’s how to make homemade pumpkin puree.

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F, and gather your equipment, including a sharp knife, cutting board, sheet pan and food processor. Make cleanup easier by lining your sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  • Begin by cutting the pumpkin in half, scooping out the seeds and discarding the stem. Then lay the squash flesh-side down on the sheet pan, rub the pumpkin with a neutral oil (such as canola) and bake until tender. Bake time will depend on the size of the pumpkin, but it should take about 20 minutes per pound. 
  • After baking the pumpkin and allowing it to cool completely, cut away the skin and discard. Then, puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor until smooth. You will need 1 ½ cups of pumpkin to make a 9-inch pie. Store any excess pumpkin puree in the freezer for a future pie.
  • One you have the pureed pumpkin, you can follow any pumpkin pie recipe calling for canned pumpkin puree. It will just be a matter of mixing in the other filling ingredients, as described above.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pumpkin Pie Toppings

Now that you’ve let your pie cool, it’s time to serve it to some grateful guests. We like to serve our pumpkin pie with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. To do so, simply beat ¾ cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a chilled medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Easy as pie!

You can also serve your pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra-sweet touch. Some people prefer to prepare a Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie by adding a streusel mixture for the last 10 minutes of baking. Our no-fail streusel mixture is: 

  • ½ cup quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened

Combine these three ingredients and sprinkle over the pie when it has about 10 minutes of baking time left, and your guests will be treated to a delicious streusel-topped pumpkin pie.

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

How to Store Pumpkin Pie

One of our favorite things about this pumpkin pie is that it can be made ahead of time. After you’ve baked it and let it cool, you can refrigerate it for up to three days before the big day. When it’s time to serve, simply take your pumpkin pie out of the refrigerator and it’s ready to go!

If you have any pumpkin pie leftovers you can also store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. We recommend storing your pie in an airtight container or with plastic wrap to best maintain its freshness. While some people freeze their pies, we don’t suggest doing so as the pie can become a bit watery when thawed and the filling can sometimes lose its custard-like texture.

Ready for more pumpkin pie recipes? Check these out!

Now that you’ve mastered pumpkin pie, learn how to make apple pie, how to cook a turkey or check out our Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet for all the tips you need to pull off the perfect meal this year!