How To Make Classic Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

updated Oct 26, 2022
thanksgiving
How To Make Classic Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

Four steps lead to pumpkin pie bliss. Here's how to master each to bake the perfect pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving table.

Serves8 to 10

Makes1 deep-dish pie

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
A single piece of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Ah, pumpkin pie. It’s a recipe filled with nostalgia, a creamy combination of sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and custardy filling, baked in a homemade pie crust and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Thanksgiving isn’t the same without it.

This recipe leaves out certain shortcuts like evaporated milk for more flavorful whole milk and heavy cream but keeps the canned pumpkin purée: We’ve found the pie isn’t improved much with fresh roasted pumpkin, which is a lot more work. Here’s everything you need to know to make a delicious homemade pumpkin pie.

Our Classic Pumpkin Pie Recipe at a Glance

  • Our pumpkin pie uses canned pumpkin purée. You can use homemade, but you’ll need to purée it more and cook it on the stove per the directions below.
  • This recipe calls for a blind baked, flaky pie crust. However, you can use store-bought frozen pie crust in a pinch. Don’t forget to crimp your pie crust!
  • The pie bakes for 50 to 60 minutes at 375°F.
  • Be sure to cool the pie completely before slicing and serving.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Make Classic Pumpkin Pie

Classic pumpkin pie is simply pumpkin custard that is sweetened and lightly spiced, baked until creamy but sliceable, in a crisp pie crust. It’s the dessert most guests expect at Thanksgiving and one we think every home cook should master. Follow these four simple steps to perfect your pumpkin pie.

1. Blind bake the crust.

A soggy crust is the curse of many a good pie, particularly custard-based ones like our dear pumpkin. To help avoid this, partially bake the crust before adding the filling (i.e., “blind bake” the crust).

If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry — it’s easy. Just roll out the crust and fit it into the pan. Then, line it with a piece of parchment paper and fill the bottom with pie weights, dried beans, or even pennies. The weights help keep the bottom from puffing up and the sides from slouching. Bake for about 15 minutes, remove the weights, bake for another few minutes to dry out the bottom, and you’re ready to go.

2. Purée the purée.

This is a trick I picked up from Cook’s Illustrated a while back: Run the pumpkin purée in a food processor or blender for a minute before proceeding on with the recipe. Even though canned pumpkin purée is already, yes, puréed, fibrous stringy bits often remain. Puréeing the purée helps ensure a silky-smooth texture.

3. Cook the filling.

When I say “cook” here, I really just mean to let the pumpkin purée bubble on the stovetop for about five minutes. I find that this brief kiss of warmth helps cook out the raw pumpkin flavor and give the finished pie much more depth. It also melts the sugar into the purée and infuses it with the spices for an all-around richer, more complex flavor.

4. Add the warm filling to the warm crust.

To make sure that the filling and the crust fuse into a single delicious creation, add the warm filling to the warm crust. Don’t get too fussy about this — I know that the blind-baked crust and the warmed filling might not be ready in perfect synchrony. I mention it only because it’s a detail that pumpkin pie-lovers will appreciate.

How To Make Classic Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

Four steps lead to pumpkin pie bliss. Here's how to master each to bake the perfect pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving table.

Makes 1 deep-dish pie

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    unbaked pie crust

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    salt

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    ground cloves or allspice

  • 3/4 cup

    whole milk

  • 3/4 cup

    heavy cream

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Equipment

  • Food processor

  • 1

    9 1/2 to 10-inch deep dish pie plate

  • Pie weights

  • Saucepan

  • Parchment paper

  • Baking sheet

  • Whisk

  • Cooling rack

Instructions

Show Images
  1. Prep the pie crust. Arrange a rack to the lower-middle position in the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the pie crust and transfer it to a 9 1/2 to 10-inch deep dish pie pan. Crimp the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes while the oven heats.

  2. Blind bake the crust. Line the pie crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges just start to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the weights and lining, and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and keep near the stove.

  3. Prepare the purée. Place the pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves or allspice in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or blender. Blend until the brown sugar is completely mixed in and the purée looks glossy.

  4. Cook the purée mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until you see wisps of steam rising from the purée, then stir continuously until the mixture is very steamy and "plops" when you pause for a second. The mixture will also start to smell like spices and cooked pumpkin. Cook for no more than 5 minutes.

  5. Whisk in the milk and eggs. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the milk and cream. To warm the eggs and ensure that they don't cook when you add them to the pumpkin mixture, whisk them together in a separate bowl, then whisk in a few spoonfuls of the warm pumpkin mixture. Slowly whisk the eggs into the saucepan with the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla.

  6. Fill the pie crust. Place the partially baked pie crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Carefully pour the warm pumpkin mixture into the warm pie crust. If it looks like there's too much filling for the crust, stop when you come close to the edge of the crust.

  7. Bake the pie. Carefully transfer the baking sheet with the pie to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 375°F. Bake until the pie is puffed in the middle but still jiggles when you gently shake the pan, 50 to 60 minutes. You'll also see small cracks form in the outer part of the pie and some bubbling around the edge. Check the pie every 15 minutes or so and cover the crust with a ring of aluminum foil if it becomes deep brown.

  8. Cool the pie. Let the pie cool to room temperature on a wire cooling rack before serving — it will continue to set as it cools.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: This pie can be baked a day or two ahead; wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.