Pumpkin Pie is one of my favorite Thanksgiving pies. This special recipe has been making an appearance at our family Thanksgiving dinner for the past 10 years plus. Read on to find out the secret ingredient in making this pie extra creamy!
This pumpkin pie recipe was given to me by my husband’s aunt years ago, way before we started hosting Thanksgiving at our house. Since then, I’ve perfected it and given it an upgrade with a homemade all-butter pie crust!
I truly can’t remember the last time I had a pumpkin pie that wasn’t from scratch. Once you’ve tried this recipe, you won’t want to go back to regular pumpkin pie or store bought pumpkin pie ever again!
The pie crust
If you want to save a little time, frozen pie crust is totally acceptable, and is actually what the original recipe calls for. However, a homemade pie crust is highly recommended to take this pumpkin pie to the next level.
➤ See my post on How to make Pie Crust for step by step instructions of exactly how to make pie crust, not just 1 but 3 different ways.
Once you have the pie dough shaped in the pan and ready to go, it needs to be par-baked for this recipe due to the custard style pumpkin pie filling. Par-baking will ensure your pie crust is not undercooked and soggy in the end.
- Before you pop the pie crust into the oven, make sure to poke steam vents on the bottom and side.
- Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 25 minutes at 425°F with the weights and then an additional 5 minutes without the weights.
The decoration (optional)
Pie crust decorating is completely optional, but it adds a special touch to your holiday pies. You will need to make an extra batch of pie dough to make the decorations.
- Use cute pie stamps to cut out the decorations in the shapes of pumpkins, maple leaves and acorns for Fall theme.
The pumpkin pie filling
The secret ingredient in this pie is cream cheese, which gives this pumpkin pie filling a cheesecake like creaminess and texture.
- Beat together softened cream cheese with condensed milk in a large mixing bowl.
- Beat in one egg at a time until completely smooth.
- Add pumpkin puree, vanilla extra and pumpkin pie spice to the bowl.
- Whisk into a smooth orange filling.
How to assemble the pie for baking
If you’re not adding decoration to the pie, this step should be very simple. Just pour the filling into the pie crust and pop it into the oven. If you’re adding decorations, it takes an extra step
- Use egg wash as glue to stick the cutout decorations on the flat edge of the cooled, par-baked pie crust. Overlap each piece a little bit. You will want to freeze the crust with the decorations so they firm up and don’t immediately melt when you put them into the oven.
- When you are ready to bake, place the pie pan on a baking sheet, brush egg wash on the decorations, make a crust shield with foil to cover the decorations or simply fluted edges. Pour in pie filling and bake until still slightly jiggly in the middle.
Adding even more decorations
When I first posted this recipe over 5 years ago, I did a 2-layer crust decoration, as in 2 concentric circles of cutouts to form a larger edge, sitting on top of the pie filling. This time around, I simplified the recipe by using just 1 layer sitting on the pie crust edge.
Let’s do a quick comparison.
|1-layer decorations||2-layer decorations|
|Decorations sit on the pie crust edge only||Decorations sit on the pie crust edge and pie filling|
|Decorations are added before baking||Decorations are added during baking|
|Pie is baked at 350°F all the way through||Pie is baked at 350°F half-way through, then temperature is raised to 400°F to brown the added decorations|
In order to make the 2-layer decorations, you’ll need to modify the recipe with these steps:
- Bake the pie half-way through, about 30 – 40 minutes, for the filling around the edge to set.
- Then add the decorations so they can sit on the thickened pie filling without sinking into it. Use egg wash as glue to stick the decorations on the pie crust and to each other.
- Brush the decorations with a light layer of egg wash.
- Put the pie back into the oven and increase the temperature to 400°F and bake for another 20 – 25 minutes.
- Check doneness per the recipe below.
I wanted to simplify the recipe because working with a hot pie coming straight out of the oven is not fun. I have my fair share of burnt fingers and arms. But the option is available to you if you want to recreate this really awesome crust.
- Make sure to use pure pumpkin puree for this recipe and not pumpkin pie filling since we are adding our own sweetener and spices.
- If you forget to let the cream cheese come to room temperature, you can microwave it for 30 – 45 seconds to soften it. Even when the cream cheese is at room temperature, a quick zap in the microwave will make it a lot easier to beat.
- Making the decoration is optional, you can simply flute or crimp the edge for a more simple pie crust.
- If you’re adding decorations to the crust, make sure to let it lay flat on the pie dish edge instead of fluting or crimping.
- You will not need all of the second batch of pie dough for the decoration, just cut out half and freeze the rest for another recipe.
- Make sure to use a pie shield to cover the edge whether or not you have decorations. This is to ensure the edges don’t burn.
- To avoid cracks in the filling, don’t overbake. You want the middle of the pie to still be jiggly when you remove it from the oven.
- Allow the pie to completely set overnight in the fridge for the best texture.
- Serve it with homemade whipped cream.
Leftover pumpkin pie should be stored in the refrigerator since the filling is custard based. It will last 3 – 4 days.
You can freeze pumpkin pie but I would recommend against it because once thaw, it can get soggy. Other pies that you can reheat in the oven are better for freezing because you can crisp the crust back up in the oven.
More pumpkin treats
Crust (x2 if making decoration)
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (200 g)
- 2 rounded tablespoon granulated sugar (31 g)
- ¼ rounded teaspoon kosher salt (2 g)
- 5 ounce unsalted butter (cold & cubed, 142 g)
- 2 - 3 tablespoon cold water
Pumpkin Pie Filling
- 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature or microwave 30s to soften)
- 1 can condensed milk (14 oz, 397 g)
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 can pure pumpkin puree (15 oz, 425 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Egg wash
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
Make the pie crust
- Add flour, sugar and salt in a small mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Transfer flour mixture to a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Add cubed cold butter to the flour mixture, pulse several times until butter is about pea and bean size. Variations in size are okay.
- Turn the food processor to “on” position and drizzle cold water over the dough mixture through the water hole, as soon as the dough starts to pull together turn the food processor off. You may need to stop the food processor in between and get a spatula to mix up the flour at the bottom.
- Turn the dough out on the counter or cutting board, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Optional: If you want to add cutout decoration to the pie, make a second pie crust. You may only need about half of the second pie crust for the decoration, freeze the rest for another recipe.
- Take the disk of pie dough out of the fridge and roll into a circle about 2” larger than your pie dish. Use extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter and roller.
- Carefully place the dough over the pie dish, lightly press the dough into the bottom and side of the pie dish, let the excess dough hang over the side.
- If not making decoration, trim the excess dough leaving just enough to fold under and create a fluted edge. If making decoration, trim the excess dough right up to the edge of the pie dish and let it lay flat.
- Cover the pie dish with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated or freeze for 15 - 30 minutes.
- If making decoration, take out the second disk of pie dough, roll it out to between ⅛”-¼” and cut out shapes with pie stamps. Set them on a tray lined with parchment paper and freeze.
- Once the pie dough has frozen solid, preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Use a fork to poke steam vents on the bottom of the pie dough and on the sides as well.
- Place a large piece of parchment paper over the frozen pie dough, place pie weights on top or pour dry beans on top to fill the whole pie crust. Make sure the parchment is large enough to cover the edges of the crust entirely.
- Bake pie crust for 25 minutes with pie weights or beans, then remove weights and bake another 5 minutes. Then remove pie crust from the oven and let cool completely.
- Beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk to make egg wash.
- Add decorations to the pie crust by brushing the flat edge with egg wash and sticking the cutout shapes to it, overlapping each shape as you go, adding egg wash wherever necessary as glue for the crust decorations. Once finished, refrigerate or freeze the pie crust while making the pie filling.
Make pumpkin pie filling
- Place softened cream cheese and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until completely incorporated and smooth.
- Add pure canned pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice, whisk until smooth.
Assembling pumpkin pie
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Take the prepared pie crust out of the fridge or freezer and place it on a baking sheet. Brush egg wash on crust decorations. Use long strips of foil to make a pie shield covering the edge and decorations.
- Pour pie filling into the crust and bake for 70 - 80 minutes until the middle is still slightly jiggly.
- Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
- Making the decoration is optional, you can simply flute or crimp the edge for a more simple pie crust.
- You will most likely need half a batch of pie dough for the decoration, cut out a piece and freeze the rest for another recipe, or make hand pies.
- You can make a 1 layer crust decoration or 2 layers, which is a bit more complicated but still doable, see post for more detail.
- If you forget to let the cream cheese come to room temperature, you can microwave it for 30 - 45 seconds to soften it. Even when the cream cheese is at room temperature, a quick zap in the microwave will make it a lot easier to beat.
This post was originally published on 11/17/2014. The post has been updated and republished on 11/4/2020 with the latest improvements, extra tips, and process photos to help you in the kitchen.