Pumpkin Pie: 5 styles, from cheesecake to no-bake.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Thank you, John Greenleaf Whittier, for summing up perfectly the central place pumpkin pie holds at any Thanksgiving celebration.

Well, maybe not any. There are those (yes, you know who you are) who don’t like pumpkin pie.

I admit, it’s somewhat of an acquired taste. Pumpkin’s not like chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, or any of the other candy-like flavors you seamlessly transfer from childhood to the rest of your life.

No, pumpkin is… odd. Tasted alone, it’s bland and earthy. Tarted up with sugar and spices, it tastes like – well, like autumn, the season when we typically enjoy pumpkin treats.

Pumpkin bread. And bars. Pumpkin doughnuts and, my personal favorite, pumpkin scones.

But pumpkin pie? It’s a hard sell for many, with its thick mahogany slab of dense filling atop a neutral crust. Chocolate cream? Of course. Apple? Naturally. Pumpkin? Hmmm…

Still, for those of you wedded to Thanksgiving’s traditional dishes, pumpkin pie is probably the most classic, along with turkey. So gather round, all ye gray-haired New Englanders and worn matrons (I confess to neither – yet!) and anyone else who’s actually looking forward to pumpkin pie this Thursday – these recipes are for you!

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Recipe: Pumpkin Pie
This is the classic pumpkin pie, in all its simple, delicious beauty.

Reader rave: “This is the BEST pumpkin pie I have ever made, and I’ve made plenty… My husband raved about this pie and he is very picky. My search for the BEST pumpkin pie is now officially over, as this is it. Thank you so much for the recipe.” Bev – Brookline, MA

Baker’s tip: Watch your baking time carefully; over-baking the pie will cause the filling to crack. Remove the pie from the oven while the center is still wobbly. For a taste of complementary ginger, Light Spice Cookie cutouts are an easy way to dress up the top of the pie.

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Recipe: Praline Pumpkin Pie
An over-the-top rich pie, part pecan, part pumpkin, part toffee… and ALL delicious!

Reader rave: “This pie is fabulous! …it is one of the best I’ve ever made.” olympia54 – KAF Community

Baker’s tip: With toasted nuts in the crust and on top – and buttery toffee bits in the filling – this is one ramped-up pie. Looking to coax people into trying their first slice of pumpkin? This is your recipe.

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Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
With its layers of sweet/spicy pumpkin, and smooth, rich cheesecake nestled in a buttery crust, this pie has won over many a traditional pumpkin pie enthusiast.

Reader rave: “This pie is absolutely fabulous. I have never served it to anyone who did not start raving about it. I share this recipe all the time… I shared this pie with friends and they said that I should make these and sell them!” Connie – Sarasota, FL

Baker’s tip: When pouring the pumpkin filling over the cheesecake layer, pour VERY slowly; pour over the back of a large spoon; or refrigerate the cheesecake layer for 30 minutes before adding the pumpkin, to firm it up. You want to keep the layers separate, without any marbling.

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Recipe: Smooth and Spicy Pumpkin Pie
Blog Post: A Special Pie for a Moveable Feast

Canadians seem to like their pumpkin pie a bit spicier than their U.S. neighbors to the south, who prefer a “blander,” more pumpkin-y pie. We think the secret to this pie’s engaging flavor is potent Vietnamese cinnamon.

Reader rave: “Oh. Wow. The lightest, creamiest pumpkin pie filling ever! …With this and the Classic Single Pie Crust recipe, I feel like I’ve conquered the pumpkin pie. I am thankful for King Arthur Flour and I know my diners will be as well.” deeter – NE PA

Baker’s tip: Allow the filling to rest overnight in the refrigerator before using. This allows its flavors to meld, and will make the filling smoother.

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Recipe: No-Bake Pumpkin Pie
While not strictly no-bake — the cookie crust does, in fact, need about 10 minutes in the oven — this pumpkin pie recipe makes a quick and easy version of “the real thing.”

My rave: Since I just posted this recipe, no one’s reviewed it yet – but here’s my assessment. If you’re looking for a quick and delicious pumpkin-flavored pie, this is it. Made with pumpkin, cream, milk, and instant pudding, its mousse-like no-bake filling rests in a tasty gingersnap crust.

Baker’s tip: This recipe is a good candidate for individual pies-in-a-jar, perfect for toting along to wherever you’re feasting this Thanksgiving. Watch how it’s done:

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Place a gingersnap cookie or sugar cookie into the bottom of a half-cup, wide-mouth glass mason jar. Cut the cookies to size, if necessary, while they’re still warm; a 2″ round biscuit cutter works perfectly.

Spoon pumpkin filling atop the cookie in the jar. Repeat to make as many servings as you want; this recipe will fill about 16 small (half-cup) jars. Screw the lids onto the jars, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with toasted pecans or diced crystallized ginger just before serving, if desired.

So – which pumpkin pie will YOU be making this week? Share your thoughts in “comments” (below). And may the best pie win!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Romaine

    Hi Shari, I’m so sorry to say that we don’t have any dairy-free recipes for the piupkmn pie mix. I can start playing with some until I find one that works but for now, I would suggest trying the Gluten-Free Coconut Pumpkin Pie Recipe and leave out the sugar and spices.Happy Holidays!!The Farmer’s Market Family

    Reply
    1. Alison

      Dairy/egg free pumpkin pie:
      I just experiment last night. This is what I did….
      Replaced 2 eggs with: 4 tsp EnerG egg replacer powder & 2 T arrowroot powder mixed with 3 T. water.

      Replaced 12 oz evaporated milk with 7 T of soy milk powder (2 T makes 8 oz of ‘milk’) and 8 oz of water. I reduced the water/milk to 8oz instead of 12 oz to give it a better shot of setting up.

      To this I added the rest of my ingredients. I followed the rest of the recipe on the back of a can of pumpkin puree for a 9″ pie, including reducing heat after the first 15 minutes. I ended up baking for about 70 minutes after the first 15 minutes and I did NOT think it was going to set up as the knife never came out clean, but I didn’t want to burn my crust. I left it out on the counter to cool overnight and it worked! It set up fine! So excited. I did increase the spices a bit bc I like a lot of flavor!

  2. Barbara Buntrock

    For gluten free baking, use Mini-Del gluten free ginger snaps and use them to make the crust on the pumpkin
    pie

    Reply
  3. Kathleen Reeves

    The pumpkin cheesecake was SUPERB! My family of strictly pie eaters annihilated it! This is a keeper. For anytime.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      So glad to hear the pumpkin cheesecake was a hit with your family of pie eaters, Kathleen! Barb@KAF

  4. meedee

    I will be making the pumpkin cheesecake, best of both pies. I have this recipe picked out for several weeks. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    Reply

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