Thanksgiving Thursday #1: Pumpkin Pie from Scratch


Last year around this time, I was still newly pregnant with Owen and interested in eating the following and only the following: bananas, plain bagels, saltines, and carbonated water. I kept telling myself that I had to have my appetite back by Thanksgiving, which thankfully I did. But in the weeks leading up to this most food-filled of days, I could barely even think about food, much less do any practice runs for The Great Feast.

But this year is different. Nursing Owen, I am hungry at most times of the day or night. Seriously, in the middle of the night, I often find myself fantasizing about recipes like this one. So this year, I thought I would do a little pre-Thanksgiving cooking and share some new takes on old favorites, each Thursday until Thanksgiving,  and cleverly call it Thanksgiving Thursday (which also gave Eric something to happily design over his lunch break):

thanksgiving thursday


To kick things off for Thanksgiving Thursdays, we start with homemade pumpkin pie.
Here’s the thing though…I’ve never been this pie’s biggest fan.

I know, I know, it’s the most basic of American foods, right up there with hamburgers and mac ‘n cheese. But I’ve always thought of pumpkin pie as sort of a lesser pie – the pie that all of the other pies secretly make fun of behind her back…

…she’s so mushy.
…she always reeks of nutmeg.
…she doesn’t even have a  top crust.

pumpkin-pie-2 So when my friend Lauren asked if I wanted to try to make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin with her, I didn’t exactly fist pump (see what I did there?) But in the name of trying to get over foods I don’t love, I thought we should give it a go. After all, if we were making it from scratch, we could do whatever we wanted….we could mess with the texture, we could add more cinnamon, we could even omit the nutmeg entirely if we wanted.


 And I’m so glad we tried. This, this is a pumpkin pie I can fully endorse. I loved the subtle flavor of pumpkin. I loved its darker, homier color. I loved that the nutmeg was not stealing the show. I loved how it firmed up.And I loved that it was completely from scratch…and that it wasn’t a whole lot more work to do it this way.


We simply roasted a pumpkin, then pureed it. Then we added all sorts of goodies like brown sugar and cinnamon. We used a simple homemade pie crust, and from the excess I cut some adorable pumpkin toppers for the pie (though all but one looked like a second grader had made them). Lauren whipped up some homemade whipped cream, and we were in pumpkin pie heaven. If you’re in charge of dessert for Thanksgiving this year, I cannot urge you strongly enough to take the extra time and make it from a real, live pumpkin.


Homemade Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

Homemade Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

recipe adapted from All Recipes

yields one 9" pie

Making pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin is easier than you'd think and yields a ton of flavor. I adapted the All Recipes version by, of course, roasting and pureeing my own pumpkin and not using the canned variety. The crust recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens

***One pumpkin will give you enough puree for two pies. I HAVE LISTED THE INGREDIENTS FOR ONE PIE. The recipe is easily doubled if you want to use all the pumpkin puree at once; otherwise, it freezes well. ***



1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour (+ more for rolling)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. COLD shortening (cut into 1/4-in. cubes)*

4-5 tbsp. COLD water*



1 medium pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkin) (you need 15 oz. of puree from it)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 c. packed brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tbsp. ground nutmeg (I know this sounds like a lot, but it's not overpowering)

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. + 1/8 c. evaporated milk

*For the crust, I put both my shortening and water in the freezer for about 10 minuts before using to make sure they are firm!



Cut the pumpkin in half and use a metal spoon to clean out all of the seeds and strings from the inside. Spray the cut sides of the pumpkin with cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the pumpkin halves flesh side down on baking sheet.

Bake the pumpkin at 325* for 40-60 mins. or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork.


When the pumpkin is done, remove the skin with your fingers or a spoon. Then blend in a blender or food processor until completely smooth (easier to do when pumpkin is still warm).



Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or your quick fingers, cut in shortening until clumps are pea-sized. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of water over part of the flour mixture. Use a fork to toss it and moisten that portion of dough. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl and repeat, using 1 tbsp. at at time, until the flour mixture is moistened enough to form into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the dough ball. Roll dough from center to edges until it makes a circle around 12 inches in diameter (or until it is about 1 inch wider than your overturned pie-pan).

To transfer crust, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll it into a 9 inch pie plate. Ease dough into pie plate without stretching it. If it rips, just pinch it back together.Trim pastry to about 1/2-3/4 inches beyond edge of pie plate.Fold it over and pinch together to form a thicker top of your crust.

(Note: you can save your extra crust; roll them out again and cut out fun fall shapes with cookie cutters or your own skillful hands and a butter knife. I baked these separately from the pie in a 350* oven on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet for about 10 minutes until they began to look golden.)



If making one pie, use about half of your pumpkin puree (or 15 oz.).

Mix the pumpkin puree with the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Mix thoroughly then beat in the milk. Pour into the pie crust. (It will be really runny, but don't let that scare you).

Line the edge of your crust with foil like this .


Preheat oven to 425* F. . Bake for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325*F and bake until set, 35-45 minutes more. Chill before serving. Top with whipped cream if desired.

(Stores well in the fridge for about 2 days).


P.S. Here's a great homemade whipped cream recipe

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28 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Thursday #1: Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

  1. I am SO excited to see that you tried making REAL pumpkin pie! I’ve been wanting to try it for a long time and every time I’ve asked someone about it they’ve said it wasn’t worth all the effort, which was super disappointing to hear! I can’t wait to try this recipe, thanks Liz :)

    • Yay! Glad to hear you’re excited to try it…maybe we can do it together??
      I totally think doing it from the pumpkin is worth it, and I don’t think it’s all that much effort. The only differences are:
      -You have to cut the pumpkin and scoop out the pumpkin seeds.
      -Roast it for about 40 mins, and peel off the skin
      -Throw it in a blender and puree it.
      All in all, it’s about 20 extra minutes of hands-on time, and 40 minutes of roasting time, which I used to make the crust.
      Totally worth it in my book :)

  2. So I am with you on not especially loving pumpkin pie but I can see how this recipe would entice me into eating like, the whole pie! Thanks! Love Owen in his cute hat!!!

  3. finally someone who gets it! i cant have canned items. preservatives make me sick. im so tired of seeing “add one can of pumpkin”

    • Okay, Vera, here are my thoughts.
      I’ve never tried this myself, so this is based on what I’ve read / gathered as I’ve talked to others.
      -One option is just to bake, cool, then freeze your pie crust ahead of time – filling it a day or so before Thanksgiving.
      -If you’re going to try to freeze a whole assembled pie, here are a few tips.
      1. Let it cool COMPLETELY.
      2. Cover tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap.
      3. Cover the whole things with foil.
      4. When thawing in the fridge (don’t do it on your counter), let it thaw uncovered – this step may help with the sogginess that you sometimes get from freezing pies.

      I’m sorry I can’t give you a voucher on this, but you make me want to try. If I can get to it in the next couple weeks, I’ll try it out and let you know how it goes! Please feel free to share any freezing experimenting that you do!

  4. Most recipes I’ve looked at bake the crust separately before adding the pumpkin filling. Did you have any problems with sogginess or crust not baking through? I like your way if it works!

  5. Also, why is your evaporated milk split in the ingredient list? I’ve read through the whole thing three times and only see where it’s used once.

    • Sorry if that was confusing! It’s not actually divided; you add the 1/4 c. and 1/8 c. at the same time. I just didn’t want to list 3/8 c. as a measurement in the ingredients, so I described the amount with more standard cup measurements.

  6. In my quest for the perfect recipe for a from scratch pumpkin pie, I was delighted to see not only a simple ingredient list, but a pie rich in flavor that didn’t overtake the pumpkin! I quadrupled the recipe, and I’m always a little cautious with my nutmeg, so I only added 1 tsp. for the entire batch; O. M.G…. This is a fantastic recipe that I can’t wait to add to my recipe box as THE pumpkin pie to make. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    • Wow! So glad you enjoyed it so much! I like that this pumpkin pie really features the PUMPKIN too! Can I ask….you made 4 pies – did you try freezing any of them? If so, how did it work for you when thawed?

  7. This recipe is delicious! My 13 year old son just made it (except for the crust) completely by himself. It’s so easy! He’s totally going to win Thanksgiving with this one.

  8. Does it make a difference if I use whole fat or reduced fat evaporated milk? It’s my first attempt at a homemade pumpkin pie and I want it to be the best!

    • I suggest using evaporated milk. Because it has less water content, it tends to have a slightly sweeter flavor. This is probably the most straightforward explanation I found on substituting between the two. However, I would really go with the evaporated milk if I were you. Good luck!

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