Pumpkin Cobbler Is Like Pumpkin Pie, Only 10x Easier

No more soggy bottoms ever again.

August 19, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

I’ve never been a big pumpkin pie person. I like it okay. I definitely eat my once-annual slice around Thanksgiving, but you’ll never find me making it voluntarily unless it’s November. That’s because so many pumpkin pies can be disappointing, largely due to the reason I’ve been harping about on this site since way back in 2014: the soggy bottom crust.

Yup, I’m team Mary Berry all the way, and pretty much blame this one faux-pie (see what I did there?) for every slice of pumpkin I’ve passed on since. When pumpkin pie is good: a crisp, flaky crust encasing a silky-smooth spiced custard, it is nutso-crazy good. But when it’s orange mush sitting on top of a thin layer of uncooked pastry, it’s something else entirely.

Photo by Julia Gartland

One of the things I like about making pumpkin pie is how easy it is, relative to other holiday favorites like apple. The custard is whisked together faster than it takes to grab the ingredients from your cupboard—no peeling, no cutting, no pre-cooking and waiting to cool. But to achieve a pie worth eating, you want that crispy-bottom crust, which means par-baking. I’m a huge advocate of it, but it admittedly adds a whole lot of additional time to the pie-baking process. So I started to wonder what might happen if you turned this fall favorite pie upside-down (literally).

Same custard, same crust—just flip it.

Photo by Julia Gartland
Photo by Julia Gartland

Suddenly, the pie becomes a cobbler, with a flaky, golden-brown crust topping the most popular filling of the season.

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Top Comment:
“Instead of pie crust, you sprinkle a box of yellow cake mix over the pumpkin filling, then top that with brown sugar, chopped nuts, and finish by pouring a stick of melted butter over the whole thing. Using pie crust dough instead of the cake mix sounds delicious. ”
— Lee A.

This little swap fixes almost every pumpkin pie problem you’ve ever had: No need to bother with par-baking—the crust browns easily because it’s on the surface. Forget fretting over cracked filling, because the custard cooks slowly and evenly inside since it’s covered on top. Skip worrying about the dough warming up while you carefully crimp it; just cut it into random-size pieces and layer them on top (which creates a lovely effect for the same amount of effort that the filling requires).

Don’t have time to wait for it to cool? This cobbler is actually delicious served warm, too. Scared of cutting the perfect slice? This one just needs a big spoon for scooping. Not sure if one pie will feed your whole family? This cobbler’s made for a crowd.

I've finally found an alternative to pumpkin pie that I can use the word “love” for. (It’s even good enough to break me of my "one slice a year" rule.)

But despite its many differences, some things never change: It’s best topped, like all the pumpkin pies of my past, with a hefty dollop of whipped cream.

More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

1. Pumpkin Cream Pie

A gingery graham cracker crust gets filled with pumpkin pastry cream, then topped with sour cream–whipped cream. Because it's supposed to be made and refrigerated in advance, there's no need to worry about it occupying oven space on Thanksgiving.

2. Salted Pumpkin Caramels

For when you're looking for a little something sweet, not a gigundo dessert. (Though if you end up eating a dozen of these yourself, we've been there!) Chewy, cozy pumpkin caramels are wonderful to begin with, but the toasted pepitas and crunchy salt really set these apart. Psst: They also make a great host gift.

3. Pumpkin Flan

This creamy, custardy, caramely pumpkin flan comes with an ingredient list that's full of pantry staples: pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, spices, vanilla. The only ingredient to come from your fridge is eggs—and you have those already, right?

4. Pumpkin Pudding

Just like pumpkin pie—except, without the pie crust. This stress-free recipe comes from Alice Medrich. She writes, "My family’s Thanksgiving always included pumpkin pudding. I wish I could say that the pudding starts with a freshly baked pumpkin, lovingly mashed and blended with fresh cream, eggs, spices. In reality, it was (and still is!) canned pumpkin purée and evaporated milk, mixed with spices exactly as directed in the recipe on the can of Libby's pumpkin, but baked in a dish instead of a crust."

5. Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

A light, fluffy pumpkin cake that just so happens to be gluten-free. Rice flour creates an especially tender crumb, while cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves give it cozy fall vibes. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature so they whip up properly.

Pumpkin pie, yay or nay? Let us know in the comments below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Risottogirl
  • nancy sutton
    nancy sutton
  • catherine
  • Jeany Pfaff
    Jeany Pfaff
  • Traveler
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.


Risottogirl November 25, 2018
Huge success. I used the whole wheat pastry recipe from Bob's Red Mill. My pieces did not sink but when the custard was done the pastry wasn't quite crisp and brown. I ran it under the broiler for two minutes...perfection. Now I like pumpkin "pie"...
nancy S. November 24, 2018
Here's a pumpkin pie where the puree is 'carmelized' ahead - I think the rest of the filling could be mixed in the sauce pan with a stick blender... maybe milk and cream before the final eggs (so they don't get cooked before getting in the oven! : ). Then continue with pastry on top, etc. Might not sink, and not much of an extra step... got to mix the filling anyway.
catherine November 23, 2018
I made this for thanksgiving, expecting the best. However, the custard base was so liquidy that the crust pieces sank when placed on top. Since the crust was largely submerged, there was no golden brown top. It was a big brown mess. Very unattractive. Tasty regardless, but very unappealing looking. I would love to know if others faced this same issue.
Traveler November 23, 2018
In a very big way! Good but major failure in presentation.
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
I’m so sorry you had trouble! Some of these comments inspired me to do a few more tests and I did find that the crust would sink if it was rolled to thick/piled up to thickly. You could definitely l reduce the amount of cream in the custard to make it a bit thicker next time, if you prefer!
Jeany P. November 23, 2018
I made this for thanksgiving and it was a tasty disaster. The filling was so liquid the crust just sunk. Fished them out and went with a smaller pan. I rolled the crust to the 1/4 inch in the recipe but it came out very thick. Maybe due to the smaller pan size? There’s no way the unbaked custard would support the dough. 😦 it did taste good but not super pretty.
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
I’m so sorry you had trouble! Some of these comments inspired me to do a few more tests and I did find that the crust would sink if it was rolled to thick/piled up to thickly. If you’re certain you rolled your dough to 1/4 inch thick, it’s likely that where they overlapped was weighing them down a bit. You can always reduce the amount of cream in the custard to make it a bit thicker.
Traveler November 23, 2018
Love the concept of this and (kind of) tried it for Thanksgiving dinner. It tasted good, but looked terrible. I used my own recipes for pumpkin pie filling and the crust. My fault. The pie crust pieces sunk into the filling. I see now why you formulated your filling to be a little thicker. I may try it again and not use as much liquid.
Sandy T. November 23, 2018
Pinterest is not working.
Johna November 19, 2018
What do you put on top to make the crust golden?
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
egg wash + turbinado sugar - you can see it at the end of the step where you place the pie crust pieces! It really helps make it golden!
Angela T. November 18, 2018
Hello Erin - this looks amazing. I just tried it today and cut all the ingredients exactly in half.

But my puree came out very liquidy, looking nothing like the photos here. Is anything missing from this recipe?

Appreciate your help!
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
Nothing is left out, I promise - and this custard is on the thinner side! If it was difficult to work with after cutting in half, you can definitely reduce the cream a bit next time!
Arlene November 18, 2018
I want this recipe dairy free and gluten free. Anyway you can make this happen?
Dennise November 18, 2018
You should be able to use coconut cream and a coconut flour or amond flour crust
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
I'm afraid this isn't my area of expertise, but it's a very adaptable recipe - if you are able to make a few substitutions, please share, as I'm sure others would love to know your secrets! Thanks!
nancy S. November 18, 2018
Bravo!! You've nailed my eternal complaints about pumpkin pie... and become it's saviour (in my 72 yr old mind :). Big thank you! I've used the recipe on the pumpkin puree can forever, only adding some molasses. I can do that again, or try your vanilla, heavy cream, etc. (Glad to see you put allspice in, too :) Thanks again... (actually this could be 'pumpkin tatin'... and used to make apple, other fruit cobbler-pandowdy-tatins. (Can you tell I've always resented the work, wheat, etc put into that soggy bottom ? )
Lesley S. November 17, 2018
You mention your favourite pie dough for recipe. When I go to where you tell us there are so many pie crust recipes. Could you be more specific as to which one you are suggesting. Thank you.
Lesley S. November 18, 2018
I found it just had to read your link properly. Will make this very soon. It does sound so good.
Nicola November 19, 2018
Lesley, you figured it out, and so did I. Now let's help the next people who wonder: when you highlight then click the link, it'll bring you to a recipe search page. That's where you remember to put "All Buttah Pie Dough" in the search box, and you'll find a picture of a piecrust with "coins" 'fluting' the edges....
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
Sorry for the trouble locating it! For others, my recipe is called "All Buttah Pie Dough" and you can find it by typing that name into the search bar here on the site!
Lesley S. November 23, 2018
I finally read it properly and then saw All Buttah Pie Dough and realized I was not reading it correctly. Thank you.
bunten November 17, 2018
A cobbler is topped with biscuits. This is technically a pumpkin pandowdy!
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
Lots of names for crusty things on top of fruit/veg! I love saying pandowdy, so I love the idea of calling it that! Thanks!
Jean T. November 17, 2018
How much pumpkin pie spice would you use if substituting for spices?
Nicola November 19, 2018
I hope Erin answers soon. Until then, I'd say go with a heaping Tbsp of pumpkin pie spice. (The jar my boyfriend just bought lists ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg but cloves, not allspice.)
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
I'd start with about 1 tablespoon - you could always sneak a taste before you whisk in the eggs to see if you like the flavor!
bpfox November 16, 2018
Would it be possible to use the custard from another pumpkin pie recipe? (I love Marion Cunningham’s and I am loathe to give it up.) Also, if you baked this early Thanksgiving morning, would the crust stay crisp until later that evening?
Author Comment
Erin M. November 16, 2018
I totally understand wanting to use your favorite filling recipe! The only trouble you might have is that I formulated this custard to be a bit thicker, so the pie crust can sit on the surface before the custard is set. But I definitely think it’s worth trying! And yes, it will definitely stillbe crisp in the evening after a morning bake!
nancy S. November 18, 2018
I might try 'sauteing' the puree, as I've seen elsewhere lately (maybe David Lebovitz.. and another), to accent the flavor, and 'dewater'. I think you'd do it just until it thickens a bit.
Lee A. November 15, 2018
This is a version of the classic church cookbook pumpkin cobbler. Instead of pie crust, you sprinkle a box of yellow cake mix over the pumpkin filling, then top that with brown sugar, chopped nuts, and finish by pouring a stick of melted butter over the whole thing.
Using pie crust dough instead of the cake mix sounds delicious.

Nancy November 18, 2018
That’s a super quick, easy solution I’ve made many times as well! No pie crust necessary. A newbie in the kitchen would find it easy as well!
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
Love this idea! I learned to bake from old church cookbooks! Thanks for sharing!
Lee A. November 21, 2018
You're welcome!
Joanne O. November 15, 2018
I am in the You-Can't-Have-Enough-Reasons-To-Make-Pumpkin-Pie camp. When my kids were small, I mastered a recipe that included a block of silky tofu, which- while indiscernable- elevates dessert to a healthful breakfast :)
A well crafted pumpkin pie never fails to make my heart go pitter pat!
Elizabeth B. November 18, 2018
Joanne, would you be up for sharing that? I’ve been making a very eggy one but tofu sounds brilliant!
Grace November 18, 2018
I have the recipe from Mori-Nu tofu that I've used for years. SO simple:
1 1/2 packages of Mori-NuLite firm (or Extra-firm) tofu
2 c. canned or cooked pumpkin
2/3 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. pumpkin pie spice OR next four ingredients
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1 unbaked 9" pastry crust
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Blend tofu in a food processor or blender until creamy smooth. Add pumpkin, honey, vanilla and spices. Blend well. Pour into pie shell. Bake approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool and serve.
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
Thank you so much for sharing this - love this idea for a variation!
Susan W. November 15, 2018
I have never successfully pre-baked a pie crust. They've always turned to cement.

I am known for my pumpkin pie but that may be because I never used canned pumpkin, only fresh, and I sweeten it with molasses and add a bit of Bourbon to the custard, elaborating upon the many food writers who have said, "What grows together, goes together," making it American fruit and American whiskey.
Pat November 14, 2018
Can I cut this recipe in half?
Author Comment
Erin M. November 14, 2018
I haven’t tried it but it should work great in a 9x9 inch pan!
Gibson2011 November 13, 2018
Making this for Thanksgiving! My family is small, but one pumpkin pie gets eaten so quickly. This looks like a great size with plenty for leftovers. Thanks!
Author Comment
Erin M. November 14, 2018
Definitely good for a crowd!!! Happy cobbler-ing!
Kelly November 13, 2018
Could this be made ahead and baked off the day of? Also, would it work as well for fruit filled pie? (apple)
Author Comment
Erin M. November 14, 2018
Unfortunately, it really needs to be assembled the same day it’s baked - but fortunately it is very, very quick! The pie dough can be made ahead!
Author Comment
Erin M. November 14, 2018
Oh, and the concept of pie crust on top would definitely work for other pie fillings (a la cobbler)!
Caryn S. November 15, 2018
So can this be made a day ahead and be just as good?
Author Comment
Erin M. November 15, 2018
One day ahead would be ok, but it is the very best the day it’s baked, as the crust will eventually start to absorb a bit of moisture from the filling (think of leftover apple pie - still delicious, just not quite as crisp!)