Make Ahead

Meta Given's Pumpkin Pie

November 21, 2011
4.5 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Caramelizing the pumpkin puree means that this is a pie with guts, one that won't just sit there phoning in the pumpkin flavor, burying it under lots of spice. But its genius is much more than that. You don't have to blind bake the crust. You use real milk and cream instead of evaporated milk, with predictably better results. And because you blast it at 400 degrees the whole time, it bakes in 25 minutes -- less than half the time of your average back-of-the-can recipe. From Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, an underrated gem of a cookbook. —Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
Meta Given's Pumpkin Pie
  • Serves 6
  • 1 3/4 cups canned or fresh cooked pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Unbaked, unpricked, chilled 9-inch pie shell (we like lapadia's simple Himalayan Blackberry Pie crust, also on FOOD52)
In This Recipe
  1. Turn pumpkin into saucepan and stir over direct heat for 10 minutes until somewhat dry and slightly caramelized, stirring frequently. Remove from heat but keep hot.
  2. Mix thoroughly together the sugar, salt, and spices, and stir into hot pumpkin.
  3. Beat eggs, add cream and milk, and beat into pumpkin mixture until smooth.
  4. Pour immediately into unpricked pastry-lined pie pan and bake in a moderately hot oven (400° F) for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and only an inch circle in the center of the filling remains liquid. Cool thoroughly on cake rack before cutting.
  5. Note: Perfectly baked pumpkin pie has no cracks on its surface. Baking hot filling in a chilled crust at 400° F for 25 to 30 minutes produces a smooth, shiny good textured custard and a well-baked crust free from soaking. But if your pie dish is thicker glass or ceramic instead of metal, or you loathe underdone bottom crust, you might still want to blind bake it a little. Here's what we'd recommend: Blind bake at 350 F lined with parchment and filled with baking beans/weights until sides are dry and firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove weights, then bake until completely dry and firm (including bottom crust) and starting to turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool thoroughly. Then watch the pie closely as it bakes -- it might be done early, since the cold raw crust isn't there to protect it. And if the edges are starting to look wrinkled while the middle is very jiggly, turn the heat down to 350.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tanya
  • Sara DePasquale
    Sara DePasquale
  • Lea Showalter Frazier
    Lea Showalter Frazier
  • KK
  • Carole Jaye
    Carole Jaye
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

226 Reviews

Fiddler February 13, 2022
Receipt said to cook at 400 F for 25 - 30 minutes. It was still half cooked at 30 minutes at 400 F. I had to cook for another 25 minutes at 350 for it to cook through.
Tanya December 3, 2021
I've always thought there wasn't that much difference between pumpkin pies. There aren't that many variables. But after trying another's right next to mine at the Thanksgiving potluck, and having it again now as cold leftovers from the fridge... this is the best, really. Night and day. It's so.... both rich AND clean, both light AND intense. Smooth, classic, really pleasant to eat. I can see how it could make a pumpkin pie lover out of any curmudgeon.

I did add clove, nutmeg, and allspice because I did want that classic pie spice flavor profile, but kept the amounts light to leave room for the awesome intensity of the caramelized pumpkin puree.

Pastry and pie crust are not my fortes, so I used the SeriousEats food processor (flour-butter paste first) pie crust. 35 minutes in a frozen crust was a tad overcooked (I was trying to brown some decorative pastry leaves I put on too late,) so I got a little crack at the end of cooling. But the top was, indeed, beautifully shiny.

I don't think it's bad idea to heat the filling on stovetop on gentle heat until it is steamy hot. I put that in the frozen pie crust and it did it's magic.
LynnB November 29, 2021
Followed the recipe. The filling is delicious and simple. Great pumpkin flavor.
arcanadana November 26, 2021
I left out one thing: I think I'd try white sugar next time, but in my amount, 1/2 the recipe amount.
arcanadana November 26, 2021
Like others I thought carmelizing the pumpkin was genius.

I also made my own variation. I took three of these to a large thanksgiving dinner party and people were more enthusiastic than politeness required, so I think it was a success. I liked it as well; the only changes I would make next time are already reflected in the quantities below.

Here are my adjustments to the recipe:

Fresh pumpkin. I got a kind called "sugar pie pumpkins". Only slightly more difficult than opening a can:

Sugar: 1/3 c dark brown instead of 3/4 c white (see also eggs, below)

Cinnamon - 1/2 t instead of 1
Ginger - 1 t instead of 1/2
Cloves - 1 or 2, crushed
Coriander - 1 t (fresh crushed is much the best)
Cumin - 1/4 t
Dried ancho chili pepper finely chopped - 3/4 t
Dried spicy pepper finely chopped - 1 small one
(my favorite
Nutmeg 1 pinch

Eggs: I separated them and beat the whites separately like a souffle with a 1 T sugar added gradually near the end, stirring half in robustly and folding in the rest last before pouring into the shells.

One of my pie pans is a deep dish ceramic one from France. That one took 25 minutes longer to cook and then I was worried I had overcooked it because it stayed jiggly so long, but it was good too, not dry, slightly brown on top. I would say the recipe is tolerant of some variation in cooking time, if cracks in the top don't bother you.

Have fun,

Sara D. November 26, 2021
Huge upgrade from back of the can. The flavor, the delicate custard. Everything perfection. I struggled with the crust situation and ended up using a chilled "press in" crust and that worked out. Would definitely make this one again!
Rosie November 24, 2021
I've been making this pie annually for a several years now -- two small pies with half the recipe. It's so easy! I make a couple of changes though: dark brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, twice the amount of ground ginger.

I tried light brown sugar and it just wasn't the same! I always use my homemade puree (roasted and then drained with a chinois) and bake in a glass or ceramic plate. I've never blind baked this pie crust and it's turned out fine. I use Cook's Illustrated pie dough recipe.
Rosie November 24, 2021
oh! And with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
shirar November 24, 2021
I made this and it came out incredible! I want to make it for a dairy-free, so would I be able to swap out the cream and milk for coconut cream and almond milk?
drbabs November 24, 2021
I think that would be fine, but watch it as in the last note in the instructions. You may have to adjust the heat of the oven because of the different milks.
Elizabeth November 24, 2021
I make this dairy free and it turns out great! I use canned coconut milk (since it’s got both the milk and cream parts in it) and substitute that for the full 1.5 c of milk/cream in the recipe, turns out great every time.
Leslie November 29, 2021
I have made this multiple times using a mix of non dairy whipping cream and oat milk. While it takes longer to cook than the recipe, the pie comes out beautifully.
Lea S. December 25, 2020
We love the smooth custard consistency of this pie and the flavor is to die for.
Sandra L. November 30, 2020
I made this for thanksgiving and would love to leave a couple comments! I thought the recipe had way too much sugar. I tasted the filling before baking and I wasn't really getting any pumpkin flavor, so I added in another cup and 1/2 of the pumpkin puree - this caused my filling to be a little off in consistency so I think you should reduce the original recipe's sugar amount by 1/2 if not more. Second, because of the additional pumpkin I added the pie didn't really set, the consistency was off so I would recommend baking longer if you are going to add more pumpkin. The recipe wasn't very spice heavy so I added the a Pumpkin Pie Spice (no sugar added) from Trader Joe's into the filling and it made it yummier!
Lori November 30, 2020
This is the 2nd year I've used this recipe for the filling. I agree about the sugar and flavor. I did replace 1/2 the sugar with coconut sugar and the consistency was fine. I also added 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp of clove to up the spice factor.
This year I decided to make the pie into bars. Using a 17 x 13 baking sheet, I doubled the crust and filling. Lining the pan with parchment and using an almond & tapioca flour based gluten-free crust... did not need to blind bake prior to adding the filling. About 35-40 minutes in oven.

Next time, I will triple the filling to increase the ratio of custard:crust. And perhaps use all coconut sugar and reduce the amount by 1/4 to lower the glycemic index...
bettinashoe November 30, 2020
I am surprised that you felt the pie had too much sugar as this pie has the same amount of sugar as Libby's recipe posted on their can and less sugar than most pumpkin pie recipes. I, personally, did not find it overly sweet at all and, after the pumpkin is caramelized, it has a wonderful, rich taste. I made quite a few pies for Thanksgiving customers and I had rave reviews from everyone. I'm sorry you didn't care for it. We all have different tastes and this one has become my "go to" pumpkin pie recipe. As I, and a few others, indicated, we added more spice to the pie as it doesn't call for much. I guess that is why there are thousands of recipes out there, everyone has different tastes
KK November 27, 2020
Delish. Also add a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
cecilia November 27, 2020
I made this yesterday and it is a fantastic pie recipe! I was wondering though, could you substitute the the milk to part milk part cognac?
Carole J. November 27, 2020
I’m a first time pie maker and you made me a hero! I have been making your Galettes and enjoy how easy they are to put together - love the rustic look - but this pie was just the bomb! I just love pumpkin and have never tasted such a incredible custard. I used lapadia's simple Himalayan Blackberry Pie crust, also on FOOD52 - and this pie crust was the living end. Thank you! Happy Holidays!
Cel W. November 26, 2020
Made this after watching Amanda's IG video. It was fantastic! I used a premade pie crust and it was so flavorful! I will surely make this again! I even used canned coconut milk for the cream and oat milk for the milk and it turned out perfect with those subs. Great recipe!
Anne G. November 26, 2020
Just had this tonight for our thanksgiving dessert. This has got to be the best pumpkin pie recipe I have made. So silky and smooth. Absolutely the best.
Melissa November 26, 2020
Light, silky, delicious pumpkin pie filling. Used Melissa Clark's butter crust -- perfect! I blind-baked the crust for 15 minutes at 450. I will make this again!
Tara M. November 20, 2020
I love this recipe and have been making it for a few years now. This year I’m planning to make it into smaller tart-sized pies to drop round at my friend’s houses since I can’t have anyone over this year.

Any idea how to adjust baking time?
bettinashoe November 20, 2020
That is a really good question. You seem to have a bit more experience with this pie than I, and I have had to adjust the time to cook quite a bit longer than suggested for the pie to be done to my satisfaction. If you are making individual (I believe it is 4") size tarts, I would start checking the pie for doneness at 20 minutes. I really doubt it would be set before that. If you had to cook your full-size pies longer than the suggested time, that should give you some idea as to how much longer you need to cook a tart (I would half the additional cooking time, as a starter). I know the filling is "almost" cooked after the liquid ingredients are added to the pumpkin due to the temperature of the pumpkin, but I still prefer my pumpkin a bit more set than the 20 minute timeframe, the author suggested, provided. It is an awesome pie filling, however, and this is now my "go to" as it has such a wonderful taste and texture.
Tara M. November 23, 2020
Thanks! I experimented with it a bit over the weekend and found that in my oven, 15 minutes did the trick. However, it was also necessary to blind bake the crust beforehand as without doing that they came out a little too soft to stand on their own without the tin. I might experiment with using a proper tart crust for the next batch.
bettinashoe November 23, 2020
Thanks for the info. I was thinking about some individual pies for this year since it is a small gathering. Each person could have a choice of desserts and not a lot of pie leftovers. I blind bake my crusts also. My first attempt was not blind baked and the bottom crust was soft and not at all what I was hoping for. After a blind bake, the crust under the pumpkin was still flaky and tasted great. Did you use Erin McDowell's crust recipe? I am so hooked on that.
bettinashoe November 11, 2020
Although this recipe was posted quite a few years ago, I just discovered it. I am a professional baker and I hate pie, not all pie, just fruit-filled pie! Really, it's not the pie I detest as much as crust. I have never cared for its taste and avoid eating custard/cream pies with pastry crusts because of this. While getting ready to do holiday pies a few days ago, I wanted to up my pie crust in hopes that when I sample my pie (I always do just to make sure it is perfect), I would not gag on the crust. I came across Erin McDowell's all butter pie crust, found it interesting and made it. Then, I happened (accidentally) upon this pumpkin pie recipe and thought it looked intriguing. I had never heard of caramelizing my pumpkin, but it sounded like something I would have done, had I thought of it. I made the sample pie yesterday and tasted it today. Oh my, this is the very best pie I have ever tasted. I even like, no I love, the crust. It is flakey, even on the bottom, and so rich tasting. The pumpkin filling is smooth as silk and cooks up beautifully to a deeper color than traditional pumpkin pie. On first inspection, you may think it is underdone, but it is not. Once chilled, it sets up wonderfully. I will probably add a wee bit more spice (maybe clove and/or fresh nutmeg) as the spices do not have a discernable taste, however, some may want that as it is strong on pumpkin. The types and amounts of spice called for are probably acceptable to most people, even me, but in commercially sold pies I think it needs to be stepped up just a bit. It is an excellent filling recipe which goes wonderfully with Erin's all-butter pie crust. I did not blind bake the crust and thought I would regret that, but the bottom crust is golden and flakey and tastes perfect. I am so happy to have found both of these recipes. Enjoying the taste of what you are baking makes it so much more rewarding.
Little P. November 14, 2020
HI. Did you use a metal or glass pie plate? I baked my pie for about 40 minutes. The filling was set but bottom was underdone. :(
bettinashoe November 14, 2020
I used a cheap, aluminum pie plate. I did cook the subsequent pies a bit longer than the time stated. On the original pie, I was a bit worried about the crust not getting done, but it was fine. In the pies I made after the original one, I took the extra step of parbaking the crust to ensure it was completely cooked and the parbaked crust was even better than the original. I also put foil around the crust edge the last 10 minutes or so of the cooking time (after the filling was added) and I turned the oven down to 350 during that additional cooking time. As I indicated I would do, I added about a 1/4 tsp of clove and the same amount of freshly grated nutmeg. It made the pie taste perfect. I thought my second pie was overcooked because it had a few cracks in the filling so I kept it to see how it worked with the parbaked crust, extra spices and longer cooking time. It was excellent as the crust was super flaky and remained that way. I was a bit turned off by the softness of the original pie, although I know it was fully cooked, it just looked a little underdone. It set up better in the fridge, but I still prefer my pumpkin fully set, not soft. Did you use Erin's all butter crust? It is a fantastic recipe and I received a ton of compliments specifically on the pie crust. In fact, everyone who has ordered pie (so far) has been really impressed. You probably know this, but in case you do not, the pie tins need to be cooked on a baking sheet which gives it more even heat on the bottom. I hope this helps.
Little P. November 14, 2020
Hi, thanks so much for your detailed response. I might try in a metal pie plate next time and par-bake. I was excited about the recipe as it stated you probably wouldn't need to par-bake but oh well. I did try that pie crust and I didn't love it but that might be my own fault. For whatever reason, I just dumped the entire 1/4 cold water into the dough rather than drizzle it in and I think it could have used less water.
I too added more spice, 1/4 t nutmeg and 1/8 t clove, and more salt than she suggested in the filling. This is a keeper, but next time I will just make sure to par bake. Thanks again and I hope you have a lovely holiday.
Sarah H. November 26, 2020
I just wanted to chime in and say you are right on all accounts. I am not a professional, but I’m a pie lover, and very proficient pie baker, and I just discovered this recipe this year as well, and I too made this on Erin’s all buttah crust, which has been my go-to crust recipe for a few years now and it really is an excellent combination. And that you are absolutely right that the pie may appear undercooked, but 30 minutes at 400 degrees really is all that necessary. Oh and I added a small amount 1/4 of a teaspoon cloves, nutmeg, and turmeric for the more “traditional” pumpkin pie flavor, but I might try it without next time just of curiosity.
June November 8, 2020
great recipe
Mike E. October 10, 2020
Of all the pumpkin pie recipes I've tried over the years that never bowled me over, this one is a real game-changer. Carmelizing the pumpkin is genius. Not only does it intensify the pumpkin essence, but by cooking out all that excess moisture, you get an incredibly silky smooth filling with zero residual cracks. Since they were out of heavy cream at the market, I subbed out light whipping cream and it's still plenty rich and creamy. I added a 1/4 teaspoon of cloves and a light dusting of freshly-grated nutmeg to warm up the spices a bit more. As for the crust, I decided to swap out a conventional pastry pie shell for a simple crushed gingersnap crust from the following Food52 recipe: Absolute raves all around.