Make Ahead

Best Pumpkin Pie From Meta Givens

October 18, 2022
52 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Caramelizing the pumpkin purée 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

Test Kitchen Notes

Baking the best pumpkin pie is actually pretty easy when you break it down. A simple but flavor-packed custard filling is coupled with a buttery and flaky crust (no soggy bottoms in sight!). It is no wonder pumpkin pie is an undisputed Thanksgiving classic. 

It all starts with the filling, which couldn’t be easier if we tried. This recipe takes the standard “back of the can” recipe one step further by caramelizing the pumpkin purée on the stovetop. The pumpkin will slowly darken, dry out, and smell almost like you are making a pot of bubbling hot caramel. The end result is a pumpkin purée that is deeply concentrated in flavor. This means your pie will have a more pure pumpkin flavor that isn’t hindered by too many warm spices or granulated sugar. Speaking of which, this pie relies only on ground cinnamon and ground ginger to accompany the pumpkin flavor. While they pack a punch, these two spices are relatively mild compared to others like nutmeg and cloves, so the pie will not be too spice-heavy like some others you’ve tasted. 

A good pie begins and ends with a well-baked crust. Blind baking achieves two things—it ensures that the weight of your custard filling will not prevent the crust from cooking all the way through, and it means you can cook the filling at a higher temperature in half the usual time. It is not a step you usually want to skip. Take that extra precaution—you can thank us later. —Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Best Pumpkin Pie From Meta Givens
  • Unbaked, unpricked, chilled 9-inch pie shell (we like lapadia's simple Himalayan Blackberry Pie crust, also on FOOD52)
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Line pie shell with parchment paper and fill to the top with pie weights or baking beans. Bake until edges are dry and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove parchment and pie weights, then bake until bottom crust is completely dry and light golden, 5 to 10 minutes more. Set aside to cool. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
  2. Place pumpkin in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until somewhat dry and slightly caramelized (it will start to leave a film on the bottom edges of the pot), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until combined.
  3. Transfer pumpkin mixture to a bowl and add eggs, cream, and milk. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour immediately into par-baked crust. Bake until pastry is golden brown and only an inch circle in the center of the filling remains liquid, 25 to 30 minutes (tent edges with foil if browning too quickly). Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving, at least 4 hours.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sreilley
  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
  • Carole Jaye
    Carole Jaye
  • jpriddy
  • Tanya
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

266 Reviews

sreilley November 24, 2023
The flavors in the pie were delicious, but the recipe is a pain to work with. It centers around a concept of short baking time, but after the recommended 25 to 30 minutes, it absolutely wasn't done.
Smaug November 24, 2023
I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie, but I'm tempted to try it just to see if it can be done. The idea would seem to be that the crust, as well as the eggs, milk and cream are at room temperature. My kitchen is cold on winter mornings (when I do most of my baking), but let's say 75 degrees or a bit more. Then you add the eggs cream and milk right off the stove (best to mix them first to avoid cooking the eggs) and pour into the crust immediately. The mixture would be pretty warm; MAYBE you could cook it at 400 in a half hour; it would help if the crust and pie pan were still warm- a glass or ceramic pie plate will take some time to heat up. The test kitchen people don't seem to have much faith in the recipe as written, neither would I.
BeetRiot November 23, 2023
I love the flavor of this pie, but have never managed to bake it in under 45 minutes. Be forewarned if you are trying to get this pie baked before putting your turkey into the oven!
Smaug November 23, 2023
Custard pie recipes of all sorts really need to specify the temperature of the filling before baking; it makes a huge difference in baking time.
Deak November 15, 2022
I am very new to baking, and considering convenience I am wondering if a store-bought crust would work with this filling recipe. I'm aware that this could compromise the overall taste and texture, but I have been tasked with making a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and am hoping for simplify the process. Thanks!
Carole J. November 15, 2022
I’m a first time pandemic baker & I took this challenge and never regretted making this entire pie! It’s absolutely luscious and I don’t blame Lauren & husband for eating the entire pie. You won’t regret it - take your time and do your prep so you won’t forget an ingredient 😋😋
BeckinBigD November 15, 2022
I bake from scratch, I have a pastry degree and I love baking. My (95 yo) mother, however, always uses store bought crust, canned pumpkin right outta the can, evap milk, etc. (Yes, she's still alive and that is her contribution to Turkey day dinner) That's the pie my meat and taters family wants. Nobody wants the schmancy new wave ginger crusted, streusel topped, mixed squash with rum pie that I bring. LOL! There's no shame in a store bought crust. Just par-bake it per the directions and follow the rest of this recipe, because it is good, and make a pie. Be proud when you show up with a home made pie! Down the road when you have the time and inclination, tackle the crust. I recommend America's Test Kitchen foolproof pie crust with vodka. It's pretty much perfect. If you want to super impress everyone, use the other store bought crust (I think the package comes with two?) to cut out little leaf shapes, brush them with some milk or cream and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on and bake them till golden. After your masterpiece pie is cool, lay them around the border or randomly on top. Beautiful and delicious! Good luck!
bettinashoe November 15, 2022
Sure you can. There are no rules that say you can't take shortcuts. Hope it tastes wonderful.
Tim November 16, 2022
Well who says you can't have two pies? An hour or two later after dinner someone is going to want some more pie and you can save the day! You just need to be there for them. Heck, your family can even have more pie before bedtime to help them sleep. Happy Holidays
Stan November 16, 2022
Mmm, new wave ginger crusted, streusel-topped, mixed squash with rum pie? Sounds awesome!
I like how supportive the comments are with regard to making pie with store bought crust (like I just did).
Lauren November 15, 2022
So this really is amazing! My husband, 4yo and I ate a whole pie in one night...we're not proud of it, but we WERE very happy. It is just more pumpkiny, more flavorful. I used Sally's Baking Addiction (a really good baking blog) all-butter crust with it and home whipped-cream. I might decrease the sugar next time to 2/3 or even half a cup, but it really is perfect as-is!
Julieyr November 1, 2022
Has anyone tried this without crust and baked in a water bath as a custard in small ramekins? I’m trying to accommodate several particular diets and would love small pumpkin custards
drbabs November 1, 2022
I think it would be fine.
Masi'sMothi76 November 3, 2022
Jesus. God Bless you, Julie. While I have not tried it with this recipe, I have with another, adding a gluten- free cookie crumble. I like it better with a little texture. Good luck! 😉
Fa November 20, 2022
I have been crustless for years for the same reason. I do the custard in a pyrex pan in a bigger pyrex with a water bath. I think you could do ramakins - just be sure to keep an eye...
Julieyr November 20, 2022
Julieyr November 20, 2022
The gf cookie crumble is a great idea. I tried making some gf ginger snaps and they’re going to be perfect
Robert F. October 28, 2022
hmm, why does the Author Note state that sugar is not needed, only cinnamon and ginger, but then the recipe shows 1/3 cup of sugar? Am I reading this wrong?
Smaug October 28, 2022
Not well written, but they seem to mean that those are the only spices; the implication that sugar and salt won't affect the taste is probably just poor sentence structure. Having trouble getting around the idea that nutmeg is "overwhelming" compared to cinnamon and ginger- not in my kitchen. It should also be noted that the flavor of burnt squash is truly obnoxious; there should be more warning about that process.
Rosalind P. October 26, 2022
Caramelizing the pumpkin is really the genius part here. Even if you use the back of the can recipe, caramelizing takes it to a whole new level.
elizabeth October 26, 2022

In the author notes it says you don't have to blind bake the crust; in the instructions the first direction is to blind bake the crust. In the test kitchen notes it says a good crust should be blind baked. Which is correct? This could make a big difference in the end result.
Lizzie October 26, 2022
I moved your review to the Question section. Let's see if we get an explanation. :-)
Smaug October 26, 2022
Evidently the testers disagreed with the author of the recipe, which they might have pointed out in their notes. I'm inclined to agree with them- the crust needs to be parbaked. The original recipe does call for the filling to be placed in the crust hot, which would increase the chance of getting away without parbaking the crust. Hard to tell exactly how hot it will be, however.
Danica V. October 28, 2022
I have made this pie for the last few years without blind-baking the crust, and I think this instruction is a new addition — I swear it said nothing about blind-baking a just last year!. However, I do bake it on top of an upside down cast iron pan that I preheat along with the oven— that bakes the bottom crust through beautifully.
Marcia November 21, 2022
What a great idea! I have terrible luck with blind baking.
Smaug November 22, 2022
You'd want to be pretty careful with that in a glass or ceramic pie dish.
plevee October 25, 2022
"You don't have to blind bake the crust" and the first instruction is to blind bake the crust!!
Rosalind P. October 25, 2022
Sadly, one of the biggest problems on this site is often the complete ignoring of questions/problems. Does anyone actually check what site users are asking? The discrepancy you noted is striking. The opening hypes a no blind baking as a major feature of the recipe.
TMulqueen86 October 26, 2022
I’m pretty sure it has been changed. Until very recently the instruction was to freeze the crust before baking, and the contrast between the cold crust and the hot filling makes it come out shiny and to bake reasonably well.
TMulqueen86 October 26, 2022
Honestly it’s pretty annoying that they’ve changed the recipe. I’ve made it the other way (freezing the crust) for several years, hopefully I can remember!
bettinashoe October 27, 2022
It is really sad that 52 doesn't respond to queries. The first time I made the pie, I did not blind bake it and was disappointed in the crust so I did blind bake after the first try It is an excellent pie recipe. In fact, it is the only pumpkin pie recipe I use in my bakery.
Smaug November 16, 2022
It seems to be up to the authors of articles whether they follow up or not; at least it used to be, most of the writers I followed at all are gone, and most of the articles and recipes are reprints from former times.
Carole J. October 25, 2022
I’m looking forward to making this pie again - this is the best pumpkin pie Ever. No adjustments needed. Thank you❤️
sarahmcl711 October 25, 2022
Never was a huge pumpkin pie fan but I made this for the holidays last year and fell in love. It is definitely not your average pumpkin pie recipe!!
jpriddy October 25, 2022
Use Delicata squash or acorn or butternut instead of canned pumpkin. Cut the squash in half, scoop out seeds, roast, cool, scoop out flesh (or use it skin and everything with Delicata) and blitz it in the food processor. It makes a huge difference to use a more flavorful squash than canned pumpkin, which is bland and generally watery. You will never go back.
Anne H. October 26, 2022
Thank you, we don't have canned pumpkin in New Zealand so I am happy to read your advice and am now looking forward to my making pumpkin pie.
Jacquie P. November 19, 2022
I’ve grown up with roasting pumpkin and not using canned and even that makes a HUGE difference in taste no matter the recipe you follow! ❤️
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.
Susan November 22, 2023
Wish I could upvote you 50 times -- I could not be
Susan November 22, 2023
Dang, one wrong key...anyway, could not believe no one mentioned this before. Are there no editors at Food52?
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.