Bake

Pumpkin Pie Cobbler

September 21, 2021
3.5 Stars
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

This recipe was originally intended to be a quicker, easier version of pumpkin pie (and it is!)—but it also delightfully breaks a lot of other pie baking rules I usually depend on. Unlike pie, which pretty much always benefits from cooling before slicing, this “cobbler” is pretty amazing served warm from the oven—and is still delicious once it’s cooled, too. Because the pie crust is on the top rather than the bottom, there’s no fear of soggy bottoms, and no need to par-bake. But some things never change: You’ll likely want yours topped with a hefty dollop of whipped cream. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

This rustic-looking, delicious alternative to pumpkin pie deserves a place on your dessert table for this Thanksgiving and beyond. Forgiving and easy and fun to make, it'll soon become a go-to favorite. Erin Jeanne McDowell, who came up with this brilliant idea, goes on to explain her thought process behind this recipe: "I started to wonder what might happen if you turned this fall favorite pie upside-down (literally). Same custard, same crust—just flip it.

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

Watch This Recipe
Pumpkin Pie Cobbler
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes 1 (13x9-inch) cobbler
Ingredients
  • Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 2x recipe prepared pie dough (my favorite recipe is here: https://food52.com/recipes...)
  • 6 (342 grams) large eggs
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (107 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (235 grams) heavy cream
  • 30 ounces (850 grams) pumpkin purée
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
  • Egg wash, for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • Whipped cream, for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch pan with the butter.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick. Roll up the dough onto the pin and unfurl onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut the dough into random shapes. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the custard.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to combine. Whisk in the cream, then the pumpkin and vanilla. Add the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt and whisk to combine.
  5. Pour the custard into the prepared pan. Lay the prepared pie dough strips all over the custard, overlapping slightly as needed. Brush the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden brown. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tim Porges
    Tim Porges
  • KitchenMaus
    KitchenMaus
  • Sean Morgart
    Sean Morgart
  • Theresa Santoro
    Theresa Santoro
  • Catherine Mondonedo
    Catherine Mondonedo
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, came out on November 10th, 2020, and my pie merch collaboration with Food52 is out now too: https://food52.com/shop/merchants/manifest-food52/food52-x-erin-mcdowell

52 Reviews

judy November 18, 2021
Up for placing the crust on TOP of my pumpkin pie. Have been doing this method for a while now, several holiday seasons. Works every time. nice flaky top crust. I do this approach for other pies as well that call for baking the crust. Nice. and easy. Delicious.
 
Cynthia C. November 29, 2019
Due to other reviews, I used 4 eggs and substituted the spices for 2T pumpkin pie spice (TJ's). I used 12 oz. evaporated goat milk and about 3 oz. cream. 1 lb. of butter for the piecrust seemed just too much, so I used Julia Child's recipe for fine pastry crust. Pre-baking the filling for 25 minutes helped, but I rolled out the crust in one piece, and some sank below the surface due to the difficulty in transferring. I added some pieces of crust to fill in, so that the surface was covered. The filling was very good.
 
Peggy November 23, 2019
I baked the custard and pie crust (cut into leaves, brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar) separately & placed the pie crust on top when finished. I also placed a layer of candied pecans in casserole and drizzled them with molasses before adding pumpkin.
 
Tim P. October 28, 2019
It's an ok recipe if you add a step for pre-assembling the crust so you can drop it on the custard as a unit.
 
Tim P. October 28, 2019
It's possible to preassemble the crust from those cute little random shapes and then just drop it on the custard all at once. Otherwise the strips just fall into the unbaked custard like the animals in the laBrea tar pits, but still kind of tasty. If you preassemble it you can use the egg wash as glue to hold it together.

It doesn't tell you to do this in the recipe, but if you don't preassemble it you get a soggy mess.
 
KitchenMaus October 28, 2019
This turned out perfectly for me. I had read all the reviews ahead of time and made the following adjustments: 1) Prebaked the custard for 15 minutes. It was at that point setting around the edges but still jiggly through the middle. I didn't have any trouble laying the pastry on top and keeping it afloat. 2) Kept some air holes in the pastry. I'm not sure how key this is, but it does seem to make sense to allow for steam venting. I still overlapped my pastry pieces, but not 100 percent. 3. Rolled the pastry reasonably thin, so as not to add too much weight. 4) Very lightly brushed on the egg wash, so as not to press the pastry under the surface. I thinned the egg with a little cream to make it easier to spread. In all, I cooked the dish for 50 minutes, so 15 before the pastry and an additional 35 after. The whole family loved it! Next time I make it I'm going to try subbing in evaporated milk for the cream, to lighten it up. We'll see if that thins it too much to hold the pastry.
 
Patricia L. October 13, 2019
Delicious, and because I had to throw it together quickly I used Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts and it was still fabulous.
 
Sparkie October 13, 2019
Perhaps I needed to read the reviews. The crust SANK into the custard. The custard was runny and watery, even after 50+ minutes of cooking. I made this company as everything else I’ve cooked from Food52 has been great. Had to send my husband to the store for dessert! 😢
 
Melissa B. October 14, 2019
When making a standard pie, I usually cook my pumpkin mixture for a few minutes on the stove to let excess moisture steam away before placing it in the crust . Perhaps a few minutes in the oven before placing the crust on top would help?
 
Shalimar L. October 16, 2019
Exact same with mine. I enjoyed the process of making this and it looked absolutely beautiful out of the oven. The too-wet, almost crumbly custard was not good. I’ll try again and bake the custard alone as suggested or use another recipe for the filling.
 
Arrxx October 11, 2019
How about shards of puff pastry for the topping? I have some in the freezer.
 
Teddee G. October 11, 2019
Love this suggestion!
 
Beth October 11, 2019
Sounds good. Be sure to eat it all at one time, puff pastry tends to get tough if it sits overnight in the fridge.
 
Sean M. August 20, 2019
What??? Soggy bottom crust is why I eat pie. Pie crust should only be crumbly or crispy on the rim of the pie (or slightly crispy on the very top layer of the pie top).
 
Theresa S. December 25, 2018
Trick is to cook about 20 minutes before laying dough. Just out of oven mine looks just like picture!
 
Beth October 11, 2019
That's what I was thinking - cook the custard a little until it's just set, then put the crust on. If the crust isn't brown when the bottom is set, maybe put it under the broiler for a couple minutes. Would that work?
 
Darlene December 3, 2018
We made this for Thanksgiving. We have two folks who love crust so I thought this would work well for them. However, some crust got kind of crisp, but the rest just sort of sunk into the filling and was cooked, but soft. No one really liked the filling flavors saying it was too bland and not thick enough. We did it eat warm so maybe it gets better when cooled. Sadly not a keeper for us.
 
Beth October 11, 2019
That's too bad. Maybe add more spices next time, I always add more especially cinnamon. No spice police to say you can't add more! And try baking the custard about 20 minutes as someone suggested, then quickly add the crust pieces and maybe they won't sink.
 
judy November 27, 2018
Well, I did this approach using my traditional pie recipe (basically that on Libby's pumpkin can plus some additional spices. I always use brown sugar. Anyway. I put the crust on top. Cut it into several pieces and laid it on top with a few open areas to let the steam escape. I was looking for a way to have a fully cooked crust with my pumpkin pie. I have been on that quest for about a decade. New pans (several: glass, metal, ceramic, in various configurations and thicknesses) to no avail. Place it in different levels of the oven, par bake, and even a few different pie crusts and flours. NONE worked. but this WORKED BEAUTIFULLY! After placing pieces on top, I brushed with milk. Baked as usual in 350 degree oven and had beautiful lightly browned FULLY BAKED flaky crust. My family raved. Will do this again and again. Thank you so much.
 
judy February 24, 2021
UPDATE: I have been doing this ever since, and it still works. I put it on my custard before ever cooking. I do get a bit of the custard over the crusts on occasion. does not seem to make any difference. Just good. I actually no longer put a bottom crust on apple pie, but just the top crust, as for me I hav still not ever been able to figure out how to have cooked bottom crust, and, unlike some other reviewers, I do not like soggy undercooked crust. But I pieces with open spaces is a must. Also, this is nice when I just cut the crust into medium odd shaped pieces that re laid on top randomly, up to edge of pan. The open spaces I leave are essential, especially fo liquid pies. for the warm reason that we cut holes into the top crust on conventionally assembled pie.
 
Meghan H. November 23, 2018
I made this for Thanksgiving and it did not turn out well. I followed the recipe perfectly, and it did cook as described, but the flavor of the filling was off, the texture of the filling was mealy, and the crust was too heavy for the amount of pumpkin custard. It looked pretty, but the entire pan was left hardly touched.
 
Dawn S. November 23, 2018
I made this on thanksgiving day with really pleasing results. I went with a couple minor swaps due to time and what was in hand: I used store bought crusts, 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice instead of the individual spices, then washed the crust with a bit of heavy cream and using a white sugar and cinnamon mixture to sprinkle over. It was almost exactly as pictured and tasted delicious. The texture was less silky than traditional pumpkin pie and a bit heavier. We all like it very much and it was stupendous with a still crisp crust when cold from the frig the next morning.
 
Kanna P. November 23, 2018
Your custard wasn’t thin and runny?
 
Dawn S. December 5, 2018
No it was actually quite thick and the crust sat easily on top.
 
SarahM November 22, 2018
We also followed the recipe to the letter...only to have the crust sink to the bottom. The flavor was good, but we definitely did not achieve the goal of crisp crust! It was a shame, because my niece and nephew had cut out the crust using cookie cutters, and we were looking forward to seeing the shapes baked.
 
Author Comment
Erin J. November 25, 2018
Hi Sarah - sorry you had issues! After re-making this a few times, I did find that the crust would sink if it wasn’t rolled thinly enough - so perhaps your crust was on the thicker side. Love the idea of using cookie cutters!!! Thanks for sharing and inspiring a few more tests to get the recipe better for future bakers!
 
Catherine M. November 22, 2018
Luckily, I read the others reviews.... I reduced the number of eggs to 4 which made the custard beautifully steady... no sinking of pie dough...
 
Gammy November 22, 2018
Made this afternoon and it is sitting out waiting for dinner. Looks JUST like the photo, no issues with sinking crust pieces, but had to be careful though in applying egg wash. Have not tastes, but smells amazing. Here is where I went off-recipe: I used a store-bought, rolled-up piecrust and only used one pie crust (not 2). Because of that, I decided to use a slightly smaller dish -- it was 8 something inches by about 12 inches and the pie crust pieces filled the top in pieces as shown. Secondly, I noticed that my can of Libby's pureed pumpkin was only 29 ounces, not 30 (when did they reduce the size???), don't know what difference that may have made. I also cooked about 5 minutes longer as I wanted the crust more brown in the center and I wanted to make sure the custard was completely cooked. Can't wait for dessert!
 
Gammy November 23, 2018
Tasted just as great as I had hoped and was just as good the next day for breakfast. This recipe is a definite keeper!
 
Karla P. November 22, 2018
I experienced the same thing as all the other reviewers mentioned...the custard too thin. I googled how to thicken a custard and I will say I was VERY successful. It is in the over and it looks exactly like the picture, nothing submerged. I would recommend bringing a sauce pan to a boil, then putting a bowl (I used a metal bowl) right on top. It was super snug, and things thickened up beautifully. I can't comment on the taste, but, the look is on point! I whisked everything via a stand up mixer, but would recommend doing all this in the metal bowl over the boiling water. Good Luck! So far, it was worth it!
 
Randi November 22, 2018
I just put this in the oven, with all pieces of pie crust fully or partially submerged in filling. Virtually impossible to apply egg wash to crust. Might be better to have applied egg wash prior to adding to filling. Hopefully it tastes better than it currently looks!
 
Jani P. November 22, 2018
I'm about to make this. How did it turn out? I wonder if there was less cream if it would be any thicker.
 
Karla P. November 22, 2018
I managed to get my custard thick. Review my comment above. Hopefully it will help!
 
Jani P. November 23, 2018
I made it before you posted but next time I'll do that. I have a double boiler and will use that. I saw how thin the custard was so I added an extra can of pumpkin. Most of the pie crust pieces stayed up. Mine didn't brown much but I put on the broiler on low at the very end and it browned the pie crusts and finished the custard as well.
 
Randi November 23, 2018
This tasted delicious—would love to figure out how to make it look more appealing.
 
Jani P. November 23, 2018
I used cookie cutters which were the shape of leaves. I cut strips of dough and laid them across the custard and then set the leaves on top of the strips. The strips sank a bit but the leaves were all on top. With the broiler for a minute at the most the top crust browned nicely. It turned out very pretty.I don't think we can post photos.

 
Author Comment
Erin J. November 25, 2018
So sorry you had trouble! After a few more tests, I did notice that the pieces would sink if they weren’t rolled thin enough - the custard is on the thinner side, but if the crust is thin, they will stay suspended on the surface. It’s possible your crust was a bit too thick - but I love the idea of applying egg wash before you lay the pieces down - it would also help adhere the crust pieces together! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback!