So many people search for the best pumpkin pie recipe during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Well, I promise you can end your search here, because this is hands-down the best Pumpkin Pie recipe ever, seriously!
This dessert recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen pumpkin pie, and more recently I’ve seen it on Cook’s Country. It is indeed the best pumpkin pie ever, and definitely worth the effort.
So many people aren’t fans of pumpkin pie. That’s because they are often flavorless gelatinous custards in soggy crust. Well, not this one. This is a thick, rich, and flavorful, velvety soft custard with just the right amount of spices.
One of the secrets to the flavorful custard is that you add canned yams to boost the flavor. Then, so it isn’t soggy and gelatinous, you cook the filling to get the excess moisture out of it. It’s a genius little trick that adds so much flavor to the final pie.
This is the perfect dessert for all your family holiday parties including Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a delicious make ahead pumpkin pie that’s smooth and creamy, and will impress all of your guests.
This recipe has been on my blog since 2011, and it’s one of my most popular recipes. But it was time for an update for a better user experience! So I’ve updated it here for you with new pictures, information, and tips!
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Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe. I read all the comments myself and I try to help as soon as I can. I have readers from all levels of comfort and experience in the kitchen on my site, and I’ve tried to answer some of your questions already in the post. But if I’ve missed anything, please feel free to leave a comment and ask. The comments can be easily found using the orange circle on the lower left, then Join the discussion!
Canned candied yams are the secret ingredient in this pie. They provide a boost of fall flavor and great texture.
If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted.
I’ve also heard from people in other countries that canned yams just aren’t available at all to them, but they still want to make this pie.
So, I did a little research into how much actual sweet potato a 15-ounce can yields once the solids are drained.
Once I drained the can, it left about 2 cups of solids, just placed in a glass measuring up, not packed.
By weight, I got 9.8 ounces from the can I measured. I bet you could round up to 10 ounces and be fine.
Then I mashed the solids and packed them in a measuring cup and got about 1 cup.
So, if you wanted to cook a sweet potato or yam from fresh, they will work in this recipe. I recommend microwaving, baking in the oven, or cooking in the Instant Pot for the root vegetable. And maybe add a little brown sugar to it.
I don’t recommend boiling the sweet potatoes, because the added moisture that boiling brings is not great for pies.
I do have to disagree with ATK on one matter: pre-baked crust. Both the husband and I love the pie-soaked crust. So, I DON’T pre-bake the crust.
If you’re a fan of pre-baking the crust, please feel free to do so. My lovely friend at Lovefoodies has some great tips on how to blind bake your crust.
I’m a lazy baker, and admit that I usually just buy my pie crust. I have found a frozen pie crust that I like, it’s free of lard and trans fats, so it works for me.
If you use a frozen crust, there’s no need to defrost it.
I often like to do an egg wash on my pie crust before I fill it. Just lightly beat one egg white, and brush the crust with it. Pour the filling into the crust and bake as directed. Some people also like to brush melted butter onto the crust before filling it. Neither of these steps are necessary, but do make for a tasty crispy crust and pretty pie.
If you use the crust from the refrigerator section of the grocery store, make sure to follow the package directions on thawing before you roll out the dough.
What brand of crust?
Lovely reader Rhonda asked me recently what brand of frozen pie crust I liked. She says, “Your pumpkin pie recipe is delicious! Would you kindly share which frozen pie crust you like? I think a frozen crust would be ideal to balance out the bit of extra time involved in this scrumptious pumpkin filling.”
Her question is one that might help other reads as well, so I thought I’d share it here.
I have found that Marie Callender’s brand is good. It doesn’t contain any lard, which is good for vegetarians like me. And, it’s already shaped and deep dish.
My store has it in the frozen pie section usually at the bottom of the racks.
You may have leftover filling after filling the pie. I usually have a ramekin or two’s worth.
If this is the case, simply pour the filling into small ramekins and bake on the side.
The ramekins will take less time to bake than the whole pie, so check early them for doneness, probably about 15-20 minutes early. Check out my recipe for Pumpkin Custards for more details.
When America’s Test Kitchen said this pie was better than the rest I had my doubts. In fact, I didn’t even want it to be better than the rest because it’s more work.
What? You have to pre-cook the filling? And then you have to strain it?
Well, let me say that I’ve been wrong before, and it happened again here. This pie is so much better than the store-bought flavorless pie. You really will fall in love with this.
This is simply the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. Creamy. Lots of pumpkin flavor. Rich smooth custard. Sturdy without being heavy. Good balance of spice.
I highly recommend that you take a little extra time for the Thanksgiving pie this year and make this pumpkin pie that you can be proud of. Heck, make two; it’s that good!
Read the comments below for reviews of this Great Pie. Also, take a look at Pinterest, for more reviews. This pin has been repinned more than 36,000 times! With a bunch of comments and “tried its”.
I’m so happy to have helped so many people find a great pumpkin pie that they can be proud of!
Pro tips for making the best pumpkin pie
Be sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card for ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
Cold eggs are easier to separate than room temperature eggs.
This recipe has the perfect balance of spices. Not too spicy, not too bland. This is the spice blend that was in the original ATK recipe. They have since increased the amount of spices, and I think this original amount is better.
Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl, and set aside.
Cook the filling
Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat.
Use a spatula to stir the simmering pumpkin mixture and evaporate as much water as you can to concentrate it.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated.
Strain the mixture
Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl.
Make sure to push as much of the solids through the fine sieve as possible. After sieving, scrape off the back of the sieve to get all the solids. This helps to thicken up the mixture.
Recently I invested in a food mill, and let me tell you, it’s the best tool for making this pie and making it super easy!
Bake the pie
Make sure to position the oven rack at the bottom of the oven. The pie bakes in the bottom of the oven exposing the bottom of the crust to the most intense heat.
Take the pie out of the oven once the center 2-inches thickens, and wiggles like gelatin when the pan is gently shaken.
The best way to judge doneness of this pie is with an instant-read thermometer.
The pie finishes cooking with residual heat to ensure that the filling sets and doesn’t curdle. Cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.
Serve room temperature or chilled with whipped cream. And if you have some leftover cream, here are some tips on what to do with leftover cream as well as how to make the most delicious and easy mason jar whipped cream!
According to the USDA, you can leave the pie on the counter safely for a couple of hours. After that, the pie should be refrigerated.
Can I make this ahead?
Yes, this is a great time saver for Thanksgiving because it can be made ahead!
Make this pumpkin pie from scratch, allow it to cool completely on the counter, and keep it tightly covered with plastic wrap or foil in the fridge for up to four days before you need it.
It can also be frozen for up to a month ahead. When you’re ready to eat it, take it out of the freezer and keep in in the fridge the day before. It should defrost nicely in the fridge.
You can also freeze individual portions, like if you have leftovers. It makes for a quick and easy way to satisfy a pie craving!
Looking to make a perfect holiday dinner?
Here’s my suggestions for what to make for holiday dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas with recipe links.
Other amazing holiday desserts that your whole family will love.
Things I suggest in the recipe:
Note: these are affiliate links
canned pumpkin puree
regular canned yams
canned candied yams
Food mill (this is a new purchase for me, and I can’t say enough good stuff about it!)
Rimmed baking sheet
Wire cooling rack
Whipped cream dispenser
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The best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 15 ounce pumpkin puree
- 1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 1 pie crust homemade or store-bought
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and place rimmed baking sheet on the rack.
- Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl, and set aside.
- Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture.
- Place pie crust in pie plate and carefully place plate on the preheated baking sheet. Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake for 10 minutes at 400° F. Without taking the pie out of the oven, reduce the heat to 300° F, and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175° F), 20 to 35 minutes longer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly; the pie finishes cooking with residual heat.
- Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature and not in the refrigerator to ensure that the filling sets, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream.
Cook’s Notes: If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted. Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.