Well, now that you’ve got your crust all sorted out, let’s talk filling. While pecan pie is perfectly lovely, as are apple and cranberry and maple, etc. etc., there’s only one pie to rule them all at Thanksgiving, and that, of course, is pumpkin.
I am not a fan of pumpkin spice whatever, but that’s mostly because I LOVE pumpkin pie, and no liquid approximation can come close. Pumpkin pie is the embodiment of fall: all the warm spices perfuming every bite, a barely sweet pumpkin-filled custard, the flaky, crispy crust. All it needs is a dollop of cinnamon- and maple-spiked whipped cream and I’m in heaven. (It’s even better cold from the fridge the next day, with a cup of coffee and some peace and quiet on the side.)
But in a weird twist of fate, I’d never actually made a pumpkin pie until this year. Someone else, usually my sister, would bring it for Friendsgiving, and since my parents aren’t pie people, we’d make do with sweet potato streusel cake or cranberry pecan bars or some other form of Thanksgiving dessert (rough life, I know).
This year, my sister and I swapped pie duties for Friendsgiving — she’s tackling pecan and I finally got to try my hand at pumpkin pie. I turned, as I normally do, to Deb at Smitten Kitchen, and once again, she did not disappoint. Her pie crust tutorial has helped me many a time in the past, and her take on the pumpkin filling was simple but spot-on. Simmering the pumpkin puree with the sugar before adding the rest of the custard ingredients is brilliant — the pumpkin flavor intensifies and the sugar melts to create a smoother filling. From there, everything is easy: stir, fill, bake.
The end result is the epitome of a Thanksgiving classic. The pie is smooth and silky, with just the right amount of sugar and spice. The only possible downside: I’m a little afraid there won’t be leftovers!
More Thanksgiving: Literally every recipe you need, plus the most important tips for surviving Thanksgiving Day, are over here. You got this!
- 1 perfect all-butter pie crust
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree or 1-3/4 cups fresh puree
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- a hefty pinch of ground cloves
- a hefty pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1-1/3 cups heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve (optional)
- While your pie crust is blind-baking ... Combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin has darkened to a rusty caramel-brown color.
- Transfer to a bowl, then whisk in cold heavy cream and stir until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the warm filling into the warm par-baked pie crust. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.
- Decrease the heat to 350F. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, then check your crust -- if the edges are starting to overbrown (mine was), cut aluminum foil into strips and cover them. Then return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the pie is puffed up and jiggles only slightly in the center.* (You can press the pie in the center to test its firmness, though be careful -- I blemished my pie in doing so. This is why I can't have nice things.)
- Let the pie cool for 15 minutes before serving, or let it cool completely. You can make it one day ahead and let it sit at room temperature OR make it a few days ahead of time, triple-wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. (More info here.)
- Cut into slices and serve with cinnamon-dusted whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. (Both are theoretically optional but it's Thanksgiving, so cut the cuteness.)