How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Pie with a Caramelized Pecan Topping - made from a Real Pumpkin, Not a Can! - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs
Homemade Pumpkin Pie with a Caramelized Pecan Topping
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pie recipes abound, and even if you've tried our delicious
pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin
may be looking for something new and different. There is one way to improve the
traditional pumpkin pie, besides making it from fresh pumpkin, and that is to
add a caramelized pecan topping to it. The flavor and texture of the pcans
blend perfectly with pumpkin! This also allows you to make one pie to
please those who want a pumpkin pie, and those who want a pecan pie!
If you like this recipe, you'll probably also like my
easy pumpkin cheesecake
complete, easy directions to cook a
easy, tasty, healthy turkey gravy
. And if you have never canned or made jam, applesauce, apple butter,
etc, before, never fear, it is easy with my
. Don't forget to use
see these Christmas tree farm pages
to find a cut-your-own tree farm
or fresh-cut farm or lot near you! They're loads of fun, often
with Santa visits, sleigh rides or hayrides, sometimes even live
reindeer and more.
Just have a Jack O Lantern?
If all you have is a Jack O Lantern pumpkin (no pie pumpkin or butternut
squash) then see this
page for the recipe to make a pie from an ordinary carving pumpkin.
Directions for Making Pumpkin Pie
Yield: It really depends on the size
of the pumpkin and the size of your pie plate. If you use a 6" pie
pumpkin and a full deep dish 9" pie plate, then it should fill that pie
to the brim and maybe have enough extra for either a small (4 inch) shallow pie
(or a crustless pie - see step 11).
Some people manage to make 2
full pies, especially if they use shallow pie plates and/or 8 inch pie
Ingredients and Equipment
- A sharp, large serrated knife
- an ice cream scoop
- a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
- 1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate and pie crust (Click here for
illustrated pie crust
instructions! they will open in a new window) - or two small pie
plates (9 inch) and crusts (Metric: a 10 inch pie plate is a pie
plate with a diameter of 25 cm, and a depth of almost 5 cm)
- a pie pumpkin (see step 1)
- 1 cup sugar (see step 10 for alternatives) (metric: 200 grams)
- 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon (metric: 3.8 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves (metric: 2 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice (metric: 2 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (metric: 1.25 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional) (metric: 20 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, I don't
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups pumpkin glop (ok... "sieved,
cooked pumpkin") (metric: 0.7 litre)
- 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated
milk (I use the nonfat version) for best results. (metric: each can
is about .35 liter, or about a half liter total))
If you can't get
canned evaporated milk, make your own from nonfat dried milk and make it twice as
concentrated as the directions on the box call for!
If you can't get nonfat dried milk, just use
If you are lactose-intolerant, use lactose-free milk.
- Pecan Topping:
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 brown sugar
Note: if you do not have cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger, you
can substitute 3 teaspoons of "pumpkin pie spice". It's not
exactly the same, but it will do.
Note: If you can't get evaporated milk, you can substitute nonfat
dried milk - make it twice as concentrated as the directions on the box
say to reconstitute it. It won't be the same as evaporated milk, but it
ought to come close.
Recipe and Directions
Yield: One 9-inch deep dish pie or two 8-inch shallow
Step 1 - Get your pie pumpkin
"Pie pumpkins" are smaller, sweeter, less
grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.
Grocery stores usually carry them in late September through December in
the U.S. In some parts of the country, they are also called sugar
pumpkins or even "cheese pumpkins". Go figure that one. Note: the Libby's can of cooked pumpkin is just there
for reference - it is the small can, so that gives you an idea of the size
of a typical pie pumpkin. They're only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter
(about 20 to 24 inches in circumference).
TIP: If you're in a pinch and can't find a pie pumpkin, here's a tip: butternut
squash taste almost the same! Commercial canned pumpkin is from a
variety of butternut, not true pumpkins! If you insist on using a regular Jack O'
Lantern type pumpkin, you may need to add about 25% more sugar and run the
cooked pumpkin through a blender or food processor to help smooth it out.
Just like selecting any squash, look for one
that is firm, no bruises or soft spots, and a good orange color.
One 6" pie pumpkin usually makes one 10 inch deep dish pie
bit extra; or two 9 inch shallow pies! If you have
extra goop, you can always pour it into greased baking pans and make a
crustless mini pie with the excess (and the cooked pies do freeze well!)
If you live in the Far East (Thailand, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, etc.) and
cannot get a pumpkin or a butternut squash, I'm told that Japanese pumpkins
make a great substitute. Just cube the meat into small cubes and steam them
for 35 minutes. The rest of the preparation is the same and I'm told the
taste is great.
Step 2 - Prepare the pumpkin for cooking
Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or
warm water, no soap.
Cut the pumpkin in half. A serrated
knife and a sawing motion works best - a smooth knife is more likely to slip
and hurt you! A visitor suggests using a hand saw.
Step 3 - Scoop out the seeds...
And scrape the insides. You want to
get out that stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface. I
find a heavy ice cream scoop works great for this.
Note: SAVE THE SEEDS:
The seeds can be used either to plant pumpkins next year,
or roasted to eat this year! Place them in a bowl of water and rub them
between your hands. then pick out the orange buts (throw that
away) and drain off the water. Spread them out on a clean towel or paper
towel to dry and they're ready to save for next year's planting or roast.
Click here for roasting instructions!
(opens in a new window)
Step 4 - Cooking the pumpkin
There are several ways to cook the
pumpkin; just choose use your preferred method. Most people have
microwaves and a stove, so I'll describe both of those methods here. But
others make good arguments in favor of using a pressure cooker or
baking in the oven. At the end of this
document, I've included alternative instructions to replace step 4, if you'd
rather use a different method.
Method 1 - Put it in a microwaveable bowl
Remove the stem, and put the pumpkin into a
microwaveable. You may need to cut the pumpkin further to make it fit.
The fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked
Put a couple of inches of water in the bowl,
cover it, and put in the microwave.
Method 2 - Steam on the stovetop
You can also cook it on the stovetop; it takes about the same
length of time in a steamer (20 to 30 minutes). I use a double pot steamer, but you
could use an ordinary large pot with a steamer basket inside it!:
Method 3 - Bake in the oven
You can also bake the prepared pumpkin in the oven, just like a butternut
squash. This method takes the longest. Just put the prepared pumpkin in an
ovenproof container (with a lid), and pop it in an 350 F (200 C) oven. It normally takes about 45
minutes to an hour and a half (it can vary a lot!); just test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see
if it is soft!
Step 5 - Cook the pumpkin until soft
way, cook for 15 minutes on high, check to see if
it is soft, then repeat in smaller increments of time until it is soft
enough to scoop the innards out. Normally it takes 20 or 30 minutes
Step 6 - Scoop out the cooked pumpkin
you cook the pumpkin on the stove, microwave, or even the oven, once it
is cooked until it is soft, it is easy to scoop out the guts with a broad, smooth spoon, (such as a
tablespoon). Use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin.
It should separate easily an in fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is
times the skin or rind will simply lift off with your fingers (see the
photo at left) . I'll bet you didn't realize making your own
pumpkin glop... err, "puree" was this easy!
Note: there are many varieties of pumpkin and some make
better pies that other (due to sugar content, flavor, texture and water content.
Drier, sweeter, fine-grained pies; the small (8" across) ones called "pie
pumpkins" are best.
If your pumpkin puree has standing, free water, you may want to let it sit
for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water. That will help prevent
you pie from being too watery! Beyond, that, I have not found that the water
makes a difference - I wouldn't be TOO concerned about it!
Tip from a visitor: "I make my own pumkin
pies from scratch all the time. To eliminate watery pumpkin I strain my
pureed pumpkin through a cloth overnight. If I use frozen pumpkin I do
the same again as it thaws out. It works great and my pies cook
Another visitor reported success using coffee
filters in a sieve to drain out excess water.
Again, don't go to great lengths to remove water;
the recipe accounts for the fact that fresh pumpkin is more watery than
Step 7 - Puree the pumpkin
get a nice, smooth consistency, I use a Pillsbury hand blender. By
blending it, you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the
rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes.
A regular blender works, too (unless you
made a few frozen daiquiris and drank them first..). Or a food processor
or even just a hand
mixer with time and patience.
With the hand blender, it just takes 2 or 3
Another visitor says using a food mill, like a Foley Food Mill, with
a fine screen, accomplishes the blending/pureeing very well, too!
8 - Done with the pumpkin!
The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the
pie recipe. Get the frozen daiquiris out from step 7 and take a
Note: You may freeze the
puree or pie filling to use it later! Just use a freezer bag or
other container to exclude as much air as possible.
It should last a year or more in a deep freezer On the other
hand, you may NOT "can" it:
See this page for the
safety reasons why you shouldn't can it.)
Step 9 - Make the pie crust
Yes, I know there are ready-made pie crusts in the frozen section at
the store, but they really are bland and doughy. A flaky crust is
easy to make! Again, note that unless you use large, deep dish pie
plates, you may have enough for 2 pies.
It is also time to start preheating the oven.
Turn it on and set it to 425 F (210 C, for those in Europe)
Click here for illustrated pie crust
(it will open in a new window)
Step 10 - Mix the pie contents
All the hard work is behind you! Here's
where it gets really easy. If you start with a fresh 8" pie pumpkin, you
will get about 3 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. The right amount of
ingredients for this is as follows:
- 1 cup sugar - or 1 cup Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you'll need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer, , or 3/4 cup honey (honey may make
a heavier pie, though)
- 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- one half teaspoon ground ginger
- one half teaspoon salt (optional, I don't
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups pumpkin glop (ok... "sieved,
- 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated
milk (I use the nonfat version)
Mix well using a hand blender or mixer.
Note: You may substitute 2 tablespoons of "pumpkin
pie spice" instead of the cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger.
But I think you get better results with the separate spices.
Note: The vast majority of people tell me this is the best pumpkin
pie they've ever had. It's light and fluffy - however... if you want a
heavy, more dense pie, use 3 eggs instead of 4 and 1 can of evaporated
milk instead of 1.5)
Step 11 - Pour into the pie crust
I like a deep, full pie, so I fill it right
up to about one quarter to one half inch from the very top.
Don't be surprised if the mixture is very runny! It may start as a soupy liquid,
but it will firm up nicely in the oven! Note: the
pie crust is brown because I used whole wheat flour! Tastes the same, but
TIP: What do you
do if you end up with more filling than will fit in your pie crust(s)?
Easy! Of course, you can make another, smaller pie crust and fill
a small pie pan... or just grease any baking dish, of a size that the
extra filling will fill to a depth of about 2 inches (see the photo at
right), and pour the extra
filling in.. then bake it. It will be a crustless pumpkin pie that
kids especially love!
may want to cover the exposed edges of the crust with strips of aluminum
foil to prevent them from burning!
Step 12 - Bake the pie
Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then
turn the temperature down to 350 F ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 minutes,
until the pie skims over and it just looks "wet" in the center - that's when
you will open the oven, slide the pie out and sprinkle the topping on it.
Step 13 - Make the pecan topping
While the pie is baking, chop about 1/2 cup of pecans and add them to a
sauce pan with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Over low to medium
heat, let the butter sizzle and caramelize the sugar, but be careful not to
let the butter burn! remove from heat and set aside until the pie has cook
for about 45 minutes to 1 hours, and has firmed up a bit and just looks soft
or wet in the center. Then open the oven, and sprinkle the pecan
topping evenly all over the top of the pie.
Step 14 - Add the pecans to the pie and finish baking the pie
It will probably take another 15 minutes from this point; until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out
Here is the finished pie, right out of the
I use a blunt table knife to test
the pie. The one at left has already been stuck in the pie, and you
see it comes out pretty clean, when the pie is done.
Step 15 - Cool the pie
or chilled, with whipped cream , ice cream or nothing at all - it's great!
Alternative Cooking methods for step 4
If you don't have a microwave, or prefer another method, try these:
Stovetop steaming - Place your steaming basket
or grid in the bottom of a large pot. Put enough water so it won't boil dry in
20 minutes, and yet is not so high that the pumpkin is touching the water level.
You may need to add more water during the cooking. Add the pumpkin prepared in
step 3, and get the steamer going. The cooking time is only between 8 and 12
minutes, depending on the range (gas or electric), and the pumpkin literally
falls off the skin.
Pressure cooker - Place your grid in the bottom of the pressure cooker. If your
pressure cooker came with directions, follow those for pumpkin and/or winter
squash, like butternut squash. If, like most people, you've long since lost the
directions, try this: Add enough water to just touch the bottom of the grid or
shelf that you will place the pumpkin on. Add the pumpkin prepared in step 3,
put the lid with the gasket, the weight and anything else your cooker requires
in place, and turn the heat on high. Once it starts hissing, turn it to medium
or medium high. The cooking time should only be about 10 minutes, and the
pumpkin should literally fall out of its skin.
Tips from Visitors
Making a pie with a Jack O' Lantern: Comments from a visitor on November 10, 2008:
"I have a suggestion for those who want to use a jack o lantern pumpkin. My son
was so happy when he went on his first field trip to the pumpkin patch. He made
me promise to make pumpkin pies with his big giant pumpkin. I did just as you
said baked it, put it in the frig over night. Then I put the pieces in a pot and
cooked it until it was like mush added a big cinnamon stick and and the sugar
boiled some of the water out and 4 great pies. Thank you for your recipe it
worked wonder full!!!"
Covering the edges of the crust: Comments from a visitor on November 19, 2008:
"After having lost my old
beloved recipe, I tried this one and have to say this one is top notch!
One tip that might help to pass on (especially to new pie makers) is to
cover the edges with aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning. It
really works and makes those yummy pie crusts as delicious as the rest
of the pie!"
Mashing the cooked pumpkin: Comments from a visitor on November 26, 2008:
"Hello, great site here. I
tried your pumpkin pie recipe and it came out great. Just wanted to add
my two cents on pumpkin pie making. After cooking the pumpkin and
scooping it out, you can use a potato ricer to mash it. When you first
put the pumpkin in ricer and squeeze the handles together you get a
decent amount of water squeezed out first. Then I put the ricer over
bowl and squeeze the pumpkin out. The ricer mashes and gets water out at
same time. Plus, another good thing is that a lot of the fiberous
strings in pumpkin gets trapped at bottom of the ricer cup and not in
the pumpkin puree. I bought my potato ricer at bed bath and beyond for
fifteen bucks, so its cheap too. Hope this helps."
Maple syrup instead of sugar: Comments from a visitor on
December 08, 2009:
"Really like your site wanted to comment on the
sugar alternatives , we use maple syrup 1 cup boiled down for thickness
adds great flavor. Thanks "
Comments from a visitor on November 19, 2008: "I learned a trick about
baking large squashes and pumpkins many years ago. I just poke a few
holes in it, put it on a baking sheet whole, and bake it at around 325
degrees until the squash/pumpkin is tender. When it's cool, it's easy to
cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and peel. It is also much less watery
this way. This has always worked well for me. You do have to start a
little earlier, though. Baking it this way and then letting it get cool
enough to handle
Comments from a visitor on November 20, 2008: "I have
made pumpkin pies from pumpkins for years and the best, most flavorful
method is to cut in half, oil and roast, face down on high heat -- it
carmelizes a bit, then I do drain it and boil down the water til it is
thick and medium caramel color and add it to the puree -- adds a lot of
flavor. yum :)"
Oven prep method: Comments from a visitor on November 26, 2008: "Another way to prep
pumpkin that seems to get a consistent non-stringy finish regardless of
pumpkin species: 1. Halve pumpkin and remove innards. 2. Place halves
face-down on a greased cookie sheet. 3. Roast at 400 long enough for
skins to visibly darken. 4. All species will come out firm, golden, and
generally already separated from the shell. 5. Puree can be accomplished
with a potato masher if desired. More watery pumpkins will drain and
cook like pie pumpkins. Though messier in your oven, I have the best
luck using a flat cookie sheet that allows the water to drain off and
burn in the oven."
Starting with a frozen pumpkin: Comments from a visitor on November 27,
2008: "Just wanted to add to your ideas about making pumpkin pies
out of fresh pumpkins. I was preparing to make my pies for Thanksgiving
and realized I had forgot to buy pumpkin. I read your site about the
different ways to make pumpkin pies from fresh pumpkin ~ and, having
pumpkins on my front porch for fall decorations, I went and grabbed one
to use only to discover it had been frozen solid! (Our temps had dropped
to 7° a few days before.) I had no choice but to give it a try. As it
started to thaw it became soft. Here's what I did: Cut out the stem, cut
the whole thing in half, scooped out the seeds, peeled the halves - I
actually cut those in half to make peeling easier - and cubed the
remaining into little bitty pieces. I put it all in a large covered
sauce pan and slowly cooked it. Once they got soft enough I took a
potato masher to it and cooked some more. Worked GREAT! I'll put it in a
blender before using, but it was easy! Just cook real slow so as not to
burn or scorch. But the frozen pumpkin started the break-down process
and made cooking them much quicker and simpler. Just thought it a good
alternative if anyone was interested. Thanks for the great site!!"
What to do with extra pumpkin goop: Comments from a visitor on November 03,
2009: "I didn't read too carefully and only bought one 9 in pie crust,
I had so much left over mixture! I quickly grabbed my muffin pans and
those cute little paper inserts- I put approx 5-6 mini marshmallows in
each one then filled 16 spots with the mixture. It was exactly the right
amount of mixture. Let them sit for just a moment to allow the mellows to
rise to the top (always add the mellows first because when pouring the
mixture on top of them it coats the mellow to make the top brown in the
oven much better) then finished filling them (the levels lower as the
mellows rise). Baked at 350 for approx 30 minutes. They were GREAT and so
easy to bring to work the following morning! as a side note - i have 2
more pumpkins and look forward to making more goodies in the coming week
or so. I LOVE this site, its easy to follow and with all your pictures I
know i'm doing things right. I DONT cook or bake on a regular basis. In
fact, this was the very first pie i EVER attempted - homemade OR canned.
Anyway, i think that the mini-pies are really great addition to those
wishing to share the desert with co-workers or family members. no cutting
or serving. also, the marshmellows add a little something! mmmmmmmm
mmmmmmmmmm good! ~J"
Using a "Cinderella" pumpkin - Be sure to drain the pumpkin very well before
mashing it or putting it through the food processor.
These pumpkins are very runny.
It should be similar in consistency to canned pumpkin - otherwise the pies
may not "set up" and be runny.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I would like to make your pumpkin pie from scratch for my
family for Thanksgiving. What would be the best way to do this? Can I make a pie
now and freeze it? Can I buy the small pumpkins now and hold on to them until
the week before Thanksgiving and make the pie?
Yes, the cooked pumpkin pies freeze pretty well, but of course,
everything's a little better fresh. Pie pumpkins keep very well in a cool
basement or garage (between 40 F and 60F), and they'd certainly keep until
Thanksgiving if they are in good shape now (no bruises or soft spots).
Q. I live in Europe, so I do not have all of the U.S.
ingredients over here. I'm also not that clear on the measurement conversions
for Example: 1 Cup = how many oz or grams (better for me) dry goods-flour and
from oz to grams or liters for wet goods-cream? I was wondering if you would
also possibly know substitutes for the following items: Allspice (cinnamon?),
Evaporated milk (Lowfat Cream? But then not sweetened! Add more sugar?), Crisco
Vegetable Shortening (Help - no idea!)
No problem! I lived and worked in Europe for 7 years,
so I found a lot of good substitutions.
1 cup = 1/4 liter - about 250 ml
A visitor tells me that according to New Zealand's
most trusted cookbook, Edmonds:
1 cup of Flour = 175 g (6 oz)
1 cup of Sugar = 225 g (8 oz)
Evaporated milk is unsweetened milk that has the
volume reduced by removing some of the water - it is sort of like
concentrated milk - about 50% reduced, still quite watery. You could make
your own by adding 100 ml (by volume) of instant dried milk to each 100 ml
of regular lowfat (or skim or nonfat) milk.
Allspice is it's own spice! It is the dried,
unripened fruit of a small evergreen tree, the Pimenta Dioica (typically
grown in Jamaica). The fruit is a pea-sized berry which is sundried to a
reddish-brown color. Pimento is called Allspice because its flavor suggests
a blend of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. So you could make a blend of equal
parts of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg instead.
Crisco shortening is a vegetable substitute for
lard, and adds no flavor. You could use butter, margarine, or even (ugh!)
lard, in place of it. If you are the UK, there is something called
Trex vegetable fat in the refrigerated section of the supermarket near the
butter. I'm told it a good substitute for Crisco.
Q. My 8 year old son grew some pumpkins this
year, so I tried your pumpkin pie recipe. I following all the instructions and
the only thing I didn't do was make my own pastry I used the frozen variety.
Unfortunately the pie only partially set and was full of clear liquid at the
bottom making the pastry base soggy. I don't know what I did wrong?
Most likely it was the variety of pumpkin you grew - some are more watery. The
small (8 inches across) “pie” pumpkins like they sell in Kroger are best. Next year choose a variety to grow that says it is good for pies, such as
“Connecticut Field” or “pie pumpkin”. Generally, these varieties are also more
sweet, finer grained and less watery than Jack O Lantern pumpkins.
Easy solutions, if you must use a Jack O' Lantern type pumpkin are to let the
pumpkin pulp sit in the fridge for a few hours. The water will separate and can be poured off. Another solution is to add
2 more eggs to the recipe and also cook another 20 minutes longer to get a
It's easier than you'd imagine! Just
pour the cooked pumpkin, before pureeing, into a strainer or colander with a
bowl underneath it, then set the bowl in the fridge overnight. Normally , quite a bit of water comes out.
There are many conditions that affect the water content of a given pumpkin:
weather (rainfall, temperatures), soil conditions, the specific variety of
pumpkin all affect it!