Pumpkin pie and fall go together like… Well.. Fall and pumpkin pie! With Thanksgiving fast approaching, having a simple, old fashioned pumpkin pie recipe handy is not just necessary, it’s tradition. This vintage pumpkin pie recipe actually comes from my great grandmother – and it’s by FAR the best tasting pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.
In all my life I’ve never found a better fresh pumpkin pie recipe. It’s that good.
The spices are perfectly balanced, the creamy filling is made from real pumpkin, and the crust always comes out flaky and tender.
As far as this recipe’s vintage goes, it actually dates back to 1900. It came from my great gran’s 1900’s recipe card and, sadly, without instructions. So it was interesting trying to figure out her secret to making old fashioned pumpkin pie from scratch!
Yep, it surely was an adventure figuring out how to make it. First of all, this is a pumpkin pie recipe with whole milk or heavy cream, but apparently in Gran’s days they called that ‘rich milk’.
She also included sweet potato as a substitute for pumpkin in this recipe so this recipe actually doubles for (equally delicious) sweet potato pie as well!
Does Pumpkin Pie Need to be Refrigerated?
You’re making fresh pumpkin pie, not something full of preservatives. The combination of whole milk, and egg (AKA proteins) make pumpkin pies a breeding ground for bacteria. Store your pie in the fridge after it’s cooled for up to 3-4 days.
Now, if your question is whether or not you should serve pumpkin pie warm or cold, that’s up to you. Enjoy it right out of the oven, or pop it into the fridge for a few hours if cold pie is more your thing. Refrigerated pumpkin pie can also be warmed up in the microwave.
How to tell when your pumpkin pie is done baking?
There’s two things to check: the crust and the filling. Pie crust is done when it looks golden brown in color and has a flaky texture.
The pumpkin pie filling is done when it’s ‘set’. This means that it doesn’t jiggle when you move it, or when an inserted knife or cake tester comes out clean.
Since this is an old fashioned pumpkin pie recipe the ingredients are quite simple. You’ll need a pie crust, egg, sugar, strained pumpkin or sweet potato, and whole milk (or rich milk, check out the notes at the bottom for more on this). For spices you’ll need ground cinnamon, clove or ginger, and allspice or nutmeg.
With all these options maybe I should call this “whatever you have handy” pumpkin pie!
How to Make Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie – Step by Step
- Before you get started, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg well with a fork or whisk. Then pour it, along with the sugar, salt, cinnamon, clove or ginger, allspice or nutmeg, and 1 cup of strained pumpkin or sweet potato into a blender. Blend well until smooth.
- Leaving the mixture in the blender, bring 1 cup of whole milk to a boil. Once it starts boiling, remove your milk from the heat.
- Slowly pour the boiling milk into the pumpkin pie mixture and blend until it’s smooth and creamy.
- Add your pumpkin pie filling to a homemade pie crust that has been pre baked for 15 minutes.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the filling is set and the edges are golden brown.
- Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool completely. Enjoy warm, or chill it in the refrigerator if you prefer cold pumpkin pie.
Can You Freeze Pumpkin Pie?
Yes!! This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving life hacks. Pumpkin pie can be made ahead and will stay perfect in the freezer for about a month or two.
If you plan to freeze your pumpkin pie, bake it in a disposable aluminum pie pan. After baking, let the pie cool completely. Then wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap or slip it into a large freezer bag.
Thaw your pumpkin pie in the fridge at least 12 hours before you plan to eat it. Thawing at room temperature will give the pie soggy crust that might make your Thanksgiving guests think you’re not the amazing pie baker I know you are.
Pro Tips/Recipe Notes
- For the crust: any traditional pie crust will work with this pumpkin pie filling. If you have a go-to, use that! Personally, I love making fresh all butter pie crust. To save time, though, you can also reach for a frozen pie crust too!
- If you go the homemade pie crust route, make sure to pre bake it for 15 minutes before adding your pumpkin pie filling. Pre baking helps keep your pie from getting soggy.
- If you find your pie crust burns, you can actually use aluminum foil to help prevent it. Cut a circle out of the foil to fit around your pie crust, then gently press it over the edges. Make sure to leave the center of the pie exposed so it bakes evenly.
- Another great pie crust tip is to brush it with an egg wash. To make egg wash, just beat an egg together with two tablespoons of milk or water. Then brush along your crust! Egg washed crust will have a nicer color and texture to it.
- This recipe calls for something called rich milk. Rich milk is an antiquated term used to describe either whole milk or cream (it’s somewhat unclear.) What I do know about rich milk is that it does require some kind of fat, so don’t substitute the whole milk for skim milk in this recipe.
- If you’re making this for the first time as a Thanksgiving dessert, consider making two pies ahead, enjoying one now and freezing the other one for later.
- Serve pumpkin pie warm or cold (I prefer cold). Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
How to Cook Pumpkin for Pie?
Making your own fresh pumpkin pie filling isn’t as difficult as you’d think. All you need is a pumpkin, parchment paper, and a baking sheet!
The most important part is to start with the right pumpkin. The best ones for pies are labelled ‘sugar’ or ‘pie’ pumpkins. They’re usually smaller than the carving pumpkins you see in the big bins outside the grocery store.
Slice the pumpkin in half, clean out the guts and seeds, and then place your pumpkin halves cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 45 minutes at 450 degrees. You’ll know they’re done when you can easily stab them with a fork.
Even though this is pumpkin pie with real pumpkin, you can substitute fresh pumpkin with canned pumpkin puree in this recipe too.
More Pumpkin Desserts
The best part about fall is pumpkin everything! If pie isn’t your thing, you might like these Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies. If you’re on a health kick, these Pumpkin Pecan Crumble Overnight Oats will do the trick to satisfy those fall cravings. Oh! And don’t forget to add this Pumpkin Spice Bread and these Pumpkin Rolls to your fall baking list. Last, but definitely not least, is another pumpkin pie style recipe from my grandma you absolutely have to try.
Did you decorate your Thanksgiving table with this delicious traditional pumpkin pie recipe? I’d love to see it! Tag me in your picture on Instagram @happymoneysaver and use the hashtag #happymoneysaver!
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie
Homemade Pie Crust (or use store bought)
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup cold ice water
Pumpkin Pie Filling
- 1 cup pumpkin puree strained
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp ground clove
- 1/3 tsp ground allspice
- 1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/3 tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup whole milk or heavy whipping cream
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add butter, and using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut butter into flour until pea sized pieces form. Add ice water, about a tablespoon at a time and using a wooden spoon, combine gently until dough holds together. Then using your hands, form dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Unwrap pie dough disk and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour on dough and rolling pin. Pressing down gently with rolling pin, roll out dough until if forms a 12-inch (30 cm) circle about 1/4 inch (0.5cm) thick, flouring underneath and on top of the dough to prevent sticking. Transfer to a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate and trim overhand to 3/4 inch (2cm). Fold dough edge under itself and crimp decoratively. Place in fridge to chill for 5 minutes.
- While that is chilling measure out your pumpkin pie filling ingredients. I prefer to use my blender to combine them but you can also use a bowl and a whisk instead. Add your pumpkin puree, sugar, beaten egg, salt, cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg and ginger. Blend well using the blender or by whisking.
- Measure out the whole milk or cream and add it to a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl. Heat milk just until boiling.
- Slowly pour the boiling milk into pumpkin mixture while blending or whisking until smooth and creamy.
- While waiting for the milk to boil, place pie into oven, add pie weights or crumpled up parchment paper in the bottom to help pie crust from bubbling up and pre-bake for 10 minutes.
- Pour hot pumpkin pie filling into warm pre-baked pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Then cover the pie crust edges with foil and reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking until the center has set (or is no longer wobbly), about 45 minutes.
- Cool pie completely on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Decorate with whipped cream and sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired. Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
This recipe was originally posted on Nov 4, 2014. It has been updated with better photos and more tips on November 10th, 2020.