The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe - rich, creamy, and velvety smooth, here’s the winner of the Pumpkin Pie Challenge. Discover the secret to the creamiest, smoothest Pumpkin Pie with the deepest, richest pumpkin flavor.
In my canned pumpkin vs. fresh pumpkin puree Pumpkin Pie Challenge, canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin puree faced off in a blind taste test. I made four pumpkin pies using canned pumpkin, sugar (pie) pumpkin, kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin), and butternut squash. Which was the winner?
The taste testers unanimously preferred the kabocha squash and butternut squash pies for their deep, sweet, pumpkin flavor and their incredible, silky smoothness.
The kabocha squash and butternut squash made velvety smooth pies with a richer, pumpkin flavor – just how the perfect Pumpkin Pie should taste.
I made the pie on the back of the Libby's can for years. I started making Homemade Pumpkin Puree when I moved to Dubai and couldn't find Libby's pumpkin and often times, no canned pumpkin at all. Dubai did, however, have all sorts of cool looking pumpkins and squash imported from around the world. Turns out that the pies made from fresh puree were full of flavor and ultra smooth. Check out my post Pumpkin Puree vs Canned Pumpkin – The Pumpkin Pie Challenge where I compared canned pumpkin and three types of pumpkin/squash.
Why do I say pumpkin/squash? Since squash is the general term for the fruits that belong to the genus Cucurbita, and since pumpkin is from the genus Cucurbita, you can say that a pumpkin is just a kind of squash.
Kabocha Squash (Japanese Pumpkin)
It turns out that Libby’s canned pumpkin is actually a variety of squash called Dickinson that resembles butternut squash in appearance, flavor, and texture. Kabocha and butternut squash, as well as other varieties such as red kuri, have a sweeter, deeper flavor and less moisture than the common sugar (pie) pumpkin. They also have a better flavor and much better texture for pie than canned pumpkin.
Kabocha squash or butternut squash puree is made by roasting and pureeing the squash. Check out my post on Homemade Pumpkin Puree for a step by step photo tutorial. Any pumpkin/squash can be roasted and pureed in this way.
The pumpkin/squash is cut in half and the seeds are scraped out. It is lightly salted and roasted cut side down for almost an hour. Roasting helps dry out some of the moisture and deepens the flavor. After the squash cools, it is pureed in a food processor.
The pie crust is prebaked to keep it flaky and prevent it from getting soggy. Check out my step by step photo tutorial on How to Make a Flaky Pie Crust.
While the crust is prebaking, the filling is mixed together, then poured into the still warm crust. I put a ring of aluminum foil around the crimped edge of the crust so it doesn't continue to brown while baking. The pie is done when the middle is nearly set but still wobbly. The filling will continue to set after it is taken out of the oven. Overbaking can cause cracks in the pie and a dry filling.
Serve with whipped cream and Enjoy!
Don't forget to pin for later!Print
The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe - Pumpkin Pie Challenge Winner
- Prebaked 9 inch pie crust
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar (99g)
- ½ cup brown sugar (107g)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (8g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 15oz pumpkin puree, about 2 cups (or one 15oz can) (425g)
- 1 cup heavy cream (227g)
- ¼ cup milk (57g)
- The oven temperature should be heated to 375 degrees F. If you are making my Flaky Pie Crust, you will reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F after removing the crust from the oven and let it reach 375 degrees before baking the pie..
While the crust is prebaking, prepare the filling:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk.
- Add the sugars, cornstarch, salt, and spices and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Whisk in the pumpkin puree then the cream and milk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour into warm, prebaked pie crust.
- Cover the crimped edges of the pie crust with a ring of foil so it doesn’t continue to brown while baking. Be careful not to let it touch the filling.
- Bake on a baking sheet in a 375 degree F oven until the center is almost set but still wobbly, about 50-60 minutes. Don’t over bake.
- Remove pie from oven and remove foil ring.
- Let cool on a baking rack for several hours.
- Serve with whipped cream.
2 ½ teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice can be used in place of the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
You might also like:
How to Make a Flaky Pie Crust - Step by Step Photos:
Pumpkin Puree vs Canned Pumpkin – The Pumpkin Pie Challenge:
Homemade Pumpkin Puree - Step by Step Photos:
mimi rippee says
This is such a fabulous experiment! Thank you! Definitely printing. I'm making one pie, and it will be pumpkin, serving with mincemeat ice cream!
Thanks so much, Mimi! I've been so looking forward to doing it. Mincemeat ice cream sounds amazing!
Congratulations to this delicious winner!
It looks fabulous!
So perfect for this time of the year.
Thanks so much, Paul!
butternut pumpkin is a fave here too. and cooks down wonderfully well. your pie looks fab. cheers sherry
Thanks so much, Sherry! It was a bit of a project but well worth it! We love our pumpkin desserts here in the U.S.. I also love pumpkin in savory dishes, that salty-sweet combination. And it adds such a lovely creaminess. 🙂
It turned out so perfect! Must try this pumpkin filling soon. Thanks, Kelly! p.s Kabocha is one my top favourite squashes.
So glad I discovered the kabocha squash. It was delicious! Thanks so much, Angie!
Oh man! I have never seen a more perfect piece of pumpkin pie! I feel like I could grab my fork and dig right in! I can see why this would win! Pie Perfection! Pinned!
Thanks so much, Annie! It was so creamy and delicious!
David @ Spiced says
I absolutely appreciate the extra efforts you've gone to in creating the perfect pumpkin pie. These posts have been so informative! Talk about a dedication to your craft. 🙂 Plus, I bet your family and friends were quite happy when you decided to tackle this project! Thanks so much for the tips and tricks...and bring on the pie!
Thanks so much, David! It was a big project but well worth the effort. We certainly did eat a LOT of pumpkin pie!
An interesting experiment, the pictures are mouthwatering. I have only had pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin because the canned one is not available in Germany. I did try another pumpkin cake once, which required canned pumpkin. As I didn't have any, I used homemade pumpkin puree, but it was a disaster, so I thought the two are quite different in the end... Is there anything to take in consideration when using homemade pumpkin puree instead of canned one?
Great question, Adina! I use canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin interchangeably with great success. The most important thing would be to make sure the fresh puree has the same thickness and moisture content as the canned pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin tends to have more moisture. Roasting the pumpkin removes some of the moisture. Also some varieties of pumpkin/squash have more moisture than others, so choosing a less watery pumpkin like butternut squash or kabocha squash will result in a thicker puree. If your puree is more watery you can strain it over cheese cloth for about an hour until it reaches the right consistency. Another tip would be to cook the puree over medium heat, stirring often, until it thickens. This also deepens the pumpkin flavor. According to the USDA, at the proper density, one cup of pumpkin puree should weigh 245 grams.
Hi! So the recipe calls for pumpkin purée have you used just canned pumpkin for this recipe? I ask because squash can be hard to come by where I’m from and if they do have it at the store it looks a bit off.
Yes, Andrea, canned pumpkin works just fine in this recipe. In my Pumpkin Pie Challenge, I also made this pie with canned pumpkin. While the taste testers preferred the fresh pumpkin, the canned pumpkin pie was delicious as well. Canned pumpkin is definitely the way to go if you're not sure about the quality of the pumpkin or squash you find. One advantage of canned pumpkin is that its quality is consistent. Thanks for stopping by!
I was at my vegetable stand today on the lookout for a Kabocha squash. None to be found or even one similar, but my friendly vegetable provider has said she'll order some. So, I can now have pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner and it'll be your pumpkin pie recipe I use. Thanks for the informative series.
Such an honor to be at your holiday table, Ron! Hope you enjoy it!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
This looks incredibly smooth, creamy and straight up delicious, Kelly!! I wish I was taste testing pie right now 😉 Such a great experiment!
Thanks so much, Dawn! I'm doing another mini pumpkin pie experiment at my family's on Thanksgiving. Still have to convince my dad!
Stacey @ The Sugar Coated Cottage says
What a great challenge! I will have to try this version with the squash because I love a really intense pumpkin flavor. The texture looks like perfection and so does that crust. Take care.
Thanks so much, Stacey! The taste and texture were awesome!
Laura Dembowski says
I love that you did a test to find out the best pumpkin pie. What an awesome idea!
Thanks so much, Laura! I figured it was the only way to know for sure which made the best pie 🙂
My sweet tooth can hardly stand it either! Why are your layers always so perfect?
Thanks so much, Carly!
Ok, after sending you a comment over my first pie being a bit bland, 1st I changed from light brown sugar to dark, upped the amt of spices just a bit, added a little allspice & then topped with a homemade vanilla whipped topping! I won my first pie contest! One of the ladies said they try not to make any facial expressions but my pie was too delicious Thank You!!!
Congratulations, MaryAnne! I'm so happy to hear that!