This is literally the best pumpkin pie you will ever have! It’s a perfect pumpkin pie recipe to begin with, but then we go and blow torch it to get that crackly crème brulée topping. Guys. I thought I wasn’t a pumpkin pie lover, but I was WRONG!! Originally published November 15, 2017.
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- Amplify the holidays with this Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch
- Ingredients for Pumpkin Pie
- How to make Pumpkin Pie from Scratch
- The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe Tips
- Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe Substitutions and Variations
- How to serve the Best Pumpkin Pie
- How to store Pumpkin Pie
- More desserts that would be great for Thanksgiving!
- Best Pumpkin Pie from Scratch Recipe
Welp, here we go again guys. Miss Congeniality 1 AND 2 are available on Netflix. There go all my brain cells again. Why can’t I stop myself? I have to say, I much prefer Michael Caine as Sandra Bullock’s feminine stylist to any other role he’s played. “Wear the crown, be the crown, you AH the crown!”
I walked into my friend’s house the other day and she had her Christmas tree up. YES! The rest of the world is finally coming to accept what I’ve know for weeks now: it’s time. Christmas decorations, baking, and Bing Crosby will put you in a good mood faster than anything else this time of year.
Now don’t get all mad at me about hurting Thanksgiving’s feelings. He will get through this, I promise. I saw a post recently from a friend of mine from overseas, who pointed out that in her country they don’t have Thanksgiving, so it’s totally natural to start easing in to Christmas in early November. See?? The Europeans know how to do all the important things right. Croissants, cheese, and Christmas. What else is there?
Do they eat pumpkin pie in Europe? Is this just an American thing? I have no idea, all I know is that I’ve always kind of hated pumpkin pie. As a kid we had Pumpkin Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie, Blackberry Pie, and Mint Brownies for Thanksgiving dessert. How can pumpkin pie compete with chocolate?
My taste buds have grown up a bit since then, and now I think that pumpkin pie is okay. But I still felt like it needed a little something something to make it more interesting. And now I’ve found it: Crème Brulée topping!!
Have you made this Crème Brulée Cheesecake? Many, many people have made this recipe and said it’s the best cheesecake they’ve ever had. I’m convinced that a crackly torched topping is going to make ANY dessert 100 times better. Pumpkin pie is no exception. It’s SO GOOD.
Why you’ll love this Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe
This is a soft and creamy pumpkin pie with an almost custard-like texture. The best part by far is the crackly crème brulée topping. It makes all other pumpkin pies look like amateurs. Once you try it, nothing else is going to measure up.
Amplify the holidays with this Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch
This is a pretty classic pumpkin pie recipe, and you could make it without the crackly topping if you want to be boring. OR, you could spend 20 bucks on a kitchen torch and wow and amaze all your guests when they see your fire-wielding skillz. I thought about trying to make the pumpkin pie recipe a little more crème brulée-y, but then I realized that pumpkin pie is already a custard. I wouldn’t really want it to be any softer than it is.
On the left is the brulée that has softened and melted down the side of the pie. You have to eat it quick!
Hopefully you can tell from the photos that it’s definitely on the softer, creamier side of the Pumpkin Pie Spectrum of Softness. This is mostly because it is NOT over baked, so the pie has a chance to stay pretty soft. The result is a creamy and slightly soft pumpkin custard, that is not at ALL dry in any way. You know what I mean by dry, right? Maybe texture is a better word. Overcooked pumpkin pie just has a weird texture. No bueno.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Pie
Did you see the black pepper? Are you freaking out on me? Don’t let this be a deal breaker guys. I PROMISE this pie doesn’t taste like pepper. In this recipe, the pepper serves as an enhancer, much like salt acts to bring out the flavor of other ingredients. In this pie, we’ve got ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. It is a fantastic combo, and the black pepper just helps bring out the warmth of the other spices (It’s not going to burn your tongue or feel savory. Just perfectly spiced.) Guys, trust me, it’s so much better than pumpkin pie spice!
Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!
For the crust:
- Butter-flavor Crisco
For the filling:
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
- Heavy cream
- Fine sugar
- Whipped cream (to garnish)
Which pumpkin puree is best for pie?
We’re looking for pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Brand is not important; making sure that there are NO added ingredients is. If you try to add spices to an already-spiced and sweetened pumpkin pie filling, the flavors will be overbearing and it will taste waaaay too sweet.
Why not use pumpkin pie filling instead, you ask? Different brands of pumpkin pie filling have different levels of sweetness and different amounts of spice. You might find one you like, or you might ruin Thanksgiving. Oh my gosh I’m kidding!! For me, adding just the right amount of sugar and spice to pumpkin puree beats the pre-mixed stuff every time.
How to make Pumpkin Pie from Scratch
Here’s a quick overview of how to make this creme brulee pumpkin pie. Scroll down to the recipe card below for complete, detailed instructions!
- First make the pie crust. Start by measuring out 1/4 cup water and stick it in the freezer.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut until it looks like coarse crumbs.
- In a small bowl beat one egg. Pour out half. Add the half beaten egg to the cold water that you put in the freezer. Beat it together, then add it to the butter mixture.
- Stir until it is just coming together, then use your hands to knead it once or twice (only to make it come together). Divide the dough in half. Shape one half into a disk and put it in a ziplock bag in your freezer for the next time you make this pie.
5. Roll out the remaining dough on a well-floured surface, then transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan. Fold the edges under and crimp/shape the crust. Place the formed crust in the fridge while you make the filling.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
7. Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together white sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper.
8. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolks, and cream. Whisk until there are no lumps.
9. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake at 425 for 12 minutes.
10. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Cover the pie crust with aluminum foil so that it doesn’t get too brown. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.
11. Don’t take the pie out! Turn off the oven and open the oven door all the way for at least 5 minutes to let it cool down.
12. Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator. Chill until completely cold.
13. When you are ready to serve the pie, evenly sprinkle a thin layer of the fine sugar over the top. Use a kitchen torch to brûlée the top. Repeat with additional layers as desired.
How to tell if Pumpkin Pie is done
Over baking a pumpkin pie is a sin. Don’t do it!! When the pie is done, it won’t be set in the middle, and the outer 2 inches of the pie (closest to the crust) should not move when you shake the pan. This does mean that there might be some jiggle in the center. This is totally ok, and not a problem. You’re not cutting into a warm pumpkin pie (at least you better not be!), and once chilled the pie will be the perfect custardy texture.
The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe Tips
Here are the best tips for how to make sure your pumpkin pie turns out perfectly.
- Avoid cracks by cooling slowly. Pumpkin pie is a custard, and custard puffs as it cooks. When it cools, it shrinks and pulls to the edges, causing cracks in your pie. We want it to shrink slowly, so dramatic temperature changes are a big no no. When your pie is done baking, don’t take it out of the oven. Instead, turn off the oven and open the oven door all the way to let it cool down. This will take at least 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you can shut the oven door if you want, but leave it open a crack if possible.
- Make homemade filling. If you need a shortcut on this pie, you’re going to want to buy a premade crust, not a premade filling. The problem with premade filling is that the spice and sugar levels are set–you can’t adjust them to your preferences if it’s too much or just not right. Homemade filling is fast and easy to make, and you can add the perfect amount of each spice.
- Create a crackly crust for your pie. I am alllll about the creme brulee topping. It totally makes it! Sprinkle fine sugar on the top of your pie and then use a kitchen torch to turn it perfectly crunchy.
- Don’t over bake your pie. Pumpkin pie is meant to have a creamy, custardy texture. If you bake it until the center is completely set, you’ve probably gone too far. The edges of the pie should be set (about 2 inches from the edge).
Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe Substitutions and Variations
I can’t really recommend this because I’ve never had a store-bought pumpkin pie that I liked, but if you are on a real time crunch I suppose you could buy a pie, then sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and torch it. A pretty good hack to make a store bought dessert way better! But…if you have time. Make this pie. It’s amazing!
How to serve the Best Pumpkin Pie
Since the crackly creme brulee topping doesn’t stay crackly for long, it’s important to serve the pie immediately after torching it. You have about 15-20 minutes before the topping starts softening. But don’t freak out if you have leftover pie that’s now soft on top–whenever you’re ready to eat another slice, add more sugar and torch again.
Best topping for Pumpkin Pie
Obviously I think the best pumpkin pie topping is the crackly, sweet creme brulee goodness we’re creating with sugar and a kitchen torch. But a close second is fresh whipped cream (or canned is good too, I’m no snob when it comes to whipped cream). Honestly I can’t imagine pumpkin pie without it, can you?
What to do with leftover Pumpkin Pie Filling
This recipe makes the perfect amount of pumpkin pie filling, so you’re not likely to find yourself with any leftovers. However, if for whatever reason you DO have pumpkin pie filling that won’t fit in your pie, I recommend baking it in a smaller container. It won’t have a crust, but you can still top it with whipped cream, and even sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top, yum! To be clear: we’re talking about pumpkin pie filling that you’ve made fresh at home with eggs and cream in it, not the canned stuff labeled “pumpkin pie filling” that just has sugar and spices. If you bake pumpkin pie filling from the can with nothing else in it, it will just be hot pumpkin pie filling.
How to store Pumpkin Pie
Does Pumpkin Pie need to be refrigerated?
Yes, for sure. Pumpkin pie is a chilled, custard pie and you should keep it in the fridge when you’re not serving it. It’s fine to leave it on the counter for up to 2 hours but after that, better to put it back in the fridge.
How long does Pumpkin Pie last in the fridge?
You can keep pumpkin pie in the fridge for 3-4 days. After that, it might be good to call the neighbors over to help you out with the leftovers. At this point they probably only have a turkey leg and a vat of cranberry sauce anyway and will welcome your pie.
How long does Pumpkin Pie last unrefrigerated?
You can leave your pumpkin pie on the counter for a couple hours before it might start growing bacteria. Since pumpkin pie is best served chilled anyway, just pop it back in the fridge when you’re not actively serving it.
Can you freeze pumpkin pie?
Yes you can! I recommend doing this before you add the sugar and torch it. After your baked pie is completely cool, wrap it tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. You can keep it in the freezer for up to a month. This is a level of planning ahead I have not yet achieved but imagine how awesome YOU will feel when you pull your already baked pie out the day before Thanksgiving to defrost overnight!
I really hope you get to try this pie out for Thanksgiving! It will be a showstopper, I promise! Let me see your creations, tag #TheFoodCharlatan on Instagram!
More desserts that would be great for Thanksgiving!
Crème Brulée Cheesecake << this is one incredible dessert. You will not regret it!
Easy Pumpkin Pie Cake << no crust-making required!
Chocolate Cream Pie << I tested this so many time…and it’s PERFECT.
Best Dutch Apple Pie << There’s something about streusel and apple that’s just flawless.
Apple Custard Pie with Cinnamon Streusel << Everyone who makes this one loves it!
Pumpkin Pie Crunch from Spend with Pennies << this sounds SO good!
Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Pie from Pressure Cooking Today
Mini Pumpkin Pies from A Family Feast
Best Pumpkin Pie from Scratch
For the crust
- 2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, COLD, cut into chunks (1 stick)
- 6 tablespoons butter-flavored Crisco
- 1/2 beaten egg
- 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups pumpkin puree, not pumpkin mix!
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 & 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoons fine sugar**
- whipped cream, to garnish
- First make the pie crust.* Note: this pie crust recipe makes 2 crusts and you only need one, so you can freeze one for later. Or use it to make this Cheesecake Pecan Pie. Do it do it!
- Measure out 1/4 cup water into a glass measuring cup and stick it in the freezer.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
- Use a pastry cutter. Cut until it looks like coarse crumbs. Don't overdo it!
- In a small bowl beat one egg. Pour out half (into the sink or into another container, or heck, into a frying pan). You can just eyeball it. I know this is annoying, but it makes for SUCH a tender crust!
- Add the half beaten egg to the cold water that you put in the freezer. Beat it together, then add it to the butter mixture. Stir until it is just coming together, then use your hands to knead it once or twice (only to make it come together). Divide the dough in half. Shape one half into a disk and put it in a ziplock bag in your freezer for the next time you make this pie.
- Roll out the remaining dough on a well-floured surface. I love to use my pastry cloth.
- Roll the dough loosely on the rolling pin to transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Fold the edges under and crimp/shape the crust however you want. Place the formed crust in the fridge while you make the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 and 1/2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper.
- Add the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, and cream. Whisk until there are no lumps.
- Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
- Bake at 425 for 12 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Cover the pie crust with aluminum foil so that it doesn’t get too brown. The center of the pie should be uncovered. (see photos)
- Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes. The pie will NOT be set in the middle. When it is done, the outer 2 inches of the pie (closest to the crust) should not move when you shake the pan. Over baking is what makes for a boring pumpkin pie texture, so don’t over bake!
- Don’t take the pie out! Turn off the oven and open the oven door all the way for at least 5 minutes to let it cool down. If it’s annoying to have the oven door open, after 5 minutes shut the oven door but leave it open a crack if possible. Pumpkin pie is a custard, and custard puffs as it cooks. When it cools, it shrinks and pulls to the edges, causing cracks in your pie. We want it to shrink slowly, so no dramatic temperature changes.
- Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 2-3 hours, until completely cold.
- When you are ready to serve the pie, evenly sprinkle some of the fine sugar over the top. A thin layer is best. Use a kitchen torch to brulee the top. Make sure you keep the flame moving, don't stay in one spot. The sugar will start to bubble and brown. Do NOT let the flame touch the crust. It will burn instantly.
- If you like, you can sprinkle with more sugar and repeat the torching process. Just like when you’re painting a wall, multiple thin layers are better than 1 thick layer. The sugar will become crackly within 1-2 minutes after torching.
- Since you can’t get near the crust, you will probably have a ring of sugar around the perimeter of your pie. I used a pastry brush to sweep it toward the center and torch it. Then I wet the brush just a tiny bit and brushed the very edge of the crust so that it wasn’t white anymore. You only need to do this if presentation is really important to you.
- You have about 15-20 minutes before the crackles on top of the pie start to go soft. The torching really does have to happen last minute. The good news is that you can always just add more sugar and torch again, as many times as you like. I’ve been torching each individual leftover slice all week.
- Serve with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon!