This recipe was designed and tested to help you confidently make the perfect pumpkin pie with that classic silky smooth custard-like texture and a balanced spice flavor.
This from-scratch pumpkin pie filling also helps you make the leap from store-bought to homemade as it works with any pre-made pie or homemade crust you choose. Plus I'm sharing tips on selecting an ideal pie crust to help you out.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
I've been making this recipe for over 20 years now, and I haven't met a person who hasn't fallen in love with it. I call it the best not just because I think so, but because everyone else says so too!
The spice combination in this was thoroughly tested (with many more-than-willing taste testers) to achieve the right balance of flavors.
We're using three different types of sweeteners – white sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Each one brings a different flavor to the recipe which combine to create a wonderful profile. For example, brown sugar brings a unique caramel-molasses flavor.
These three sugars are added at different stages of the recipe. The solid white and brown sugars are heated and added in the pumpkin puree, while the liquid maple syrup is added at the end. These timings are key to achieving the classic smooth, custard-like texture of pumpkin pie filling.
If you want to read more about how different sugars affect recipes, you can check out this sugar guide.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
Pie pumpkin - Pie pumpkins are sweeter and have a richer flavor than a carving pumpkin, which can be bitter. If you want to make a substitution, you can use one 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree.
Half-and-half - Do not substitute with other milk. Half-and-half is what was found to work best in this recipe.
Maple syrup - The flavor of 100% maple syrup as an additional sweetener makes all the difference in this recipe. Please do not substitute with other sweeteners.
Pie crust -I recommend using a frozen or refrigerated pie crust, thawed overnight in the refrigerator.
If you have a homemade pie crust you love, then go ahead and use the recipe. I recommend using a frozen or refrigerated pie crust, thawed overnight in the refrigerator. I would avoid the crusts that are already baked/formed in a pie dish, but they do work.
Did you know you can ask your local bakery to buy some of their pie crust dough? Buying pre-made pie crust from local bakeries is a great way to support them and take a tasty shortcut to the perfect pumpkin pie.
Here is a homemade pie crust recipe I've made that works really well.
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The first step is to preheat your oven to 350F with the rack placed in the lower half of the oven. While it heats, cut the pie pumpkin in half lengthwise, then scoop out all of the seeds. Place the cut side down on a baking sheet as shown. Bake it for 1 hour.
When it's baked, let it cool so you can touch it, and remove all the skin.
I love baking my own pie pumpkin to make pumpkin puree as I find it more fresh and flavorful than buying canned, though canned pumpkin puree does work in this recipe.
While the pumpkin is baking, prepare your pie dish with your pie crust. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Blind bake the crust by covering it with parchment paper and weighing it down with dry beans, pie weights, small shapes of dried pasta noodles, or even clean pennies and other change. Bake the pie crust for 10-12 minutes.
After peeling the pumpkin, add 2 cups of the pumpkin meat along with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt to a food processor and blend it for 1 minute.
Next, add the spiced pumpkin puree from the food processor to a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until heated through, ~5 minutes. This helps release the amazing flavor and aroma of those spices!
Next, add the half & half and the maple syrup to the mixture. Whisk until it's all fully incorporated.
Turn off the heat. Then, add the eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk until these are fully incorporated too.
Add the pumpkin pie filling to your prepared pie dish with the already blind-baked pie dough. Bake the pie for ~1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into it.
Be patient - this is the hardest part, but it's important to let the custard set!
Pumpkin Pie FAQs
Insert a knife or toothpick into the center of the pumpkin pie. If it comes out clean, then it is ready. If you don't want to insert a knife in the center, then you can check the doneness of the filling by shaking the pie and making sure it isn't jiggly. Note: Inserting a knife into the center can cause the top to crack.
I've used all sorts from Pillsbury Pie Crusts to my local bakery's finest. As long as its a frozen or refrigerated crust, it will work well. This article gives a review of some great ones to buy.
Pie pumpkins are sweeter and have a richer flavor than a carving pumpkin, which can be a little bitter. If you want to substitute, use a can of pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin puree in a can is just pureed, roasted pie pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling is usually pre-sweetened and spiced with pumpkin spice (cinnamon, allspice, clove, and ginger).
Pre-cooking the filling does wonders for the taste of the pie. It releases the flavors of the spices, and cooking makes for a thicker more luxurious texture.
I love classic whipped cream with a dash of vanilla. Vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream are also great options. I wouldn't serve it with a strong flavored ice cream as it will mask the amazing taste of this pumpkin pie.
More Homemade Fall Recipes
Gather more fall recipe inspiration, and if you're getting ready for Thanksgiving, here are my favorite pies and show-stopping stuffing.
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Perfect Pumpkin Pie Filling
- 1 store bought pie crust the rolled frozen or refrigerated version at room temp
- 2 cups pie pumpkin usually 1-1.5 pie pumpkins, roasted or sub. 1 can pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups half-and-half
- ¼ cup 100% maple syrup
- 2 eggs beaten
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the meantime, preheat to 350F with the rack in the lower half of the oven.
- Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 1 hour. Let cool. Remove skin.
- Prepare your pie dish with the store bought crust. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
- Blind bake the crust by covering it with parchment paper and weighing it down with dry beans, pie weights, small shapes of dried pasta noodles, or even clean pennies and other change. Bake the pie crust for 10-12 minutes.
- After peeling the pumpkin, add 2 cups of the pumpkin meat along with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt to a food processor and blend it for 1 minute.
- Add the puree to a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until heated through, ~5 minutes.
- Add the half-and-half and maple syrup. Whisk until incorporated. Remove from heat.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk until incorporated.
- Add the pumpkin mixture to your prepared pie dish.
- Bake ~1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 1 hour...be patient, this is the hardest part!
Note: Inserting a knife into the center can cause the top to crack. If you like, substitute the pie pumpkin with pureed pumpkin in a can.
This post was originally published in November of 2017 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips in October of 2020. Updated in November 2021 with more FAQs and a video. Updated in October 2022 with revised descriptions and more FAQs.