Fall brings flavors and colors we love, with one classic I can’t wait to bring back to my kitchen: Delicious pumpkin pie. Why wait till the holiday season when this traditional favorite is so easy to make and perfect for breakfast and snacktime, not just dessert? Remember, people: Pumpkin pie delivered “pumpkin spice” to our tables long before a certain brand gave us that name!
It’s Always Time for a Delicious Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie is on the table in my house all year long. Not just on the holiday menu, around, and always disappears quickly. I love everything about it, from its beautiful colors to its subtle sweetness, creamy texture, and most of all, irresistible celebration of sweet spices.
Back when certain ubiquitous coffee shops were unknown in the world, pumpkin spice was a thing home cooks and bakers knew and loved. Pumpkin pie spice has been a beloved spice blend for decades, and it’s not just for pies.
In this recipe, I’ve given a note about my favorite combination of spices for making pumpkin pie: Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. But you can use your favorite mixture — just stir in about a teaspoon of the aromatic spices you enjoy and you’ll have your signature pumpkin pie.
Making a Switch: Will Coconut Milk Work?
Big “Yes!” in this recipe. Whenever I can offer an a), b), or c) choice to cooks, I love to do it. When I looked in my pantry for the evaporated milk I usually use in pumpkin pie, I noticed unsweetened coconut milk on the same shelf, and decided to find out whether I could subsitute coconut milk for evaporated in this pie. I did so, and was pleased with how it worked.
No difference in flavor, no “coconutty!” sensations, as the flavor of coconut milk is a general richness rather than a strong taste. Using coconut milk in place of dairy products means that a given dish can become vegan, and accessible to people who for whom dairy products present problems. This recipe uses eggs, so coconut milk alone won’t ‘veganize’ it, but I’m working on a vegan pumpkin pie for an upcoming post.
A Great Resource for Cooks on Substitutions
What Can I Use in Place of XYZ? Since I’m on the subject of what will work in place of evaporated milk in this recipe, here’s a resource you might love, as I do. I have a solid-gold source for cooks who like to know what’s what, how ingredients work in particular reicpes, and especially how we can make smart substitutions in recipes.
The Food Substitutions Bible is a superb culinary reference book by my friend David Joachim. It’s a book I count on, both as I cook and as I write about food. It’s my go-to with questions while I’m developing recipes, and a great resource when I’m cooking at home and realize I’m out of x and wonder what I could use instead to avoid a trip to the store.
For another pie to fill out your fall dessert menu, consider my Coconut Custard pie. It’s simple to stir together and offers a pleasing contrast in texture and sweetness to pumpkin pie. Both pies love some whipped cream on the side, but don’t need it. Plain or fancy, these please my family and me every time.
- 1 unbaked 9-inch piecrust
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
- 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or see NOTE)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk or half and half
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, sorghum syrup, pure cane syrup, or corn syrup
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- Use this spice mixture: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (OR use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the granulated sugar and the brown sugar, the spice mixture, and the salt in a small bowl, stir with a fork to mix well, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs well, and then add evaporated milk, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree.
- Using a whisk, a fork, or a wooden spoon, stir to combine everything well.
- Add the sugar mixture and mix well, scraping the bowl often, until everything comes together into a thick, smooth filling.
- Pour into the prepared piecrust and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake until the pie is puffed around the edges, and the filling is firm and mostly set --- a little jiggle in the middle is fine.
- Place on a cooling rack or folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature.
While your delicious pumpkin pie is baking, up your pumpkin knowledge! Here’s a quick lesson on pumpkin-y pleasures. It’s Pumpkin #101 with Kenneth Wingard of Home & Family on Hallmark Channel.