Homemade Pumpkin Pie
You can make the pie dough ahead of time.
Once you start making pie dough in advance, your whole life will change. Make a few batches of a double crust pie dough recipe every few months, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or a freezer safe bag and stash them in the freezer. Defrost the dough in the fridge overnight (or at least 5 hours ahead) when you have a pie craving. Plus, by stocking up, you’ll never have to wait for pie dough to rest ever again.
Use cold (really cold!) butter.
For any pie-baking newbies, cold butter = flaky crust. When mixing the dough in the food processor, you’re looking for pea-size (or a bit larger) clumps of butter. If you over-mix the dough, you risk a crust that comes out tough, and no one wants that.Apple cider vinegar is the secret ingredientJust a little bit of vinegar in the dough helps make your crust more tender and the dough easier to work with. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, vodka, or lemon juice will work too. Chill the pie crust before bakingAfter draping the pie crust into the pie plate and crimping the sides, it’s important to chill the dough to keep the crust from slumping in the oven. Place the whole thing in the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 10 minutes.
Par-bake the pie crust.
Partially baking the crust before you add filling—especially custardy fillings like pumpkin—will help prevent the bottom from turning into mush. As Mary Berry would say, “no soggy bottoms!”
Brown sugar is best for pumpkin pie.
Though granulated will work too, the toasty, caramel-y notes in brown sugar make it the perfect sweetener for pumpkin pie, which is packed with warm spices. You don’t actually have to buy pumpkin pie spice.We’re big fans of making our own pumpkin spice blend—but you don’t even need to do that. Instead you can just add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, and ¼ teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground nutmeg.
Cool it like you would cheesecake.
Pumpkin pie is ready when it’s still slightly jiggly in the center—just like cheesecake. You should cool it the same way you would a classic cheesecake, in a turned off oven with the door propped open for an hour. This helps prevent the pie from cracking. But if that does happen, don’t worry, you can just cover each slice with a big plop of whipped cream.
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
- Make the crust: Place flour and butter into freezer for 30 minutes before starting crust process.
- In a large food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until pea-sized and some slightly larger pieces form. With the machine running, add vinegar, then ice water into feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough starts to come together and is moist but not wet and sticky (test by squeezing some with your fingers). Mixture will be crumbly.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, form into a ball, and flatten into a disk (making sure there are no/minimal cracks).
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is very cold, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Make the filling: Preheat oven to 425º and lightly grease a 9”-x-1.5” pie dish with cooking spray.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12” circle. Drape over pie dish and gently press to fit (don’t stretch). Prick bottom with a fork, trim edge to 1”, tuck overhang under itself, and crimp. Refrigerate 30 minutes or freeze 10 minutes.
- Line crust with parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 minutes, then remove parchment and weights. Reduce heat to 350º.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, cream, brown sugar, beaten eggs, flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and vanilla until smooth.
- Pour pumpkin mixture into par-baked crust. Bake until filling is slightly jiggly in the middle and crust is golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in turned off oven with door propped open for 1 hour, then cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
- Serve with whipped cream, if desired.