Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Best Pumpkin Pie Ever – Come for the Pie, Stay for the Dollop

This Thanksgiving, we’re assuming your turkey will be juicy; your mashed potatoes lump-free; and your gravy, smooth as silk. You are a regular visitor here, after all. 

However, it’s probably not a bad idea to hedge your bets and serve a pumpkin pie so tasty and texturally perfect that no matter what goes wrong, everyone will leave with a smile on their face, and a delicious memory in their heart. By the way, this is that pie. 

After many years of experimentation, I’ve finally perfected what I think is the ideal formula. As I mention in the video, I’ve removed an egg white, and replaced it with some additional yolks. This results in a pie that’s not only richer, but also much less likely to crack.

Of course, you still need to not to overcook it. An extra 5 minutes in the oven is kryptonite to even the most brilliant pumpkin pie formulas. Use the knife test I demonstrated and you should be fine. Worst case, there’s always the whipped cream. Ah, the whipped cream.

I remember my friend, and world-famous photographer, Andrew Scrivani telling me about a food stylist whose spoon work is so sexy and enticing that she makes a good living just specializing in dollops. Well, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for ruining her career.

Once the world sees the slow-mo magic that is the old, “twist, three-thrusts, and a pull,” I’m assuming she’ll be out of business in no time. That’s right, now anyone will be able to do magazine-quality dollops like a boss (and by boss, I mean overpaid food stylist).

Anyway, ruined careers aside, this really is a fantastic, and incredibly easy pumpkin pie recipe, and I sincerely hope you consider adding it to your holiday menu this year. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one pumpkin pie:
1 can (15 ounce) pumpkin
1 large egg
3 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly, and very finely ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 tsp Chinese 5-spice (or to sub: a small pinch each of ground star anise, ground cloves, and ground white pepper)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
9-inch unbaked pie crust

View the complete recipe

69 comments:

Trigger said...

Looks absolutely fabulous...but I was REALLY hoping...for all us Ex-pats that follow you religiously for "home" cooking...you were going to use fresh pumpkin. We can't get canned pumpkin unless you spend a ton to order it online. Sigh...I know fresh pumpkin has much more moisture than canned...any tips?

Gary Higgins said...

Running out to the store now to make this and the tartlets tonight as a test run for thanksgiving. Will update.

Chef John said...

Sorry, but yes, the pure pumpkin puree in the can is far superior to homemade! Usually sweeter and denser. The only thing you can do is get really sweet sugar pumpkins and roast the chucks until they are caramelized and sort of dehydrated a bit, then puree.

Blue Arc said...

I agree. Canned pumpkin is consistently good. Fresh is hit and miss at best. Is it as sweet as the one where you add sugar to the evaporated milk? I never used condensed before. I loves me some pumpkin pie!

beeje11 said...

I'm surprised you didn't blind bake the crust for a little while. It seems like for this amount of cooking time the crust would be slightly undercooked. Did you have any problems with that?

whereforeartistry said...

I think you've convinced me to give this recipe a try! I like the idea of a more custard-like consistency. However, I do have a question. I have some friends who are severely lactose intolerant(actually allergic) and I wondered if there was anything I could use instead in place of sweetened condensed milk? Could I make my own sweetened condensed "milk" by reducing almond milk, sugar, and a little vanilla?

Miss B said...

You've convinced me to try this recipe and break away from the one on the back of the can! I do have one question though. I have some friends who are lactose allergic and I was wondering if I could substitute something for the sweetened condensed milk? Do you think I could make my own sweetened condensed "milk" by reducing down almond milk, sugar, and a little vanilla extract? (I've made pie crust with almond milk before so the filling is the only thing I'm worried about making lactose free.)

Miss B said...

You've convinced me to try this recipe and break away from the one on the back of the can! I do have one question though. I have some friends who are lactose allergic and I was wondering if I could substitute something for the sweetened condensed milk? Do you think I could make my own sweetened condensed "milk" by reducing down almond milk, sugar, and a little vanilla extract? (I've made pie crust with almond milk before so the filling is the only thing I'm worried about making lactose free.)

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I can't help with the lactose question! No experience. You'd be better off Googling for an expert.

Chef John said...

RE: Blind baking... Suit yourself, it's your pie! ;) Never been enough of a problem to be bothered. The crust cooks fine, it just looks raw where it's in contact with filling.

Sigi said...

Butternut Squash: Chef John, would it be safe to try this recipe with butternut squash, home baked?

meatypuffs said...

Surprised I didn't see a touch of cayenne used! Looks delicious, I'm definitely going to bake a couple of these. I might try a practice run with a little bit of cayenne for a subtle heat. Thanks Chef!

meatypuffs said...

Surprised I didn't see cayenne in the recipe! Looks delicious, I will definitely be telling my grandmother not to bake her usual (crappy) frozen pies and just let me bake these instead. I might add a touch of cayenne on a trial run for a bit of subtle heat. Thanks Chef!

Nel said...

I love this recipe. I want to use it to make a sweet potato pie. But I'd like to use unsweetened coconut milk instead of sweetened condensed milk. Do you think the pie will bake the same if I add honey or maple syrup to sweeten it?

Sou said...

This looks amazing! I love pumpkin pie and the use of sweeten condense milk sounds fantastic. This is definitely being made for Thanksgiving. Thank you.

Ed Adams said...

Mmmm, made this last night and it turned out fabulous. Thanks Chef.

BexC said...

Nice touch with the five spice! Must try

sue.[hearts].u said...

Hey that does not look like miracle whip or reddiwhip!?! Chef, did u make that as well <3

Laura said...

I've made this pie three times already and it was perfect every time. I'm in always in charge of dessert for thanksgiving. Although I'm usually pretty good at baking any other time, I always happen to mess it up for thanksgiving and my grandma is convinced that I'll never make it as a human being. This year I will prove her wrong!! Please say a pumpkin pie prayer for me.

Gary Higgins said...

Update Here:

First the bad news. The tartlets were nice but nothing great.


Now the good news. WOW! Easily the best pumpkin pie I have ever tasted or made. And so very simple.


Just amazing. Selling some at the wife's church bazaar tomorrow to raise money for victims of hurricane Sandy. I am going to try a vanilla variation, too, for myself since for the first time it was both sweet and savory and I suspect vanilla bean would be an interesting addition. (sure it has been done before but its new to me)

JT Campbell said...

Hi Chef John. I have all my ingredients ready. No test run for me! Plan on making Weds night for Grandma. Can you tell me the cooking instructions for two pies?

JT Campbell said...

Hi Chef John. I have all the ingredients ready to make this pie on Weds. No test run for me! Can you guide me on the oven instructions for cooking two pies at the same time? Thanks for the great recipe.

Chef John said...

2 pies will only take a few minutes more, but still check with the knife test! Enjoy!

Katie Trish said...

Hi Chef! I can't wait to try out this recipe, but I bought a 29-ounce can of pumpkin puree on accident, instead of a 15-oz one. How many cups is 15 ounces of pumpkin puree? Thanks.

And also, I only have one pie dish, and I was planning on baking two pies for Thanksgiving dinner... So do you think it's possible to turn out a pie from the pie dish (like a cake) and reuse the same tin? Or should I use one of those 8-inch marie callendar pie tins... AGH!

Thanks ahead of time for your expert wisdom.

Chef John said...

about 2 cups! Yes, get another shell! Enjoy!

Emilia said...

Hi Chef! My pumpkin pie is cooling right now but I have a quick question. What kind of camera do you use? I am planning on getting one but I'm not sure which one is the best.

Chef John said...

Canon t3i!

Nel said...

Hello Chef John! Even though no one answered my previous question, my sweet potato pie turned out pretty good. I used 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 3 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp molasses. I also followed your pie crust recipe but used white whole wheat flour instead of ap flour. Outstanding pie...can't wait to bake it again!

To the person who is looking the a dairy free option. Use canned unsweetened coconut milk and add whatever liquid sweetener (honey, agave, or maple syrup...) until it equals 1 cup.

Preetinder Kaur said...

Hi Chef John! So I couldn't find pumpkin puree, but I bought 100% pumpkin in a can. Would I have to add sugar to the recipe? Please help!

Chef John said...

That'a the same thing! Purée=pumpkin.

Ken Smith said...

Do you have a whipping cream recipe?

Chef John said...

There's no such thing! Just whip cold cream in a bowl until thick! You can add a drop of vanilla and a little sugar if you want.

April said...

@Trigger-

To help your fresh pumpkin get closer to the consistency of canned, bake it, scoop out the flesh, puree it, then let it drain in a colander for awhile. Then spread it on a baking sheet and bake for awhile so that it dries out some more. You might stir it occasionally. I'm not certain the exact temperature and time... just do it until the consistency looks more like what would come out of a can.

You'll still have the problem that it have as strong of a pumpkin flavor as canned, but it makes a decent pie. If you skip the extra steps it needs a lot more baking and your crust will probably get overdone.

Ken Smith said...

lol I just wanted to know about the whipped cream recipe, since everything i have made from your blog tastes soooooooo good:)

Mollie said...

Just made this wonderful pie! I haven't tasted it because I am taking it to Thanksgiving . . . but I'm sure it'll be just fine. For the record, this recipe made the perfect amount (volume) of pie filling. Chef John's pie dish looked deeper than mine, but I unrolled my store bought dough, crimped the edges and filled 'er up! 0.75 quart simple glass pie plate. The pie looks great - no cracks! The only extra thing I had was an aluminum pie ring to protect the crust from getting too crispy.

Mollie said...

Just for "fun" here's the calorie break down of my pie:
sweetned condsd milk = 1300
pumpkin = 140
egg whole = 71.5
3 yolks = 164.1
1 9" crust = 880

total = 2555.6 calories.

8 servings? 319.45 cal
12? 213 cal
20? 127.78 cal

How do you slice a pie into 20 servings?! Not to mention I am making fresh whipped cream tomorrow morning.

*sigh* Ah, Thanksgiving.

MedicatedMoment said...

I just pulled mine out of the oven. For never making a pie before, it definitely looks delicious AND the house smells amazing!! Can't wait to dig into this.

This is my first time cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast, but I'm pulling all my recipes from your site. So, I feel confident all of it will taste incredible.

L said...

Thank you Chef John! U are my favorite! Happy thanksgiving.

Alane said...

Chef John, I have been an avid follower of your blog and videos for almost 3 years now, and every recipe of your's I try always turns out wonderfully!

My husband is just learning how to cook on his own since he is in the military and is living in Florida and I am stuck finishing a clinical rotation in a North Dakota hospital for school. I was lucky enough to come visit for today and tomorrow and suggested this recipe for him to make and he nailed it! It was so simple and so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your gift :)

Alane said...

Chef John, I have been an avid follower of you for about three years now, and every time I try one of your recipes, it always turns out fantastic!

My husband, however, is basically just learning how to cook on his own since we are separated (He lives in Florida as he is in the military, and I am stuck in North Dakota while I finish a clinical rotation at a hospital). I was lucky enough to be able to come visit him for today and tomorrow and suggested he make this recipe. He nailed it! It was so delicious and "creamy" and it was so nice to have some sort of familiarity today. Thanks again for sharing your gift!

anonymousmallu said...

I made your turkey gravy, pumpkin pie and crust, and pumpkin cinnamon rolls today for some guests. They all loved it. Thank you for posting such great recipes and videos.

Chef John said...

Thanks, everyone for sharing! So glad you had success and enjoyed the recipes!!

Gerry Graham said...

Awesome pie. Thanks Chef John!

Kolyo Karahristov said...

With what can you substitute sweetened condensed milk?

Amy L. said...

Thank you for sharing! I received lots of compliments this year at dessert. I usually follow the Libby's recipe on the side of the can which fine. But this pie was leagues better!! Even my father-in-law loved it, and he doesn't like pumpkin pie. Thanks again, chef John. I'm saving this recipe.

MM said...

Thank you!!
This was a hit at Thanksgiving!

Sandra Schultz said...

Made this for Thanksgiving.
It was the best pumpkin pie I ever made.
Made my own crust too of course!
Thanks again CJ

cookinmom said...

Yummy! Everyone liked it!

CairoTheDog said...

I made this last week for thanksgiving dessert and even people who have been known to shy away and be averted from the flavors of pumpkin pie loved it! I am thoroughly amazed at how easy it was to make and cannot wait to make it again! Thanks Chef John! =) You are amazing. =)

Rob Pitingolo said...

I made this recipe subbing in fresh puree from an Australian Blue Squash. Sorry, John, gotta disagree that canned pumpkin is better than the fresh stuff. I suspect too many people are just buying the wrong kind of squash!

Cara Pachesny said...

I made this today! My boyfriend and I love it! <3

cho chan said...

This was the first thing I made that was your recipe! I was subscribed to your outibe channel but I never made any until this pie! Just wanted to thank you for that! (BTW I'm only 15 and my mom cooks most of the time so that's why I didn't make anything until this last thanksgiving. That is my excuse!)

Tony Trujillo Jr said...

This was the first pie I ever made in my life and it totally knocked my socks off! I've been wanting to try the "easy apple pie" one and this is the first time I've seen the ingredient/measurement instructions because it's not on Allrecipes. Now that I have them I'm going to try it this week!

Elva Meadows said...

Hello Chef John,
I plan on trying this recipe for our thanksgiving supper. Although a whole 14 oz can of condensed milk seems to be quite sweet. We are not so big on very sweet desserts. Can I substitute the condensed milk with brown sugar and whipping cream? If so How much should I use without changing the texture of the pie? Thanks so much.

Nicole Cheng said...

Hi chef John, I am testing out this pumpkin pie tomorrow. But i only have the disposable pie shell. Do you know how long should I bake with the disposable shell?
Thanks

Chef John said...

Sorry, not sure! Should be close.

Hoosier Homestead said...

i always hated the raw/gritty bland flavor of my husbands family pumpkin pie - this custard should put me over the top (why didn't I ever think of more eggs?!) thank you Chef!

Treading it! said...

Wow, this recipe is so tight! I am totally going to try it. I'm curious to see what the difference will be when using condensed milk and eggs. Not to mention, the Chinese Five spice...quite intruiguiing! As always, excellent video presentation!!

Mark Lim said...

Tried the recipe yesterday and worked like a charm. I used a little more five spice and and it turned out perfect. Sooo good!

Yeshuais4me said...

Hi!! Can I make this with a prebaked crust? If so, how long do I cook it for?

Megan Morris said...

I can't read all the comments for some reason but from what I could understand its better to use canned pumpkin over fresh? and if so is there something extra that you can do to make it just as good?

Quoc Quan Le said...

Can you do this recipe with a graham cracker pie crust?

Quoc Quan Le said...

Can you do this recipe with a graham crust?

Veda Thompson said...

I was making pies just now, and remembered that last year I had made the absolute hands-down best pumpkin pies ever. I couldn't remember the thing that made them so good - but I did remember Chef John! So I came back and expect to again have the BEST pumpkin pies ever. Thank you so much!

M Din said...

This is so delicious!!!! Thank you so much! I used a little vanilla and pumpkin pie spice instead of chinese spice. Loved it!

luscious italy said...

Wow!!...I did a little changing myself!...used fresh pumpkin oven baked for 45 minutes before,,,then baked in oven with other ingredients as requested...after cooling spooned out pumpkin mixture and folded in melted marshmallow and whipped cream with melted chocolate lines on top let set for a few hours....OMG!!!...sooooo delicious!!...

Sialia said...

Fresh pumpkin is wonderful in this. Use a young pie pumpkin to start with (the fresher off the vine the better), cut it into chunks (removing guts & seeds) and toss it with salt and mild tasting olive oil and roast it in a really hot oven (~450 degrees F)until it's toasted and fork tender. ~20 min in my toaster oven. Let cool until you can handle it. Peel off the skin and dump it in a blender and purée with a little liquid (water or milk). Scrape as much of the oil from the pan into the blender as you can--it's delicious too. When you have the right amount of purée,add everything else. You may need to adjust your salt a little, so if you fear to taste raw egg, taste the batter before the eggs go in. Then pulse the blender again until it's all smooth, and proceed exactly as Chef John says. The rest of the leftover roasted pumpkin chunks are delicious as is, or can be puréed into soup with some stock & cream after you clean the pie filling out of the blender.

Alternatively, cut a fresh pumpkin in half, scoop out the guts & seeds, and put the half pumpkin in a bowl in your microwave on the "baked potato" setting. Then cool, peel, purée, etc. It doesn't taste quite as good, but it works, if the pumpkin was good to begin with. I've never had a problem with watery-ness.

jordan loya said...

Can you use pumpkin spice as well?

S. B. Sweeney said...

Five-spice addition is unusual, but you forgot the mace.