If you’re in need of a pumpkin pie recipe that’s both easy and full of flavor, look no further than this spiced pumpkin pie! Lightened up with fresh orange zest and decorated with pie crust cookies, this homemade pumpkin pie is perfect for your fall celebrations!
In our family pumpkin pie is reserved specifically for Thanksgiving, where it sits alongside various other autumny desserts and spiced cookies and bars. But unless pumpkin cheesecake is in the lineup, I generally opt for a pumpkin-less treat such as apple crisp or pecan pie. Pumpkin pie has just never been able to compete when there are other (more flavorful) options on the menu… until now!
I created this pumpkin pie recipe last year in an effort to make an American dessert for a Thanksgiving celebration with friends from around the world. While I tried not to stray too far from traditional recipes, I did make a few tweaks that have turned this dish into my favorite pumpkin dessert!
homemade pie crust
My favorite pumpkin pie starts with this homemade pie crust, but you can definitely use a pre-made crust if you’re short on time! If you do decide to make your own crust, I just have a few pieces of advice to make the process as easy as possible:
- Make sure to keep all of your ingredients very cold! This helps to prevent the butter from melting before baking, which in turn keeps the crust super flaky. If you ever feel like your mixture is becoming warm or the butter is melting, just place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then continue with the next step.
- In fact, try to freeze your butter for about 20 minutes before you’re ready to use it. This makes it much easier to grate or cut into small cubes.
- After you incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, the mixture should resemble coarse crumbs and you should still be able to see flecks of butter in the mixture.
- Before you add the filling, you’ll need to blind bake the crust (see photos below) for 10 minutes. To do this, just put a piece of crinkled up parchment paper over the crust and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. This will help to keep the crust from bubbling up or falling down the sides.
pie crust cookies
This crust recipe makes enough for two pies. I like to use half for the crust and half to make little leaf cookies for decoration. You can definitely cut the recipe in half if you want to leave out the decoration, but if you’re unsure about making the crust I would suggest just making the whole recipe. The additional dough allows room for errors and you’ll have a larger surface area which makes forming the crust easier!
To make the pie crust cookies, roll out the dough to about ⅛ inch (4 mm) and use a cookie cutter to cut out whichever shapes you’d like. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 F (180 C). Let the cookies cool a bit and then use them to decorate your spiced pumpkin pie!
making the pumpkin pie filling
Now onto the pumpkin pie filling!
The pumpkin custard is incredibly simple — just mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl and you’re ready to bake! Both canned pumpkin and homemade pumpkin puree will work for this recipe. Just make sure not to buy the canned pumpkin pie filling, which is already flavored and sweetened. To get the best flavor, we want to be able to completely customize the filling!
The star ingredient, in my opinion, is the addition of orange zest. It makes the pumpkin filling feel less heavy and adds an incredible freshness to the finished pie! I use anywhere from one to two tablespoons depending on how traditional I want the pie to feel, but if I’m making it to my preference then I always go with two heaping spoonfuls!
the best pumpkin pie!
Now that the crust and filling are made, it’s time to put it all together! The pie will need about an hour in the oven to set. If it still jiggles a bit in the middle, that’s completely fine — it will set completely as it cools. Make sure to keep an eye on the crust as the pie is cooking. If it starts to get too brown you can put pieces of foil over the edges to prevent the crust from getting too done.
I like to serve this pie with a bit of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, but it’s also great with vanilla ice cream!
- flour 2.5 c (310 g)
- sugar 2 tbsp
- salt ½ tsp
- frozen butter 1 c (230 g)
- cold water ½ c (120 ml)
- apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp
pumpkin pie filling
- pumpkin puree 15 oz (430 g)
- eggs 3 large
- heavy cream 1 c (240 ml)
- milk ¼ c (60 ml)
- brown sugar 1 c (200 g)
- sugar ¼ c (50 g)
- orange zest 1 tbsp
- flour 2 tbsp
- salt ½ tsp
- cinnamon 1 tsp
- ginger ¼ tsp
- nutmeg ¼ tsp
- cloves ¼ tsp
- Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- Grate the frozen butter or cut into small cubes and add to the bowl.
- Begin working the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or a pair of forks, but do not incorporate entirely. The dough should resemble coarse crumbs and still have flecks of butter in it.
- Add the vinegar and half of the water. Begin mixing the dough. Gradually add the rest of the water.
- Once the dough has formed, divide the dough in half and form into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
spiced pumpkin pie
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) and lightly grease a 9-inch (22 cm) pie dish.
- Roll half of the dough into a circle about 12-inches (30 cm) in diameter and lay over the pie dish. Fit the dough into the dish. Trim the excess dough and crimp the edges.
- Place a layer of crinkled parchment paper over the dough and fill with pie weights (or dried beans or rice). Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Poke holes into the bottom of the crust and return to the oven for three minutes.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the pumpkin, heavy cream, milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar and orange zest until combined. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 50-60 minutes or until set (the center can still jiggle a bit). After about half an hour, you can cover the edges of the pie crust with foil to prevent the crust from getting too brown.
- Cool for at least three hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
pie crust cookies
- Roll out the remaining dough to about ⅛ inch (4 mm).
- Cut out your desired shapes and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- pie crust recipe: This pie crust recipe makes enough for two pie crusts. I use one to make the pumpkin pie crust and the other to cut out pie crust cookies for decoration. If you want to skip the cookies, you can halve the recipe. But I actually like to have the extra dough just in case I have any mishaps in rolling out the dough!
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