the ultimate pumpkin pie

Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

Dare I say it? I don’t like pumpkin pie. So un-American, right? People who know me are always shocked. I love all things pumpkin! I love chocolate chip pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bundt cake, and especially pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes. But pumpkin pie? Not so much. That is, not so much until I had my first bite of pumpkin pie from this Cook’s Illustrated recipe at last year’s Thanksgiving.

Ultimate Pumpkin Pie Crust

I guess what I don’t like about most pumpkin pie is that it just comes across as mushy and kind of bland. There’s just not enough going on for me. This pumpkin pie, on the other hand, has all the right things going on. The flavor is deep, warm, and full of pumpkin and the texture more silky than mushy. And it’s not just for the pumpkin pie averse. My sister – a huge pumpkin pie fan – loves this recipe as much as I do. What makes it so superior from other recipes? Well, it starts with cooking the canned pumpkin. But I’ve done that before and it didn’t really do that much for me. The real secret to this recipe lies in a can of candied yams. Yup, there’s not only a full can of pumpkin puree in this recipe, there’s a whole can of candied yams! No wonder it’s so spectacular!

Ultimate Pumpkin Pie Ingredients

Cooked Pumpkin and Candied Yam Mixture

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that the recipe that changed my perspective on pumpkin pie comes from Cook’s Illustrated. Pretty much everything that comes out of their test kitchen is gold and I have a serious crush on the magazine and America’s Test Kitchen. That being said, there is one exception; I am not a fan of their so-called foolproof pie dough recipe. I beg to differ. If you ask me, it is one of the most difficult doughs to handle because of its wetness. I much prefer working with an all butter pie dough sans vodka, so I decided to try out one of their other recipes instead and found it much more workable.

Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

Slice of Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

That isn’t to say I didn’t have some mishaps in the kitchen. To all my friends who seem to think that I don’t ever mess up or struggle in the kitchen, you couldn’t be more wrong. Trying to be more economical and ecological, I turned off my oven when I remembered that I had to chill the dough in the pie plate for 30 minutes before baking it. I went about my business and popped the pie plate in the oven after the half hour was up. Twenty-five minutes later I took a peek only to find that it really hadn’t cooked at all. And the oven was barely warm. Slow on the uptake at first I thought the oven had broken and then I thought someone else (Joseph!) must have turned the oven off. But he wasn’t even home. And then I remembered: I never turned the oven back on! Luckily it didn’t get too melty…but still, it had suffered a little. After another half hour in the freezer and remembering to turn the oven on, I was back on track for this scrumptious pie.

Slice of Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

So I know I promised a post on the rest of our trip to Europe, but I figured this pumpkin pie would be of a little more interest to those scrambling to get their Thanksgiving menus in order. I hope you still have time to run to the store to grab some candied yams to add to your pumpkin pie, because I promise you will love this recipe!

Eating a Slice of Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

Recipe from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

Make sure to pour the warm custard filling into a still warm pie crust before baking - this prevents the dreaded soggy crust.

Serve with whipped cream with a splash of brandy if you want to spice things up a bit (whip up 1 1/3 cups cold heavy cream, 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon brandy).


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 ounce) can drained candied yams
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 baked pie shell, still warm


  1. Adjust the oven rack to lowest position and place rimmed baking sheet on rack and preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large saucepan and cook, stirring constantly mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Whisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell.
  4. Place pie on heated baking sheet in oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set, 20-35 minutes longer. Instant read thermometer inserted in center should read 175 degrees. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 4 hours.

All-Butter Single Crust Pie Dough

Recipe from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

Sour cream in pie dough? Yup, it adds more flavor and the acidity reduces gluten development, which keeps the dough tender and flaky. Don't skip freezing the butter - you don't want the butter to break down too much.


  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces), plus additional flour for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
  • 4 teaspoons sour cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water


  1. Using fork, mix sour cream and 3 tablespoons ice water in small bowl until combined.
  2. Process flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.
  3. Add half of sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry, and does not hold together, sprinkle remaining tablespoon ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.
  4. Turn dough out onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours, before rolling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days days, or frozen for up to one month. If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling out).
  5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 375 degrees. Roll dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured surface. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll into a 9-inch pie dish letting excess hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with the other hand. Leave any dough that overhands plate in place.
  6. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers. Wrap dough-lined plate loosely in plastic wrap and place in freezer until dough is fully chilled and firm, about 30 minutes, before using.
  7. Line chilled pie shell with double layer of aluminum foil, covering edges to prevent burning, and fill with pie weights.
  8. Bake until pie dough looks dry and is light in color, 25-30 minutes. Remove weights and foil and continue to bake crust until deep golden brown, 10-12 minutes longer.


8 Responses to “the ultimate pumpkin pie”

  • Elizabeth Cavallari Says:

    looks so good- happy thanksgiving!!

  • Jessica Says:

    I take personal pride in this post!! I got my sister to like pumpkin pie with this recipe! I recommend it very, very highly.

  • Ashley Says:

    I use Paprika (iPad recipe app) and I wanted to thank you not only for the recipe, but for formatting it so Paprika can understand it. I love Foodgawker, but it’s rare for me to come across a link that I can save with the built in save outside of the “pro” sites like Food Network and Allrecipes. I don’t think it’s ever happened, actually. Give your web designer (or template maker) a huge thumbs up for me. Can’t wait to try this pie Thursday – thanks again!

    • Kristen Says:

      I’m so glad it worked for you! The plugin is from Ziplist and I have to say, I’m a big fan of theirs. My husband and I use Ziplist to keep track of all of our favorite online recipes and our shopping lists. It’s so nice to be able to look up the ingredients anywhere, anytime!

  • Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen Says:

    This looks awesome! I love everything that Cooks Illustrated does, but I have yet to try their pumpkin pie. Based on these delicious looking pics, that really needs to change!

  • Mariana Says:

    OMG I am so in love with your blog! I was looking for a pumpkin pie recipe and started to read everything! I soooo have to try the apple cinnamon bread and many other recipes… I swear, my mouth watered!

  • Adam Says:

    I have to say, I am not much of a pumpkin pie fan normally (I’m not nuts about the consistency), but this is a really yummy pie!

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