I can't say enough good things about this simple and delicious pumpkin pie recipe. It has a homemade graham cracker crust and a super easy-to-make filling, so it can even be a last-minute dessert for your holiday table! It keeps well and disappears quickly, especially when you serve it with a mound of whipped cream on top.
In search of a last minute pumpkin dessert I came up with this not very classic pumpkin pie recipe that was incredibly easy to put together. It turned out to be a crowd-pleaser, bringing raves from everyone!
The fact that the crust is made with commercial graham crackers and the filling comes together in a few minutes takes it to the top of the list for the holiday season celebrations and fall gatherings in general. As much as I like homemade pie crusts, this easy graham cracker version is such a time saver that it qualifies as a winner.
Easy graham cracker crust
This is a simple cookie crumb crust, similar to the one we make for the classic Sour Cream Cheesecake.
- Graham crackers are traditional cookies found mostly in the US that have a honey earthy sweet flavor. They are amazing, and you can find links to homemade graham crackers in this post.
- Variation: use gingersnaps, homemade or store-bought, like we use for our fabulous Sweet Potato Gingersnap Pie, that also has condensed milk 😉
- Store-bought: if in a hurry, you can always use a graham cracker pie shell from the grocery store.
How to make the crust?
- Graham cracker crumbs: simply process the crackers until you have fine crumbs. It's important that they are finely crushed, so using a food processor is key. It will ensure an even crust that can be easily patted on a pie pan. If you don't have one, you can use a rolling pin, put the crackers in a large ziploc bag (or directly on the counter but make sure there's a lot of space) and roll them until you crush them completely and you have a fine mixture. It will take some time but it can be achieved.
- Melted butter: the crumbs are mixed with the butter and the result should be like wet sand. This is the extent of the crust. Two ingredients that you stir together and pat on the pan. Super easy, right?
- If you need more details and images on how to make it, there's a homemade graham cracker crust post in this blog with images and a video.
Should you bake a graham cracker crust before filling?
Not for this recipe. As for other pies, It depends if the crust will be baked once the filling is added or not.
- Baked: there's no need to pre-bake the crust if you're adding a filling that will be baked, like is the case with this pumpkin pie filling.
- No-bake: I always recommend baking it for 10 minutes if you don't bake the filling so the crust holds better if it's removed from the pan and when you cut it.
Pumpkin filling ingredients
I love this pumpkin pie because the flavors are balanced. Not too sweet, not too spiced, just right.
As you can see in the image below, the ingredients are simple and easily available. That said, you have options:
- Pumpkin - homemade or canned pumpkin puree, both work perfectly well. Don't use pumpkin pie filling, which is very different and not suited for this recipe.
- Sour cream - it adds a tanginess that balances the sweetness but doesn't stand out by itself. You can substitute mascarpone if that's all you can get.
- Cream - heavy, whipping or double, they all work.
- Sugar - light or dark brown sugar is the best choice, but you can substitute white if that's all you have.
- Eggs - use fresh, large eggs, grade A whenever possible.
- Spices - adjust to your or your family's personal flavor. Use the ones in the recipe, make your own pumpkin pie spice mix or use a store-bought one. As long as you and your family likes it, it's fine.
- Vanilla - I like to use pure vanilla extract or paste. It mellows out the spices and adds a great overall sweet flavor to this dessert.
This is really a super easy pumpkin pie filling! Just mix the ingredients and that's it. A hand mixer or whisk and a bowl is all you need.
- Simply follow the recipe, adding the ingredients in the order written and that's pretty much all there is to it. Make sure they're well integrated, no chunky pieces of pumpkin or spices not evenly spread. Apart from that, there's not much more to say.
- Don't over beat the pumpkin mixture, or even beat it at all. You need to stir or whisk it more than beat it. There's no need to incorporate extra air which will result in the filling puffing up too much when it's baked. It does rise a bit during baking, and that's normal, but we want it to stay creamy, similar to what we want in a cheesecake.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Mini pumpkin pies: you can use small, individual mini pie pans and serve each guest their own dessert. Use medium ones (not bite sized, unless it's a cocktail party). You can also make shots or trifles, alternating layers of the crust with filling and whipped cream.
- Make it your own: adjust to your and your family's palate when it comes to the amount of spices, sweetness, how you like to serve it. You can add up to 2 tablespoons of maple or corn syrup in addition to the sugar if you like a different or sweeter flavor. Use the spices that you like. I don't like cloves much, so use it sparingly. But you might love it, so go ahead and change the proportions so you use more of it.
This pie can be eaten at room temperature or somewhat cold. I don't recommend it straight from the fridge as I feel the flavors are a bit lost when it's very cold. But most of you already know how you like your pumpkin pies, don't you?
I like it plain, as I'm not a fan of toppings when it comes to pumpkin pie. But you might not feel the same.
Whipping cream: this is my favorite way after eating it plain. A simple topping that makes it even more luscious. For directions on how to whip cream, go to the recipe for Black Forest Tarts.
- At room temperature: it keeps well, covered in plastic wrapped or under a cake dome, the day it's made, and before you add the whipped cream if you're using it.
- Refrigerating: once you add the whipping cream, keep it in the fridge and cover it loosely (so that you don't crush the whipped cream too much) to prevent it from drying out quickly. I use plastic wrap, but you can use aluminum foil or some sort of pie container with a lid that fits in your fridge.
- Freezing: it can be frozen, and do so without the cream. Defrost in the fridge (I take it out the day before) rather than directly at room temperature. It's always a good idea not to subject the pie to go from one extreme temperature to another.
Related recipes you might like:
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I can't say enough good things about this simple and delicious pumpkin pie. It has a graham cracker crust and a dead easy to make filling, so it can even be a last-minute dessert for your holiday table! It keeps well and it also disappears quickly.
For the cookie crust:
- 1 ½ cups ground graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 1 pound pumpkin puree
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- Pinch of cloves and/or allspice
- OR use 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice mix (instead of the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves or allspice)
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup double, heavy, or whipping cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons sour cream or cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Turn on the oven at 350°F/180°C
For the crust:
- Mix ground cookies with melted butter until it looks like wet sand.
- Pat on the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate (24cm). Begin pressing firmly at the angle where the bottom meets the side, then press the sides and finally the bottom.
- Refrigerate while making the filling.
For the filling:
- Mix pumpkin puree with sugar in a large bowl.
- Add eggs one by one, mixing well each time.
- Add sour cream and cream (liquid, straight from the container) and mix well. But do not beat the mixture.
- Add spices, vanilla, and salt and mix everything until smooth and creamy.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until almost firm in the center.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours (or up to 2 days) before serving.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream dusted with cinnamon.
For the whipping cream:
- Beat cold cream with sour cream/cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
- Consistency of the cream: I like it to be thick but soft, so I whip it to medium peaks. But you can go all the way and beat it to firm peaks, similar to chantilly cream.
- Be careful it doesn't curdle.That happens if it's over beaten. You might want to beat with an electric mixer until you're almost there and then end it by hand, with a whisk. It's hard to over beat it with a manual whisk.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Pumpkin - homemade or canned pumpkin puree, both work perfectly well. Don't use pumpkin pie filling, which is very different and not suited for this recipe.
Sour cream - it adds a tanginess that balances the sweetness but doesn't stand out by itself. You can substitute mascarpone if that's all you can get.
Cream - heavy, whipping or double, they all work. I use heavy cream mostly when baking because it adds richness to the baked goods and is great for making whipped toppings.
Sugar - light or dark brown sugar is the best choice, but you can substitute white if that's all you have.
Eggs - use fresh, large eggs, grade A whenever possible.
Spices - adjust to your or your family's personal flavor. Use the ones in the recipe, make your own pumpkin pie spice mix or use a store-bought one. As long as you and your family likes it, it's fine.
Storing: it keeps well at room temperature the day it's made, and before you add the whipped cream if you're using it. Otherwise, keep it in the fridge and cover it to prevent it from drying out quickly.
Freezing: it can be frozen, and do it without the cream on top is better. Defrost in the fridge (I take it out the day before).
Keywords: pumpkin pie