Pumpkin pie filling, from scratch

In all the years I’ve been exploring new recipes there’s one realm I’ve avoided nearly completely. Pies. I’ll make apple crisp, I’ll make graham cracker crusts, but pies? I think I’ve been long-scarred by a couple of early attempts at making crusts which failed miserably into disintegrated dough. And well if you don’t have a crust what’s the use of the filling? So rather than confront my inadequate pie crafting skills I’ve copped out by buying store-bought crusts. For a few years I even had my mother make crusts for me that I kept frozen for making quiches.

Before you think I’ve turned a corner in my pie making woes, let me warn you that I haven’t yet mastered a crust, even for this recipe. This post is about making pumpkin pie filling from scratch. But trust me, I’ve been doing my homework and I think I’m ready to make the real thing — a pie crust from scratch.

Pumpkin Pie Filling from Scratch
My first pumpkin pie

I bought a “pie pumpkin” a couple months ago, more as a prop than anything. I used it in the photos I took of my knitted pumpkin patch. But it’s been sitting on the counter ever since (don’t worry, they keep!), and today I finally put it to good use. I didn’t really know how to make a pumpkin pie filling from scratch. Even my mother’s 5 Roses Flour cookbook says to use canned pumpkin. But you know what? It’s actually pretty simple.

Pumpkin Pie Filling from Scratch
Pie pumpkin

Firstly, you want specifically a “pie pumpkin” – which from what I read is sweeter and has a smoother texture than your standard jack-o-lantern pumpkin. You can still use those ones, but these are supposed to be better. Pie pumpkins are about 8 inches in diameter, and pretty much just the right amount of pumpkin for two 9 inch pies.

Pumpkin Pie Filling from Scratch
Steaming the pumpkin

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Filling from Scratch


  • one “pie pumpkin” (about 3 cups cooked)
  • one 370 ml can of evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • two pie crusts


  1. Halve, and then quarter the pie pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and stringy inner parts. Don’t worry if you can’t easily get it all out, you can get the remaining strings after steaming.
  2. Cut the pumpkin into eighths and then place in a steamer. Steam for about 25 minutes or until tender (mine took about 40 minutes). Basically you want the pumpkin soft enough you can scoop it off the skin. Allow to cool enough to handle.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Scoop pumpkin into a measuring cup, measuring out three cups. Scoop off any remaining stringy parts and dispose.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with remaining ingredients. Using an immersion blender, combine, taking care to puree the pumpkin.
  5. Divide the filling between two pie crusts. With aluminum foil, carefully tent the edges of the pie crust. I made the mistake of doing this once they were in the oven and it was a bit of a disaster (my foil fell into the still soft pie, messing up the surface of the pie).
  6. Place the pies in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 50 minutes, or until pies are set (check by inserting a toothpick into the centre – it should come out clean. Serve with whipped cream.

Number of servings (yield): 8 servings per pie

Recipe by Sarah Mulholland / www.digginthedirt.ca.
Microformatting by hRecipe.


  1. Had a pumpkin for Halloween and thought I should not wasted it.
    So I am trying your pie & will let you know how it turns out

    Anders Roald Anderson

  2. Worked out very well!
    Did have a little difficulty determining whether the 3 cups of pumpkin meant 3 cups of pureed pumpkin or 3 cups of the unpureed pumpkin.
    You might add that word “pureed” pumpkin.

    Anders Roald Anderson.

  3. admin says:

    Yes, it means pureed pumpkin. Glad your jack-o-lantern pumpkin puree turned out; I haven’t tried using that kind of pumpkin for baking or cooking.

  4. Maria says:

    My family are raving about the pie I made today with your pumpkin puree recipe — my first ever pumpkin pie. Thanks for the recipe! I didn’t know that pie pumpkins were different from the jack-o-lantern variety — have only ever baked muffins or made soup with our jack-o-lanterns. Anyway, one good turn deserves another. Here’s our favourite pumpkin soup recipe:

    Melt 1 tbsp margarine or butter in a large saucepan.
    Add and sauté 2-3 cloves garlic, put through garlic press.
    Add and bring to boil 2 cups chicken broth.
    Add 5 cups fresh pumpkin, pared and cut into small chunks.
    Cook 10-15 minutes, until pumpkin is translucent. Puree for smooth soup or serve chunky.

  5. Christi r says:

    If I buy store bought, roll out yourself crust…I have to blind bake it first right?.

  6. admin says:

    No I don’t think you have to.

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