Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Dessert: Pumpkin Pie made with fresh Pumpkin

Don't be intimidated. You can do this. All you need is a man with really strong arms to chop the stem off the pumpkin.  Really, if there isn't a man around, then you should stick to canned pumpkin puree.  UNLESS. Unless...you make this pie, taste it, then realize that you have to put your biceps to work because you just can't go back to canned pumpkin.  Speaking of biceps. My boyfriend wasn't around to help me cut this stem off, so I had to do it myself. Now listen, I'm all about being independent, but if there is a man around, please, take advantage of him, well, his arms at least.

This past weekend, I had an early Thanksgiving celebration with my friends here in Rochester, NY.  My friend Anjy and I cooked all the food, which is why you are seeing all these Thanksgiving posts, I mean you really didn't think I was going to make these dishes and then make them all over again on Thursday right?

Place the pumpkin flesh down on a baking sheet 

Well anyhow, I decided that this year I wanted to go the extra mile and make a pumpkin pie with real pumpkin instead of the canned stuff.  Don't get me wrong, i've used the canned stuff to make pumpkin pie and it absolutely feeds the need. There is nothing wrong with the canned stuff, I just wanted to challenge myself! It took me about an hour and a half to make the puree, but  it takes an hour to cook the pumpkin, so really it's only a half hour of chopping and cutting. Once you get past that part, the rest is a breeze.

Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees 

After going through the process of baking and pureeing the pumpkin,  here is my verdict on using fresh pumpkin puree: It's absolutely worth it! The pumpkin taste really came through in the pie and it was not over powered by the spices and other ingredients that were mixed in.  This pie is sweetened with condensed milk which gives the pie a nice smooth texture and a light sweetness.  I know its an extra step to bake and puree the pumpkin, but I would recommend trying fresh pumpkin at least once, just so you can taste the difference.

The nice thing is about pureeing fresh pumpkin, is that you can make it days in advance, keep it in the freezer, and thaw right before you are ready to use it. That is actually what I did to save me time. I pureed my pumpkin the day before to make my life a little easier and also because I was excited to see what it would look and taste like before I made the pie.

So what type of pumpkin should I use?
To make a pumpkin pie, the best pumpkin to use is a sugar pumpkin.  In the grocery stores they may often be tagged as "Pie Pumpkins."  These pumpkins are small and dense and they are typically very dark orange/reddish in color.  They can weigh anywhere from one pound to six pounds.  I bought two pumpkins which in total were 5 1/2 pounds.  They may look big in the picture but they are about the size of a cantaloupe. 

I will tell you that the smaller the pumpkin the easier it is to cut. The skin is slightly softer than a larger pumpkin whose skin is similar in texture to that of a butternut squash.  Sugar pumpkins are also known as new england pie, northern pie, winter luxury pie, and golden cushaw pie so if you see these pumpkins labeled this way, just know they are sugar pumpkins and can be used for pumpkin pie!


After chopping the stem off, I cut these pumpkins into halves and baked them for 1 hour. The insides were so soft and fragrant, my kitchen smelled just like Thanksgiving I swear! I scooped out the centers and pureed them in my food processor, if you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender and puree just a little at a time.  I was able to get 3 cups of puree out of 5 1/2 pounds of pumpkin. I only used 2 cups for the pie and kept the rest in my freezer.  You could buy maybe a 4 lb pumpkin, but I am not sure exactly how much puree that would yield.  It is better to have more puree than not enough, so even 5 lbs of pumpkin would work well here.

 Cut yourself a slice...

Examine the crust

I think you know what to do ;) 

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking now, but I do hope if you have some extra time, you will feel inspired to make this pumpkin pie from scratch.  Everyone should try everything at least once right?

Fresh Pumpkin Pie
Yield: one 9.5 deep dish pie

  • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 15 ounce canned pumpkin
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of condensed milk
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature) 
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 deep dish (9.5 inch)  pie shell (for freshly made click here or use store bought)

Making the puree

You will probably need two sugar pumpkins weighing in total, about 5-6lbs to get at least two cups of pumpkin puree.  Chop stem off of pumpkin then cut pumpkin in half vertically. Clean out the seeds and stringy flesh.  Give halves a good rinse, dry and place flesh down on a baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees until the flesh is soft.  Scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl and then tranfer to a food processor to puree.  If you do not have a food processor, you can use a blender, just puree a little at a time. Measure 1 cup each into zip loc bags if you are not going to use the puree right away.  This way you already know the amount that is in the bag.

Make the pie
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place 2 cups pumpkin puree in a mixing bowl. Add condensed milk and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, and rest of spices. Whisk together.
  4. Pour into pie shell and bake for 45 minutes.  Gently shake pie while in oven, if it is jiggly, like the consistency of jell-o, then it is done.
  5. Let pie come to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.


  1. I followed your recipe and made this pumpkin pie last Thanksgiving, a few days ago my brother in law asked me when I was making it again. This recipe has made a few people pumpkin pie lovers - thank you,

    1. Hi Lisa,

      That's good to hear! I love the pie with fresh pumpkin, it's a couple of extra steps but I think it makes a difference. I usually make the pumpkin a few days ahead too.

  2. Hi Alicia I live in the Caribbean, very close to Guyana actually, on the island of Trinidad and Tobago. I don't think we get sugar pumpkins here. Can I make this with another kind of pumpkin? The kind we grow yields alot of water while cooking though. Do you know that kind?
    Thanks, Gypsy.

    1. Hi there Gypsy,

      My husband is from TNT and I've been a few times, what a beautiful place :)! I know the pumpkin you speak of, it's the same kind Guyanese cook. It does have a lot of water in it. Sugar pumpkins are a little more pasty, similar to the texture of butternut squash- do you get that in Trinidad? B/c if so, that would be a good substitute. If not, use the pumpkin you get there and chop into large chunks and bake it, it should remove some of the water, if not, after baking, let it cool and see if you can squeeze it to remove the liquid. Sounds like a bit extra work though, but may be worth it if you don't want to use canned pumpkin. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. I weighed my pumpkin before baking it and it weighed in at just over 3 lbs. I still managed to get 4 cups of puree. I also baked my pumpkin for the first time ever, whole. Just stabbed it a few times and started checking at an hour. It was done perfectly. Let cool and the skin just peeled right off. Needed a knife in a few parts, but it was so much easier than trying to cut it when it's rock hard.

  4. Hi, I've just found this page whilst searching for what to cook with two large home grown Jack-be-Quick pumpkins (in Nottingham, UK) and wanted to congratulate you for creating such a beautifully presented recipe. It really made me want to have a go just looking at all those yummy photos. I've just whizzed up the cooked flesh and have every confidence it will produce a wonderful result. Thank you!

  5. The recipe called for no sugar, which surprised me. The pie itself is hard to eat alone. Some kind of sweetened whopped cream or dessert toping is needed. I wondered if the lack of sugar was intentional, or a typo, but it doesn't show in the picture of ingredients either. For me,the pie is not tasty at all as is. I like the simplicity of the recipe but would add sugar next time, or make the caramel-pecan topping I put together this time after we tasted it as it was and couldn't manage eating it.

    1. Hi Kimberlee,

      Sorry you did not enjoy the pie. Did you add the full tin of condensed milk? The condensed milk adds enough sweetness for me which is why I did not add sugar, perhaps you may add sugar next time. Thanks for giving it a try. Hope you have better luck next time.

  6. There is sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk sold. perhaps the recipe should specify sweetened.