Now THIS is Pumpkin Pie!

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s cheap food. I admit it. I’m a dedicated Food Snob. Perhaps it’s my French heritage. Perhaps it is all those years I actually ate cheap food and suffered the inevitable consequences of dodgy health and a crabby disposition much of the time. I remember some years back when the French farmers were picketing McDonalds for bringing cheap food to their land. I was cheering so loudly, I’m sure they heard me across the Atlantic. You GO Froggies!

Truth be told, I would rather go hungry than actually stoop to eating fast food – even in a pinch. I’ve found through painful experience, that it is infinitely better to drink some water, chew some gum or whatever I have to do to get to a decent restaurant or, better yet, simply go home and get something quality to eat than succumb to the temptation of the drive through only to suffer the inevitable stomach ache, headache or worse a few hours later. I’ve found very few places that beat my own kitchen for quality, lip smacking, “wow, that was amazing” food. It’s just not worth it to settle for less. The really ironic and highly amusing part of my Food Snob confession is that I couldn’t even boil an egg when I first got married. My husband was the chef; he was, and still is, an excellent cook. He taught me the basics, and when the kids came along, I determined to learn everything the best that I could so that my kids would really learn to appreciate, and love quality food. It is, after all, one of the finer things of life!

That being said, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, you can imagine my dismay at all the processed versions of the classic dishes that abound in the grocery store. Most folks just don’t seem to get the concept of “homemade” anymore. A can of Libby’s pumpkin pie filling is not a satisfactory stand in for a fresh from the field, seasonal pumpkin, baked in your own oven, and pureed to the perfect degree of smoothness in your food processor. Most standard pumpkin pie recipes also call for a can of evaporated milk. What is that stuff anyway? Brace yourselves. Evaporated milk, “also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk” (Wikipedia).Evaporated milk is even more processed than pasteurized, homogenized milk, if that’s possible. Evaporated milk is processed at such a high temperature that the final product is sterilized to the point where the canned version is shelf stable for months or even years. Could one take canned, evaporated milk, add back the appropriate amount of water, add yogurt cultures and ferment into yogurt? Absolutely not! The stuff is DEAD. It is a nutritionless, highly allergenic version of the fresh from the cow variety. Avoiding it in your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie recipe would be a favor to both you and your guests to say the least.

You’re probably now thinking that making a decent quality pumpkin pie would take at least a week and cost the equivalent of what you’re spending on the turkey. Not at all! Quality can always be convenient and taste fantastic too. Try this recipe on for size:

Now THIS is Pumpkin Pie!


2 cups of baked, pureed, seasonal pumpkin (check your farmer’s markets, pumpkin is a Fall crop and you can get one fresh from the field if you just ask. Any variety will do. Really. Don’t get hung up on the color or type of pumpkin. They all work fine in my experience.)

9 oz organic, whole coconut milk (this is a wonderful, healthy stand-in for evaporated milk. Your pie will NOT taste coconut-y at all. Use only the thick white portion of the coconut milk and not the coconut water.) (sources)

2/3 cup evaporated cane sugar (sucanat or rapadura work great. 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar and 4-6 drops of stevia may be substituted to make a lower sugar recipe)   (sources)

3 eggs

2 tsp ground organic cinnamon (sources)
1/2 tsp ground organic ginger (sources)
1 tsp ground organic cloves (sources)
1 tsp ground organic nutmeg (sources)
1 tsp ground organic allspice (sources)


The best way to bake a pumpkin is to first, cut it in half, then remove the seeds and bake, skin side up, in a glass pan filled with 1 inch of filtered water at 400F for one hour). Scoop out the thoroughly softened pumpkin and puree in a food processor. Do this a few days in advance and store in the refrigerator, so making the pie on Thanksgiving morning is a 5 minute snap. Make enough so that you already have enough pumpkin puree for Christmas too. Freeze in 1 pint or quart containers for easy thawing/baking later.

Click here for a video on how to make pumpkin puree

Whip together pumpkin puree, sugar, coconut milk and spices in a large, glass bowl with a whisk. Add lightly beaten eggs. Mix until just combined.

Pour into 2 standard pie crust shells. Bake in a 375F oven for about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool. Serve with real whipped cream or enjoy on it’s own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Comments (43)

  1. I’m looking at this and thinking that there is a real dichotomy here. You’re using coconut milk in the pie (good) yet you say to serve with whipped cream??? Why not whipped coconut cream, which is healthier and not part of the whole dairy nightmare in this country. And you’re talking about ‘standard pie shells’? That includes wheat, one of the most toxic foods in this country!

    While I’m never a fan of anything that is pre-made, this would be far healthier with a gluten-free pie crust.

  2. I use the entire can of coconut milk with great results. I have used all types of pumpkin including jack o lanterns with great results. I have used cream as well with equally great results. I even forgot to use milk or any type of cream once and it was still very good! Ipumpkin pie is infallible in my experience.
    I just make the custard with no shell but I do love the idea of using pecans as We have pecan trees.

  3. I made this last night. Mine came out more like a custard. I am thinking of adding a little rice milk to it the next time I make it. (Probably tomorrow 😉 since the one I made is almost all gone).
    Very tasty though. Even my son, who is my honest critic, liked this one. (I don’t use sugar so the sweetness from the coconut was enough for us.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I had no idea about evaporated milk. That’s just so gross. I will be sharing that info with my family.

  4. Pingback: Pumpkin Pie made with Raw Cream and Lard Crust | Real Food Houston

  5. Your way of cooking pumpkin works well but the best way to cook it is to cut it into chunks (after removing the seeds and gunk) and pressure cook it. Let it cool some then scoop it off the skin and purée it (I use an immersion blender). Then put cheesecloth in a colander and put the purée in the cheesecloth. Put the whole thing over a bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This lets quite a bit of the liquid drain off and creates a thicker purée, more like what the canned variety offers.

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist November 28, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Standard size (not deep dish). :) There is at least one pie crust brand at the healthfood store that uses a healthy fat like palm oil. Otherwise, make your own .. any recipe will do from a cookbook just use a healthy fat and not margarine or Crisco of course!

    • I was looking for a size on the crusts. They come in 8″, 9″, and larger, and deep dish as well. This recipe doesn’t state.

      I have always made my own until I ran into the wall of gluten. For now I’m using pre-made gluten free but the ones by Kinnkinnik are absolutely miniscule, pathetic little crusts. Whole Foods has a better one, but alas, the closest Whole Foods to us is 4 hours away. There are mixes but I don’t like the idea of putting my faith in a mix that could well crumble to pieces like many GF mixes do.

  6. Have you tried baking the pumpkin whole? Easiest way to bake pumpkin for puree. Once I saw this blog tip 2 years ago, I switched over to this method and never looked back. Super easy.

    Also, I’ve always made pumpkin pie with cream (or half and half in my lowfat days). But will try out the coconut milk variation.

  7. My 10 year old son Joey and I just made this recipe. This is the second time we’ve used your video to prepare fresh pumpkin puree but he first time we used your recipe substituting coconut milk for evaporated milk. What a great idea! I sampled the raw batter and felt that I would like to add a teaspoon of sea salt. As a personal choice I also cut back on the cloves a bit. What a tasty pie! Thank you for sharing!

    Thanks also for sharing that you started out on the ground level with learning to cook and prepare foods traditionally. After reading your blog and following WAPF, etc. I have had a lot of firsts in the past 6 months including learning to soak nuts and beans and to make bone broths. I really appreciate the guidance you share!

  8. Pingback: 101 Uses for Soured Raw Milk : Real Food Farming

  9. I made these last night and they smell amazing! I couldn’t resist tasting the pie filling before baking, and I do taste a bit of coconut, but only slightly. (Big bonus for me!) I did use regular pie crusts, not deep dish, and there wasn’t enough filling for two. Since I waited last minute to bake, I don’t have any open stores near me to go to, so my family will have to get by with what I have. If they taste as amazing as they smell, I’ll be in BIG trouble!

  10. Oh dear! I bought 3 lovely-looking organic pumpkins and baked them according to the instructions. I reserved the seeds and baked; when i touched these yesterday, I noticed a bitter taste on my hand afterwards but waved it aside as maybe the taste of unbaked pumpkins. But today, I pureed my baked pumpkins ready to bake them into a pie and the pumpkin is UNBEARABLY bitter. I tried adding some sugar to a spoonful to see if the taste would change, but no luck. It it horrible! I don’t recall ever tasting a bitter pumpkin puree, even last year when I made it from scratch as well and tasted amazing. Has anyone ever heard of pumpkin being bitter? Why would it be so? This is the strangest thing. Sadly, I am now short on time, so will probably have to make our pies from organic puree from a can “gasp!” Don’t want to risk buying another bitter pumpkin and wasting more time and money :o(.

    • I don’t agree with the article about the type of pumpkin not being a big deal; the various pumpkin varieties taste vastly different. I’ve tried a few kinds and my favorite are cinderella pumpkins. I’ve often seen small sugar pie pumpkins in the produce section, but they taste kind of boring to me. Whatever you do, don’t try to make a pie with jack-o-lantern type pumpkins!

  11. Would you mind posting a good pie crust recipe? Also, I’m with Sarah on the last post regarding the coconut milk question – do you scrape the top off of the can of coconut milk and not use the water portion? I’ve never actually seen a can of coconut milk, so don’t know what it looks like. Thanks. The pumpkin pie sounds wonderful.

    • Hi, I am not Sarah but here is some info:

      See above reply about the coconut milk.

      I used this recipe, , and used coconut oil, unrefined so it will have a nice light coconut scent, in lieu of the palm shortening or butter. I did make it yesterday and placed it in the fridge to make today and it was ROCK HARD, of course. I had to let it set out for an hour or so and then knead it pretty fiercely to get it malleable. I won’t know how it tastes though until tomorrow.

      Hope that helps : ) Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Hi Sarah,
    Your pie sounds amazing and I would love to make it this Thanksgiving! I have one question about the coconut milk. You said to only use the thick white portion…so don’t use the entire can of the coconut milk, just scrape the top off of several cans to total 9 oz (saving the more liquidy stuff for another use)? or did you mean to make sure not to buy coconut water? sorry for not understanding!

    • Regarding the coconut milk:

      I just made these pies. I used Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut milk. Most of the can was the cream. I did try to shake it as the can said to (silly I know), of course do not do that, but thank God it didn’t mix! You will have over 9 oz. of the cream if all cans are like that one. There is only about an inch or so of the coconut water on the bottom.

  13. Thank you for this post. I just did 3 pumpkins. I tried to find an easy way to do it and failed. So after scooping out the seeds, I cut it in sections pared it and cut into chunks and steamed it. I was ready to give up, when I got your email. You saved 7 pumpkins from the compost. Thanks a million. What do you do with the seeds?

    • I,too, want to know about using and preparing the seeds, Sara. To wash clean or not is a question. Then to low heat dry or add good fat is the next question. Thanks!

  14. Is there any reason not to use raw cream instead? I am a fan of buttermilk flavors, but most of my family doesn’t like it. The buttermilk pie sounds AMAZING to me (Dad and I would eat it ALL.) I would rather try that than coconut milk, but my family would prefer neither.

  15. I look forward to trying this. I’ve used creamed coconut, which says to use double the amount of water to make coconut milk. Have you used creamed coconut, and if so, do you think that’s about the right consistency? Also, can you substitute date sugar for the sucanat/rapadura(it doesn’t seem quite as sweet in my experience).

  16. Another suggestion. I always use buttermilk in my pumpkin pie recipe. Delicious. And even healthier now that I make my own buttermilk with raw milk. It contributes the thickness and also gives a great taste. Try it, I think you will like it!

  17. Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer October 23, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Yes thanks for your reply, I have been using rice syrup, it works well. I love the Heavenly Organics sugar so will give the condensed milk a try. It still has all its minerals etc…better than the Carnation thats for sure!

  18. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist October 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Hi Natasha, I've never tried it, but rice syrup would probably work just fine. I have not found a suitable replacement for sweetened condensed milk, although I have seen a recipe online for making it yourself. It seemed rather time consuming though.

  19. Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer October 23, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Perfect timing to see this post! Can you suggest the best substiture for corn syrup for pecan pie? I have already switched my sugars. Great tip for evaporated milk! Since holiday baking is coming, how about sweetened condensed milk replacements too? I know Heavenly Organics does a condensed milk that I may try…anything better to use? Thanks!

    • Hi –
      I like to use Coconut Nectar in space of any type of corn syrup, rice syrup, molasses type of sugar-ly thick liquid.

      It is simply amazing all the food items that coconut can produce!

      But definitely try Coconut Nectar by Coconut Secret if you haven’t before.

  20. Thanks so much for this post! I have a sister-in-law that expects pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, but I am happier to make it healthier.

  21. Great post! I took your suggestion on substituting the coconut milk in the 3 pumpkin pies I made yesterday–delicious not to mention much healthier. Knew the canned milk was bad, now I know why. My recipe was almost identical to yours! For a twist, try adding a topping of 1/2 cup crispy pecans, 1/2 cup organic brown sugar,1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter last 10 minutes of baking. It's from an old Southern Living recipe which I have WAPFified.

    Have a great holiday!


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