How To Make Your Pumpkin Pie Even Better This Year

Celebrating Thanksgiving? Perfect your pie with these simple tips.

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Traditional pumpkin pie
Traditional pumpkin pie. (Photo Ryan Szulc.)

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and if you’re celebrating with friends or family—or simply craving another creamy, spiced slice of fall’s most-celebrated flavour—here are a few simple things you can do to make your best pumpkin pie to date.

Make your pie pastry the easy way

If you haven’t tried Chatelaine’s pie pastry recipe, start there. I swear by it for every pie I bake—from strawberry-rhubarb in July, through to holiday classics like pumpkin and bourbon-pecan.

It’s a simple butter-based version, with a machine hack: rather than mixing it by hand, it’s blitzed together in the food processor. That single change helps the at-home baker achieve consistent results (say goodbye to crumbly, dry dough or over-hydrated, chewy pastry). It rolls out like a dream, and is so easy to handle—beautifully finished edges are nearly effortless.

(Photo, Ryan Szulcs.)

Trim the edges a little less

When trimming the edges, leave anywhere from half to a full inch of dough overhanging the pie plate. Why so much? Trimming it too close leaves a thin edge, which will shrink inward toward the plate more easily, and also cause it to brown (or burn!) more as the pie cooks. When it’s time to finish the edges, simply fold the extra edge under itself, and crimp. This thickens the crust, making the simplest of crimps to the fanciest finishes bake well for ‘gram-worthy results.

Note: The thicker the dough is overall will impact the crust and its ability to cook through. If it’s on the thick side, go with an 1/2-inch overhang.

Pumpkin purées are (mostly) the same

Making your own purée is a great way to try something new—but don’t panic if there’s simply no time. The difference between homemade pumpkin purée and store-bought is relatively minimal, so choose whatever works best for you.

Don’t test the filling with a knife

It may be unnerving to take the pie out of the oven to cool without that fail-safe test, but it has consequences if you’re looking for a visually perfect result. Stabbing a knife into the custard creates a break that will expand into an earthquake-like fissure as your pie cools.

best pumpkin pie: smooth pumpkin pie filling with braided pastry crust
A slight sheen and jiggle at the middle are the hallmarks of a fully baked pumpkin pie. (The custardy filling will set completely as it cools.) Photo, Heather MacMullin.

Watch the baking time

When baked too long or cooled too quickly, the pie will also crack. If fissures and crackling in your filling plague you every year, lower the bake time slightly, and keep an eye on it as the timer winds down.

Tip: Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, cracks will form anyway. Our advice? Top your pie with a gorgeous swirl of whipped cream, and no one will be the wiser.