Adapting Libby’s Pumpkin Pie

BEST pumpkin pie!

Every year, during pumpkin season, I make a pumpkin pie using the recipe on the back of a Libby’s can, using fresh pumpkin puree. I’m a believer in basic, fresh ingredients.

And yet, this year, after making my pumpkin puree, not from a sugar pie pumpkin but a pumpkin gift from Novella’s urban farm, I took a closer look at Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe, which uses ingredients that can be cooked up in any kitchen….except for the can of evaporated milk.

roasted pumpkin, about to be pureed

Given that I had such a fresh and wonderful bounty in my pumpkin puree, I wondered if there was anything I could do to eliminate the can of evaporated milk from the ingredient list. Hrm. I wondered if I could adapt the recipe, using fresh ingredients.

And so I did an experiment, and wondered how to substitute the evaporated milk (which, when I looked up its function, is supposed to add creamy texture and richness to foods). What I did was replace it with a cup of cream, and about a 1/2 cup of whole milk. I also, out of utter anxiety, added an egg to the recipe as well, because the pumpkin puree was more watery than other pumpkin purees I’ve made in the past…and thought the egg might do well to bind the mixture/custard later. (something to keep in mind if you find your pumpkin puree is “watery”).

BEST pumpkin pie

The result was incredible. My husband, a big fan of pumpkin pie, said it was the best pumpkin pie he’s ever had. Whether this is because of the pumpkin puree this year, or because of the fresh cream and milk, I’m not sure. I don’t run a fulltime test kitchen, though I’m curious myself.

Recipe follows after the jump…



  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs (an additional egg if you find your fresh pumpkin puree very watery)
  • 15 ounces of pumpkin puree (You can use canned pumpkin)
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk


1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in cream and milk. Pour into pie shell.
3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

(You can also make a custard, and skip pie dough, by adding a tablespoon of flour to the pumpkin mixture, putting it in a straight sided dish and baking it in a water bath).

pumpkin custard

6 responses to “Adapting Libby’s Pumpkin Pie

  1. at the restaurant, we use the libby’s recipe and just trade out the canned milk for half and half, so good call.

  2. samin: ah! half and half. I’m trying that next time. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Julie buckley

    hi – I’ve been baking pumpkin pie with my mom for the past 30 years…..did you know that the original libby’s called for 11/2 cups of half and half? You recreated the original out of your own great skills!

  4. Julie: Thank you for verifying that fact! I’m so glad I got it. (I should thank Samin who suggested the half and half (I originally substituted the canned milk with half cream, half milk)).

  5. My fresh puree was too watery, so I added 5 minutes to the braising time ( the first 15 minutes where the top of the pie is being cooked). It was the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever made! Caution, though: hypothetically this might burn a traditional crust, but it worked fine with a graham cracker one!

  6. We always used half and half, and our other family trick was to double the spices. Best pumpkin pie in the world!

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