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No vegan Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without a pumpkin pie on the menu. Over 50 million slices are served on this day alone, to say nothing of the winter holidays that follow. Countless variations exist but at the end of the day, it’s hard to beat this classic easy vegan pumpkin pie recipe. Rich, creamy pumpkin custard with warm spices sparkling in every bite, no one can resist going in for seconds.
This delightfully dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe comes from the fantastic cookbook Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner and Pies by Audrey Dunham. This book can become your go-to resource for preparing the ultimate fall harvest feast. From starters to stuffing, roasts to desserts, you’ll get the tools to make a meal everyone will truly be thankful for.
Why You’ll Be Pie-Eyed for This Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Super easy – Pies can be intimidating, but don’t panic. If you can wield a whisk, you can make this treat! There’s no shame in taking a short cut with a prepared vegan pie crust to make things even easier. Graham cracker or pastry crusts are both great and easy to find vegan.
Make ahead – Don’t worry about juggling ten different dishes and trying to fit them into the oven like a game of real-life Tetris! You can bake this pie up to a day in advance, so all you have to do is slice and enjoy.
Gluten-free option – To make a celiac-friendly dessert, either prepare the gluten-free pie crust also included in Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner and Pies, or start with a prepared vegan pie crust that’s certified gluten-free. Always double check labels to make sure there’s no cross contamination.
Key Pumpkin Pie Ingredients
Pumpkin – One can of solid-packed pumpkin puree gives you all the flavor and body of this brilliant orange gourd without any of the hard work. You can start from scratch if you’d like, but fresh pumpkin tends to be more watery, stringy, and bland. For the greatest return on your efforts, just grab a can opener and you’re good to go.
Coconut cream – This is the secret ingredient that makes the filling so rich and creamy without any butter or dairy cream! It’s thicker and creamier than coconut milk, which makes it perfect for creating a perfect custard.
Non-dairy milk – Any unflavored, unsweetened option will do, whether it’s almond, soy, rice, oat, hemp, cashew, flax, or otherwise. Pick your favorite!
Brown sugar – Adding those warm, subtle molasses notes and characteristic sweetness, nothing compares to the complex flavors of brown sugar. For the most accuracy, firmly pack it into the cup when measuring, almost as if you were building a sandcastle.
Cornstarch – Who needs eggs when you have this simple plant-based thickener on hand? Acting as a binder, stabilizer, and gelling agent, it holds everything together.
Pumpkin pie spice – Simplify you life and keep this handy blend nearby for any autumnal cravings. If you want to make your own, use the following formula:
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cloves
How to Top Your Pumpkin Pie
Great pumpkin pie needs little more than a fork to enjoy, but a few extra flourishes can really take it to the next level.
Whipped cream – The fluffy stuff to finish off any dessert with an elegant cloud of sweetness, whipped cream comes in many forms. You can make your own from coconut cream or aquafaba whipped cream, or buy it in aerosol cans that are soy or coconut based.
Ice cream – Basically frozen whipped cream, a scoop of your favorite vegan ice cream is a particularly nice touch if you like to serve you pie warm. Gotta love those contrasting temperatures! There’s no need to stick to plain vanilla though; cookies and cream, pistachio, or caramel are also great parings.
Candied Pecans or Walnuts – For a satisfying crunch to cut through all that custard, try lightly toasted nuts such as pecans or walnuts, enrobed in a cinnamon sugar glaze. These candied walnuts are delicious!
Caramel sauce – Gooey, luscious amber brown burnt sugar goes with everything, right? Try it warm, too.
Flaky sea salt – A pinch of flaky sea salt heightens natural flavors and balances out sweetness, which is why desserts still need salt to really shine. A final touch of the flaky stuff accentuates that unique ability, and looks like glistening crystals for totally Instagrammable aesthetics.
A Brief History of Pumpkin Pie
Did you know that pumpkin pie wasn’t actually a guest at the very first Thanksgiving? Native Americans living in the northeast had been growing pumpkins for hundreds of years, which they gave to the pilgrims as gifts. Initially, the pilgrims may have enjoyed the winter squash stewed with milk, honey, and spices, but there was certainly no pastry involved.
The earliest known record of the pumpkin pie as we (more or less) know it showed up in in the early 1600’s. Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois (The True French Cook) by Francois Pierre la Varenne included a recipe for “Tourte of Pumpkin” baked on a “sheet of paste,” which we can assume would be a pastry dough in common parlance.
From there, the idea caught on like wildfire. “Pumpion pie” began to appear in English cookbooks, sounding more like the familiar flavors we enjoy today, including spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It wasn’t just a smooth custard though. The recipes frequently added apples, raisins, or currants to the filling.
Pumpkin pie as we know it finally hit America in 1796, as published in American Cookery by an American Orphan Amelia Simmons. We know a good thing when we taste it; the formula and flavors haven’t changed much since then!
More Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes You’ll Want to Invite Over for Dinner
By far, my absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie! Specifically this super-easy vegan pumpkin pie recipe. It’s divine! We’re talking creamy custard pie loaded with warming spices, all settled perfectly in a tender, slightly crunchy and lightly salted crust. Top a slice with cool fluffy vegan whipped cream and those tastebuds are in pumpkin pie heaven.
⅔cupof canned coconut cream (shake well before opening and stir well before measuring. If you can't mix it then pour into a microwave safe bowl and heat it for a few seconds to melt the solid coconut cream so you can mix it with the liquid.)
⅓cup+ 2 tablespoons of unsweetened, unflavored non-dairy milk, such as almond, cashew, or soy
½cupof packed light brown sugar
½cupof granulated sugar
2 ½teaspoonsof pumpkin pie spice
1teaspoonof vanilla extract
1prepared vegan pie crust, choose your favorite store-bought crust or make your own from scratch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Add all the ingredients (except the pie crust) in a mixing bowl: pumpkin puree, coconut cream, vegan milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. Gently whisk to combine. (Do not use a mixer or blender, or bubbles will form over the surface of the pie.) If there are any visible specks of coconut cream or cornstarch in the mixture, pinch with your fingers or remove them, otherwise they’ll show up in the pie.
Pour the filling into the par-baked crust and smooth over the surface to pop any bubbles before baking.
Place the pie on a baking sheet for easier handling. Then transfer it to the oven and bake for 60–75 minutes, or until there’s only a bit of jiggle left in the very center of the pie. Check at the 40-minute mark and tent the pie with foil if the edges are getting too dark. If the pie is still jiggly at 75 minutes, that’s okay, it will firm up in the fridge!
Turn the oven off, but keep the pie in the oven. Crack the oven door several inches (or open it all the way if it won’t stay cracked), and allow the pie to cool this way for at least an hour before transferring to a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, transfer the pie to the fridge to finish setting for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight.
Remove the pie from the fridge 15 minutes before serving for a slightly chilled pie, or at least 1 hour prior to serving for room temperature.
Serve with whipped cream, if desired. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.
BEST GLUTEN FREE VERSION: Use a vegan gluten-free pie crust and check the labels on all remaining ingredients to ensure they’re gluten-free as well.MAKE-AHEAD TIP: The pie is best if made 1 day before you plan to serve it and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Audrey Dunham is a vegan recipe creator who shares quick and easy recipes on her website as well as on her YouTube channel. She’s also the founder and creator of Peanut’s Bake Shop, decadent vegan and gluten-free cookie mixes. With an equal love of food and passion for being physically fit, her goal is to help others learn how to easily prepare crave-worthy, healthy vegan meals that the whole family will enjoy.
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