3 secrets to the best pumpkin pie

By: Hilary Meyer  |  Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If you’re looking for the easiest possible dessert to whip up for Thanksgiving, it doesn’t get any simpler than pumpkin pie. If you can open a can, you can make pumpkin pie. And unlike other Thanksgiving desserts, it’s relatively healthy (or at least it can be). Pumpkin, like all orange foods, is a rich source of beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth, reproduction and immune function and, perhaps most notably, vision. One slice of our pumpkin pie provides 137% of the daily value of vitamin A.
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But of course, this is dessert, so it has to be delicious. Below are a few tips for making a healthier (and tasty) pumpkin pie. On average you’ll save 24 calories, 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of saturated fat with our healthier recipe, compared to traditional versions.
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1. Make your own crust
I know it’s easy to go to the grocery store and buy a crust for your pie. But finding one that’s not loaded with fat and other unpronounceable ingredients can be a challenge. Making a pumpkin pie crust is a great starting place for pie-baking beginners. Unlike for an apple pie, you only have to make a crust for the bottom. And when you make your own, you control the ingredients. We use whole-wheat pastry flour in our crust for an added boost of fiber. We also cut down on the butter and use canola oil instead to keep saturated fat in check.
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2. Use low-fat dairy in the filling
Classic pumpkin pie recipes call for evaporated milk. We use low-fat sweetened condensed milk instead. Its purpose is to deliver the silky texture that pumpkin pie gets from evaporated milk with less fat and calories, and also to add sweetness. Using sweetened condensed milk also eliminates the need to add additional sugar.
3. Spice it up
You can buy pumpkin puree already flavored with spices, but we like to flavor our own. Use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves to make pumpkin pie aficionados swoon. These spices are the essence of pumpkin pie, and when you measure and mix them up yourself, you get better flavor. And those spices that have been in your cabinet for a couple of years? Pitch them. Freshly bought spices will taste better. Some stores offer spices in bulk so you only have to buy as much as you’ll need this year.
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Get the Recipe: Holiday Pumpkin Pie