I’ve been on a major pie crust making adventure this week! I got it in my brain that I would make a Classic Pumpkin Pie and take pictures along the way to show you all how easy it is to do. But then I hit some bumps in the road (hello sinking pie crust), got discouraged (hello chewy, tough pie crust) and almost let out a few choice words (talking to you pie crust who refused to roll out). The main source of my troubles is the fact that I was trying to make an all butter crust, rather than using shortening. I mean, who wants to eat shortening right? Butter all the way!
I have come to the conclusion that this just didn’t work for me. After suffering through a couple of all butter crust fails, I substituted half the butter for shortening and the difference was night and day for me. Way easier to work with! I’m happy to say in the end I found a recipe and technique that came out beautifully – flakey, tender, and easy to work with too. I’m happy to share the recipe as well as my method and tips for success, just in time for Thanksgiving! I broke it down into ten steps so that all this info isn’t too overwhelming. Here we go!
Grate (using a cheese grater) a half stick (1/4 cup) of very chilled unsalted butter into a bowl. Add 6 Tablespoons of very chilled shortening cut into cubes, and put the whole bowl in your freezer for 10 minutes.
Add 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cut the flour into your butter and shortening using a pastry cutter. Then add 2-3 tablespoons of ice cold water, one at a time. Use a rubber spatula to bring the dough together. You may need to get in their with your hands as well. If you need to add more water into order to bring your dough together, I found it very helpful to use a clean spray bottle filled with cold water. When my dough was still a little too crumbly to bring together I just gave it a few spritzes. This is a great way to evenly moisten your dough without adding more water than you really need.
You do not want a wet, sticky dough because this will produce a tough, chewy crust. You also want to avoid overworking the dough. Handle it only as much as you need to. While I am giving you precise measurements, please know that these can vary and your really need to go more by feel. So you are looking for a smooth, dry dough ball that will hold together, with maybe a few little crumbs still in the bowl.
Wrap your dough with plastic, shape it into a round, flat disk. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or freeze until ready to use. If you freeze it, you will need to let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes or so before trying to roll it out.
Now it is time to roll out the dough. You will need to have some flour handy, and also a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto your parchment paper, dust the top of your dough with flour, and slowly roll the dough out. You want to start in the center of your circle and work your way out to the edges. Try to keep your circle fairly round. Don’t roll back and forth, just from the inside toward the outside of the circle. Be patient. You have to be gentle and work slowly. Think, slow and steady wins the race.
If you find that your dough is not holding together, you may need to give it one more spray, bring it back into a ball, and knead it a few times before rolling it out again. This develops a bit of gluten in the crust which helps it stay together. But remember, too much gluten will make the dough chewy.
Check to see if your dough circle is large enough to fit the pie pan by placing it upside down on the dough. You want to have at least an inch of extra dough all around. This dough recipe fits a standard sized 9 1/2 inch pie pan, not a deep dish pie pan.
Transfer the dough to the pie plate (dough side down, parchment paper up), using the parchment paper underneath to lift it. Carefully peel away the parchment paper. Let the dough settle into the pie plate without stretching it.
Trim any excess dough around the edges (reserve for later), fold the crust under itself and then crimp the edges.
If you would like to, you can scrape together your reserved bits of trimmed dough and roll them out. I used a leaf shaped cookie cutter to use as a decoration for the top of the pie. When your pie crust is in the pan, and your leaf is cut out, place them both in the freezer for 30 minutes while you make your filling.
To make the filling, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, softened cream cheese, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. I used my Blentec to just very briefly pulse (three one second pulses) the ingredients together. You definitely don’t want to blend too much or you will incorporate air into the filling. Of course, it is fine to just whisk by hand too. I just find it easier to get the cream cheese smoothed out with the blender. This is a very easy filling to make. If I’m going to spend time making my own crust, I definitely want the filling to be a cinch!
A note on the cream cheese: This is not a typical pumpkin pie ingredient. I add it because it gives the filling a bit more body, and also a silky creaminess to the spice and pumpkin flavors. It’s only a couple of ounces but I feel like it makes a difference. Feel free to leave it out if you would like.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and pour the pumpkin filling into your frozen, unbaked crust. Place your pie on the center rack of your oven, along with the leaf in a separate small baking pan. Remove the leaf from the oven when it is just turning golden brown around the edges, about five minutes. Bake your pumpkin pie for five more minutes on 425 degrees, and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees, and set your timer for 40 more minutes. The pie filling may puff up a bit, but it will settle back down when it cools. If you notice that the edges of your pie crust are getting brown, you can loosely cover them with strips of foil, or use a pie crust guard. I covered the edges of my pie for the last 20 minutes of baking.
Allow your pie to cool at room temperature for an hour, and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Don’t forget to add your little leaf decoration at the last minute too.
Thanks for coming on this pie crust journey with me, whether you are a super expert pie maker or learning along with me. I think the main thing I took away from it is that it’s more about the method than it is the recipe. Everytime I made a pie crust this week, I learned something new, and the process was a little easier. Don’t worry if your pie crust doesn’t come out perfectly the very first time. After reading a ton of pie crust tutorials from my favorite bloggers, I realized everyone has their own slightly different method that works for them. And you will too!
Hope my pics and tips make your pie crust journey a little smoother!
And Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to you.
I’ve been pondering the idea of practicing thankfulness as I’ve been tinkering with pie crusts this week. I’m hoping to gather up my thoughts and share them with you soon. Until then, feel free to shoot any pie crust questions my way, and share your own tips too. I’m definitely not an expert, but I know more than I did last Thanksgiving.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #lovelylittlekitchen
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Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pie Crust Tutorial
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
How to make a classic pumpkin pie with a tender, flakey crust – step by step!
For the Crust
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and grated
- 6 tablespoons shortening, chilled and cubed
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2–3 tablespoons ice cold water
- spray bottle with ice cold water
For the Filling
- 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- Grate (using a cheese grater) a half stick (1/4 cup) of very chilled unsalted butter into a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of very chilled shortening cut into cubes, and put the whole bowl in your freezer for 10 minutes.
- Add flour and salt, and cut the flour into your butter and shortening using a pastry cutter. Then add 2-3 tablespoons of ice cold water, one at a time. Use a rubber spatula to bring the dough together. You may need to get in their with your hands as well. Give the dough a few sprays with the spray bottle if the dough needs more moisture to come together.
- Wrap your dough with plastic, shape it into a round, flat disk. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or freeze until ready to use.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto a piece of parchment paper, dust the top of your dough with flour, and slowly roll the dough out.
- Transfer the dough to the pie plate (dough side down, parchment paper up), using the parchment paper underneath to lift it. Carefully peel away the parchment paper.
- Trim any excess dough around the edges (reserve for later), fold the crust under itself and then crimp the edges.
- Roll out reserved dough, and cut out leaf shape. Place pie crust and leaf decoration in the freezer to chill before filling.
- To make the filling, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, softened cream cheese, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. I used my Blentec to just very briefly pulse (three one second pulses) the ingredients together. You definitely don’t want to blend too much or you will incorporate air into the filling. Of course, it is fine to just whisk by hand too.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and pour the pumpkin filling into your frozen, unbaked crust. Place your pie on the center rack of your oven, along with the leaf in a separate small baking pan. Remove the leaf from the oven when it is just turning golden brown around the edges, about five minutes. Bake your pumpkin pie for five more minutes on 425 degrees, and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees, and set your timer for 40 more minutes. Total cook time for the pie is 50 minutes.
- Allow your pie to cool at room temperature for an hour, and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Top the pie with your leaf decoration just before serving.
- Serving Size: 1 Slice
- Calories: 486
- Sugar: 39g
- Sodium: 261mg
- Fat: 25g
- Saturated Fat: 13g
- Unsaturated Fat: 10.6g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 57g
- Fiber: 2.2g
- Protein: 10g
- Cholesterol: 97mg
Keywords: classic pumpkin pie, pie crust tutorial, pie crust, pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving
Allison - Celebrating Sweets says
Homemade pie crust is SO worth the extra work. Great tutorial! I especially love the photo of the grated butter – beautiful! 🙂
Thank you. You are very right, so worth it! I really feel like the grated butter makes a big difference!
Joseph Battaglia says
Hi my first time making pumpkin pie. The shell came out great , but the filling didn’t. It tasted flat and slightly sour. I can’t understand why. The pumpkin filling and the evaporated milk was bought this week . It was a waste I couldn’t eat the pie at all . ANY IDEA WHAT WENT WRONG?
Lover of pumpkin pie . Joe
cindy r guba says
Sweetened condensed milk is a totally different thank evaporated milk
Katya @ Little Broken says
Beautiful pie Julie! And those small little hands helping you out , if I’m not mistaken . Precious 🙂
Thank you, Katya, and good eye! Those are the chubby little hands of Little Boy #3.
Christina @ Bake with Christina says
Thank you so much for going step-by-step! I’ve never been good and making pie crusts and this has helped so much! And you pumpkin just looks utterly delicious! Pinned!
Thank you Christina, so glad it’s helpful to you!
How do you keep the crimped edges from over cooking? It seems like every time I make a pie, even if I do the foil over the edges thing, it’s always too dark.
Mary, one thing that may help is to move your oven rack down. My oven is sort of funny because there really is no “center” slot. There is one slot slightly above center, and the next down is slightly below. I placed my pie on the rack slightly below center, and only had to cover with foil for the last 20 minutes. I have also seen a pie crust guard here on amazon that looks pretty nifty and I’m thinking would be so much easier than the foil. Might add that to my Christmas wish list this year :0)
Cyndi - My Kitchen Craze says
Gorgeous pumpkin pie and those hands….sooo cute!! Hope you have a wonderful holiday.
I always include a tsp or more of vinegar or lemon juice in the water which seems to make the pastry extra flaky. My pies are always delicious, but I’ve never had one turn out as beautiful as yours.
That’s a great tip Jane, thank you!
This pie is chilling in my fridge. I have never made a pumpkin pie before so I am eager to see how it turns out. My daughter asked me to make her a pumpkin pie and so I found this on Pinterest. I will let you know how we like it! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂
Thanks Stacy! Hope you all loved it!
I am nervous to put a frozen pie in such a hot oven.
I can not get canned pumpkin purre her. How do I make it fra scratch? Also: what is pumpkin spice? I can’t get that her either! But I still want to make pumpkin pie folks!! Help!
I grew butternut squash in my garden .Three plants over took my entire garden towards end of season which left me with 50 or more squash. 2 of them make enough puree for a pie. I skin them with a potato peeler and then cut them in half.I save the seeds fo rrc roasting while pie is baking. I CUT THE SQUASH IN CHUNKS THEN COOK IN MY INSTAPOT. After it cools I puree it add the pumpkin pie spice which is cinnamon,nutmeg and,ginger. Then add 2 eggs. I can sweetened condensed milk and whisk..The butt err runt squash is awesome.. tastes same as pumpkin hope this helps you
Used the crust recipe last year for Thanksgiving and really liked it. It was more tender than other crusts I’d made. The chilling instructions were really helpful.
One thing I wanted to point out is that in the printable instructions there is a typo. It says 5 tablespoons of shortening instead of 6. Since it says 6 everywhere else I figured it out, but I had to come back here to double check in your full tutorial write up.
Anyways, thanks for the recipe!
Thank you so much for pointing that out – I have fixed it!
Doesn’t the pie crust need to be filled with pie weights and baked for 10 minutes before adding the filling?I thought doing this helped to prevent a soggy bottom crust.
Beverley, yes- I have seen many recipes that require the pie crust to be baked before filling, but I did not find it necessary in this case.