Thanksgiving would not be complete without a homemade pumpkin pie. Of course we have all been in the moment where we have forgotten a key ingredient, canned evaporated milk. Use whole milk instead for an easy fix for your favorite Thanksgiving dessert! This recipe tastes just like a traditional pumpkin pie with a smooth creamy texture and amazing pumpkin flavor.
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Table of contents
Why This Is The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
One of my favorite child hood memories is arriving at my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving. The pies would be cooling on the counter top and the entire house smelled amazing. Of course she made everything from scratch even the homemade pie crust. Although I do not have her pumpkin pie recipe, I have managed to make my own pies for my family to have wonderful Thanksgiving memories too!
This pumpkin pie has the perfect creamy texture and flavor we expect. Each bite has the perfect amount of sweetness balanced by the mixture of spices.
- Perfect solution for anyone who doesn’t have evaporated milk on hand or prefers not to use canned milk.
- Same creamy texture we are accustomed to in pumpkin pie.
- Simple recipe with only a few ingredients.
What Is Evaporated Milk?
I always questioned why I needed milk from a can and couldn't just use regular milk for my pumpkin pies. After a little research I now understand that evaporated milk is simply milk that has been heated to remove about 60% of its water content.
After the evaporation process, the milk is canned so that it is shelf stable. A can of evaporated milk can hang out in your pantry for at least a year.
canned pumpkin- 100% pure canned pumpkin is the best for pumpkin pie recipes. It makes this pie recipe much easier than making your own pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkin. Make sure that you buy the canned pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie mix.
whole milk- The difference between this pie and a classic pumpkin pie recipe is that it is made without canned evaporated milk. By reducing regular milk on the stovetop we have made our own homemade version of evaporated milk. This is the perfect substitute to use in place of the evaporated milk.
sugar-white sugar is my preference for pumpkin pie. I used a little extra sugar because the whole milk is not as sweet as evaporated milk. You can always try a combination of white sugar and brown sugar.
pie crust- For this recipe I used a store bought crust. In most grocery stores you can find a premade pie shell in either the refrigerated section or a frozen crust in the freezer isle. If I don't have time to make my pie dough from scratch I will by the refrigerated dough and use a rolling pin to roll it out a bit. Then I still flute the edges in my pretty pie plate. You can use a homemade crust recipe as well. If you are looking for a great pie crust recipe check out this tutorial.
- Pre bake the crust before adding the filling. This method is called blind baking. Use pie weights or beans to weigh down the pie crust so that it does not puff up while baking. Check out this step by step tutorial for the complete science behind how to blind bake.
- Use a 9 x 9 x 2 inch deep dish pie plate. This will completely hold all of the pumpkin filling.
- Begin baking the pumpkin pie at 425 degrees Fahrenheit and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. The high temperature helps set the pie so that it is not runny. Then the low heat continues to cook the pie through.
- Use a pie crust shield. This will prevent your crust from getting too brown or burning. The easiest way to do this is with aluminum foil. I put the shield around the crust after I've added the pumpkin filling and carefully place in the oven.
- The best way to prevent the top of the pie from cracking is to not over bake. You will want to remove the pie from the oven when it is still slightly jiggly in the center. Remember that it will still continue to cook as it cools.
Reducing Whole Milk
Milk has a high water content so by slowly simmering it on the stove top the water will begin to evaporate making your own homemade evaporated milk. It is important to start with 2 ¼ cup of whole milk so that as the milk reduces you have the perfect amount for your pie. This process takes about 20-25 minutes. You will need to stir occasionally so that the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pan.
Once the milk is reduced you can strain it through a wire sieve to strain any solids out.
The kind of milk I used when testing this recipe was whole milk. Because low fat or skim milk has more water content than whole milk this recipe is best made with whole milk. I have not tested for any non dairy milk substitutions.
Remember you do not want to simply add the 2 ¼ cups of whole milk to this recipe. Your pie would be very soggy and not bake correctly. Once reduced you should have about 12 ounces or 1 ½ cups of homemade evaporated milk.
Because of the eggs and milk in pumpkin pie it does require refrigeration. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours on your kitchen counter. You can serve once cooled and eat the pie at room temperature or cover the pie dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing in the refrigerator if serving later. It is best eaten within 3-4 days of baking.
How To Serve Pumpkin Pie
No piece of pumpkin pie is complete without a dollop of whipped cream. Of course you can make your own with heavy whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar. I think it tastes so much better than the store bought whipped topping!
How To Prevent Pumpkin Pie From Cracking?
There are two reasons why a pumpkin pie will crack. The first possible reason is that the pie was cooked in the oven too long. Remember to keep an eye on your pie before the suggested bake time is complete because all ovens are different and remove the pie when it is still slightly jiggly in the center.
The second possibility is that the pie had to sudden of a temperature change coming out of the oven. To prevent this you can turn the oven off when the pie is finished baking and allow it to cool in the oven for 10-15 minutes before transferring it to a wire cooling rack.
Looking For Other Pie Related Recipes? Check These Out!
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Pumpkin Pie without Evaporated Milk
- 2 ¼ cups whole milk (see notes)
- 1 can 15 ounce can pure pumpkin
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspooon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pie crust
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pre bake your pie crust for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool.
- In a small sauce pan bring milk to a boil, stirring often. Reduce milk to about 1 ½ cups. Set aside to cool. Then strain the solids that formed from the milk.
- Combine sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl mix together eggs and pumpkin purée. Once milk has cooled add milk to pumpkin mixture.
- Add sugar mixture to the pumpkin and stir well to combine.
- Pour pumpkin filling into pre baked pie crust. Cover crust with an aluminum foil shield.
- Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then without removing pie reduce temperature to 350 degrees.
- Continue to bake for an additional 35-40 minutes. Pie will still be slightly jiggly in the center but will firm as it cools.
- Allow to cool for at least 4 hours before slicing. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.