The Best Paleo Pumpkin Pie

October 20, 2012 in Categories: by

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Pumpkin Pie-085Pumpkin pie has always been my all-time favorite dessert (and breakfast, for that matter).  And I have to admit that I am a bit of a pumpkin pie snob.  In my pre-paleo days, I was well-known among my friends and family for making The Best pumpkin pie.  It was a pie that converted many non-pumpkin pie lovers.  Many people would say that the only pumpkin pie they liked was mine.  My recipe was a secret, but it was based on my mother’s, which was a family recipe modified to accommodate my brother’s extensive food allergies.

I can give you the secrets to my old pumpkin pie recipe now, since I won’t be making it that way ever again.  Because my brother was allergic to cinnamon, the spices were modified to replace it.  As chance would have it, leaving the cinnamon out actually enhances the flavor of the pumpkin rather than hide it (you could of course, substitute my spices in this recipe with your favorite combination for pumpkin pie).  Because my brother was allergic to dairy, the standard evaporated milk was replaced with soy-based baby formula, which added a wonderful richness and slight nuttiness to the pie.  These modifications made the tastiest, creamiest, most awesome pie ever.  And it was always our tradition to have pumpkin pie for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving.  Yum!

So, when I embarked on my adventure to paleofy pumpkin pie, I didn’t want to create just another pumpkin pie recipe.  Plenty of people have paloefied pumpkin pie simply by replacing the evaporated milk with full fat coconut milk and throwing it into an almond flour crust.  No, I wanted to recreate MY pumpkin pie.  The Best Pumpkin Pie.  I wanted to make a pie that you can serve your non-paleo friends and family and they would never know!  A pie that can convert non-pumpkin pie lovers!

This pie is a very creamy-style custard pumpkin pie, which has always been my preference (think thick mousse).   If you prefer a more solid pumpkin pie, simply reduce the water (you can add more pumpkin to replace the volume if you wish, but it is not necessary).

Because the goal was a pie so good that you can serve it to non-paleo company, this is a bit sweeter than I would normally make for a paleo dessert (not that it’s super sweet, it’s actually the same amount of sweeteners as other paleo pumpkin pie recipes out there– but you will definitely feel like you’re having a treat).  You could cut the honey and maple syrup down to 1/3 cup total if you wanted and just add a couple extra tablespoons of water.

I actually got the custard the way I wanted it on the third try with this pie.  The biggest trick was the crust.  I tried a few different paleo pie crust recipes (anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows I was collecting different versions of paleo pie crusts to use as a foundation to build from).  I also tried several tweaks of a shortening-based version, which tasted great but remained too soft and crumbly.  In the end, I came up with a crust that tasted great (especially in combination with the pumpkin custard), had the right texture, and held together beautifully.  I hope you enjoy my version of pumpkin pie as much as my family and I do!

Note:  If you want to just make the pumpkin custard, you don’t need the extra yolk leftover from making the crust.  It will work just fine with 3 whole eggs.

Pumpkin Pie-172

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 20-22 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients (Pie Crust):

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Grind walnuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground and almost starting to turn into walnut butter (i.e., just starting to clump together).
  3. Mix walnuts, almond flour, egg white, and salt together (you can pulse in your food processor or do this by hand).
  4. Press/pinch into a 9” pie plate (an 8” deep dish pie plate will work too).Pumpkin Pie-045
  5. Pierce the crust with a fork every ¼” or so to stop the shell from bubbling up while it bakes.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until starting to turn golden brown.
  7. Let cool at least 10 minutes before pouring the custard in.

Ingredients (Pumpkin Pie):

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (if you’re making your pie right after making the crust, just reduce the temperature).
  2. Place cashews and walnuts in your food processor or blender and pulse until finely ground.  Add eggs, honey and maple syrup and blend for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth (you could also add some of the water if it’s too thick for your food processor or blender to puree well).  It is very important to blend until completely smooth, otherwise your custard will be watery. Pumpkin Pie-055
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  4. Pour into cooled pie shell (doesn’t need to be room temperature, just cool enough to touch).  Spread the top out evenly with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes.  Allow pie to cool completely before serving.
  6. Enjoy!!!



I made this last night and took it to a non-paleo Turkey Day dinner and it was a hit! My crust was pecans, and also a little dry, so I may fiddle a bit – Paleo boyfriend said he’d made nut crusts with lots of butter before. I may try that. However, the filling was perfect. I subbed macadamias for the walnuts in the filling and I used the whole foods canned pumpkin, and half the water (from reading the comments above that said that it was a little runny for them.) Perfection. The cardamom is a wonderful addition – in fact, I think that’s what won some of my friends over. I even carved the symbol for Pi into the top before I baked it, and it stayed! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving – and thanks to everyone who commented – reading the notes really helped.

Paleo Mom- you are my Thanksgiving Hero! :) Thank you for your time and effort spent in formulating these recipes. My son was able to enjoy (as my hubby and I) a very traditional dessert but without all the bad stuff.
There were several non-paleo eaters that tried the pie and were pleasantly suprised as well.

Hope your family enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

My Grandmother and I tackled this recipe last night in preparation for our Thanksgiving feast and the result was nothing short of spectacular. My only regret is actually telling our guests that the pie was “Paleo”. They would not have known any different otherwise.

Thank you.


Made this today with my own little variation (No crust). Since Thanksgiving I’ve been craving pumpkin pie/mostly the filling. I did everything according to the recipe except:
1) omitted the additional egg yolk and added 2 T flax meal
2) used stevia for sweetness
3) added 1t. cinnamon

I baked it in a glass pyrex container for 40 minutes. Next time I will use a bit less stevia and may try with less water (I used a cup). The custard turned out delicious– fluffy and almost mousse-like. Will be great and nutritionally dense for when I want something sweet!

i made this last night for a post-thanksgiving pot luck dinner, and it was DELICIOUS! the only recipe modification that i made was omitting the water. i will definitely make this again — thank you!

I made this yesterday, and while it tasted great, it turned a funny color. I did use canned pumpkin, It looked fine at first, but then turned almost the color of the ground cardamom, like I added a bit of cocoa to it. I used fresh walnuts, instead of bagged. Not sure exactly what happened.

hi, so mad this pie over the weekend and its very gingery tasting? any recommendations on how much less ginger to use and if i wanted to use cinnamon how much or how to alter the ingredients with cinnamon?

This is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had, Paleo or not! Delicious, thank you so much.

Caveat: FOLLOW the recipe. Although I did not have cashews and used all walnuts :-)

Lovely! I had too much custard for my case so I buttered & lined 2 ramekins with shredded coconut & baked them alongside the pie – just having one now with breakfast – they turned out great.

I’m guessing that’s a “no” then! Ok, you’ve talked me into it… I will attempt the custard part sometime after I recover from my hip replacement surgery tomorrow!!!!

One thing I’ve sorely missed since first going gluten free (Celaic) then vegan (casseine) was pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. After cooking all day long that was my favorite part! Not being able to use eggs has just derailed me on that. What do you suggest for those of us that can’t eat eggs. BTW I am about 2 months into the AIP.

Just made this for Canadian Thanksgiving with a pecan crust. Did a little taste test tonight and it seems great. I will probably use a little less cloves and cardamom next time. For my first attempt at any sort of pumpkin pie I am impressed. Thank you Paleo Mom!

This is so delicious licking the custard bowl….I am excited to try the finished product. The only problem – my pies have cracked while cooling. Am I doing something wrong?

Although it’s only October, I am ready to try this in hopes to perfect by T-Day! I’ve tried other “Paleo” pumpkin pies but, like you, I want my childhood pie back but as Paleo. Your intro sold me.. and away I go! I am so thankful to those that post their experiences.. the good, the bad and the ugly. Ingredients are way too costly so if we can avoid mistakes along the way or to have our specialty questions answered based on a tried and true review then the attempt wasn’t done in vain. Thank you to those that take the time to comment. =)

Tried the recipe yesterday. It doesn’t taste anything like pumpkin pie. So bummed. Was hoping for the real deal. It tastes horrible and I can’t figure out why. Followed the recipe exactly too.

I am making this pie for the 2nd time. The lst one was great! After reading all the comments, I reduced the water to 1/4 cup & added 2 T cinnamon (a favorite in our house). The filling was definitely better than the crust which was difficult to remove from the dish,
especially after it came out of the fridge.
For the 2nd pie, I decided to try pecans instead of walnuts in the crust so maybe these won’t stick as much.
Oh, and I topped it off with freshly whipped coconut cream. Yummy!

Update: the crust made with pecans came out perfect & I only baked it for 12 minutes. My husband loves it just as much as my old pumpkinpie recipe. Thanks so much for this recipe!

Hi! I came across this when it was mentioned in another blog post as “tasting exactly like the real thing” :)
But I was wondering, just like you’re a “pumpkin pie snob” (your words :) ), my husband is a sweet potato pie snob. Do you have an equally amazing recipe for sweet potato? If not, do you know of one I could use? Thanks so much for all your hard work to help all of us!

I’m trying to remember if I’ve seen one (something about marshmallows is ringing a bell, so that probably means I wasn’t looking at a paleo adaptation). If you have a family favorite recipe for me to look at, I could work on an adaptation.

Hi, curious as to how this should be stored… assuming any leftovers remain 😉 Is on the counter ok, or should it be refrigerated? Thanks!

Hi Sarah! I hope the book work is going well :)
I made this pie last year and simply adored it. I plan on making 2 this year, one for our own paleo thanksgiving and one to bring to a SAD thanksgiving. The question is, how many days in advance can I make them?
Thanks for all of your hard work on recipes, blogging and the book. I’ve preordered it and can’t wait to hold your “book baby”!

Before I met my husband, I didn’t know that most people ate their pumpkin pie was a solid baked gross concoction…my family’s version was a light, airy version that consisted of canned pumpkin, Dream Whip (remember those envelopes???), pumpkin pie spice and a boatload of sugar placed into a graham cracker crust. This recipe actually has the taste and texture of the best of both pies! I’ve never liked a baked pumpkin pie before yours. My only changes were to use pecans in the crust, leave out the water (was perfectly smooth and creamy without) and replace the listed spices with a generous tablespoon of Penzys Apple Pie Spice. I made it for my in-laws’ Thanksgiving over the weekend, but it was “forgotten” when it came time for dessert….oh well – we’ve been enjoying it out of the fridge for breakfast!

I am in charge of baking the gluten-free/dairy-free pies for my kids’ school’s fundraiser this year. I made a trial pie over the weekend and was thrilled–I don’t even like pumpkin pie, but this recipe is so good! We’ve been eating the “practice pie” for breakfast and I have the fundraiser pies in the oven right now. Thank you for providing such a great alternative to a traditional holiday staple, especially one that does not use coconut milk, since I don’t like the flavor it brings to the other paleo pumpkin pies I have made in the past.

Used cashew butter instead of cashews and now I’m worried as I made ahead of time and both custard and crust is the refrigerator. I did not add water so far as it was creamy should I do anything before I bake? Do you bring down to room temp before baking when you make ahead of time?

I’ve never done that before… I’ve baked the whole thing ahead of time, but not let the custard sit in the fridge in the crust before baking, so I don’t know. Also, I far prefer the texture when you add some water (it can be a little too dense otherwise).

Thank you for the reply. You are awesome! I will add some water and luckily I did not pour into the crust but rather put them in the refrigerator separately I will let them get to room temp and then pour in Thanks again I’m two years in with being paleo and could not have done it without you !

I made this last year for thanksgiving, and everyone liked it SO much, thank I’m making it again this year. Even my dad raved about it, he’s a processed food junkie. My mom bought him a store bought pie because he doesn’t like my “weird concoctions”, but he preferred this over the store bought! what a great recipe! getting ready to make it again tonight! woohooo!

Dear Paleo Mom!
I made this recipe today and I must say this is wonderful! My kids even loved it and they are a hard sell on anything paleofied. I am so excited about having this for breakfast over the next several days…

This was excellent pie! Very creamy and rich in flavor. I will reduce the sweetener next time, though, because a little too sweet for my taste. Ever since converting to Paleo months ago everything that has sugars of any kind taste SO sweet to me. Even my “old” recipe calls for a full cup of sugar! Can’t believe I used to love eating it. No worries, just a minor adjustment on my part. :)

I used pecans for the crust and pecans & walnuts for the custard. I didn’t need any water either and it was fantastic! It came out darker as well and my mother in law actually said it was too sweet, go figure. I loved it, more pie for me!

This was our first Paleo Thanksgiving, and we were pretty bummed heading into it, thinking of all of our usual foods we would be missing. This pumpkin pie, however, totally erased any grumpiness we had! We had a mixed gathering of Paleo and non-Paleo folks, and they ALL said this was the best pumpkin pie they had ever had. I concur. Thank you, thank you, for this amazingness.

I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was terrific! Even my 20 year old son preferred this pie to the the locally made berry crumb pie I bought as a back up in case I screwed this one up. One recommendation; make a note in the crust recipe to keep the egg yolk for the custard recipe. As a guy, I of course didn’t read through both before starting. But the recipe is a keeper and I can imagine the crust would be tasty in any number of pies. Thanks for a great recipe!

I didn’t use any water but absolutely loved the filling! It was the perfect texture for us. What a find! Thanks for sharing this.

Made this yesterday for our family Thanksgiving. I used canned pumpkin, and didn’t add any water, partly because I thought it seemed liquidy enough, and partly because my food processor bowl was already full! The only other thing that was different is that I used cashew meal (from Trader Joes) instead of whole cashews. Turned out great…..not dry at all… only thing is that the kids wouldn’t eat the crust. I wonder if it could be sweetened or spiced to make it more kid friendly? They did, however, love the custard filling. And I let them eat it for breakfast, too.

I made this for thanksgiving and it turned out wonderfully delicious! Everyone who tried it (all non paleo) said they couldn’t believe the filling wasn’t “regular” pumpkin pie filling. I used canned pumpkin and omitted the water. The crust was OK, but a little dry and also could be a little sweeter. I am going to make the pie again for a work pot luck. I am going to try using pecans for the crust as I see some people on here have had success with that. There were a couple of comments where you suggested using macadamias in place of the cashews. I wondering, have you actually tried this or has anyone on here tried it? I am not currently eating nuts (AIP) but even when I did, cashews never settled right with me. I did however eat macadamias with no issues. So for my day of eating a few non AIP items, I wanted to avoid the cashews. I will still probably try even if you have not tried it yourself, I am just curious if you did and what the turnout was.

Also, thank you so much for your site and all you do. I look forward to reading your book on my way to New Zealand next month! :)

I’ve made the pie several times with macademias as my Dad is allergic to cashews. Personally, I think its even better than the cashews! I did find it challenging to get unsalted macademias though, so i shook loose as much salt from them as i could and then omitted the salt in the recipe. I also used no water as I found the pies more likely to crack when cooling when water was in the recipe.
Re a sweeter shell, I personally found the pecans a little too strong, but i did brush some honey onto the walnut shell as soon as it was removed from the oven, which went over well with my family.

Thank you so much for the suggestions! I already got my pecans and walnuts, but I think I have enough walnuts to do half and half for the crust. I will also try the honey brushing after. I am going to whole foods today and they have raw unsalted macadamias (I used to eat them on a very regular basis and I miss them so!) I will let repost after and let everyone know how it turns out. I’m pretty excited! I plan on whipping some coconut cream with maple syrup to top it with like I did for thanksgiving. Woo hoo I do love pumpkin pie!!! 😀

4th time making this wonderful pie. I used Libbys brand pumpkin this time cause Trader Joes was out of it & found the custard to be much thicker so had to add more water, 3/4 c total. Color was darker too & cooked up faster, 50 min. Oh & I am not a fan of maple syrup so I sub with agave sweetner & cinnamon. Topped off with coconut creme whipped with honey & vanilla. Delish! My hubby’s favorite pie now so again, thanks so much for this great recipe 😉

This is so clever. I can’t believe how creative you are – what a gift! I am recently put on a sugar-, gluten- and dairy-free diet (the nutrittionist actually mentioned “paleo”) and have been looking for healthy alternatives for satisfying my sweettooth. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites. I usually shy away from these kinds of things, but you’ve explained the recipe and the photos are very helpful. So, I am going to give this a try. Thank you.

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