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.

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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!!!



Ground pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds all should be able to be used as a direct replacement for the almonds.

My Dad’s allergic to cashews, so I always use macademias instead. it works perfectly, though they are slightly more expensive.

Although I haven’t tried it with this recipe, I’d replace the ground-up-until-creamy walnuts and cashews with a cup of almond butter. If you don’t eat almonds either you could try sunflower seed butter. In the past this has made many a nut-filled recipe deliciously soft and edible at my house. Hope this helps :)

I was so looking forward to this recipe – it looks so yummy!. Unfortunately, those of us on the AIP protocol can’t eat this dessert – no nuts, no eggs, no allspice, nutmeg or cardamom. Instead, I plan to make a variation of the “Parsnip Vanilla Custard” with pumpkin instead of parsnips (see The Paleo Approach Cookbook” p. 351). Pumpkin custard sounds really good to me!

When I was on AIP, I was determined to have pumpkin pie! I made a lard crust with coconut flour and tapioca as the flours and for the custard I used gelatin to replace the eggs. It was great! I wish I could find the recipe!

Thanks to all for the AIP replacement suggestions. Now a pie that I can eat. Maybe Sarah should have had 2 recipes – one for those who are “healed” to the point that they could eat her Paleo pie and one for her AIP followers too. Just saying…

Any suggestions for how to make this egg-free AND well textured and tasty? Thank you! I have been making room for food allergies and some day I am gonna tell them to make room for me! Enough already. However, until that time, I am enjoying the creative alternatives. Thank you!

I have used chia seed successfully in the past as well as tapioca in place of the eggs. You use the chia seeds found in a coffee grinder, vitamix grain cup or your food processor until powder then do 1 tbsp powder to 2-3 tbsp water for one egg. The tapioca I used like corn starch when your thickening gravy put the mixture on the stove top instead of the oven (you skip the oven except for your crust) prepare everything as she states above except don’t add the eggs and the. You should be able to thicken it on the stove too with 1 tsp of tapioca at a time I till it’s the consistency you want. I can’t give you exact as this recipe is different than the one I used last year but should work out I would experiment first though! You can also use gelatin! Happy Baking! :)

Made this for a Halloween Party. Pumpkin Custard was fantastic, but I need to work out how to sweeten the pastry up (I have a wicked sweet tooth and miss baked stuff like nobody’s business). Thanks for the recipe!

I’m going to try this recipe for Thanksgiving (i’m so excited), but I was wondering, since I dont’ want to buy all the different spices, could I just use the Pumpkin Pie Spices (found at Trader Joe’s) ??? if so, how much do you think I should use ????
thANK YOU SO much !!!!

I was really looking forward to loving this recipe but alas. The amount of Cardamon and no cinnamon made it taste more like an Indian lassi instead of pumpkin pie dessert. And I’ll stick to coconut milk rather than nuts in the pumpkin custard cuz it was incredibly filling in the stomach with a lot of excessive nut calories, carbs and fat as opposed to if coconut milk was used. The crust also burned very easily and didn’t help the pie out any since the nuts in it were even more filling. I enjoy that you use plantains in a lot of recipes that other bloggers end up using nuts for. But I’ll probably go with a different pumpkin pie recipe.

I didn’t have cardamon so I used cinnamon instead and the flavor was perfect. I agree with you about the nut calories, but I used them and cashew butter in lieu of cashews and it was really rich and delicious, a decadent treat for sure!

Yes, i would be interested to know about the pumpkin pie spice. I have a budget and adding too many extra spices is not in it as they are expensive. I do have pumpkin pie spice but just need to know amount to use.

I have made this pie 3 times now and love it every time. I always get rave reviews and most are surprised to learn there are no grains in the pie. Excellent Recipe. To reduce the expense of the spices, I always buy them in bulk and just enough – It usually works out to be less than $1 for all of it. Good Luck!

The instructions for adding 1 cup of water to the custard was a little confusing. I re-read it several times and concluded that I should only add water if my blender/food processor has a problem mixing all the nuts. I have a vitamix and decided that I would only add 1/4 cup water and see how the engine could handle it. It was no problem. I didn’t add any more water. The pie looks gorgeous. I can’t wait to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Thank you!

I made this for Thanksgiving and it was delish!! I had a little problem because it wasn’t done after 45 mins. I brought it to my Dad’s and went to serve it and it was soup! So I popped it back in for another 30 mins, let it cool off a few mins and it was finally done. Not overdone at all! I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact that I had foil under and around the glass 9 inch pan to protect the crust from burning around the edges, but when I put it back in for the extra 30 mins. I left that off. It was so amazing though once it was finally done!

I had trouble with the crust overcooking and being very very hard. Also very flavorless. Needed some spice/or sweetness and maybe some coconut oil or something to soften it. The custard took 1 hour to cook for me but was really good. Would try it again but would try a different crust recipe…. or maybe grind the walnuts less…not sure.

Hi I will also add and continue with my questions that doesn’t sarah go by the AIP in her recipes? Isn’t this her premise on her book etc.?? I guess I am also not understanding why this would be an acceptable recipe with the eggs and all those nuts???
Does anyone ever answer this blog?

I made this pie for Thanksgiving and am making it again for Christmas. It was soo good. Based on other peoples comments I was scared to add the water and decided not to. The pie turned out amazing and set up nicely.

All I can say is “WOW”. Although is non AIP, at least is Paleo and nutritious. I gave some to a friend (marvelous baker btw) and he loved it. I am a pumpkin pie snob. This recipe actually tastes like pumpkin pie. I did add 1 TBSP molasses because I like molasses in my pumpkin pie.

Made this at thanksgiving and only added about 2 tablespoons of the water and had to bake extra 15 but turned out perfect. Made again today and added 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and love it even more. Thank you for all the great recipes.

Hi just curious does it get firmer once it cools? Cause mine has been in the oven for almost an hour and when I insert a knife it’s still very soupy

I have made this a dozen times and have adjusted it each time slightly. This time I followed the recipe just as stated here other than the water, which I left out. It is so good, and even better the second and third day.
Thank you again! It is still my husbands favorite.

Can this be made ahead of time, say the day before, stored in the refrigerator and baked Thanksgiving day. Does crust need to be refrigerated after baking

Hi, I made this and it’s pretty good! I used 1/2 CUP of water instead of 1, however I don’t think it needs any water at all. The crust is OK, might need a little sweetness and oils that bubble out of it freak me out! I also did not have enough crust. I am worried about the calories! This whole pie is made of nuts. If I made it again, I might use a pinch of cardamom not 1/2 tsp. and add cinnamon. I did use Pumpkin pie spice instead of All Spice. texture is amazing! Thanks!

The pies are in the oven and I can’t wait to try them! I just wanted to mention… I don’t think you meant to leave Cinnamon out of your recipe, right? I did add it! Thank you!

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