November 21, 2014

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

Many years ago, my Aunt Jane, then a teenager, was tasked with preparing the grand finale of the family Thanksgiving meal: the pumpkin pie. She followed the classic Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe, the one from the side of the can, but made a small mistake, accidentally substituting sweetened condensed milk for the evaporated milk called for in the recipe.

Well the pie turned out so creamy and indulgent that the mistake stuck, and since then, Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without her pumpkin pie, still made the “wrong way,” each and every year.

Silky Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

This pie starts with Jane’s tried-and-true version of Libby’s recipe, but… I fiddled with it a bit, as I’m generally wont to do.

Our family is very traditionalist when it comes to our fourth Thursday in November feast: (Overly large) turkey, oyster dressing, cornbread, sausage and apple dressing, candied yams, creamy mashed potatoes and my Grandma’s (and now Dad’s) out-of-this-world homemade turkey gravy, cranberry sauce and jelly, some sort of green vegetable side dish, an olive and celery plate, and Mom’s famous pumpkin bread… Everyone overeats, but still leaves room for a slice of, you guessed it, pumpkin pie, with big dollops of whipped cream.

While we don’t really deviate much from this annual menu, I think there’s always room for a small amount of tinkering with the recipes themselves.

I knew one thing for sure – the boring, plain old pie crust that accompanies almost every pumpkin pie ever, had to go. First thing. Instead, the pumpkin pie I imagined called for a fabulous, spiced gingersnap cookie crust, the perfect complement to the sweet pumpkin custard filling.

Next, cooking the pumpkin purée with the sugar and spices prior to baking evaporates some of the natural liquid in the pumpkin, but more importantly, thickens and slightly caramelizes the custard base, deepening and intensifying the flavors of the pie.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

Many pumpkin pie recipes call for heavy cream, but I kept the sweetened condensed milk for nostalgia’s sake (while cutting back the sugar a bit), and added an extra egg yolk for creaminess.

I should add, that while the recipe, as written below, is designed for a standard 9-inch pie pan, on a whim, I baked these in two shallow, 7-1/2-inch tart pans. I just love those fluted edges. So tart or pie, you decide…

And. This. Pie.

It took no less than eight iterations to get this just right, but oh, was it worth it. My final recipe has all the classic, nostalgic flavors I’ve come to expect from a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie (Jane’s original version), and is super silky, gingery, indulgently creamy pumpkin pie perfection, and destined to become another family-favorite.

Silky Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

Silky Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Yield: 1 9-inch pie or two 7-inch tarts


Gingersnap Crust

  • 12 oz (approx. 45-50) gingersnap cookies¹
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted¹

Pumpkin Custard Filling

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Easy Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Make the gingersnap crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse together the gingersnap cookies and brown sugar until you have a coarse crumb. Add the ginger and cinnamon and pulse once or twice to combine. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until combined.
  2. Spoon the crumbs into a ungreased 9-inch pie pan, or two 7-1/2-inch tart pans (with removable bottoms) and use your fingers to gently divide the mixture into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pan. Follow with the flat bottom of a measuring cup or glass to firmly pack the crust into the pan.
  3. Bake for 5-8 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the pumpkin filling: Heat the pumpkin, sugars, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and spices in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-heat, until the mixture begins to sputter. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until smooth and glossy.
  5. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the condensed milk, whisking until completely combined. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, whisking until completely combined after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the filling into the pie shell.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges of the filling are just starting to set. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F, and bake for another 25-35 minutes, until the filling is mostly set (the center will still be slightly jiggly). Cover just the crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield, as needed, if the crust starts to brown too quickly. The filling may bubble and puff up slightly as it cooks – that’s okay, it will settle as it cools.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2-3 hours until completely set. The pie filling will continue cooking through residual heat. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and serve chilled or at room-temperature. Best eaten the day of, but will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.


¹Graham cracker/cookie crusts are a challenge to write recipes for, and I’ve gotten many questions over the years about this. There are a lot of variables – the brand of cookie, how finely you crush/crumble them, how firmly you pack the crumbs into the measuring cup, the density/sugar/moisture contents of your cookies, heck even the humidity in your kitchen probably comes into play. All these different factors demand different amounts of butter to moisten/hold together the crumbs without becoming greasy. This recipe was originally tested with MI-DEL gingersnaps, but I’ve used other brands with success. This is the ratio that works for me, but use your best judgment.

A few tips: the cookies should be crumbled to the point of resembling coarse sand. You don’t want to pulverize them completely into powder. Pulsing in a food processor works well. Don’t worry if there are a few larger bits of cookie here and there. You’ll end up with about 2 to 2-1/2 cups of crumbs.

Because there are so many different brands of gingersnap cookies, use your judgment when it comes to the butter/crushed cookie ratio. 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter may be more than you need depending on the particular gingersnaps you use. Start by adding about 6 Tbsp of the melted butter to the crumbs. If they aren’t coming together or don’t seem damp enough, add a little more butter. If they seem excessively buttery, add more crumbs, and so on. You want a crumbly, moist crumb that can easily press into the tart pan.

Bake the crust(s) on top of a rimmed sheet pan to catch any butter drips. This is especially important if you’re using tart pans with removable bottoms.

Depending on the cookies you use (and your oven), the crust may take more or less time to pre-bake. Crispier cookies may bake (and potentially burn) faster than softer varieties. If in doubt, err on the side of less time in the oven. The crust will continue to bake when you add the filling. Cover the pie (or just the crust) with aluminum foil if it seems like it is browning too quickly.

²Make this pie gluten free by using GF gingersnaps – I (and several readers) have used the GF cookies from Trader Joe’s with great results.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie: My very favorite smooth and creamy pumpkin pie recipe with a gingersnap cookie crust via | @forkknifeswoon

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  • Reply
    Cathy Rogers
    December 24, 2017 at 11:25 am

    This sounds so great. Making it tomorrow for Christmas dinner. I have a question about the fresh ginger that is crushed in the filling. Do you remove that after heating up the pumpkin? Or is there a way to crush it so there isn’t a hunk of it? Maybe grate it?

    Let me know. Thank you

    • Reply
      Cathy Rogers
      December 24, 2017 at 11:27 am

      I found the answer below. Thank you for sharing.

      • Reply
        December 24, 2017 at 11:36 am

        Hi Cathy! Please let me know if you have any other questions! Merry Christmas and happy baking! ☺️

  • Reply
    December 6, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    This was UNBELIEVABLE!!! This will absolutely be my go to recipe now! The texture, the gingery goodness, holy yum! Thanks!!!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I made the crust recipe this year to go with my egg-less pumpkin pie and while the crust did burn a little, it was still very delicious. No complaints in my house! The brand of cookie I used was Ginger Snaps, by Nabisco. I pulsed 50 cookies (or so) in the food processor and ended up with about 2 1/2 cups of crumb + spices and 1/2 stick butter. Only cooked it 5 minutes at 350. No butter pooling. No crust puffing. What I will do differently next time is use the whole box of cookies for the crust because the crumb mixture did not fill the sides of the round 9″ pie pan I used – even though I pressed it with the bottom of a measuring cup (great tip, BTW). Thank you!

  • Reply
    Lori McGoran
    November 24, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Was online looking for a gingersnap crust recipe and came across this. First, I loved the story about how the recipe changed by mistake (usually the best way) and then I tried it. SO good. Am just having it again for breakfast (shhh, don’t tell anyone). This is going in to my recipe book. Thanks very much and happy thanksgiving…

  • Reply
    November 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Holy sugar bomb! I followed the recipe exactly as written and it was waaaayyy too sweet for me. The sweetness of the cookie crust plus the sugar from the sweetened milk plus extra sugar was just overload. The texture was great, though. I cooked the filling and then blended in the milk and eggs with an immersion blender. I will definitely do that again, but cut down on the added sugar and probably go back to regular evaporated milk.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Hi, the crust keeps puffing up, what can I do to fix this?

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    I wanted to try this recipe for Thanksgiving this year but I found a premade gingersnap crust would that work for this recipe ?

    • Reply
      November 22, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Hi Patricia! Yes, this should work with a premade crust. You won’t need to pre bake it, and I would just watch it while the pie is baking to make sure it doesn’t brown too quickly (cover with foil if needed). Happy thanksgiving!!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    On the hook for a pie this year and since the flavor of this was so awesome last time I did it this one is back :). One question from a novice that may seem silly but…. When it comes to the crushed ginger in the filling, how do you remove it after cooking. I failed miserably the last time and a few people ended up with a chunk of ginger. I have a larger mesh strainer this time but I’m sure I’m missing something obvious.

    • Reply
      November 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Jay! I’m so happy to hear you loved this pie last year 🙂 Now, tell me what your ginger looks like, because I think we’ve got a miscommunication here somewhere! The crushed ginger should be very finely minced, almost like a paste, that mixes in well with the filling – you shouldn’t end up with large pieces or need to strain it out. You can buy it in a jar already crushed (usually in the produce dept or Asian section of the grocery store) or you can take peeled, fresh ginger, mince it finely, and use the side of a large knife or tool to smash the ginger into a cutting board. I’m lazy so I usually go the jar route (it’s easier to scoop out exactly how much you need that way too) and it lasts forever in the fridge. Hope that helps and please let me know if you have any other questions!! Happy baking!

      • Reply
        November 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

        Perfect, I will pick some up today. And yes when I saw crushed ginger I just googled and ended up with an explanation of ; grate, crush with spoon or glass to give a bigger surface area. So I figured it was kind of steeping in the filling. -.- Like I said missing the obvious.

        • Reply
          November 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

          Not at all! I think you could use one large chunk of smashed ginger (that you did remove before baking), and steep it in the filling, but you’ll probably get more flavor out of the crushed/minced. The jarred stuff is so handy. Have a great thanksgiving!!

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