A silky smooth, boldly spiced, and super flavorful pumpkin filling and sweet and spicy gingersnap cookie crust combine to make this gingersnap pumpkin pie recipe the very best. It’s sure to become a holiday favorite for your family too! Gluten free friendly.
Creamy, dreamy pumpkin pie with a gingersnap crust
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. Since then, Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without her pumpkin pie, still made the “wrong way,” each and every year.
This pie began with Jane’s tried-and-true version of Libby’s recipe, but… I fiddled with it a bit. Okay, quite a lot. But it’s now the very best pumpkin pie a girl could ask for.
Our family is very traditionalist when it comes to our fourth Thursday in November feast: classic roasted 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, 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.
Why you’ll love this gingersnap pumpkin pie
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, while many pumpkin pie recipes call for evaporated milk or heavy cream, I kept the sweetened condensed milk from my childhood for nostalgia’s sake (but also cut back the sugar a bit), added more spice, fresh ginger, and an extra egg yolk for creaminess.
And finally, cooking the pumpkin purée with the sugar and spices prior to baking – a technique borrowed from Cook’s Illustrated – cooks off 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. It’s key to the lusciously smooth texture of the pumpkin filling, so don’t be tempted to skip this step!
Gingersnap pumpkin pie ingredients
This pumpkin pie comes together mostly with traditional ingredients, and a couple you might not expect. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- pumpkin: of course! If you’re buying canned pumpkin, be sure to choose pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which is already sweetened and spiced. I typically use Libby’s but you can also make your own.
- white and brown sugar: for sweetness and caramel flavor.
- fresh ginger: this is a generously spiced pie, and fresh ginger adds a lovely, fresh and zingy spiciness that is a welcome balance to the sweet pumpkin filling. For a more mild flavor, you can also use half as much ground ginger.
- cinnamon and cloves: cozy, warming spices for that familiar pumpkin pie flavor. You can also substitute premade pumpkin pie spice.
- salt: just a pinch to intensify the other ingredients.
- sweetened condensed milk: provides sweetness and is key to the lusciously smooth and creamy texture of this pie.
- eggs: it wouldn’t be a true custard without eggs, which provide thickening and structure. You’ll need two eggs plus a yolk for added richness.
- vanilla: just a splash of vanilla for complexity and to enhance all the other flavors. Be sure to add the vanilla last, off the heat, for the best flavor.
The pumpkin custard filling combines with a sweet and spicy gingersnap pie crust. It’s a twist on a classic graham cracker crust made with crisp ginger cookies, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and butter that takes this pumpkin pie to a whole new level.
Find all the exact measurements and recipe instructions below.
How to make the best pumpkin pie
- Prepare the gingersnap crust: I use a food processor for this, because it’s quick and easy, but you can also mix the crumbs by hand. Bake the crust for a few minutes while preparing the pumpkin custard.
- Cook the pumpkin filling: Combine the pumpkin, sugars, and spices and cook the mixture for a few minutes. It will sputter and begin to caramelize, then become smooth and glossy as the milk, eggs, and vanilla extract are whisked in.
- Bake: Pour the filling into the prepared crust. We start at a higher baking temperature, then lower it to fully cook through, ensuring a silky, crack-free filling. Be sure not to overbake!
- Let cool: You’ll need to let your pie cool for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving with big dollops of whipped cream.
I should add, that while I designed the recipe as written below for a 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). It’s super silky, gingery, indulgently creamy pumpkin pie perfection, and destined to become another family-favorite. Happy baking!!
Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie FAQs
I typically use Mi-Del gingersnap cookies or Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps. I have not had good luck with Nabisco Ginger Snaps. You’ll want to choose a thin, crispy cookie with lots of spicy ginger flavor to balance the sweetness of the filling.
Sweetened condensed milk will give you the silkiest, creamiest texture. The next best substitution is evaporated milk, followed by heavy cream. I do not recommend using regular milk. For a dairy free filling, use full fat coconut milk.
Don’t over-whisk the eggs. Tap the bottom of the pie pan on the counter to release air bubbles before baking. Be sure not to over bake (see below). The sweetened condensed milk, extra egg yolk, and low baking temperature also help to ensure a crack free filling!
The pie is ready to come out of the oven when the edges are set but the center of the filling still has some jiggle to it. It will continue to cook through residual heat, so it’s important not to over bake.
A bit. I usually make this pie the morning of, and the night before works too. Let the pumpkin pie cool fully then refrigerate until ready to serve.
This pie is very best the day of, but if you have leftovers, they’ll keep in the fridge for 2-3 days before things get a bit sad and soggy.
This pie can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free gingersnaps in the crust. I’ve used Mi-Del gluten free gingersnaps with success. See the recipe notes for more.
Looking for more pumpkin desserts? Try these next:
- Gingersnap pumpkin pie bars
- Overnight pumpkin cinnamon rolls
- One bowl pumpkin gingerbread muffins
- Toasted sugar pumpkin pie
- Chocolate chip pumpkin bread (vegan)
If you make this gingersnap pumpkin pie, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! ★★★★★ Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, LauraPrint
Originally published November 21, 2014. Updated with recipe notes and baking tips.