Best Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie
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 instructions in the recipe card, 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.
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, Laura
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!
- 2 – 2-1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs ¹
- 2 Tbsp (26g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (113g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted ¹
Pumpkin Custard Filling
- See recipe notes below for gingersnap crust tips and troubleshooting.
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. 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 ¹ and pulse until combined.
- Spoon the crumbs into a ungreased 9-inch pie pan,² 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.
- Bake for 5-8 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
- Heat the pumpkin, sugars, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt 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.
- 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(s).
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350℉, until the edges of the filling are just starting to set.
- Turn the oven down to 325℉, 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.
- 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 the pie can be made in advance and will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!!
- ¹ Graham 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. Even the humidity in your kitchen can come 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 (10oz or about 45-50 cookies), 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.
- If your gingersnaps are very sweet, you can reduce or omit the brown sugar in the crust. This pie is best with a strongly spiced ginger cookie crust.
- For gluten free pumpkin pie: Simply use gluten free gingersnap cookies such as these from MiDel. Note that they are 8 oz bags instead of 10 oz and will yield about 2 cups of cookie crumbs, so you may need a bit less butter. Several readers have also had good results with the gluten free gingersnap cookies from Trader Joe’s.
- Substitutions for sweetened condensed milk: You’ll get the best flavor and texture using sweetened condensed milk, but if you’d prefer a less sweet pie, you can also use 1 cup of evaporated milk, heavy cream, or full fat coconut milk.
- ² Make sure you are using a 9-inch pie pan that is deep dish, or at least 2″ tall, with a minimum volume of 5-1/2 cups. If that’s not feasible, you can also divide the pie into two smaller pans (reducing the baking time), or bake any extra filling in a couple of small oven-safe ramekins.
Keywords: gingersnap pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, cookie crust, brown sugar, creamy, gluten free, best,
Originally published November 21, 2014. Updated with recipe notes and baking tips.