New School Pumpkin Pie Filling

“Don’t mess with a good thing!”  Well sometimes messing with a tried and true recipe can be good!  The Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe is one of those recipes that has become the standard in the American home and professional kitchens for Thanksgiving. When family and friends gather together in homes, hotels, and restaurants on this holiday, it is expected that the pumpkin pie will be part of the menu, and it will taste just like moms. Part of our experience of Thanksgiving is the food memories we have. These memories bring up good feelings of family, friends, and great food.

For years I made the Libby Pumpkin Pie Recipe for Thanksgiving.  It was always good.  Everyone liked it.  But, as a professional, I felt like I wasn’t doing my job.  Yes, It was a hit year after year in the hotels I worked at, but, could I make it better?

The answer was yes!

The one ingredient in the Libby Pumpkin Pie filling that could be changed was the evaporated milk.  When I was the Pastry Chef at the Plaza San Antonio, I would have to have the purchasing department make a special order for it every year.  I dreaded the smell of open up those #10 cans of evaporated milk.  It reminded me of my childhood when we would run out of fresh milk and it was thinned with water and used on our cereal.  So why use something that didn’t taste or smell that great in a recipe?  There were other choices for a dairy product that would give the pie filling that rich, milky, and custard quality.  Heavy Whipping Cream!

Heavy Whipping Cream with its 36% to 40% butterfat offers us the rich, buttery, creamy, and oh so decadent silky-smooth taste sensation.  Why Heavy Cream and not Whipping Cream or Half and Half?  It all has to do with the fat!  Whipping Cream has 30% to 36% butterfat and Half and Half has 10.5% to 18% butterfat.  The butterfat content in dairy products is set by the USDA in the United States.  Living in Michigan we have access to great dairy producers.  Guernsey Heavy Whipping Cream is my favorite!  Always rich and delicious on its own and oh so heavenly in a baked good.  One thing to remember is to shake the container well before you open it and scrape out the fat.  The fat tends to float to the top and stick to the container.  A student once told me that she had opened a 1/2 gallon of Guernsey Heavy Whipping Cream and saw all this stuff stuck to the top of the container, though it was bad, and threw it away.  She wished she knew this before!  If you don’t live in Michigan check out your local county extension office to see who is producing Heavy Whipping Cream in your area.  Most high-end grocery stores will carry Heavy Cream/Heavy Whipping Cream. Remember you are looking for the word Heavy on the container, then you’ll know you are getting 36% to 40% butterfat.

The only other tradition that might be controversial is whether to eat Pumpkin Pie at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.  No matter which way you like it always finish with a nice big dollop of lightly sweetened whipped Heavy Cream.

Mmmmm…I can taste it now!

To make the pie crust please click on this link to Pie Dough Recipe from my past post The Proof is in the Crust?

Remixed Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • Ingredients                                 Measured
  • Granulated Sugar                       ¾ cup
  • Sea Salt                                         ½ tsp.
  • Cinnamon (ground)                    1 tsp.
  • Ginger (ground)                          ½ tsp.
  • Clove (ground)                             ¼ tsp.
  • Egg (large)                                    2 each
  • Pumpkin (1 can)                         1-½ cups
  • Heavy Cream                               1-½ cups
  • 1 partially baked 9″ piecrust

Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) for 20 minutes before baking the Pumpkin Pie


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and clove with a whisk. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture and whisk until well combined.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine.
  3. Gradually stir in the heavy cream and whisk and fold until the mixture is completely smooth.
  4. Pour into the pre-baked pie crust and place into the preheated oven.
  5. Bake the Pumpkin Pie at 350°F (176°C) for 45-50 minutes or until the center is just set. It should wiggle like jello when shaken.
  6. Remove the pie from the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate.
  7. Top with whipped cream before serving.
  8. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “New School Pumpkin Pie Filling

  1. Brooke Unverferth

    I’ve taken to using butternut squash instead of pumpkin. The squash has a fuller flavor than pumpkin, so it gives a more robust flavor to the pie.

    1. aramon65


      Thank you for you suggestion. It is great to see how you interpret the recipe. That is a sign of a good baker! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

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