Holidays: Grandpa’s Pumpkin Pie

My Grandpa, Clarence

According to my mom and Aunt Barbara, my grandpa got this pumpkin pie recipe from a waitress at a diner in Dallas a very long time ago. All I have to say is that if I was that waitress, I would have never given up the scoop on this amazing recipe. Luckily, that waitress was not nearly as stingy as I am and passed it on to my grandpa, giving my family years of holiday enjyment.

It should be noted that this recipe is not only a family heirloom, it’s a prize winner as well. When I was eleven, my grandma came to me and asked if I would bake her this pumpkin pie to enter into her senior living center’s Thanksgiving pie contest. Just like her daughter, Saint Nancy, that lady was not a fan of cooking.

My grandma, Virginia. Wife of Clarence and winner of pie contests thanks to yours truly.
My grandma, Virginia. Wife of Clarence and winner of pie contests thanks to yours truly.

However, she had a thirst for glory and said I could keep any prize money, so I got to work and whipped up this pie per my grandpa’s instructions. My grandmother won 3rd place and bragging rights, while I won $50. To my eleven-year-old self, $50 might as well a have been the lottery because that was at least 10x more than my allowance. So when I say this recipe is a winner, I’m not lying. The fact that is also super tasty doesn’t hurt either.

Grandpa’s Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 recipe for pie crust for the shell (and an extra one if you want to decorate your pie)
  • A couple of tablespoons of flour for rolling out the crustfullsizeoutput_14dc


  • One, 8” or 9” pie pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Rolling pin, dusted with flour
  • Cutting board

The Process:

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (you will eventually turn the heat down, but it needs to start out at 425)

2) On a cutting board dusted with flour, roll out your pie crust and place it in your pie pan. If you plan on decorating the crust of your pie, do so now. See this post on how to decorate a pie. If you are assembling your pie crust a few hours  or a day ahead of time, gently place saran wrap over it and put it in the refrigerator.

fullsizeoutput_14e43) Mix the ingredients in a bowl until smooth and well combined (you don’t want any big chunks of puree. If that’s the case, see the note at the bottom of the recipe).

4) Pour the filling into the mixture and place it in the oven. To prevent spills, I sometimes will fill the pie crust half full, place it in the oven, and then top it off with the rest of the filling. You may have a little filing left over, but I used an 8” pie pan and used almost all of the filling with the exception of a few tablespoons.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my grandpa and me. We are ADORABLE.
One of my favorite pictures of my grandpa and me because we are ADORABLE.

5) Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. When the pie crust is golden brown, cover the pie with loosely with aluminum foil and turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Continue baking the pie for 40-50 minutes. The pie is done when you can insert a knife into the center of the pie and it comes out clean. Side note– Cooking temperatures differ ever so slightly from oven to oven so keep a close eye on your pie while its uncovered. My oven runs a little on the hot side, so I checked on my pie at 10 minutes and the crust was already nice and brown. I covered the pie loosely with aluminum foil and let it cook for another 5 minutes at 425 (for a total of 15 minutes per recipe instructions) before turning the oven temperature back down.

6) Let the pie cool completely on a cooling rack prior to serving. Enjoy with a cup of coffee, some whipped cream, and your favorite friends and family.

Cookies and Salt Note: You want the pie filling to be pretty darn smooth. For whatever reason, the can of pumpkin puree I used was courser than what I typically get (maybe because it was organic? Who knows). Anywho, it just wouldn’t mix smoothly with the rest of the ingredients. If this happens to you, just mix the pie filling together and then strain it through a sieve making using the back of a spoon to push any chunks of pumpkin puree through the sieve. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the sieve too so you don’t miss any puree. Good luck!

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4 Replies to “Holidays: Grandpa’s Pumpkin Pie”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! I just want to add, with a nod to re purposing, that I like to give my Halloween pumpkin new – and delicious – life every year by turning it into a pumpkin pie!

    I also have a similar story to you Grandpa’s Pumpkin Pie recipe with my Pecan Pie. Thirty years ago, when I first came to Texas, The Houston Chronicle printed an article called “The Boy Who Saved Pecan Pie”. It was really written on paper in newsprint, which enabled me to “cut it out of the paper”. The article was written by a man who’s grandmother made a pecan pie that was so good that is was requested as Christmas gifts! And now I make that pie every year. And yes, it is requested by friends and neighbors. Even if I’m not invited over for Thanksgiving dinner, my pie is! E-mail me and I will gladly make you one. Or, in it’s true sentiment, write me a “letter” and “mail” it to me. I will deliver your pie by horse and buggy.

    1. Oh my god yes please. You could also write a fancy guest post on it if want 😉

  2. Thanks- good pie and good memories!

    1. I concur. Doug’s grandma said it was the best pumpkin pie she had ever had. I’d have to agree with her.

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