A Mouthwatering Pumpkin Pie Recipe for the Whole Family!
Years ago, we asked Little Passports team members for their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, and one of them, Robyn Patty, shared hers for a special pumpkin pie. Since then, it’s become a well-loved standard for us.
Take it from us and try this decadent version of a holiday classic. Happy Thanksgiving!
Decadent Pumpkin Pie
- 2 pie shells, prebaked
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare your pie shells. Premade pie shells make the recipe easier, but if you’re feeling ambitious, take the time to make them from scratch! Prebake the pie shells according to the instructions, and let cool before filling.
- Kids can pour the maple syrup into a saucepan. The adult should heat it over medium-high heat. Bring it to boil until it reaches 200°F (95°C) on a candy thermometer, and remove from heat.
- Once the syrup is slightly cooled, pour it into a mixing bowl. Whisk it together with the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, salt, vanilla, heavy cream, buttermilk, and eggs. The adult should handle whisking while the mixture is hot, but once it has cooled down to a safe temperature, kids can get in on the action too.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prebaked pie shells. Bake for 1 hour, until filling is set but is still a bit jiggly in the center when shaken (not too hard!). Move to a rack and cool completely.
- Serve with whipped cream.
Let the Decorating Begin!
Just baking and eating a pumpkin pie is a great Thanksgiving activity. But because so many steps in this recipe involve heat, preparing the pie requires a lot of adult supervision. Younger kids may have the most fun decorating the pie to make it something special.
Anyone can serve an ordinary pumpkin pie from the store around the holidays—but a pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream flourishes, decked with autumn leaves, or strewn with marshmallows or sugared cranberries is a memorable, one-of-a-kind treat!
Mini marshmallows: Pumpkin pie tastes delicious with the sweetness of marshmallows on top. To get that flavor combination and let your kids explore their creativity, ask them to decorate the pie with miniature marshmallows before serving. They can use the gooey little puffballs to make whatever shapes they want—turkeys, people, a house, and more! To get the best flavor, the adult should run the pie under the broiler in the oven once the decorations are complete. Watch carefully and take the pie out when the marshmallows are golden brown.
Sugared cranberries: Sugared cranberries are another fantastic complement to the flavor of a pumpkin pie. To make them, mix equal parts water and sugar together in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in cranberries and let sit for 15–30 minutes. Drain the cranberries and let them dry for an hour, then roll the cranberries in sugar. Once the sugared cranberries are finished, kids can use them to decorate the pie however they like.
Whipped cream: This family favorite is great for kids who like to share their art with relatives. Instead of serving whipped cream on the side of the pie, put it into a piping bag and ask your kids to decorate the pie with it! You may need to show them how to use the bag, but once you do, they’ll have a great time squeezing out whatever tickles their imaginations. If you’ve got extra time and want a truly dazzling centerpiece, you can color some of the whipped cream in fall tones like orange, yellow, and red using food coloring.
Crunchy leaves: If you need to trim dough from your pie crust before baking, you can repurpose it for a decoration! While the pie bakes, take your extra dough and trim it into the shape of small leaves. For added detail, use a knife or skewer to score lines that look like leaf veins into the dough. After the pie has finished baking, brush the dough leaves with egg wash and bake them at 350°F (175°C) for 10 minutes. They should be golden when done. Kids can place them around the edge of the pie like a wreath, scatter them across the top, or even build an edible leaf pile in the center!
Pecan people: Candied pecans are easy to decorate with and taste great with pumpkin pie. Ask the kids to place pecans on top of the pie and create a festive design of their choice. Feel free to embellish the designs with whipped cream as well!
A Pie with a Long Story
Pumpkin pie has been a classic American dessert for hundreds of years, and its roots go back even farther than that. Native Americans in Mexico were eating pumpkins at least 7,500 years ago. As planting of the gourd spread from there throughout North America, different peoples used pumpkins in a variety of ways—mashing them, cooking them, eating their seeds, and more. When European colonists arrived, they began cooking with pumpkins as well—making breads, ales, puddings, and pies. A recipe for pumpkin pudding (a lot like pumpkin pie as we know it now) is included in the very first American cookbook.
By the time Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the United States in the late 1800s, pumpkins were eaten less often. But they became a symbol of nostalgia, particularly in cities, where people associated them with romantic ideas about life on the farm. So as the nation developed its new holiday traditions, eating pumpkin pie became one of them.
Tips for Baking with Kids
Baking with kids can be a ton of fun, but it also adds complexity to the process! How long will the recipe really take? How do you make sure everyone knows what to do? How much mess is too much mess? Read on for some tips on making the baking experience enjoyable for both you and the kids.
Leave extra time
Like other household tasks, baking with kids takes longer than doing it without them. A job that takes you five minutes by yourself might take 15 or more for your kids to handle. But what you lose in efficiency, you more than make up for in good times. Leave lots of extra time—as much as twice as long for complex recipes—to be sure you don’t get stressed.
Read each step out loud
Kids do best when they have clear, concrete tasks to perform and understand what each one is for. Be demonstrative about referring back to the recipe for each step. Not only will it help the kids remember what to do, over time it will help them learn to check the recipe for themselves.
Give the kids a choice
It’s a surprising amount of fun for kids just to be in the kitchen helping you, but they’ll enjoy it even more if you involve them in deciding what to do. That might mean asking them which recipe to make (if you have a few to choose from), how to decorate, or whether the filling needs two or three more swirls of the whisk before it’s perfect.
Love the mess
Kids make mistakes in the kitchen, and those mistakes often make messes—but it’s all part of the fun! Plan ahead by clearing the kids’ workspace of anything that can be easily spilled or damaged, rolling up sleeves, tying on aprons, or even laying down a plastic tablecloth to make cleanup easy. And when the messes do happen, smile and keep on baking. The mess is just a reminder that your kids are there with you, learning, taking part, and being their wonderful selves.
More Baking Fun
Did you enjoy making this pumpkin pie with your family? For more great baking ideas, check out our easy pizza dough for kids or three ways to make cherry pie. Or tour the globe with the foods of Eid al-Fitr.
There’s a whole world of tastes out there just waiting to be explored. If your family wants to venture deeper into it together, check out our World Edition subscription box, which includes recipes from around the world as well as adventurous chapter books and fun souvenirs from a monthly global adventure.