It's hard to imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. It's the quintessential dessert that everyone makes room for, even when you're filled to the brim with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. It's not a competition, but if you really want your pumpkin pie to stand out in the crowd, try making it with this one extra but easy step: before mixing your ingredients for the filling, blend the canned pumpkin in a food processor or a blender. This simple trick will give you a super smooth pumpkin pie filling that will surely please your dinner guests.
A classic can be made by combining canned pumpkin with sugar, eggs, half and half, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. But before you start pouring and mixing, take just a minute to blend up the canned pumpkin. While it's already in puree form, blending it will eliminate any trace of chunkiness and make it ultra-creamy. After you bake it, it'll retain its creaminess, which is exactly what you want for your pumpkin pie. The perfect velvety smooth pumpkin pie with a buttery, flaky crust, and topped with whipped cream is enough to make anyone's mouth water.
Using canned pumpkin rather than cooking a pumpkin and pureeing it yourself can save you a lot of time when making pumpkin pie. Making your own pumpkin puree is an extra process that many people simply do not have time for when cooking a big holiday meal. It also might not yield the tastiest pie. It can be difficult to get homemade pumpkin puree to the same smooth texture as canned pumpkin, and it's tough to remove enough of the excess water, which can result in a runny pie. Pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin often has a grainier texture and duller flavor.
While we often think of fresh as better quality, in reality, canned pumpkin (especially popular brands like Libby's) is often made with better quality pumpkins, hence the better taste and smoother consistency. But canned pumpkin can still vary in its level of creaminess and might contain some pulp or fibrous strands. So if you want to ensure the smoothest texture possible, blending it before baking makes sense. The good thing is this extra step takes barely a minute: you only have to blend it for a few seconds since it's already pureed.
Another important part of achieving the perfect is using the right amount of spices. You can go the pre-made pumpkin pie spice route or you can create your own concoction to make it truly unique and scrumptious. The key is to not go overboard with too many baking spices since this could overpower the pumpkin flavor of your pie. Pumpkin isn't the most flavorful fruit (yes, it is technically a fruit), so some spices are crucial.
If you have some pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger that haven't been used in a while, make sure to check the date on them. These spices can last for a couple of years in an airtight container but their potency can diminish after a few months. So, if you want the flavors of the spices to come through well, use newly purchased spices that haven't been in your cabinet for years.
For the freshest spices, consider grinding your own cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. This can be done with a motor and pestle or a spice/coffee grinder. Ginger can be exceptionally hard to grind so it may be best to buy that one pre-ground. Fresh spices and extra-blended canned pumpkin are the keys to a superior pumpkin pie.