For the Best Pumpkin Pie, You Need the Right Pumpkins

Look for Small but Heavy Ones

pumpkin pie next to small pumpkin and candles
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One of the most traditional and greatest seasonal eating pleasures of the fall is pumpkin pie. But the great pumpkin isn't just limited to pie. It's the star of the show in pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin butter, pumpkin dip, pumpkin fries, and pumpkin pudding. From mid-October through December, this vegetable graces holiday dinner tables and buffets and jazzes up breakfast and brunch. Not to mention its star turn as jack-o'-lanterns on Halloween.

 All pumpkins are edible, but some taste better than others. If you're looking for the best pumpkin for a pie or any type of cooking, go with a small pumpkin that feels heavy for its size. The pumpkins listed below are regarded as some of the very best for pie. They contain lots of flesh, a finely grained texture and aren't the least bit stringy

Sugar Pie

These pumpkins are usually under 10 pounds, and often get a sticker designating them as "pie pumpkins." Any sugar pie pumpkin works well in recipes, but New England Pie and Baby Pam are a couple favorites.

Heirloom Pumpkins

These pumpkins break all the pie pumpkin rules--they're large, can easily top 20 pounds apiece, and contain an unbelievable amount of flesh. Look for varieties like Musquee de Provence, Winter Luxury, Cinderella (Rouge Vif d’Etampes), Galeux d’Eysines, Cheese, Cushaw, and Fairytale.


 If you plan to grow your own pumpkins and are looking for a single variety that will work well for both carving and eating, go with a hybrid like Spookie, which is a cross between Jack-o’-Lantern and Sugar Pie varieties; Triple Treat; Autumn Gold; or Howden’s Field.

Never Cooked Pumpkin Before?

Selecting the right pumpkin is just the first step in making a great pumpkin pie and other treats. Next, you will need to make pumpkin puree to use for a pie, soup, or other recipes. It is also the first step for freezing pumpkin if you want to wait to use it.

The first step is to wash the pumpkin and cut it in half. The washing is easy, but you will need to take care when cutting it in half because sometimes the pumpkin has a thick skin, and cutting it in half can be tricky. Scoop out the pumpkin innards and save the seeds to roast for snacks and making pepitas.

Making Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is simple to make. For one pie you'll need mashed, cooked pumpkin; evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. You mix it all together and pour it into a non-baked crust and bake. Top it with whipped cream if you like; some like it absolutely covered with the rich white topping. Those spices mixed with pumpkin say "Thanksgiving" to every American.