Pumpkin pie is the most popular fall pie in America.1 Traditional pumpkin pie contains sugar (usually brown sugar or table sugar), butter, and condensed milk. Some choose to avoid pumpkin pie altogether due to dairy or gluten allergies.
Making your tasty pumpkin pie without excessive added sugar and butter is possible. America’s favorite pie can also be made to accommodate dairy and gluten allergies.
In this article, you’ll learn if pumpkin pie is healthy, some benefits of pumpkin, a must-try sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe, and tips for making the best homemade pie, even if it’s your first time.
Is Pumpkin Pie Healthy?
The nutrition facts for a slice of traditional pumpkin pie2 are:
- 374 calories
- 7 g of protein
- 14.7 g of fat
- 6 g of saturated fat
- 54 g of carbohydrate
- 2.5 g of fiber
- 37 g of sugar
Pumpkin pie is a higher-calorie, sugar, and carbohydrate food, especially when eaten with a typical Thanksgiving meal. Many people assume pumpkin pie is a lighter option since it is made with a vegetable. While this vegetable is a wonderful addition to your diet for its many health benefits, it usually comes with loads of sugar in a typical pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin meat (puree) has been researched for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-cancer, heart and liver-protective, and anti-diabetic abilities.3 Most research has been small studies using pumpkin seed oil or animal studies.
A small study reported that pumpkin powder (from the pumpkin meat or puree) enhances the use of insulin in the body, allowing glucose to be lowered more effectively.3 The type of carbohydrates, fiber, and phytonutrients found in pumpkin are thought to lead to this beneficial effect.3
Canned pumpkin provides a wealth of nutrients in a single cup4:
- 137 calories
- 2.6 g of protein
- 7 g of fat
- 2 g of saturated fat
- 19 g of carbohydrate
- 6.8 g of fiber
- 7.8 g of naturally occurring sugar
- Two times daily needs for vitamin A (potent antioxidant)
- Rich source of vitamin K, E, copper
- Good source of iron, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and C, and potassium
The vitamin A in high quantities in pumpkin is a potent vitamin and antioxidant.5 This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for normal vision, a healthy immune system, and growth and development.
Vitamin A has been researched for its ability to prevent cancer. Studies show a lower risk of certain types of cancer in individuals consuming foods naturally high in vitamin A. Studies do not show a positive effect from the supplement form of vitamin A.5
You cannot consume too much vitamin A from natural food sources, only from supplemental or fortified forms. Choosing foods made with pumpkin can help you to meet your daily vitamin A needs.
The Definitive Sugar-Free Pumpkin Recipe You Must Try
Give this no-added-sugar pumpkin pie a try for Thanksgiving or any time you want. Pumpkin pie is delicious any time, but fall brings the pumpkin craving (and carving) out.
Signos’ experts recommend this simple pumpkin pie recipe for its natural sweetener, easy gluten-free or dairy-free swaps, the inclusion of real pumpkin, and a whole-grain crust.6 The lower carbohydrate and sugar content paired with protein and fiber help to reduce the impact on your glucose levels.
The nutrition facts for one slice of this naturally sweetened pie are:6
- 209 calories
- 5 g of protein
- 8 g of fat
- 3 g of saturated fat
- 30 g of carbohydrates
- 3 g of fiber
- 15 g of sugar
- Over two times the daily needs of vitamin A
- Soft Medjool dates: A great natural sweetener with other beneficial nutrients. Ensure the dates are pitted and chopped. Dates have no added sugar, 2g of fiber per serving, and contain potassium and iron in small amounts.7
- Pure maple syrup: Add just a little bit of this natural sweetener for a delicious taste.
- Pumpkin puree: Use a canned, no-sugar-added, pure pumpkin puree. You can even make your pumpkin puree from scratch. The recipe link details how to make homemade pumpkin puree if desired.
- Eggs: Large eggs help give the texture to pumpkin pie.
- Milk (whole milk, almond milk, or coconut milk): You can use any milk you like. Choose a dairy-free option if making the pie dairy-free.
- Vanilla extract: This adds a warm and pleasing flavor to the pie.
- Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg: These spices make up pumpkin pie spice.
- Pie Crust: This recipe calls for a whole-grain crust. You can swap spelt flour for oat flour, arrowroot flour, almond flour, or another option to create a gluten-free crust. Just be sure to make the pie crust before the filling. The pie crust can be baked while you make the pie filling.
Other Notes and Swaps
- Pure maple syrup: You can use honey or agave syrup in place of maple syrup.
- Pumpkin puree: Check the label to ensure you are buying pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. You can also make your pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins.
- Eggs: You could try an egg replacer or coconut oil to make this a pie suitable for those with egg allergies or vegan.
- Milk: You can use a dairy-free milk option including almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk. This recipe can be adapted for many dietary needs (nut allergy, dairy allergy, or gluten allergy).
- Pie Crust: You can purchase a pre-made pie crust (even gluten-free crusts), make the recommended whole-grain crust, or choose to make a crustless pumpkin pie. There are also recipes available online for vegan pie crusts that omit butter.
- Whipped Topping or Ice Cream: Whether you choose to serve this pie with these toppings or not, you can find versions of both that will work with almost any food intolerance or allergy. Many stores carry these alternatives if you don’t want to make them at home. If you would like to add a healthy fat to your pumpkin pie, aim to top the dessert with nuts like pecans.
How to Make It
- Pumpkin Pie Crust Recipe:8
Ingredients: 2 cups spelt flour, one teaspoon salt, 2/3 cup chilled butter cut into 1-inch chunks, and 6 to 7 tablespoons of ice water
- Gather ingredients, trying to keep them as cold as possible. Many people refrigerate or freeze the bowls and utensils before making the crust.
- Mix the crust dough and cut the butter into the flour.
- Form dough ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough until it is one inch larger than the pie pan diameter. Roll the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick.
- Fold the dough in half and transfer to the pie dish. Trim the excess dough and save it in a container for possible repairs after baking.
- Flute the edges or use a fork.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then bake the homemade pie crust.
- Pumpkin Pie Filling:6
Ingredients: ½ cup soft Medjool dates, ¼ cup pure maple syrup, 1.5 cups pumpkin puree, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp. salt, 3 eggs, 1 cup milk or non-dairy milk.
- Start by combining pitted, chopped dates and maple syrup in a food processor. Pulse until combined.
- If using a large food processor, all of the ingredients will fit. If using a smaller version, switch to a large bowl and a whisk after mixing the pumpkin puree.
- Add ½ cup of the pumpkin puree and run the food processor.
- Add the remaining pumpkin puree, spices, and salt
- Add the eggs and mix again.
- Then mix in the preferred milk and vanilla extract.
- Pour into your pie crust.
- Bake your pie for about 35 to 40 minutes. The middle will jiggle a little, but the edges will be firm when ready.
- Let it cool at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator.
This healthy pumpkin pie recipe with a whole-grain crust will help you meet your health and lifestyle goals. This recipe can be altered to meet the dietary needs of individuals, avoiding gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts or practicing a vegan or paleo lifestyle.
Tips to Make a Homemade, Classic Pumpkin Pie
- Don't overbake it
Overbaking the pie can lead to cracks. It will still taste fantastic. You can repair the cracks with a warm spatula shortly after it is removed from the oven. Gently pull the filling together to form a smooth top. It works best on a warm pie, but you can still try it when it cools.
Another option is to use pastry cutouts to cover the cracks and add a pretty design strategically. Keep that extra dough from making the crust if you need repair work.
The simplest option is to pre-slice the pie when serving and dollop the whipped cream over any cracks. No one will know as they are eating a delicious slice of pie.
- Chill the pie once it has cooled down to room temperature
Chill the pumpkin pie in the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving or overnight.
- Place a pan underneath.
A pan helps to transfer the pie without risking breaking the crust edges or pulling the filling apart, causing cracks.
- Bake it on the middle or low rack.
This helps to prevent the crust from burning while the filling cooks. If your crust is darkening too fast, cover the crust edge with foil or a pie shield.
Can You Prepare the Filling in Advance?
Definitely! This saves time and dishes the day you plan to bake the pie. You can prepare the filling in a mixing bowl and store it in an airtight container for four to five days. Now, simply place the filling in the prepared pie crust and bake.
How to Store Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Transfer the pie to the refrigerator after the pumpkin pie is cooled to room temperature. You can wrap it or place it in an airtight container for three to four days. Enjoy straight from the refrigerator with some whipped topping (dairy-free if desired).
Can You Freeze Pumpkin Pie?
After baking and cooling the pumpkin pie to room temperature, you can freeze the pie for up to a month. Wrap it well to prevent freezer burn. Sometimes, using a disposable aluminum pie pan is helpful when planning to freeze the pie.
Thaw the pie in the refrigerator overnight when ready to eat it. Enjoy with toppings if desired. As pumpkins ripen, you might make several pies in late October or early November. Then save it in the freezer for your fall festivities.
Consider adding this naturally sweetened pumpkin pie to your holiday dessert recipe collection. You’ll reduce your sugar intake by 22 g per slice. The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 g of added sugar daily and women consume no more than 24 g daily.9
This naturally sweetened pumpkin pie removes all the added sugar in traditional pumpkin pie.
Make easy swaps to the filling and crust to accommodate many food allergies or dietary preferences. When making ingredient swaps, be mindful of the fat and sugar content of items. Avoid heavy cream, full-fat milk, evaporated milk, and all-purpose flour, if possible.
This recipe can also be altered for individuals following a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or nut-free diet. After following these tips, you will enjoy a delicious, healthier pumpkin pie.
Learn More About Nutrition and Healthy Habits with Signos’ Expert Advice.
Swapping to a healthier pumpkin pie is one way to change your diet and lifestyle.
Incorporating new foods and recipes can take time and help. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can help you know how your body responds to different foods and help you see the benefits of lower sugar intake.
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Topics discussed in this article:
- Kafura, C. (2022, November 21). The American Thanksgiving Table. Chicago Council on Global Affairs. https://globalaffairs.org/commentary-and-analysis/blogs/american-thanksgiving-table
- USDA FoodData Central. (2022, Oct 28). Food Details - Pie, pumpkin. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2343493/nutrients
- Batool, M., Ranjha, M. M. A. N., Roobab, U., Manzoor, M. F., Farooq, U., Nadeem, H. R., Nadeem, M., Kanwal, R., AbdElgawad, H., Al Jaouni, S. K., Selim, S., & Ibrahim, S. A. (2022). Nutritional Value, Phytochemical Potential, and Therapeutic Benefits of Pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.). Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 11(11), 1394. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11111394
- USDA FoodData Central. (2020, Oct 30). Food Details - Pumpkin, canned, cooked. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103224/nutrients
- National Institutes of Health. (2022, Aug 12). Vitamin A and Carotenoids. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/
- USDA FoodData Central. (2019, Apr 1). Food Details - Dates, medjool. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168191/nutrients
- Healthier homemade spelt pie crust for pies and quiches. (2023, January 29). The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/basic-spelt-pie-crust-2952851
- How much sugar is too much? (2023, May 10). American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much