Sometimes it is hard to recreate a favorite childhood recipe when you grow up. Lucky for me, Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe is still in print on the back of their canned pumpkin puree—so I can see exactly what was in the pumpkin pie of my childhood memories. One thing is for sure though, what I ate growing up was not gluten free pumpkin pie. It certainly wasn’t dairy-free either…
Growing up my grandma made pumpkin pie pretty much year round, mostly just for me. Grandma made Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe (using the recipe on the back of Libby’s canned pumpkin) and a store-bought crust. And to this day, that is what I feel like a “real” pumpkin pie should taste like.
Pumpkin pie squirted with mounds of whip cream right out of the can (half of which always landed in my mouth before it ever made it onto the pie!) was one of my all-time favorite desserts. In fact, I’m almost certain pumpkin pie was the first pie I ever made, and of course it would have been with my grandma in her tiny galley kitchen. Needless to say, I am very nostalgic about this particular dessert, especially around Thanksgiving.
Revisiting Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe
My grandma was born in 1906 and she wasn’t exactly into “health” food, nor did she like to deviate too much from the rules. Thus, the thought of not using the evaporated milk that the recipe on the back of Libby’s canned pumpkin puree called for surely never crossed grandma’s mind.
I guess if grandma were serious about her pie-making matters she’d have made her own crust, but store-bought crust was less hassle and nobody seemed to care if the pie was totally homemade or not, certainly not me.
I am pretty sure grandma didn’t even know what gluten was either, so the last thing she did was try to make a gluten free pumpkin pie. Who had ever even heard of such a thing?!
Boy have times changed…
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Crust Recipe
If I could find a store-bought crust that was ultra-healthy and tasted good I would absolute buy it. Trust me, I’m definitely not above taking short cuts in the kitchen! But, to date I haven’t found one that totally meets my standards for clean eating and good taste, so I have to make my own (for now, anyway).
The recipe for the crust below is probably about as healthy a crust as you can get (it contains no flour and no added sugar…sweetness comes from dates) and yet it is seriously delicious. And it is easy as pie to make!
While the gluten free pumpkin pie crust does not taste like the store-bought crust of my childhood pies (the homemade pie tastes so much better!), the most important part of the pumpkin pie—the filling—tastes just like Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie filling.
Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe has been on the back of Libby’s canned Pumpkin labels since 1950 and it is undoubtedly a classic. Considering how nutrient-dense pumpkin is (pumpkin is ridiculously low in calories while also being very high in potassium, antioxidants vitamin A and beta-carotene and has lots of disease-fighting phytonutrients) and how Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe only has about 30 calories of sugar per serving the pumpkin pie of my youth really wasn’t such a bad choice after all (except for the terrible trans-fat laden store-bought crust!!)
The main gripe I have with the Libby’s classic recipe for the pie filling is the whole can of evaporated milk it calls for. I just can’t bring myself to use that stuff. I decided to substitute organic coconut milk instead (read more about why I like coconut milk over dairy milk.) I’ll admit, I thought for sure my pumpkin pie would end up with a definitively undesirable tropical taste…but I am happy to say the traditional classic flavor is not compromised in the least.
I made just a few additional tweaks to Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie classic recipe by adding all-spice, nutmeg and freshly grated ginger. Definitely do not skip the freshly grated ginger! I also eliminated the refined sugar in the filling and sweetened only with “whole” food pureed dates (or, for those of you who do not have a high-speed blender, unrefined coconut palm sugar will also work)….
Make It Sweet as Pie with ZERO Added Sugar in a High-Speed Blender
If you have a high speed blender (such as a Vitamix) you can make the filling with zero added sugar. To do this, simply follow the ingredients for the filling in the recipe below using the pitted dates.
If you do not have a high speed blender, then you can substitute 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar for the dates and put all of the ingredients in a regular blender. What is coconut palm sugar? It is an unrefined sweetener made from dried coconut palm nectar, so unlike regular table sugar, it is not an empty calorie food. I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a “superfood”, but coconut palm sugar is definitely not a bad option when it comes to natural sweeteners. If you can’t find it at your local natural foods store, you can purchase coconut palm sugar on Amazon HERE or online at Vitacost.com one of my favorite online grocery shopping destinations for health foods (click on the ad below to save and for FREE shipping on purchases over $25).
Note: If you do not own a Vitamix, now might be a good time to put it on your Christmas wish list! Did you know you can get a certified reconditioned Vitamix (which is what I have!) for as little as $379? Click HERE to read more.
No Time to Make a Homemade Crust?
If you don’t have time to make the gluten free pumpkin pie crust, simply make the filling and turn your dessert into a pumpkin pie custard. To make the custards, follow the directions for the pumpkin pie filling in the recipe below, but instead of pouring the filling into the unbaked pie crust, you simply pour it into 4 ounce ramekins. You will still bake the custards at the same temperature (350 degrees), but you will want to check them after about 45-minutes to see if they are firm and set. If not, continue baking them another 5 minutes or so. Serve the custards cold, just as you would the pie.
Want a Fun Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Alternative for the Kids?
Try making frozen pumpkin pie Popsicles! Click HERE for the recipe.
But of course you can never go wrong sticking to good old pie…
- ½ cup ground flaxseeds
- 1 cup pitted dates
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- ½ cup raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil (such as Barlean’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil) plus more for oiling the pie dish.
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of unrefined sea salt
- Place the flaxseeds, dates and hemp seeds in a food processor. Pulse to mix until ingredients are well blended. Add the remaining ingredients and continue pulsing and processing until everything is well blended and mixture becomes moist and “crumb-like.”
- Lightly oil the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish with extra virgin coconut oil. Using your hands, spread the ingredients out evenly on the bottom of the pie dish. Pack down.
- Pour the pumpkin pie filling (below) into the pie dish and bake.
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin (note: look for BPA-free boxed pumpkin such as Pacific Natural Foods brand, if possible)
- 3 organic, pastured eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup organic coconut milk
- 12 to 15 pitted dates OR ½ cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon all-spice
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch of unrefined sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) and process until smooth and creamy.
- Pour pumpkin mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Bake in the middle rack in the center of the oven for about 1 hour (or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.) Set pumpkin on wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.