A Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie solves all your Thanksgiving problems, especially if one of those problems is oven space. It can be made as early as two weeks before the feast and frozen. Chock full of autumn spices and sweetened with maple syrup, it just might become your new favorite make-ahead dessert.
A complete make-ahead Thanksgiving is totally possible! Start with Make Ahead Roasted Turkey and Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes--the rest is smooth sailing, all the way to Christmas. Or browse these top-rated Thanksgiving recipes for more inspiration.
Once you assemble the pie, it freezes beautifully for future desserts. But you can also make it the day you need it. And as long as you’re working with a pre-baked crust, it doesn’t take up any prime real estate in the oven.
Most people say it tastes even better than traditional baked pumpkin pies, because of its amazing texture and subtle maple sugar sweetness. The only way to know for sure is to give it a try this year.
Making these easy Pumpkin Pies to get well ahead of the game? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How far in advance can I make pumpkin pies?
Some say that it’s possible to make a traditional pumpkin pie up to three days in advance, but it's risky. The custard-based pumpkin pie filling can pull away from the crust, split, and get denser over time. To be safe, anything containing eggs or dairy should be refrigerated after the first day, but who has room in their refrigerator for that?
But this Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie can be frozen for up to two weeks. The day you need it, take it out and let it thaw on the counter. In about five hours or less, it will be room temperature and ready to eat. It's like a Thanksgiving miracle.
What is pumpkin pie filling?
Pumpkin pie filling is usually a custard made with eggs, milk, and butter. Cooked pumpkin purée gets folded into the custard, along with traditional spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The pumpkin custard is gently baked until firm.
That's not the only way to do it, though. This recipe uses heavy cream thickened with easy-to-use gelatin for a no-bake version of pumpkin pie that is outrageously good.
What about pumpkin pie crust?
This pie can be made with a traditional homemade pie crust, a graham cracker crust, or one of your favorite store-bought varieties.
You don't have to buy pie crust at the store-- if you're determined to make this pumpkin pie recipe from scratch, you can definitely make your own pie crust, too.
If you’re ready to try your hand at the real thing, I have a great how-to tutorial that shows you how easy it is to get the flakiest butter pie crust ever. I think you’ll love it!
But if you’re just not ready yet, there's no shame whatsoever in going the store-bought route. You need your beauty sleep for Black Friday!
How to make pumpkin pie crust ahead of time:
Making the pie crust before you need it is a great idea. Make the dough, form it into a disk shape, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil, and freeze. This way, it will keep a couple months...at least. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and roll it out.
If you have the space, you can roll out your pastry dough, press it into the pie pan, and freeze it, tightly wrapped in plastic.
You can bake frozen pie crust straight out of the freezer without even thawing.
How to make Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie:
These photos take you through the steps without giving the exact quantities--it's for the visual learners! Scroll down to the recipe card for details.
- First, you should bake the pie crust (using the instructions on the label or in the recipe) and allow it to completely cool.
- Next, mix together the cream and the powdered gelatin. After about five minutes, the mixture should look clumpy like cottage cheese.
- Then, gently warm the mixture in the microwave for about a minute. Whisk briskly afterwards. The goal is to dissolve the gelatin. When the lumps are gone, move on to the next step.
- Next, in another larger microwave safe bowl, mix together the sugar, pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spices. Heated in the microwave until 110 degrees. Every microwave is different, so you may have to cook longer than a couple minutes.
- Once it's warm enough, whisk in the gelatin and cream mixture and blend thoroughly. Pour into the baked crust, give everything a little jiggle to get out the bubbles, and you're all set!
- The pie needs to chill for a few hours before it's ready to freeze (or eat). As it chills, place a layer of plastic wrap over the surface of the pie filling. This prevents the gelatin in the pie from forming a skin, and ensures that everything stays creamy, just the way you want it.
- When you're ready to serve the pie, top with freshly whipped cream and slice.
It's a pie that's hard to resist, so I wouldn't blame you for giving it a taste test before the big day. You can always make another!
Should pumpkin pie be served warm or cold?
Room temperature pumpkin pie is the most popular way to eat it. The crust should be buttery and flaky, and the filling meltingly tender.
And no matter what, serve pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream.
Can you freeze pumpkin pie filling?
Not usually! But this pumpkin pie filling freezes beautifully, because it's egg-free. Pour it into the pre-baked crusts, let it set up, and wrap well before freezing. Two weeks later, you still have dessert.
Make Ahead Pumpkin Pie Recipe
For the pie:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 9-inch pie crust fully baked and completely cool (homemade or from 1 box store-bought)
For the topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon Salt
To make the pie:
- In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk cream and gelatin until all the gelatin is wet and the mixture looks slightly lumpy. Let mixture sit until it looks like loose cottage cheese, about 5 minutes.
- Microwave gelatin mixture until the gelatin has melted, about 1 minute, whisking after 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and syrupy and no lumps remain. (If you still see lumps, trying microwaving for 30 second increments.)
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined. Microwave until heated to 110 degrees, about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute.
- Immediately whisk in gelatin mixture until combined. Pour filling into crust. Gently shake pie filling so it spreads to the edges of the crust. Cool 10 minutes.
- Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and gently press on top of the filling. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Or, wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks (To serve, completely unwrap pie and thaw at room temperature for 5 hours).
To make the topping:
- Using a standing mixer fit with the whisk attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, whip heavy cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
- Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 to 3 minutes. Topping can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
- Spread topping evenly over pie before serving.