Every Thanksgiving, I return to my life’s work of finding a pumpkin pie that I will passionately crave and enthusiastically devour, versus the way I’ve eaten pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving every year prior: apathetically out of inexplicable holiday obligation. Four tries and six cans of pumpkin later, I landed upon today’s recipe for Vegan Pumpkin Pie.
It is not at all the pumpkin pie I expected to bake (or in this case, since the filling is raw, to not bake), but it is one I’d happily inhale every year at Thanksgiving and many days in between.
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you may be aware that my attitude towards pumpkin pie is…meh.
I try a slice of pumpkin pie every year just to see if it’s improved in the last 365 days, and every year, I’m disappointed by everything about it except for the whipped cream on top.
Where is the flavor? Why all this holiday fuss?
Not this year. THIS is the year of Vegan Pumpkin Pie.
The easy (and, might I suggest, sane) route would have been to accept the fact that I don’t care for pumpkin pie and content myself with one of the other tantalizing seasonal pie options like apple, pecan, or this tasty Buttermilk Pie.
But since when am I, the girl that went through six cans of pumpkin in succession, sane? Don’t answer that.
I can’t help wanting pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Even though I prefer a dozen other pies before pumpkin on any other day of the calendar year, deep down, I am a traditionalist.
On Thanksgiving, I want pumpkin pie. It’s what you do.
As irony would have it, in my effort to create THE perfect classic pumpkin pie recipe, I landed on one that isn’t classic at all.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie—The Better Pumpkin Pie You Didn’t Know You Were Missing
This Vegan Pumpkin Pie breaks every single Thanksgiving rule, save but one.
It’s naturally gluten free, dairy free, and, yes, vegan.
The filling contains NO SUGAR (meaning refined, added sugar).
Have I totally scared you off from making this raw vegan pie yet? I hope not, because this Vegan Pumpkin Pie (along with it’s Vegan Chocolate Pie relative) does keep the most important Thanksgiving rule of all:
It is delicious.
As in, look up to the heavens, close your eyes slowly, eat your second piece right out of the pie dish delicious.
Let’s start with the crust. Like the Vegan Pumpkin Pie filling, it’s a bit of an outlaw. It’s also 10,000x easier than any pie crust you’ve ever made.
As I mentioned, this pumpkin pie is gluten free, a task I accomplished by making the pie crust out of almond flour instead of wheat flour.
If you aren’t familiar with almond flour, it’s essentially finely ground blanched almonds. When you bake with it, your goods are naturally gluten and grain free, and you get all of the health benefits of almonds like Vitamin E, fiber, and protein.
A Little About Almond Flour
- NOTE: You cannot just toss almond flour into a recipe developed for wheat flour and expect it to work, as the two have VERY different properties. Make sure you are using a recipe designed for almond flour (like these Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins or this Paleo Pumpkin Bread!).
- Almond flour can differ in quality and performance. Grain-free baking can be tricky, so that’s important to know your almond flour is from a source that is not contaminated.
Once you have your almond flour, the rest of the pie crust process is a breeze. Simply stir it together with a melted vegan buttery spread or coconut oil (or just regular melted butter if you don’t actually need the pie to be vegan), salt, and a bit of sugar. Press it into the pan and shape, no rolling required.
This almond flour pie crust tastes just like a giant almond flour shortbread cookie.
The vegan pie filling is just as easy as the crust.
In the food processor, blend together dates, pumpkin puree, spices, and a bit of coconut oil. Scrape into the baked crust and let chill. That’s it!
Although this approach to pumpkin pie filling is less traditional, for those who need their pumpkin pie to be dairy free, I like that it eliminates the guess work.
If you try to do a Libby’s vegan pumpkin pie by tweaking the original recipe, you’ll have to worry about questions like what can replace the eggs in pumpkin pie and if you can use almond milk instead of evaporated milk in pumpkin pie.
Even if you don’t need your pumpkin pie to be dairy free, this recipe is still worth making.
It tastes rich and creamy, like a good pumpkin pie should, and it delivers on the decadence that Thanksgiving demands. The flavors and spices are much deeper than any other pumpkin pie recipe I’ve tried.
This Vegan Pumpkin Pie also passed one other major Thanksgiving test. Despite being satisfied after one slice, I couldn’t help but serve myself another!
How Long Does Vegan Pumpkin Pie Last?
- Short answer: you can safely make this pie 1 day in advance if you plan to serve it for Thanksgiving or a similar special occasion.
- Long(er) answer: I found this pie tasted great both the day it was made and the very next day. It was still definitely tasty a few days later, but I thought the spices lost some pizzazz, and the crust softened more than I would have wanted for a first impression.
Recommended Tools to Make Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
For the Crust:
- 2 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons vegan butter substitute melted and cooled to room temperature (If you do not need the crust to be vegan, you can swap regular unsalted butter OR 4 tablespoons butter + 1 large egg.)
For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- 3 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 10 medjool dates pitted
- 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree*
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon creamy unsalted almond butter
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger slightly heaped
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Lots of whipped coconut cream (or regular whipped cream if you don’t need the pie to be dairy free)
- Prepare the crust: Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the almond flour, sugar, and salt. Pour in the melted butter. With a fork, stir until evenly moistened and combined. The mixture will seem dry and crumbly. As you mix, use the back of your fork to smush the more moist parts into the dry parts and vice versa, continuing until all of the almond flour is as evenly moistened as possible and you don’t have any completely dry bits remaining.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish, and with your fingers, press it along the bottom and up the sides into an even layer (I find the bottom of a clean measuring cup a very handy way to do this). If you’d like to flute the edges, build the crust up into an even, unfluted “mound” that circles the dish first, then use your thumb and fingers to crimp as desired. (You can also leave it unfluted or crimp with the tines of a fork.) With a fork, prick holes all over the bottom. Place in the oven and bake 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and shield the edges with foil or a pie crust shield. Return to the oven and bake 8 to 10 additional minutes, until light golden brown. Let cool.
- While the crust cools, prepare the filling: Melt the coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl or a small saucepan. Set aside to cool slightly. Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until they turn into a sticky ball. Add the melted coconut oil, pumpkin, almond butter, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla extract, maple extract, and salt. Puree until smooth. This will take several minutes, and you may need to stop and scrape down the food processor a few times. You should have just a few small specks of dates remaining.
- Scape the filling into the crust and smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator and let chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. Slice and serve!
- *I know this is barely shy of a whole can of pumpkin, but do not be tempted to use it all or your filling will not set up completely (trust me). Stir that last bit into your next batch of oatmeal, a smoothie, or put it towards any of these pumpkin recipes.
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