Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist

I bring you my new love: A Classic Pumpkin Pie with a twist.

A twist of lemon that is!

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

I love that this pumpkin pie doesn’t have one predominant flavor. The lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg and vanilla all come together to create an harmonious symphony of pumpkin flavor.

A touch of lemon, pumpkin and brown sugar linger on the tongue, tempting you to take another bite…or another piece.

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

I don’t do light and fluffy pumpkin pies. My husband and I agree that they need to be dense, flavorful and fully set. I have a failsafe Pumpkin Pie recipe already on AHC, but I wanted to experiment with a riff on the classic and try a recipe that doesn’t rely on sweetened condensed milk.

Oh, and it had to have brown sugar. Because I am all about the brown sugar.

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

My father in law gave me a 1943 edition of The Joy of Cooking, and I have been itching to use it. I cracked it open to Pumpkin Pie as soon as we got back from Cleveland and Ruth’s recipe involved whipping egg whites and folding them into the batter.

Ain’t nobody got the time or patience for that. I like my pumpkin pies as easy as they are delicious.

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

The Joy of Cooking will have to wait for another time.

My husband, the Grand Master Pumpkin Pie Tester, approved, whole-heartedly, of this pie! {Phew} And we both agreed that it was even better the second day after the flavors had melded and the custard had set overnight in the refrigerator.

Bonus make-ahead points for Holiday dinners!

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

And it’s throw-everything-in-a-bowl EASY! Double bonus points.

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

Pumpkin pie has always been my favorite Thanksgiving or, really, anytime pie. When I was younger (like last week) I used to just eat the pie filling and leave the crust, but that was before I discovered the joy of homemade pie pastry!

But sometimes I still eat just the pie filling because it seems like a much more reasonable breakfast without the crust. Right? #justagree

I was experimenting with new crust recipes with this pie and let’s just say I wasn’t the biggest fan. #crustsnob The husband liked it but it wasn’t perfect, and perfection is all that I bring you up in here. So I will guide you to a foolproof pie crust that is my go-to in the recipe below.

Even with the lackluster crust I didn’t want this pie to end.

Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Twist | My new favorite pumpkin recipe has lemon zest, spices, vanilla and brown sugar! So amazing!

But it barely lasted 24 hours. How did that happen? There are only two of us…

A side note: These photos were taken about 2 hours of cooling on a wire rack. The pie was MUCH better when completely cooled and even more flavorful after refrigeration over night.

Pumpkin Pie with a Twist

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Makes one deep-dish 9 inch pie

Pumpkin Pie with a Twist

A classic pumpkin pie with a twist! Lemon zest, spices, brown sugar and vanilla blend perfectly with the pumpkin! Best of all it comes together in one bowl! Easy as pie! Try this twist on an old favorite for your next party or family dinner!


    For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
  • 1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree [fresh or canned is fine, but just make sure its 100% pumpkin]
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ teaspoon grated lemon zest (bright yellow parts only!)
  • 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (I don’t actually measure this, just a few passes of the nutmeg over a microplane will do it.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • Use a store-bought crust or make this easy recipe


  1. Preheat your oven to 450° with the rack in the middle.
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs with a wire whisk until the whites and the yolks are homogenous, about 2 seconds. Add the remaining filling ingredients to the bowl and whisk to combine. Make sure the eggs and cream are completely incorporated. Pour into unbaked pie crust.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and continue baking for 45-60 minutes, or until the filling has set and the center is no longer liquid when gently moved. You can insert a knife 2 inches from the center, and it is done when it comes out clean. I don’t like to do this because then you have an ugly crack…but this pie cracked anyways. Sigh.
  4. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold. I think it is best chilled.


You don’t want to let the filling boil…boiling is the kiss of death. This is why we reduce the heat after 15 minutes. If you know your oven runs hot, then reduce the heat to 325° for the remainder of the cooking time. If you notice that your filling has begun to boil, reduce the heat. I’ve only had this problem when using a recipe with milk instead of cream.

I like to bake my pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to facilitate getting the pie in and out of the oven and testing for doneness.

You May Also Like these Holiday Desserts!

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This recipe is linked to: Inspiration Monday, Merry Monday, Munching Monday, Monday Funday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Party Time, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Gluten Free Wednesday, What’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Gluten Free Friday, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Flashback Friday, Saturday Night Fever, Show Stopping Saturdays, Sweet and Savoury Sundays



    • AmericanCooking22 says

      How is this possible, Jess?! I just can’t even comprehend that. The next time I’m in the UK, I’m coming over and we’re baking a pumpkin pie. And cupcakes (duh).

  1. says

    I will try it out with fat free half and half and let you know how it comes out. I have done the fat free half and half or low fat evaporated pumpkin pies before and thought that they tasted just as good. Thanks for the recipe!! My weight watchers teacher told the class this morning that she would be available the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving for “confession.” Ha Ha!!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I know you will! Do let me know how it goes. I’ve tried making pumpkin pie with 2% and whole milk before and both times they were a failure. I couldn’t get them to set without boiling and separating. I am all in favor of eating 90% of my Tgiving plate healthy and then that other 10% is reserved for stuffing and sweet potato casserole! Oh, and pie!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Phew! That makes 4 of us, which is practically everyone: you, me, my mom, and my husband. Or at least everyone who counts 😉

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      So sorry Kristine! Poor you! Good thing I know you are handy in the kitchen and can whip one of these up in a jiffy! 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Kelly! Something, preferably several somethings, has to be easy throw together on the holiday feast table or we’d all go insane!

  2. says

    Hi LIndsey, I have used the cooking light recipe that uses evaporated fat free milk. It worked fine and you couldn’t tell the difference. At my age I have to shave calories wherever I can.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I hear you. I would bet that evaporated milk is more concentrated than the 2% milk that I used and the additional water content was why my filling wouldn’t set. I bet it tastes just as good with evaporated fat free or your fat free half and half because pumpkin pie is all about the pumpkin and spices!!!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Kayle! I did and I felt super guilty! We were there for under 48 hours and we needed to fit in both Randy’s parents. I’ll be back for a whole week starting next Monday! You and me, girl, have got to do something!

      • says

        Well then I guessss you’re forgiven 😛

        On Monday I’ll be in Streetsboro (which is closer to Cleveland than where I live) 6-8 for work so I could meet after that or potentially earlier in the day Tuesday (I work in Akron at 3:30) orrrr depending on how things go I might be free earlier in the day Saturday also!
        Kayle (The Cooking Actress) recently posted…One Hour Dinner RollsMy Profile

        • AmericanCooking22 says

          Randy’s mom actually lives in Brunswick. We don’t get in until Monday afternoon. I’ll check with Randy and then text you? This is all complicated by the fact that I won’t have a car!!! Tuesday might work if I can figure out the car situation. We must get together!

  3. says

    I’m so with you on pumpkin pie — I don’t like light and fluffy, folding in egg whites, etc. it’s the one time when things have to be dense and custard like! This looks so perfect! While I’ve added orange zest many times, I’ve never tried pumpkin with lemon….I’m gonna have to try this twist!
    Marcie recently posted…Spicy Espresso Gingersnap CookiesMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Me too! I also think if I made a light and fluffy pumpkin pie, my husband would start and open rebellion! And I don’t need that! I hope you do try it out! So yummy in pumpkin and sweet potato pie!

  4. says

    What!?! No mace?? That’s it. I’m boycotting this pie. Haha…just kidding, how could I ever boycott any of your desserts? I totally understand the problem of desserts disappearing way too fast…which is why I have to send them out to the neighbors, my wife co-workers, the guys at bar trivia, teammates on curling team. Geez. You’d think I run a full-scale bakery with that list. One thing I do need in my full-scale bakery is pumpkin pie. Lots and lots of your pumpkin pie. Lemon sounds like a fascinatingly delicious addition, too. (Lemon is my secret ingredient in tons of recipes…but I’ve never tried it in pumpkin pie.)
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Roasted Squash and Freekah PilafMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I almost spit out my coffee when I read your comment. Hi-larious. Although I can understand your reasoning, it would be a darn shame to boycott this pie. You do need pumpkin pie in your home based bakery! I have the problem that my husband is my only coworker and I am his and our neighbors are kinda mean these days…so that means we have several very well fed concierges!

  5. says

    This pumpkin Pie looks so creamy and delicious Lindsey! Love that you added in some lemon. I bet that tastes fabulous.
    [email protected] recently posted…Sally Lunn Rolls and Pecan Pie BarsMy Profile


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