For a very long time I’ve fancied some low-carb pumpkin pie. Something comforting, rich and custardy, garnished with a dollop of whipped cream to perfect the palatability.
After numerous experiments I finally managed to create a recipe with which I’m completely satisfied. I hope you find this sugar-free pie as sweet and enjoyable as I do!
Tips for making the crustless low-carb pumpkin pie
If you use home-roasted pumpkin, make sure that you have strained and pureed it extremely well so that it has the same consistency as canned pumpkin.
One note about pie pans. I recommend 10-inch (25 cm) pie pan, however you can use also a 9-inch (23 cm) deep-dish pan. Just remember that the pie is thicker in smaller pan and requires longer time to bake. All in all, glass and ceramic pans work best.
If you choose a smaller pan anyway, the pie might develop some cracks on top. When the pie cools down, the cracks don’t look that prominent. You can prevent the cracking by placing a heatproof dish with water in the oven while baking the pie, just like when you bake a cheesecake.
Oh yes, and please try to contain yourself with the ready pie: let it cool properly, preferably in the fridge overnight. This pie is just so much better on the next day.
Otherwise no worries, this rich and custardy, crustless pumpkin pie couldn’t be easier to make! Let’s take a look:
First, grease a pie pan or other round 10-inch (25 cm) glass or ceramic baking dish generously with butter. I love to use this ages-old glass baking dish which I secretly have taken from my mom’s kitchen cupboard. Actually, she knows that but hasn’t said a thing, so I expect it wasn’t too bad of a crime. When I was kid, she always baked all the birthday cakes in this baking dish.
Set the greased pie pan (or whatever baking dish you are using) aside. Then just take all ingredients and place them in a large bowl.
Mix until well mixed. Personally I prefer electric mixer because it’s so quick, but nothing prevents from using a wire whisk and some manual labor. You don’t have to beat the ingredients vigorously, just that the mixture is smooth without a single lump.
Pour the smooth pumpkin pie mixture into the greased pie pan.
That’s it! Just put the filled pie pan in the oven for an hour or so. When 45 minutes have passed, start checking the pie every now and then. You know that the pie is done when the center of the pie is higher than the edges. You can also test the doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie: if it comes out clean, the pie is ready.
My numerous low-carb pumpkin pie experiments
What could be better time of the year to develop a pumpkin pie recipe than late fall? The pantries are packed with solid-pack pumpkin — or home-roasted pumpkin. Moreover, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Even we are not celebrating Thanksgiving here in Finland, most of my readers are from US, so I hope you also find this recipe useful.
So, initially I was desperately fancying some pumpkin pie. There is no way I would get low-carb pumpkin pie here in Finland, so I had to make one myself and first of all, develop my own recipe. I believe there are fantastic recipes for low-carb pumpkin pies out there, but I wanted to feed my need to do some R&D (yes, I’m a researcher by nature…) by developing my own recipe from scratch.
I did some experiments in the fall last year. However, I wasn’t quite satisfied with those. I used some high-carb recipes as reference to get some ideas for my own creations. I don’t even remember which ones I checked, I just was surfing and jotting down ideas. The biggest problem was that most of the pumpkin pie recipes used condensed milk — which is sweet and high in carbs. There were a couple of recipes which used milk or a combination of milk and heavy cream. I think this was one and this the other. Well, this was also an English recipe using regular milk instead of condensed milk.
This fall I dug up my notes on the pumpkin pie experiments. After some serious pondering I was ready to make my first experiment this year. I used 2 cups (480 ml) home-roasted pumpkin, 2 cups (480 ml) full-fat milk, 2/3 cup (160 ml) erythritol crystals, 3 extra large eggs and 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice.
I just combined everything in a bowl and mixed well with an electric mixer. I poured the mixture into a greased glass baking dish. I baked the pie in the preheated oven at 350 °F (175 °C) for an hour.
Naturally, after removing the pie from the oven, I should have waited until the pie had cooled down. But, I just couldn’t resist the temptation and excitedly I cut a small slice to check how the pie had turned out.
I was disappointed how tasteless the pie was. Furthermore, the texture was mushy. The color of the surface turned white after the pie had cooled down. I wondered if I should have baked the pie for longer time. Or, maybe I simply had too much liquid compared to the amount of eggs?
My conclusion was, that since I used home-roasted pumpkin, I should have strained it better. Now it was simply too runny and watery. Moreover, milk wasn’t the best option for liquid, it gave the pie too bland and thin mouthfeel. I simply was missing richer mouthfeel and more custardy texture.
I wondered whether half-and-half or even heavy cream would have worked better than milk. I decided to try half-and-half. This time, I used organic solid-pack pumpkin instead of home-made pumpkin puree. I added 1 15-ounce can (425 g) pumpkin, 1 cup half-and-half, 3/4 cup (180 ml) erythritol crystals, 3 extra large eggs and 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice.
In truth, since I didn’t have any half-and-half and the grocery store was already closed, I decided to make half-and-half substitution from milk and butter. For example here are great instructions how to substitute half-and-half.
The resulting pie was too spicy and too sweet. Again, I cut a slice when the pie was still quite hot. (I know, in general I’m a very impatient person). I noticed that there was fluid on the bottom of the baking dish. Not good. Later, when the pie had cooled completely, it had absorbed all the fluid. Phew.
I tried a simple pecan crust with my next experiment. I crushed some pecans and combined them with melted butter and some erythritol crystals. I pressed the crust into the greased pie pan. I prebaked the crust for 15 minutes and then poured the pumpkin pie mixture on the crust. I still used half-and-half in the pumpkin pie mixture, but I reduced the amount of erythritol back to 2/3 cup (160 ml) and pumpkin pie spice to 2 teaspoons.
First of all, the crust got too dark. It looked almost burned. Moreover, the texture was too rough, the crushed pecans simply were too coarsely crushed. I had to process them finer in a food processor. Otherwise the pie was pretty okay.
I just wasn’t completely satisfied. Maybe I simply try heavy cream? At least it’s rich and it shouldn’t give any watery touch to the pie.
I still made another crust experiment where I used more pecans and less butter than in my first crust experiment. I didn’t prebake the crust, hoping it won’t turn that dark.
For the pie itself, I used heavy cream instead of half-and-half. All the other ingredients and amounts were the same than in the experiment before.
I still wasn’t happy with the crust. Even the texture was finer, it was still too coarse. Even I thought pecans go well with pumpkin, I simply preferred the pie without crust. Somehow I didn’t want anything hard-textured ruin the smooth and velvety mouthfeel of the custard-like pumpkin filling.
I still made some experiments with half-and-half and some with heavy cream. I also tried different pan sizes. The pie was okay when prepared in deep 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan, but it was definitely the best in 10-inch (25 cm) pie pan.
The smaller the pan, the thicker the filling, the longer the baking time, the darker the surface, the more cracked the pie and the mushier the filling. Doesn’t sound tempting, eh?
However, with a bit larger pie pan — my mom’s 10-inch (25 cm) pan — the result was perfect. Yes, and both half-and-half and heavy cream work, but since I prefer healthy fats and richer flavors I use organic, heavy cream (from grass-fed cows).
|Nutrition information||Protein||Fat||Net carbs||kcal|
|In total:||32.1 g||102.2 g||33.2 g||1197 kcal|
|Per slice if 8 slices in total:||4.0 g||12.8 g||4.2 g||150 kcal|
|Per slice if 10 slices in total:||3.2 g||10.2 g||3.3 g||120 kcal|
|Per slice if 12 slices in total:||2.7 g||8.5 g||2.8 g||100 kcal|
Tips for variation
I always use the pumpkin pie spice from Frontier Naturals, I’ve just found it to be the best. I always order the big 16-ounce (453 g) bag because I use the spice so much. However, if you have your own favorite pumpkin pie spice mix, please feel free to use that.
In addition to pumpkin pie spice, you can add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to give some elegant vanilla flavor.
Instead of heavy cream you can use coconut cream. I don’t recommend milk or half-and-half. First of all, milk has more carbs than heavy cream or coconut cream. Secondly, half-and-half is full of nasty food additives. Moreover, milk makes this pie watery and mushy.