Perfect Vegan Pumpkin Pie.
November 1, 2012
Perfect vegan pumpkin pie
Perfect vegan pumpkin pie

When I was growing up, there was an ongoing debate in my family about which pie reigned supreme. According to my mother, it was pecan. My father had a preference for apple. My grandmother didn’t care, as long as it was a la mode. Me? I have always liked pumpkin best, and I still do: of all the pies, crumbles, and tarts out there, it’s by far my favorite.

I was a pretty good pie maker growing up. I purchased a Martha Steward holiday book when I was twelve or thirteen and quickly perfected the art of pate brisée and pate sucrée (this was of course during a phase of my life wherein I was obsessed with making desserts for people but never eating them—but that’s another matter). I took Martha at her word, and internalized the idea that a fine pie crust was always made from butter, ice cold, flour, egg yolks on occasion, and a good egg wash for a pretty finish. When I became vegan, I never really tried to make pie at first because I just assumed it was impossible to get authentic results. If it was possible, I reasoned, it probably took extraordinary amounts of work and/or a lot of ingredients. How wrong I was.

I have made vegan pie crust in many different ways now—raw and cooked, whole grain and refined, no bake and bake—and they’ve all been delicious. Today, over at Food 52, I am sharing my easiest and most forgiving vegan pie crust, along with my favorite recipe for vegan pumpkin pie. It happens to be soy free, for those of you with allergies, made with soaked cashews and tapioca starch, along with spices and brown sugar.

And by god, it’s delicious.

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As for the crust, it’s my favorite not only because I think it’s the flakiest and most authentic, but also because it’s so simple. It has only five ingredients: coconut oil (kept solid to mimic cold butter), salt, a tablespoon of sugar, flour, and cold water. You don’t even have to purchase Earth Balance, or fret about finding an Earth Balance replacement if you’re concerned about orangutans and palm oil (I still value Earth Balance as a butter substitute, but I do take the issue of palm oil and deforestation to heart, and prefer to use coconut oil whenever possible—not hard, since I think it’s delicious!).

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You’ll notice that I use all purpose flour in this recipe. Normally, almost all of my baking involves whole grain flours, but on occasion I do find that using AP flour helps to create a super authentic effect that can “wow” non-vegans. If you’re making this pumpkin pie for a bunch of folks who are skeptical about vegan diets, you may find, as I do, that AP flour is your best option. That said, whole wheat pastry flour will also work beautifully, as will spelt flour. I haven’t yet perfected a gluten free version, but I’m working on one that is almost as easy as this and that tastes great. So stay tuned. Also be on the lookout for my “no bake” version of pumpkin pie, which I’ll share closer to Thanksgiving!

As many vegan bloggers will affirm, making delicious, authentic food is a wonderful form of advocacy, proving to the others that the choice to become vegan does not entail sacrificing time honored and beloved recipes. This holiday season, begin with a perfect vegan pumpkin pie.

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Neither you nor your loved ones will be sorry.

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Head over to Food 52 for the recipe!

xo

All images in this post © James Ransom for Food 52.

Categories: The New Veganism

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    51 Comments
  1. Hey! Just wanted to let you know that Earth Balance using sustainable palm oil farming practices! (Not sure if they did when you wrote this, but they definitely do now) and are even involved in helping the orangutans!

  2. This pie turned out exactly the way it is pictured and it tastes wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

  3. A hundred million thanks for being the only vegan site to recognize that palm oil renders anything its used in as non-vegan – I’m recommending your site to everyone I know!

  4. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. This is probably a basic question but how do I get the pumpkin puree? Do I scoop out raw pumpkin? Cook it first and then scoop it out?

  5. Cannot wait to try this!! Man I love pie. It’s not such a thing here in Australia, apple crumble is more traditional I guess. So I’m still yet to try pecan pie – pretty sure I’d love it too. Man I love pie. Great work, looks divine. & yay for Food 52 too!
    Heidi xo

  6. This crust is EXCELLENT! I used whole wheat pastry flour. I haven’t tried your pie filling yet, but do intend to. Thank you!

  7. Please post gluten free soon. My husband is jonesing for Pumpkin Pie, but we need a GF/ Vegan version. Thank you in advance.

  8. i think i love you. it has been years since pumpkin pie & i have spent time together and think this year we’ll be friends!

  9. Not to be obnoxious , but martha “steward” looks like a typo…
    Pumpkin has always been my favorite- but maybe this is the year i make one myself instead of buying one thats not that great and way too much $$.

  10. Yums! Pie is just about my favorite food… second only to summer fruits like plums and watermelon. My mom’s crust is by far my favorite, and it’s just flour, salt, and oil. I’m very curious to try with coconut oil!

  11. It’s funny but pie really isn’t that popular over her – or at least not in my fanily. I’ve had the french patisserie version – amazing variations on tarte au citron and tarte au chocolat which look like they might be similar. Maybe with no non-vegan version to compare it to, this would be my perfect introduction into American desserts!

  12. This pie was amazing. Even better than the “real” thing that I remember from being a child!

  13. This looks great especially the crust. Will give it a go for thanksgiving, do you have one for cooked cheescake or one you would recommend?

  14. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
    While I never turn down a piece of pie (yes, I’ve got a sweet tooth), pumpkin pie will always have a special place in my heart (although pecan is a favorite, too). My aunt, who passed away in 2006, made THE BEST pumpkin pie (not vegan, though) and would always make one special for me. I’m not even sure I’ve eaten pumpkin pie since (maybe a few times?). I’ve been trying to find a good, healthier recipe, and I think yours may be the winner.

  15. I love pumpkin best too! Though traditional pie crusts not my forte so I usually end up making pumpkin pudding.

  16. Gena? Please send me this? I’ve fallen hard for all things pumpkin and squash, but I’m feeling lazy and idle on this snowy day in northern Ontario. You can magick this up here for me, right?

  17. In my family we had only pumpkin pie, and it wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving to me without it. I’m always looking for the perfect pie, and yours looks so good, I think it will be on our Thanksgiving table this year!

  18. Gena, I will be making this one or sure!
    I actually had no idea white sugar wasn’t vegan!
    Not that I ever eat it, but I was working up the courage to make (and eat) a dessert today which included white sugar. Have you got any tips on using stevia. Stevia is sweeter than sugar so in never sure if the quanty to use and wether it would work..?
    Xx

    • Hi Lisa,

      To be clear, cane sugar and brown sugar and Demerara sugar are all totally fine. You can use sugar that isn’t your standard dominos white sugar, and it sounds to me as though using sugar may be more of a personal step forward than using stevia.

      To answer your question, I do use stevia on occasion, and used to use it all the time when I was more scared of sugar. That said, I prefer to just use dates, maple syrup, agave, and some cane or coconut sugar in moderation, and I haven’t mastered the art of baking with it!

      G

      • This recipe looks great, and I can’t wait to try it! Years ago I had a favorite pumpkin pie recipe and managed to lose it, and ever since I’ve looked for just the right replacement.

        A couple notes about sugars: brown sugar actually *isn’t* any more vegan than white sugar, typically, because all it is is white sugar with molasses added back in. Awesome, eh? And when you say “cane sugar” I think you probably mean things like “evaporated cane juice” or turbinado sugar, which is a light-tan granulated sugar that hasn’t been bleached and is totally vegan. But most of what is sold as cane sugar at grocery stores is exactly the bright white, bone-char-bleached stuff you’re trying to avoid. Beet sugar, when you can find it labeled as such, apparently is always vegan.

        • But the sugar beets are a standard GMO crop, so I would recommend sticking with cane sugar/cane crystals and seeking out a vegan brand.

          • Thank you both for being very informed!

            I didn’t realize about brown sugar, but of course I’m not surprised. And yes, I did mean turbinado – thanks for the clarification. I’ll edit the Food52 column as well.

            My two favorites are demerara and coconut sugar, personally. The latter is very expensive, though, so I use it rarely.

  19. nate is an apple pie man, never a la mode bc he’s a purist. as for me, it’s a tie between dutch apple & pumpkin. i love the texture and fall flavors of each of them equally! the wonders of raw soaked cashews in raw desserts…it’s astoundingly delicious!

  20. Pumpkin pie is my favorite too! And the recipe looks delicious! A couple of questions: could I replace the tapioca starch with cornstarch? I never have tapioca. And what can be used to replace the molasses if I wanted to?

  21. Hi Gena,
    This pie looks fabulous! Do you have any ideas for an oil base for the crust for people who are allergic to coconut?
    -Mac

  22. I’ve never been much of a dessert person, but I used to love my grandma’s cherry pies. While everyone else was worried about finding a pit, I always wanted one, as my grandma told me that pits were good luck.

    And (gasp!) I don’t think I’ve had pumpkin pie in 20 years. If you deliver vegan goodness though, I might indulge. 😉

  23. Pumpkin Pie has always, always, been my absolute favorite pie. It was the reason I looked forward to the holidays as a kid and I would eat it for breakfast, dessert for lunch, and dessert for dinner. Hahahaha! I might still have some for breakfast occasionally if it has some great ingredients in it, much like this one. I’ve yet to use cashews in the pie filling, so I’ll be trying this out. I’m teaching a vegan cooking workshop for holiday foods in a couple of weeks, and one of my main features is making pie from a pumpkin. I’ve had an on and off experience with veganizing pumpkin pie, either the texture is there, but the taste is not or vice versa. This guy looks good texture wise, so I’m excited to taste it too. Thanks Again! I always give due credit in my classes of course. Enjoy your leftovers!

  24. Okay. I’ll break the tie about the best pie out there–it’s sweet potato pecan pie! I think the stuff is A-mazing & it’s hands down my fave. Although it’s technically not a pie.

    So I guess if we’re just talking pie, traditional pie, I’d have to agree with you–pumpkin wins! (but only if I can have a scoop of creamy vanilla non-dairy ice cream to go with it.)

  25. yes, the link to the pie crust is not working. This recipe looks wonderful, and I’m looking forward to making it.

  26. You have no idea how excited I am to try this crust recipe! Thank you! I’ve tried several different pie crust recipes- both vegan and non-vegan- and I’ve never come up with one that was better than store-bought, so I’ve resigned myself to buying Wholly Wholesome pre-made crusts. But I’d love so much to be able to create a delicious one myself!

    P.S. The link that reads “Food 52” and the one at the bottom of your post are not working.

    • Martha Stewart has an awesome recipe for a (savory) pie crust – and if you wanted to make it vegan – you could just sub coconut oil for the butter! (AND if you wanted to make it for sweet dishes, you could leave out the salt and pepper, and add a few TBSP. of sugar!) To find it, just Google, “Martha Stewart’s savory pie crust recipe”.

      I think one of the keys to a good pie crust is not to over mix it…you want there to be butter/coconut oil “swirls” in the dough, so that it’s flaky!