How to Make Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

You'd never guess—but from-scratch pie crust is simpler for a gluten-free pumpkin pie.

In my opinion, pastry dough is one of the more difficult baked goods to make. Factor in gluten-free flour and you might give up hope of enjoying homemade pie altogether. That’d be a big mistake, though, since ditching the gluten actually makes pies simpler. Our recipe for gluten-free pumpkin pie features a flaky, buttery crust and silky smooth filling that’s perfect for fall baking.

Follow along for a step-by-step method to mix, roll and shape pie crust. You’ve got this!

Key Ingredients in Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

Unlike all-purpose wheat flour, which contains one grain, gluten-free baking mixes combine a few different flours and starches in order to mimic the flavor, texture and structure of traditional flour. Our recommended store-bought gluten-free flour blends work as one-to-one substitutes for all-purpose flour. You may also make a gluten-free baking mix from scratch. Any of these blends will work in gluten-free dessert recipes.

Ground Almonds

In this recipe, we add ground almonds to the pastry crust for rich flavor and plenty of fat and oil, yielding a tender, delicate crumb. Look for ground almonds at the store (store them in the fridge), or make them yourself. Blitz up whole almonds in a food processor or spice grinder. Pulse to grind, and don’t overdo it, or you’ll end up with almond butter.

Xanthan Gum

Gluten acts as a binder in wheat-based baked goods, holding the batter together and providing structure in the final bake. Many gluten-free baked goods add binding agents to help achieve the best structure. In this recipe, xanthan gum plays that role. If your flour mix already contains xanthan gum, omit it from the recipe. Need to use up leftover xanthan gum? Bake homemade gluten-free bread!

Steps for a No-Fail Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin

Directions

Step 1: Mix dry ingredients

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In a large bowl, combine flour, almonds, sugar, salt and xanthan gum.

Step 2: Work in the butter

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Cut in the butter until most of the mix is crumbly (think of wet sand on a beach), with some larger, pebble-sized pieces of butter remaining. The larger pieces will make the pastry extra flaky.

Step 3: Add the egg

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Stir in the egg. Mix until the egg is fully incorporated into the dough.

Step 4: Slowly add water…

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Gradually add water, tossing with a fork to distribute the moisture without overworking the dough. (Unlike gluten-containing pastry, overmixing the dough won’t lead to a tough, chewy crust. But it will break down those lovely big bits of butter you’ve got, which will make the crust less flaky.)

Step 5: But don’t overdo it!

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As soon as the dough holds together when pressed, stop adding water, even if it’s not uniformly solid. Portions might even look a bit crumbly. This will make for a lighter, more tender pastry.

Step 6: Wrap and chill

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Shape the dough into a disk, pressing any loose or crumbly pieces into the rest of the dough. This should help the dough adhere, but wet your fingertips and sprinkle a bit of water over if it’s truly not coming together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. A well-made pastry will have visible “marbling” of butter bits.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. This allows the dry ingredients to fully absorb the liquid, and chills the butter back out after it’s been handled.

Step 7: Roll out

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Dust your countertop, a cutting board or other work surface lightly with flour; make sure to use gluten-free flour, either an all-purpose blend or plain rice flour. Roll the dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle. It should be about 1-2″ wider than the pie plate.

Transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. Many bakers like to roll the pastry around the rolling pin, gently lift and unroll over the pan. Others opt for a foolproof method: Roll the dough on plastic wrap, lift the wrap, invert over the pan and gently peel the plastic wrap away.

Editor’s Tip: Did the pastry get rubbery or melty as you worked? Return it to the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes to firm it back up.

Step 8: Flute the crust

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Trim the crust to 1/2 in. beyond the rim of the pie pan. With your thumb and finger, flute the edge to make a decorative pie crust.

Step 9: Make the filling

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In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the cream, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, ginger and cloves. Mix well.

Step 10: Add the pumpkin

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Stir in the pumpkin just until blended.

Step 11: Fill the crust

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Carefully pour the filling into the crust. (It might splatter if you go too fast!)

Step 12: Bake

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Set the pie plate on a baking sheet, and carefully place in the oven. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. If the crust edges are browning too quickly, cover the top of the pie with aluminum foil.

Cool on wire rack until the pie is room temperature, then store it in the fridge until ready to serve. Refrigerate any leftovers. Want to try more? Learn how to bake a homemade gluten-free apple pie.

Tips for Making Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

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Make sure all the ingredients are cold

The trick to super-flaky pastry? Keep things cold! Start with cold butter and work quickly, handling the dough as little as possible for the lightest results. (Why? Those bits of butter in the dough will melt as the pie bakes, leaving pockets of air that make the final crust so tender and flaky.)

Using cold water will also keep the butter from melting before the dough’s in the oven. Fill a small bowl with water and ice cubes, and measure the water right from the ice-cold bowl.

Don’t overwork the pie crust dough

One of the main mistakes novice pie makers commit is overhandling the dough. In gluten-containing pies, overworking the dough will cause a tough crust. For gluten-free pies, that’s not a risk, but you still want to work gently to keep the butter in large pieces. This creates those big pockets of air, aka flaky texture. Other mistakes include adding too much liquid to the crust, or using too much flour to roll it out, both of which make the dough that much less tender.

Place a baking sheet under the pie pan to prevent a mess in the oven

Uncooked pumpkin pie tends to slosh out of the pan, whether when you’re setting the pie in the oven, pushing the oven rack in to bake or removing the pie to cover with foil. A splashed pumpkin custard on the oven floor will burn and make a huge mess! Avoid this snafu by baking the pie on top of a baking sheet, which makes it easier to transfer and catches any potential spills.

Make a dairy-free version

Need to go dairy-free? Use vegan butter in the crust recipe (make sure it can be used for baking). The half-and-half in the pumpkin filling may be swapped for coconut milk. Non-dairy milks will be too thin to use.

Other crust substitutes include lard, an old-fashioned option, while this dairy-free pumpkin pie uses shortening to good effect, and this vegan pie crust calls for either shortening or coconut oil.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.