We Made the Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe and Now We Understand Why It’s So Famous

There's a reason the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe has been around since the 1950s. It has the perfect balance of pumpkin and spices—and the texture is silky smooth.

What food do you look forward to most every Thanksgiving? Personally, I’m all about the dessert table. Thanksgiving doesn’t feel complete unless it ends with a sliver of creamy, perfectly spiced pumpkin pie.

When it comes to pumpkin desserts, I’m not picky. From Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie to Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, there’s room for all of them in my heart (and stomach).

However, the pumpkin pie recipe that wins for most nostalgia has to be Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe. It’s the one on the back of the can that most of us grew up eating. Today, we’re sharing this timeless, cherished recipe with all of our best tips for baking.

Why Is Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Famous?

It’s all about convenience. There was a time in history when the only way one could make pumpkin pie from scratch would be to use fresh pumpkin. Making pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin isn’t difficult, but in the early 1800s (when it started to become a fixture on Thanksgiving menus), it wasn’t an ingredient readily accessible to every American.

That all changed in the late 1920s when Libby’s (then known as Libby, McNeill & Libby) began selling canned pumpkin. In 1929, their very first pumpkin pie recipe appeared on the back of the can, and from that moment onward, pumpkin pie became an easy and accessible Thanksgiving dessert.

The recipe we all know and love first appeared on the can starting in the 1950s. There was an attempt to replace the recipe with a “new-fashioned” pumpkin pie recipe in 2019. However, after public outcry, Libby’s quickly put the original ’50s recipe back on the can. Today both recipes live side-by-side on their cans. Take a guess which one is still everyone’s favorite?

How to Make Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Libbys Pumpkin Pie 080122 Toh 01 Lauren Habermehl JveditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

This recipe makes one 9-inch pie; about 10 slices

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (choose one with a 4-cup filling volume)

Editor’s Tip: You can make Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe dairy-free by using a vegan substitute for evaporated milk.

Directions

Step 1: Mix sugar and spices

Libbys Pumpkin Pie 080122 Toh 02 Lauren Habermehl JveditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Set aside.

Step 2: Mix

Libbys Pumpkin Pie 080122 Toh 03 Lauren Habermehl JveditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the canned pumpkin—either Libby’s or another canned pumpkin brand—and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Step 3: Pour

Libbys Pumpkin Pie 080122 Toh 04 Lauren Habermehl JveditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Pour into the pie shell—here’s our favorite pie crust recipe.

Step 4: Bake

Libbys Pumpkin Pie 080122 Toh 05 Lauren Habermehl JveditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°; then bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Tips for Making Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Libbys Pumpkin Pie 080122 Toh 06 Lauren Habermehl JveditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

How do I adjust pumpkin pie spices?

The original recipe offers a pleasant, perfect blend of cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

With that being said, the recipe is easily adaptable. Want a more subtle flavor? Decrease the amounts of any spice. Want more spice? Increase the amounts to suit your tastes. You could also try adding up to 1 teaspoon of allspice, cardamom or nutmeg to your pie, or make your own pumpkin pie spice blend.

How can I improve the texture of pumpkin pie?

Texture is perhaps the most commonly cited reason people give for not liking pumpkin pie. The good news is that the texture of pumpkin pie can be improved with a few simple tweaks:

Add evaporated milk gradually

Don’t dump all of the evaporated milk into your pie filling at once. Instead, add it slowly, whisking continuously until the milk is evenly incorporated into the rest of the ingredients. Adding the evaporated milk gradually keeps the filling thicker.

Cook the canned pumpkin first

Some claim cooking the canned pumpkin before adding it to the filling yields a smoother, silkier pumpkin pie. You can cook it on the stovetop over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes, or roast it in the oven at 400°, spread on a parchment-lined sheet pan, for 5-8 minutes. Heating the pumpkin breaks down the pumpkin further ahead of baking and removes excess moisture.

Blend the filling

Before pouring your filling into your unbaked pie shell, consider giving it a whirl in a high-powered blender. This method pulverizes the pumpkin into a silky-smooth consistency and also works a little extra air into the filling.

If you don’t own a blender, you can also pour the filling through a fine-mesh strainer, which will remove any larger particles of pumpkin and ultimately improve the texture of the final baked pie.

Bake low and slow

While our pie baked silky smooth following Libby’s directions as written, some complain the original recipe yields a pie with a poor texture. This may be because high heat can cause the proteins in eggs to contract and curdle if left exposed for too long. To prevent this, try lowering your oven temp to 400° and only bake for 10 minutes (rather than 15) for the initial bake. Then, finish the pie at 300° (instead of 350°) for the final bake.

What’s the best store-bought pie crust to use for pumpkin pie?

The pie crust can make or break any homemade pie recipe. While we think a homemade pie crust is always best, some great premade options are also available. Make sure you choose the best with this breakdown of our favorite store-bought pie crusts.

Can you use fresh pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin?

Yes! In most recipes, you can swap an equal amount of fresh pumpkin puree for canned pumpkin, although canned pumpkin is often best for baking. 1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin is roughly 1 medium pumpkin or 1-3/4 cups of fresh pumpkin. Keep in mind that pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin will look and taste different.

Are canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling the same thing?

No! Check your labels carefully at the store because these two products are very different. Canned pumpkin is simply pumpkin puree in a can. Pumpkin pie filling, on the other hand, contains pumpkin, sugar, spices, salt and other preservatives.

How should pumpkin pie be stored?

Since pumpkin pie contains eggs and dairy, homemade pies should be refrigerated to prevent food-borne illness. You can safely leave pumpkin pie out, at room temperature, for up to 2 hours. Refrigerated, pumpkin pie will stay fresh for up to 4 days. You can also freeze pie.

Editor’s Tip: You may see store-bought pumpkin pies displayed at room temperature. This is because they contain preservatives and stabilizers that extend their shelf life and delay the growth of harmful bacteria.

What can I serve with Libby’s pumpkin pie?

Enjoy pumpkin pie naked without toppings or serve with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of candied pecans. Pair it with a slice of homemade pecan pie. If you’re like us, you need a slice of each to make your Thanksgiving dinner complete!

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.