An Untraditional Twist on a Classic Thanksgiving Pie: Pumpkin Pudding Pie

Thanksgiving was pretty low-key for my family this year. My immediate family usually travels to Ohio to celebrate the holiday with my extended family, but this year we decided to stay home. My mom insisted on doing all of the cooking herself and prepared a delicious gluten-free meal for my dad, sister, and me. My contribution to the big meal was dessert, which I was more than okay with since dessert is obviously the best part of the meal anyway. Am I right, or am I right? Right.

I decided to put a twist on a classic pumpkin pie and create a pumpkin pudding pie. I haven’t found a GF flour blend that I’m crazy about yet, so I wanted to stay away from making a traditional pie crust using GF flour. Instead, I opted for a graham cracker crust using GF graham crackers, which was pretty darn delicious. For the pie filling, I filled the pie crust with pumpkin pudding. The end result? Yummy!

I will say that prior to being diagnosed with celiac disease I made pumpkin pudding using a package of instant vanilla pudding mix, and I preferred the taste a little better (probably because the pudding mix was full of sugar and artificial ingredients). Since I wasn’t confident that this particular instant pudding mix was gluten free and every grocery store seemed to be out of the pudding mixes that were actually labeled as GF, I decided to make the pudding from scratch. I used a Betty Crocker recipe for vanilla pudding and then added pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice. Sounds simple enough. And I’m pretty sure it would be simple for the average person. I, however, struggled a bit with trying to keep the sugar from burning while stirring the pudding constantly. I ended up with several caramelized (aka burnt) sugar pieces, which I scooped out. I found the pudding to be slightly less sweet than I intended—most likely because I burned some of the sweetness. The pumpkin pudding does complement the graham cracker crust well though since the crust is pretty sweet. If you want to eat the pumpkin pudding on its own and not use it for a pie, you may need to add a bit more sugar or use maple syrup. I probably would have added some maple syrup to the pudding if I had more time to play around with it. But you know, it was Thanksgiving and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to experiment that day. Procrastination at its finest. Anyway, my family still enjoyed the pie, and I hope you do too! Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Pudding Pie:

Makes 6-8 servings of pie



  • 1 ½ cups GF graham cracker crumbs (I used Kinnikinnick Foods S’moreables, which are GF and delicious. You can either use a food processor to turn the graham crackers into crumbs, or you can crush them by putting the graham crackers into a plastic bag and using a rolling pin to make the crumbs. I did the latter.)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter or margarine


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine all ingredients and mix together thoroughly by hand.
  3. Scoop the mixture into a 9-inch glass pie plate, and press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the dish and slightly up the sides.
  4. Bake for 7-10 minutes. (Baking is optional, but I recommend it because I find the crust to be less crumbly, and I prefer the slightly toasty taste from the oven. If you choose not to bake the crust, you can refrigerate it for 1-2 hours before adding the filling).
  5. If you do choose to bake the crust, remove it from the oven when done and let it cool completely before adding the filling.



  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (If you don’t have this spice handy, you can always make your own spice using ½ tsp. ground cinnamon,¼ tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp. ground allspice)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
  • 1 large package of GF instant vanilla pudding mix


  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1% low fat milk)
  • 2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla


  1. If you’re able to find a GF instant vanilla pudding mix and choose to go the easy route, simply follow the directions on the package. If you already have a favorite go-to vanilla pudding recipe, feel free to use that. Once you’ve made the vanilla pudding, simply mix in the pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before adding to pie crust.
  2. If you want to use the recipe that I tried and think you’re a better cook than I am (chances are you probably are), feel free to use this Betty Crocker recipe for vanilla pudding. For this recipe, start by combining sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. (This is the step where I burned the sugar, so use caution!)
  3. Gradually stir at least half of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute.
  4. Remove vanilla pudding from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Transfer pudding to glass mixing bowl and stir in pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.
  5. Cover the bowl and chill the pudding in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Once the pudding has been chilled, spoon it into the pie crust.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

On to the next holiday! 🙂



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