Ditch the rolling pin and make your favorite pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust instead!
For this recipe, we create a rich and creamy pumpkin pie filling that comes together in minutes and bakes inside of a no-fuss graham cracker crust.
I LOVE this combo because the crust is sweet and toasty, while the pumpkin pie filling is super creamy and delightfully spiced. The whole pie is an absolute dream.
And it's a lot less work than making traditional pumpkin pie.
Add this pie to your Thanksgiving dessert lineup, and knock the socks off your guests!
The Graham Cracker Crust
This is my go to graham cracker crust and I've used it dozens of times to make shortcut desserts like my Apple Pie on a Graham Cracker Crust, Graham Cracker Crust Lemon Bars, and this delicious No Bake Lemon Cheesecake.
How To Make A Graham Cracker Crust
- Add 1 ½ packs of graham crackers (about 14 rectangle sheets) to a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can place the crackers in a Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.
- Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and ⅛th teaspoon of kosher salt to the crackers in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the crumbs are almost entirely crushed.
- Pour 7 tablespoons of melted butter over the crumbs and finish pulsing the graham crackers until crushed fine and evenly moistened by the butter. They should clump together when squeezed in your hand.
- Grab a 9 or 10" pie plate and lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the pie dish and press with a flat bottom glass to make a compact and even layer. Make sure to press up the sides of the pie plate as well.
- Pop the pie plate in the freezer until the crust is firm--about 15-20 minutes.
- While your crust is firming up, beat one egg in a small dish, set aside, and preheat the oven to 350º. Move your oven rack to the third from the bottom level.
- After your crust is firm, use a pastry brush (or even a paper towel) to brush the egg wash on the bottom and sides of the graham cracker crust. You might not use all of the egg and that's fine. Just brush on enough to give the crust a shiny egg layer.
- Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes until the egg is cooked, and glossy and the crust is just starting to brown.
To make this recipe even easier, you can use a premade graham cracker crust, just grab the 10" crust or the deep dish version. When using a store bought crust, skip the freezing step and just brush with the egg wash. You'll still need to prebake the crust, but only for 10-12 minutes.
Should you bake a graham cracker crust before filling?
Yes. Especially when you're dealing with a very runny filling like pumpkin pie.
Baking the crust ahead of time will help keep the crust's shape for cutting and keep it from getting too soggy. I find that baking the crust ahead of time also brings out the natural toastiness of the graham crackers, and slightly carmelizes the sugars in the crust. Delish.
Brushing the crust with an egg wash before baking helps to create a moisture barrier, keeping the crust from getting too soft when the filling is added.
I pre-bake both my homemade and store bought graham cracker crusts!
How do you bind a graham cracker crust?
The combination of the melted butter and the granulated sugar help to bind graham cracker crumbs into a sturdy pie crust. The melted butter helps to moisten and soften the crumbs, allowing them to clump together. This is useful for shaping and tamping the crust in place.
The sugar in between the crumbs will melt during the baking process, gluing all those cracker crumbs in place.
We use an egg wash in this recipe, which acts primarily as a moisture barrier, but it also helps to seal the graham cracker crumbs together too!
Pumpkin Pie Filling
I LOVE this pumpkin pie filling because it is so simple and comes together while the graham cracker crust is baking. It's an adaptation of Libby's Pumpkin Pie Recipe, I just made it a little richer with the addition of cream and whole milk (no evaporated milk required).
I also deepened the flavor by adding a little ground nutmeg and vanilla extract.
What You'll Need For The Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- Canned or fresh pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- Heavy cream
- Whole milk
- Ground cloves
- Kosher salt
- Vanilla extract
Making The Filling
Combine the pumpkin, milk, cream, eggs, spices, vanilla, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended and smooth. Set aside until your pie crust is done baking!
Baking The Pumpkin Filling In The Graham Cracker Crust
Once the crust has been baked, place it on a sheet pan and pour the pumpkin filling straight onto the hot crust.
Pop the pie (on the sheet pan) back into the 350º oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175º on an instant read thermometer.
When the pie is done baking, turn off the oven and leave the oven door open a crack (you can use a wooden spoon or an oven mitt to prop the door open) for 1 hour. Leave the pie inside the oven.
After the hour, allow the pie to cool completely at room temperature before transferring it to the refrigerator. The pie should be left to set for a minimum of 6 hours but overnight is best. Serve and enjoy!
How do you know when the pumpkin pie is done?
You'll know the pie is done when the edges and the middle of the pie are puffed and a little rounded. The pie will still be jiggly, but it won't look like liquid jiggling--it'll look more like jello jiggling.
If you have an instant-read thermometer, you can use that! Once the center of the pie reaches 175º it's done! Just to let you know, there will be a crack from where you took the temperature, so take that into consideration when you're serving later.
For extra insurance, let the pie sit in the oven, turned off, with the door cracked for one hour. This will ensure the pie finishes cooking and will allow it to cool gently. I use the same cool down method for baking my Oreo Cheesecake and my mini cheesecakes.
Do you need to refrigerate pumpkin pie?
I say yes. Once the pie has cooled completely after baking, I pop it in the fridge to chill and finish setting up before serving.
I prefer the texture and flavor of a chilled pumpkin pie and find that the pie lasts longer in the fridge. This pie in particular does contain cream, milk, and eggs, and although it is a baked pie, refrigerating will keep the pie fresh longer.
Leftovers and Storage
Leftover pumpkin pie can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
You can also freeze this pie! Just wrap it really well in a freezer safe and airtight vessel to prevent freezer burn. It'll keep for months.
When you're ready to eat, just let it thaw for several hours (or overnight) in the fridge.
Tips for making the best pie on a graham cracker crust
- Brush the inside of the graham cracker crust with a beaten egg to keep it from getting soggy under the liquid pie filling.
- Prebake your crust to bring out the toasty caramel flavors and to keep it firm and held together under the filling
- Pour the filling onto the hot crust so that it begins to bake and set instantly. This helps keep the crust from getting soggy
- Allow the pie to set for a minimum of 6 hours but overnight is best. That way it'll be just the right texture and the flavors will have time to develop
- If you notice the sides of your crust starting to get too brown during baking, you can cover them with foil
- Taking the pie's temperature is the most accurate way to test for doneness, but it will create a crack where the thermometer was inserted. This can be easily covered with whipped cream for presentation purposes
Substitutions and Variations:
- Use a premade graham cracker crust instead of homemade. You'll need to use the 10" or "deep dish" version of the premade crust to hold all the filling. I still recommend brusing it with an egg wash and prebaking before filling.
- You can use shortbread cookies or gingersnaps in place of the graham crackers! You'll need 2 ½ cups of cookie crumbs.
- If you have your own favorite pumpkin pie filling, feel free to use that instead of the filling recipe listed above! I LOVE using Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie Filling for this. It does cook a little quicker, so start checking for doneness around the 45-minute mark.
- Want a traditional pie crust? You can use my all butter pie dough for a delicious traditional pumpkin pie.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 14 honey graham cracker sheets
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 whole egg
If using a premade crust
- 1 10" or "Deep Dish" Premade Graham Cracker Crust
Pumpkin Pie Filling
- 15 oz pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
TO MAKE THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
- Preheat the oven to 350º and lower your oven rack to the third level from the bottom. If using a pre-made graham cracker crust, skip ahead to step 7.
- Lightly spray a 9" or 10" pie plate with cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the graham crackers, sugar, and salt, and pulse until the crackers are almost completely ground.
- Add the melted butter to the food processor and pulse until the cracker crumbs are ground fine and the mixture is evenly moistened and clumping.
- Pour the crumbs into the pie plate and press into a compact and even layer. Use the bottom of a flat glass to help tamp down the crust. Press the graham crackers up the side of the pie plate as well, packing the crumbs together as tightly and evenly as possible.
- Pop the pie plate in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until firm.
- While the crust is in the freezer, beat one whole egg in a small dish.
- Once firm, remove the crust from the freezer or grab your premade crust.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the inside bottom and sides of the pie crust with the egg wash. You might not use all the egg wash. Just make sure there's an even layer of egg coating the inside of the crust, but not saturating it.
- Bake a homemade graham cracker crust in a 350º oven for 12-15 minutes and bake a store bought crust at 350º for 10-12 minutes. You want the crust just beginning to turn brown and the egg wash baked on.
To make the pumpkin pie filling
- In a medium sized bowl, combine all the pie filling ingredients and whisk until smooth and well incorporated.
- Set the pie plate onto a sheet pan, and pour the pumpkin filling onto the hot graham cracker crust. Pop the pie plate (now on a sheet pan) back into the oven.
- Bake at 350º for 55-65 minutes, until the pie is puffed and jiggly, but not liquid. If you have an instant read thermometer, the internal temp should read 175º.
- Once the pie is done, turn the oven off and crack open the oven door. Leave the pie inside to cool for about 1 hour. After one hour, allow the pie to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to set for 6 hours or preferably overnight.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 455Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 304mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 2gSugar: 29gProtein: 6g