Pumpkin pie is an essential part of Thanksgiving for many. This year, instead of popping by your local market to pick up a sugary-sweet version, why not making a healthier version?


If pumpkin pie isn’t your favorite, there is plenty more to do with pumpkin than just make it into a custard pie! Pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices work beautifully in a wide variety of applications. Plus, if you make your own pumpkin pie, it is easy to avoid common allergies, such as dairy and gluten. There is no need to miss out on the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie when you have allergies in the family.


The basics

Pumpkin puree: Let’s start with the nitty-gritty. Grabbing a can of pumpkin puree on the run is easy, but if you have a pie pumpkin on hand, or even some sweet squash, you can make your own homemade pumpkin puree. Canning diminishes nutritional value, plus canned foods most often contain BPA, a toxin best avoided, so making your own is a plus. Thankfully, it’s easy to do. Here are instructions on roasting a pumpkin for pumpkin puree, and here is a super easy version using your slow cooker.


Pie crust: What about the crust? The foodie soul within me detests most store-bought pie crusts, which I consider a flavorless joke. Here are a few rules of thumb to consider when making a pie crust.


  • Use real ingredients, like real butter, non-hydrogenated shortening or home rendered lard. Using half butter and half non-hydrogenated shortening or lard will give you both flavor and flakiness.
  • If using white flour, skip the bleached and use non-bleached white flour
  • For a high-protein, grain-free pie crust, consider using the pie crust recipe using almond flour found in this recipe.
  • You can also use a sprouted flour to make a delicious, slightly nutty-tasting pie crust.
  • The Pumpkin Streusel Pie listed below uses ground nuts for a crust for another gluten- and grain-free option.

Pumpkin pie and variations

1. Maple Honey Pumpkin Pie: For a classic pumpkin pie that doesn’t contain dairy or refined sweeteners, this recipe is sweetened with honey and maple syrup. It is quite sweet, so it’s great to serve to crowds not accustomed to natural sweeteners.


2. Pumpkin Streusel Pie (grain- and dairy-free): My friend Jennifer from The Unrefined Kitchen shared this recipe for a grain- and dairy-free Pumpkin Streusel Pie that has received rave reviews. This recipe uses nuts for the crust and streusel for a grain-free delight.


3. Raw Pumpkin Pie: For the raw foodies out there, here is a recipe that doesn't require an oven. I didn't think it was possible to have raw pumpkin pie, but I was wrong!


4. Healthy Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake (gluten-free): This cheesecake is much easier to make than most, and uses Greek yogurt rather than cream cheese for a lighter dish to serve after a heavy meal.


5. Pumpkin Cinnamon Cheesecake (gluten-free): An even simpler version than item #4.


6. Maple-Pumpkin Custards with Crystallized Ginger: These maple-sweetened custards are spiced up with ginger and are cooked in individual ramekins for easy serving.


7. Healthy Pumpkin Pie Shake: This gently sweetened smoothie gives you all of the health benefits of eating pumpkin without all the added refined sugar. It sounds like a yummy way to slurp yourself into Thanksgiving.


8. Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie: While there are a few ingredients I would swap out in this recipe, I love the concept of a frozen dessert. I think this would be especially appropriate in warmer climates.


9. Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (dairy- and gluten-free): Speaking of cold treats, we love Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream, too! I make mine dairy-free by using coconut milk, and it’s very delicious. Just be warned that because of the pumpkin in the recipe, it can become very hard when kept in the freezer too long. I like to serve it while still soft from the ice cream maker.


10. Pumpkin Spice Latte: Finally, nothing hits the spot more than a pumpkin spice latte on a cold fall day. But your sugar levels can skyrocket with a typical coffee shop version. This version of pumpkin pie latte can hit the spot without a big sugar dose. Just look at the nutritional information provided!


Do you have any favorite healthy pumpkin recipes you like to use?