traditional pumpkin custard pie

Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving tradition we all know and love. Try something new this year, and give our Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie recipe a go. It is a crustless pie baked right inside of the pumpkin just like the pilgrims did it. Or check out another pumpkin recipe for kids here.

Traditional pumpkin custard baked in a pumpkin

American pumpkin pie

In colonial America, pumpkin pie was not a common dessert. The colonists did not eat pies very often because they were expensive and time-consuming to produce. They relied on the Native Americans for most of their cooking knowledge.

One recipe that the Europeans learned from the natives is called Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie. This pie is pumpkin custard in an uncooked pumpkin shell without a crust on top-just like how it would have been done during early Thanksgiving celebrations!

This pie is a great way to add an inexpensive and healthy dessert option for your Thanksgiving celebration. It’s also simple enough that it can be done with even the youngest of helpers! My kids and I made this one for our celebration last year and they loved making it!

Pumpkin Pie is not only easy to do but is also healthy because the pumpkin has fiber in it like other vegetables. In fact, pumpkin has more fiber than most. Pumpkins are also very nutritious!

The ingredients for Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie, similar to what the pilgrims may have eaten on Thanksgiving Day when they didn’t have pie crusts, are simple: just sugar, eggs, evaporated milk (I used whole milk instead), and fresh ginger if desired.

Crustless pumpkin pie in a pumpkin

For the pumpkin pie filling, you’ll need 1 small pumpkin 4-5 inches in height, sugar, 7 eggs, vanilla, heavy cream, corn starch, and salt.

You’ll also need an hour and 15 minutes to cook it and at least 7 hours or overnight for it to cool and set up.

child digging pumpkin guts from a pumkin shell
traditional pumpkin pie custard baked in a pumpkin
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Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie

Traditional custard baked in a whole pumpkin that the pilgrims would have enjoyed rather than what we think of as a pumpkin pie in a crust.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Cooling and set up time7 hours
Total Time8 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: custard in a pumpkin, pilgrim pumpkin pie, traditional pumpkin pie
Servings: 8
Author: Christina


  • 1 4-5 inch pumpkin
  • 3/4 c raw sugar
  • 7 eggs 4 whole plus 3 more yolks
  • 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp coarn starch
  • pinch salt


  • Prepare your pumpkin by scooping out the seeds and pulp, place it on a baking sheet.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  • Add the heavy cream, cornstarch, and salt and whisk until fully combined.
  • Pour mixture into your prepared pumpkin (allowing about 3/4 of an inch space between the filling and the top of the pumpkin.
  • Bake at 400 degrees covered in foil for 30 minutes.
  • Lower oven temp to 375, remove the foil, continue baking for 45 minutes more or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out mostly clean.
  • Turn off the oven, allow the pumpkin to cool for an hour, then place it in the fridge to allow the custard to set 6 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to serve, scoop out custard into small dishes, scrape the sides a bit as you scoop it out to scrape off some of the cooked pumpkin.
child pouring eggs into a mixing bowl for traditional pilgrim pumpkin pie
kids mixing pilgrim pumpkin pie recipe

Baking a pumpkin whole

It’s simple to bake a whole pumpkin, and baking it with the custard already inside is just as simple. Make sure the pumpkin is sitting flat, you may need to barely trim the bottom to make it sit well. And this traditional pumpkin pie in a pumpkin is so pretty you can use it for your table centerpiece.

pilgrim pumpkin pie in a bowl

If you make this traditional Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie, you’ll have something different but still delicious so everyone will be happy!

For more pumpkin ideas, check out this pumpkin pie that’s more like what you’re used to but is so easy, even kids can make it too, or these really amazing pumpkin cookies! You can make homemade pumpkin puree to use too! You can also roast the seeds from your pumpkin or do other fun pumpkin activities with your kids!

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