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Alton Brown Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

If you’re looking for a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie, make this Alton Brown pumpkin pie! It has a lush, creamy filling baked into an aromatic gingersnap pie crust. It’s the perfect pie to make for Thanksgiving and other fall celebrations.

slice of pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust on a plate with fork.

Gingersnap crust pumpkin pie

From classic pumpkin pie to pumpkin custard pie to pumpkin pie with evaporated milk to pumpkin pie bars, I’ve tried my fair share of pumpkin pie recipes.

Last Thanksgiving, I fell in love with Alton Brown’s pumpkin pie.

It has everything you’d expect from a good pumpkin pie: A delicious crust and creamy pumpkin filling full of rich flavor.

By opting for a gingersnap crust rather than a traditional pie crust, Alton puts a unique spin on his pumpkin pie.

I hope you try this recipe if you’re looking for something new on your Thanksgiving dessert table. It’s truly so good!

Can’t get enough of pumpkin? Then try Libby’s pumpkin roll, walnut pumpkin bread, and soft pumpkin cookies too!

overhead shot of Alton Brown pumpkin pie ingredients.
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Ingredients

Gingersnaps and pumpkin are at the heart of Alton Brown’s pumpkin pie, along with these other ingredients. Please refer to the recipe card below for exact measurements.

Gingersnap pie crust

  • Gingersnap cookies are crushed to create the base of the pie crust.
  • Ground ginger boosts the ginger aroma and provides extra spiciness.
  • Dark brown sugar amplifies the sweetness of the gingersnaps.
  • Unsalted butter is melted and helps to bind the crust together.

Pumpkin pie filling

  • Pumpkin: Altron Brown uses fresh pumpkin puree for this pie, not canned pumpkin. I have a dedicated post showing how to make fresh pumpkin puree, but you can find a short version below.
  • Dark brown sugar sweetness the filling and gives a lovely caramel-like flavor.
  • Half-and-half contributes to the creaminess. If you don’t have it, simply combine equal parts whole milk and heavy cream.
  • Eggs + egg yolk help to bind the filling.
  • Ground nutmeg adds a warm, slightly nutty aroma to the pumpkin pie filling.
  • Kosher salt enhances the other flavors and helps to balance the sweetness.
How to make fresh pumpkin puree

I recommend small baking pumpkins (like pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin). They taste better than larger varieties.

You need 16 oz pumpkin puree, which is roughly a small to medium baking pumpkin. If your pumpkin is on the smaller side, use 2 to ensure you have enough.

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F / 200°C / gas mark 6 and line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Rinse the pumpkin, then cut it in half.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.
  4. Place the pumpkin cut side down onto the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Roast in the oven until you can easily pierce the pumpkin with a fork in several places and the flesh pulls away from the skin. This will take 45 to 60 minutes.
  6. Let the pumpkin cool until it’s safe to handle.
  7. Scoop out the soft flesh and puree in a food processor until very smooth, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
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How to make Alton Brown pumpkin pie

step 1 make gingersnap crust.

1. Make the crust

Place the gingersnaps, dark brown sugar, and ground ginger in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the cookies are pulverized.

Drizzle in the melted butter over the crumbs and process until combined.

Press the gingersnap mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch / 23 cm pie pan.

step 2 prebake gingersnap pie crust.

2. Pre-bake crust

Put the pie dish on a baking pan and bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the crust from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

step 3 reduce pumpkin.

3. Reduce pumpkin

Pour the pumpkin puree into a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Simmer for another minute. Take off the stove and cool for 10 minutes.

step 4 mix pumpkin pie filling.

4. Mix filling

Whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until smooth.

Add the cooled pumpkin mixture and whisk until well combined.

step 5 fill crust.

5. Fill crust

Pour the filling into the warm gingersnap crust.

step 6 bake pumpkin pie.

6. Bake pie

Bake on the same baking sheet for 45 to 50 minutes. The pie is ready when the sides of the filling are set, but the center jiggles slightly.

step 7 cool pie.

7. Cool pie

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Baking tips

  • Skip the ginger for a less spicy pie: The crust is really packed with ginger flavor, thanks to gingersnaps and ground ginger. However, you may reduce or omit the ground ginger if you’re not a fan and prefer a mellower taste.
  • Use canned pumpkin: Feel free to skip making pumpkin puree from scratch and swap in a 15-ounce can of pumpkin to save time. The taste will be the same. Just be sure to reduce the pumpkin and evaporated milk on the stove – otherwise the filling won’t set properly.
  • Add cinnamon: I love a touch of cinnamon in my pumpkin pie, and I always add 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. The extra warmth goes so well with the gingersnap crust.
  • Don’t overmix the filling: Just whisk the ingredients until smooth and combined and then stop. Overmixing incorporates too much air into the mixture, which can cause cracks.
  • Cool the pie completely before serving: Make sure your pumpkin pie is fully cooled. The pie needs time to firm up in the fridge.
top shot of Alton Brown pumpkin pie in a glass pie dish.
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Variations

Alton Brown shares 2 variations of his pumpkin pie recipe, mini pumpkin pies and brulee pumpkin pie.

Mini pumpkin pies

To make mini pumpkin pies, evenly divide the crust mixture between five 5-inch pie tins.

Bake on a half-sheet pan for 5 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes.

Divide the filling evenly among the pre-baked crusts.

Bake on the baking sheet for about 25 minutes.

The mini pumpkin pies are ready when the center jiggles ever so lights and the edges are set.

Cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours before serving so the filling has time to set.

Crispy brûlée topping

To make a brulee pumpkin pie, spread 4 to 5 tablespoons of light brown sugar on top of the cooled pumpkin pie.

Use a kitchen blowtorch to melt the sugar to form a crispy crust.

Cool for 5 minutes before servings.

The sugar crust softens over time and loses its crunch. I recommend doing this step as close to serving as possible.

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Serving suggestions

You can serve Alton Brown’s pumpkin pie cold from the fridge, at room temperature (take it out 1 hour before), or warmed (pop a slice into the microwave for a few seconds).

Whipped cream on top is a must at our house. If you love it too, serve each slice with plenty of sweetened whipped cream.

And for an extra decadent dessert, drizzle the pie with a generous helping of caramel sauce.

slice of pumpkin pie on a plate with fork taking the tip of the pie.
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Make ahead

Gingersnap pumpkin pie is great to make ahead of time since the pie needs to cool and firm up anyway.

You can bake the pie 1 to 2 days in advance and save precious oven space on Thanksgiving Day.

Alton even recommends baking the pie the day before, so the ingredients have time to mingle and create a richer taste.

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Storage instructions

Cover leftover pumpkin pie and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

I recommend wrapping the pie pan tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil or placing leftovers into an airtight container to keep it fresh.

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FAQ

What makes Alton Brown’s pumpkin pie different?

There are a few things that make his recipe so special and different from other pumpkin pies:
 
Gingersnap crust: Alton forgoes the traditional pastry crust in favor of a gingersnap cookie crust. This crust has a lovely crunch (similar to a graham cracker crust) and a wonderful spiciness.
 
Fresh pumpkin: Alton skips the canned pumpkin and makes fresh pumpkin puree from scratch. Since fresh pumpkin contains more moisture, he simmers the pumpkin on the stove to eliminate some of the extra liquid.
 
Dark brown sugar: He uses dark brown sugar as the sweetener. The molasses in dark brown sugar lends the pie an incredible depth of flavor – absolutely perfect for a fall-themed pie.
 
No cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice: Interestingly, he doesn’t season his pie with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Instead, he adds plenty of ginger and nutmeg to give the pie flavor.

What does Alton Brown pumpkin pie taste like?

Alton Brown’s pumpkin pie recipe is a delicious way to serve up a different version of classic pumpkin pie.

The gingersnap crust gives the pie a delicious buttery crumble in every bite, while the filling is rich and sweet with a lovely caramel note from the brown sugar and nutmeg.

Gingersnap crust pumpkin pie is the perfect dessert for fall get-togethers and will be the star of the show at your Thanksgiving table.

How do you know if pumpkin pie is done?

The best way to tell if pumpkin pie is done, is to give the pie pan a little shake. The center of the pie should show a slight wiggle, but the entire pie shouldn’t wobble.

Visually, the filling will darken and puff up a little.

Why did my pumpkin pie crack?

Overcooking the pie can lead to cracks on the top. The good news is that it will still taste delicious. Plus, you can easily cover up cracks with whipped cream!

To prevent cracking, keep an eye on the baking time and be careful not to overcook the pie.

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More Thanksgiving pies

If you liked this pumpkin pie, here are some more Thanksgiving pie recipes I think you’ll enjoy!

Did you enjoy this recipe? Give it a 5-star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and leave a comment! Appreciate it so much, thank you!

If you had any issues, I’d appreciate the chance to help you troubleshoot before you rate.

Alton Brown pumpkin pie recipe.

Alton Brown Pumpkin Pie Recipe with Gingersnap Crust

Yield: 8 servings

If you're looking for a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie, make this Alton Brown pumpkin pie! It has a lush, creamy filling baked into an aromatic gingersnap pie crust. It's the perfect pie to make for Thanksgiving and other fall celebrations.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 6 oz / 170 g gingersnap cookies
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 16 oz fresh pumpkin puree (see Notes below)
  • 1 cup / 240 ml / 8 fl oz half-and-half
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup / 150 g / 5.3 oz dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven. First, reheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
  2. Make the crust. Place the gingersnaps, dark brown sugar, and ground ginger in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the cookies are pulverized. Drizzle in the melted butter over the crumbs and process until combined.
  3. Pre-bake crust. Press the gingersnap mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch / 23 cm pie pan. Put the pie dish on a baking pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the crust from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce pumpkin. Pour the pumpkin puree into a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Simmer for another minute. Take off the stove and cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Mix filling. Whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the cooled pumpkin mixture and whisk until well combined.
  6. Fill crust. Pour the filling into the warm gingersnap crust.
    Bake pie. Bake on the same baking sheet for 45 to 50 minutes. The pie is ready when the sides of the filling are set, but the center jiggles slightly.
  7. Cool pie. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours before serving.
    Tip: You can make and refrigerate the pie up to 2 days in advance. Alton Browns says it tastes best the day after it's made.
  8. Serve. If desired, garnish the pie with swirls of sweetened whipped cream and gingersnaps. Cut the pie into wedges and enjoy!

Notes

Tips

  • Skip the ginger for a less spicy pie: The crust is really packed with ginger flavor, thanks to gingersnaps and ground ginger. However, you may reduce or omit the ground ginger if you're not a fan and prefer a mellower taste.
  • Use canned pumpkin: Feel free to skip making pumpkin puree from scratch and swap in a 15-ounce can of pumpkin to save time. The taste will be the same. Just be sure to reduce the pumpkin and evaporated milk on the stove – otherwise the filling won’t set properly.
  • Add cinnamon: I love a touch of cinnamon in my pumpkin pie, and I always add 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. The extra warmth goes so well with the gingersnap crust.
  • Don't overmix the filling: Just whisk the ingredients until smooth and combined and then stop. Overmixing incorporates too much air into the mixture, which can cause cracks.
  • Cool the pie completely before serving: Make sure your pumpkin pie is fully cooled. The pie needs time to firm up in the fridge.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 283Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 240mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 6g

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