My Christmas Present to Australia: Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin Pie…in Australia?

This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Making pumpkin pie in Australia is more complicated than in North America, where it is commonly eaten. Here's how to make it (and how my Aussie friends reacted to eating it the first time)! #pumpkinpie #Australia #pumpkinpierecipe #recipe #foodtravel #TheProfessionalHobo

Australians love their pumpkin. As part of a standard “meat and three veg” meal, a slice of roasted pumpkin is often tastefully and deliciously included. Go to the supermarket, and you will likely find at least three different varieties of pumpkin, such as butternut squash, Japanese pumpkin (very yummy), and grey pumpkin.

And although roasted pumpkin is typically quite sweet, the idea of serving pumpkin for…dessert…is quite foreign to Aussies.

“I should serve this how? With what? As what part of the meal?” was the doubtful response of more than one Australian when I presented them with my North American contribution to their holiday meal. The idea of making pumpkin into a pie – a dessert no less – was practically unfathomable.

And when it came time to sample the fare, the variety of polite cringes they tried to hide while raising their first-ever fork full of pumpkin pie to their mouths was comical. Even more comical was the instantaneous look of surprise and delight upon tasting pumpkin pie for the first time, along with the much larger second helping they cut for themselves.

As a North American, we eat pumpkin almost solely as a dessert in the form of pumpkin pie. Although some squashes like butternut are served as savoury dishes, more often than not, if you think of “pumpkin” in Canada or the States, “pie” is the most logical word to follow. Pumpkin pie is typically served around Thanksgiving and Christmas season, although with the availability of canned pumpkin, it can be made any time of year for lack of fresh pumpkin being available.

Trying to find canned pumpkin in Australia is impossible. An Aussie friend of mine summed it up nicely when she said “why would you eat canned pumpkin? You’d never get an Australian to buy it.” This is, of course, because they didn’t know about the beautiful thing that is pumpkin pie. Until now.

So in my efforts to introduce Australia to pumpkin pie, I bought a lot of fresh pumpkin, boiled and pureed it up, and then proceeded to use the recipe below to create my Canadian gift to my Aussie friends. Depending on how watery the pumpkin puree is (mine was pretty watery) you may want to adjust the other liquid measurements in the recipe. I left out the 2tbsp of water entirely, and in some cases reduced the amount of evaporated milk. The mixture can be quite runny (the eggs will bind it all together), but I am accustomed to raw pumpkin pie filling having some girth. Trial and error is the best way.

EASIEST PIE CRUST IN THE WORLD

I hate pastries. I abhor working with shortening, rolling out dough, and fussing with pie crusts. When I bake pies at home in Canada, I pull the ultimate lazy-person-stunt and buy the frozen prepared kind. In Australia though, similar to canned pumpkin, they do not exist, so I was once again relegated to making it from scratch.

The good news is I found a recipe for pie crusts that does not require rolling, kneading, freezing, or the inclusion of shortening. Happy days! Try it out…you will not be disappointed. For savoury pie crusts, cut out the sugar and increase the salt to 1tsp.

190 grams of flour

1 tbsp (rounded) sugar

pinch salt

120 ml (about ½ a cup) vegetable oil

2 tbsp milk

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 Celsius).
  • Place all ingredients into a 9 inch pie pan.
  • Stir all together with a fork.
  • Pat mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.
  • Poke holes in the bottom and sides with a fork.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.

That’s it. Really! It is that easy. Hurrah for easy pie crusts.

PUMPKIN PIE RECIPE

1 ¼ cup pumpkin puree

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup evaporated milk

2 tbsp water

½ tsp vanilla

pastry shell (see above for crust recipe)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 Celsius).
  • Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and flour in a mixing bowl.
  • Add eggs, mix well.
  • Add evaporated milk, water, vanilla, and mix well.
  • Pour into pastry shell.
  • Bake at 400 (200 Celsius) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 (180 Celsius) for 35 minutes.

A word to the wise: check on the pie often. Reducing the heat is essential to the pie’s success, and you will need to be vigilant to ensure that the crust or filling does not brown too much on the top. I ate more than a few pies myself this season by making the mistake of not keeping an eye on them and letting them brown too much to give away…at least that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

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72 thoughts on “My Christmas Present to Australia: Pumpkin Pie”

  1. Sweeeet (pun intended). We invited our Aussie friends over for Thanksgiving last October (yes, the Canuck version)…like your friends in your article, ours were very skeptical too. They eyed it up and down, backwards and forwards. They poked and prodded. In the end, they loved it (of course).

    It’s funny, we never used to eat pumpkin/squash…but since being here we’ve become addicted to it and 4/7 meals a week will have it in some form.

    Reply
  2. Now the burning question is: Carlo – your friends, and James – yourself…is pumpkin pie part of your enduring future? You now have the recipe, and no excuses…(smiles)

    Reply
  3. That perfectly described my first encounter with a pumpkin pie. I had an American friend living here (Melbourne) for a few years. I went to a thanksgiving dinner she put on and tried the legendary pie. I think it was the cinnamon that sealed the deal for me.

    Reply
  4. Ha Ha Bryan…do it! You will not regret it, and may even find a way to eat pumpkin that you enjoy! At the very least, you will make her day.

    Reply
  5. Hhhmm, pumpkin is about the only food I don’t like, unfortunately my girlfriend knowing this proceeds to cook it regularly.

    I’m conflicted about whether to email her about your recipe…

    Reply
  6. Against my better judgment I forwarded your post to my girlfriend. She sounds interested, she also mentioned that pumpkin scones can be quite the delicacy too.

    I have a feeling my skin may be taking on a distinctive orange shade over the next few weeks…

    Reply
    • Pumpkin scones are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! I always hated pumpkin, but LOVE pumpkin scones. Smothered in melted marg or butter. So good!!!

      Reply
  7. I first had pumpkin pie here in Australia over 40 years ago cooked by my grandmother who was a second generation Australian woman of Scottish heritage.

    Reply
    • Same here
      …including the Scots part, my parents, but more than 50yrs ago. Along with pumpkin scones and ‘cocky’s joy’ (golden syrup for those who don’t know) 😄

      Reply
  8. My wife to be is a Kiwi living is Oz. She’s never heard of pumpkin pie and thinks it sounds wierd (pronounced “wee-ahd” LOL). I told her that I think it’s “wee-ahd” to have spaghetti for breakfast.

    Reply
  9. Well, it seems that i must taste that pumpkin pie. Thanks for posting the recipe on how to make it. I really wonder how it taste like. I love eating that’s why. it is a must taste one for me.

    Reply
  10. Hey, just wanted to say an Aussie thanks for this recipe – it’s still listing for ‘pumpkin pie recipe australia’ so kudos to you for that – but also, thank you thank you – we have just re-realised the tinned pumpkin problem – and as I LOVE pumpkin pie, your recipe is going to be a real lifesaver! I esp like that it looks simple and very comparative to other recipes I’ve enjoyed. So cross fingers, here we go – and again, a big thank you from Australia from us 🙂

    Reply
  11. What kind of pumpkin did you find was best for making a pie? I’ve been looking for the smaller baking pumpkins like I found in the US, but have come up empty handed in the grocery store. Any tips? Much appreciated! I am introducing pumpkin pie from scratch this week to a few people 🙂

    Reply
  12. @Moni – One of my favourite pumpkins to use are referred to as “Japanese pumpkins” in Australia & NZ; they’re dark green in colour, sometimes with lighter-coloured flecks. The light green/grey ones are good too.
    But even a butternut squash will do the trick if you’re in a pinch…

    Enjoy the pie! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! 🙂

    Reply
    • Buttternut pumpkin/squash is the closest to American canned pumpkin. Nobody really eats those orange ones, they’re for Jack-o-lanterns!

      Reply
    • A JAP pumpkin is actually an acronym fir “Just Another Pumpkin”, not a Japanese pumpkin. That fact being said, can’t wait to try this, my Nanna used to make pumpkin pie for Christmas. My favourite!

      Reply
  13. Thank you for this…I’m American and now that I have a child, I want to carry on the tradition even though I’m over here in Australia…I really have missed my thanksgiving dinners so actually cooking one this weekend for close friends and family over here in Australia…I am definitely going to attempt this pumpkin pie recipe and hope it goes well 🙂

    Reply
  14. Hello again, I forgot to ask when cooking the pumpkin purer…do u cut off skin of pumpkin and then boil it or bake it…what’s the best way…thanks a bunch

    Reply
  15. @Rebecca – Yes, I cut off the skin (then cut it into little pieces), and I tend to boil it…but only in a very small amount of water – just enough to keep it from burning. It tends to generate its own juices a little, and I stir it often so that it naturally breaks down and by the time it’s cooked it is pretty much pulp anyway.
    But I suppose you could bake it then mash/puree it…that would work too, and might add some nice flavour from the baking process.

    Reply
  16. @Rebecca – The only measurement here that isn’t US is the flour weight. 190 grams of flour roughly equates to 1.5 cups.

    Reply
  17. I LOVE this recipe!… and the no-fuss pastry is deliciously crumbly, I’ve found the best way to cook the pumpkin, is to bake it and then puree it. It adds a nice flavor and seems to reduce the amount of liquid in the puree, I also use ‘condensed’ milk rather than evaporated, it makes the end result very sweet and sticky but also very thick, almost like fudge when refrigerated! I used the recipe as it was though, not realising it was in US measurements, I always have a bit left over but i find making a bit more pastry and filling some muffin trays with the leftover mix creates mini-pies that go down a treat in the lunchboxes! Thank you very much for such a wonderful recipe. ^_^

    Reply
  18. @Bianca – Yes, the recipe always kicks out a little bit of extra, which I also like to make mini pies with. I’m so glad you like the recipe! Yum!

    Reply
  19. You are a saviour! I moved to Australia from the US over a month ago and with my internal clock telling me it’s supposed to be fall and I should be having pumpkin flavoured treats, I’ve been on the lookout for canned pumpkin. And of course, I’ve come up unsuccessful but have received several weird looks at my request. Thank you so much for your recipe!!

    Reply
  20. @Rochelle – So glad this helped! See how many Aussies you can get to try the pie. Everybody I gave it to was initially leery, but they all enjoyed it! 🙂

    Reply
  21. I have been googling trying to find out what a “sugar pumpkin” is to use in a pumpkin coconut curry soup and here I found the answer… Although still unsure which one would be closest to a “sugar” pumpkin. Also, my friends and I have done some traveling to the US but had never tried pumpkin pie. So we decided to have our own Thanksgiving here, because we miss the US :'(, and my friend found pumpkin pie filling at David Jones… It’s in a can… Thought it may be of some use to you. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey Sarah – Yes, I’m quite used to pumpkin pie filling from my upbringing in Canada….when I got to Australia I had to improvise with fresh pumpkin….a more labour-intensive – but delicious – alternative!
      I’ve used all kinds of pumpkin for coconut curry soups….so I’d say whatever is available will ultimately work! If it’s not naturally sweet enough, the coconut (and a bit of sugar perhaps) should compensate.

      Reply
  22. Before I puree the pumpkin, how long do I bake it and at what temp.? Thank you for the help. I would really like to make some pumpkin pie!

    Reply
    • Hey Janine – I’m not really sure! But I’d cook it at a low-ish temperature (150C?), until it’s really soft (maybe half an hour)? If anybody has a more scientific approach, please comment! 🙂

      Reply
  23. Hi, an aussie here! 🙂

    just have to say that i love pumpkin pie. when i was about 18 i was googling and found a recipe for pumpkin pie. i made one out of curiosity and fell in love. cant wait to try yours ^_^

    sam

    Reply
  24. I am now 66 years young and my mother used to make pumpkin pie (tart) when I was a boy so it has been around in Australia for a hell of a long time 🙂

    Perhaps it’s a State thing? I would be very surprised if you didn’t get a more positive response if you asked a number of Queenslanders about ‘pumpkin tart’.

    After I moved interstate I asked Mum to send me some of her recipes. i still have her recipe for :

    Pumpkin Chiffon Tart.

    3/4 cup brown sugar
    3/4 cup milk
    1 dessert spoon gelatine
    3 egg yolks (put the whites aside in a clean bowl ’till later and mix the yolks in with the sugar and milk)
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    pinch of salt
    1.5 cups cooked mashed pumpkin that has been set aside to cool

    Method

    Place all ingredients except pumpkin in saucepan on stove and bring to the boil slowly – stirring constantly. When at the boil (bubbling) turn heat down and boil for 1 minute or until mixture starts to thicken – keep stirring.

    Remove mixture from stove and mix in the cooled mashed pumpkin. Stir thoroughly.

    Place the whole mixture in the refrigerator (I usually put it in the freezer) and leave it there ’till it is fairly stiff and and will stand up in little peaks when you dip a spoon in it. (Don’t leave it too long or it will be too hard to mix in the egg whites)

    While the mix is stiffening in the fridge, beat the egg whites ’till they are fairly still, gradually add about a tablespoon of white sugar and keep beating ’till the whites are very stiff.

    Take the pumpkin mixture from fridge and beat the egg white mixture through it – very thoroughly.

    Put in tart shell and keep in fridge until needed.

    Whipped cream goes very well with it ….. (then she goes on to add a few little tips about whipping cream – to her non kitchen trained son)

    (Note : Don’t put the hot pumpkin mix in a glass dish when you take it off the stove. The heat will crack the glass. Use a plastic basin or a china one.

    if you want a bit more bulk add an extra 1/2 cup of pumpkin.)

    Thanks Mum. For everything.

    Reply
    • Thank you Barry – and your Mum – for this wonderful recipe. I’m going to get the stuff to try it! I don’t think pumpkin pie is big in the Caribbean either…..maybe I’ll introduce pumpkin tart to them! 🙂

      Reply
  25. Thank you so much for the fantastic recipe – we made a version of it today to prepare for Canada Day tomorrow. I really hope it doesn’t make our Canadian friends too homesick 😉

    Here’s our version of your PUMPKIN PIE

    Ingredients:
    1¼ cup pumpkin puree
    ½ cup sugar
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp flour
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    ½ cup evaporated milk
    ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
    ½ tsp vanilla

    Sweet pastry shell (I just bought one – but yes you could make it yourself!)

    Steps:
    Steam enough pumpkin to make 1¼ cups of puree (Jap/Japla/Japanese pumpkin is perfect).
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 Celsius).
    Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, spices and flour in a mixing bowl.
    Add eggs and mix well.
    Add evaporated and condensed milk, vanilla and mix well.
    Pour into pastry shell.
    Bake at 400F (200 Celsius) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F (180 Celsius) for 35 minutes.
    Check the pie every ten minutes and rotate to brown evenly.

    Reply
    • Hi Anita,
      Nice touch with the sweetened condensed milk – that would make it nice and thick, as well as creamy!
      And I’m surprised you found a sweet pastry shell in Australia; I had a heck of a time finding one – hence my recreation of a simple crust.

      Incidentally, I’ve recently been dubbed the “short crust queen” – I now realize it’s quite fun to get your hands dirty and make some dough (and it’s not as hard as I thought)!

      Reply
  26. The pie was really great! I might add more cinnamon and some nutmeg next time! The Jap pumpkin was so great too!
    It’s funny you say that you couldn’t find a sweet short crust pastry case; I’ve always been able to buy them at Supermarkets like Coles or Woollies. Where were you living when you couldn’t find them?? I think they became available in the 1980s and more common in the 1990s. I certainly have been using them for more than 20 years.
    I do agree that short crust pastry is easy to make and quite therapeutic 🙂

    Reply
    • Nutmeg! Ca-Ching! Yes. Do it! (Don’t forget the ginger though – gives it a secret zing)!

      I was living near a country town about 2 hours NE of Melbourne; so it’s possible that smaller stores didn’t carry them. Puff pastry – yes. Pie pastry – no.

      Reply
  27. Thanks Nora, I made this for my partner with some pumpkin I had left over from a pumpkin beer recipe. She was pretty weirded out by the idea of sweet pumpkin but it won both of us over. The leftovers went down a treat at work. Thanks for your efforts in spreading the deliciousness through Australasia.

    Reply
    • No problem, Lucas – glad you enjoyed! And glad your partner had an open mind about sweet pumpkin…let’s get it right, you were making BEER out of the stuff; I think you two are open to new and different things! 🙂

      Reply
  28. hi just wandering what pumpkin is the best to use and
    how much pumpkin would I need for the puree (half a butternut? a full kabosha? etc)
    I was planning to make one for my mums birthday and write happy birthday in whipped cream on top

    Reply
    • Hi Dib – You can just any pumpkin, but I generally found the Japanese pumpkin works well (I think they’re similar to kabosha). Happy Birthday to your mum!

      Reply
  29. Hi all,
    I am an Aussie, lived here all my nearly 80 years, and grew up loving gramma pie. My mother was a country girl, and everybody ate gramma pie almost daily in the farming area that she came from. In the city you can occasionally see gramma for sale, but people think that they are watery sweet pumpkin, and don’t really like them.

    The gramma in mum’s pie was boiled and well drained and flavored with sugar, lemon juice and ginger to taste. I found that that using citric acid instead of lemon juice made it easier to reduce and thicken the mixture, and the pie was always served with lashings of cream.

    Now I have to try a pumpkin pie recipe, because I am sure that the added milk(s) would make the mixture very creamy and delicious without needing to add the naughty cream. BTW how is it eaten? Like slices of cake with a cuppa, or as a dessert?

    Reply
    • Hi Joan,
      I’ve never heard of gramma, and when I looked it up I found pictures of what looks like all kinds of pumpkins. What are grammas really, and what is the difference?

      As for how to eat pumpkin pie, it’s generally served as a dessert (good with a dollop of whipped cream on top), but if you wanna sneak a slice with a cuppa in the arvo, have at ‘er! 😉

      Reply
  30. Grammas usually look like malformed pumpkins, rather irregularly shaped almost like gourds at times, but they can be pretty much pumpkin shaped and have speckled skin very like Jap or Kent pumpkin. They have very rich pumpkin orange flesh which is much more watery than the average Aussie likes to cook as a vegetable, hence its lack of popularity I guess, because maybe 1% of the population know how to cook it.

    I can remember visiting my uncle’s dairy farm as a child. While the men were up at 4 am every day hand milking, my aunt would be baking gramma pies on her wood burning oven. The men would come in ravenous for morning tea and wolf down two or three whole pies with mountains of cream at a sitting. The delicious short crust was made with dripping (beef fat), no wonder they died young. Imagine the cholesterol! They followed up with gramma pies for dessert at lunch and dinner too. It was during WW2, and rationing caused shortages of many things, but gramma pies were cheap and and available in dairy country.

    Reply
    • Hi Joan,
      Wow – what a great story and memory about gramma pies! Let me know how the recipe works out with gramma instead of pumpkin (like you say, you just may need to drain it. I was pretty lazy about getting all the moisture out of regular pumpkin, so I’m sure it will work). Don’t worry if the batter is really runny – it solidifies as you bake it.
      I’ll bet it’s wonderful!

      Reply
  31. I love this recipe, I’ve baked it many times without error but I’ve only ever baked one at a time. Does the baking time or temp change if I bake two at once in a fan forced convection oven??
    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Briar,
      I’m far from an expert on the finesse of baking, but I would say that the baking time might increase just a wee bit with two in the oven, but in a convection oven the baking time is reduced. (You might even want to reduce the temp a bit in a convection oven – I’m not sure). Just keep an eye on the pies as they bake – nothing worse than a burnt pie! 😉

      Reply
  32. Yay! I have been in Oz for 5 years and dearly miss pumpkin pie!! Its great to know that thenjap pumpkins work to make puree this will be excellent for our 1st of july party i am totally going to make pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheese cake….maybe scones too! Now Australia needs cool whip i miss that stuff!

    Reply
    • Erin – Double yay! Be prepared for local Aussies to look at you VERY strangely when you suggest pumpkin can be served as dessert.
      Mmm….cool whip….. 😉

      Reply
    • lol I tried it once (cool whip ) when I was in the states !!! Im sure if you look around we that being us aussies do have cool whip or something close to it ….I love making pumpkin pie!! fell inlove with it when I was visiting friends in kanas ….You can buy canned pumpkin here in aussie land you just need to know where to buy it from.. I prefer to roast my pumpkin then puree it… my kids love it when I make pumpkin pie because I make it from scratch and it is delish 🙂 love it at anytime of the year !!!

      Reply
      • Hey Joanne,
        Cool whip just doesn’t do it for me, when I can whip fresh cream…yum!
        And I’ve made pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin since writing this post, and you know what? It’s just not the same. I’ve been both blessed and cursed now that I know how good pumpkin pie is when you make it from scratch! 🙂

        Reply
  33. Hi again! It’s time to make pumpkin pie again – as tomorrow is our Canada Day BBQ – I am so glad I put notes on your blog about the recipe as I really wanted to make this one again and when I googled Pumpkin Pie Australia your Blog came up as the number three item!

    Reply
  34. Thanks for the info and recipes. Maybe because I am from the Midwest in the USA, and now live in Pennsylvania on the east coast, I have used pumpkin, and also other squashes, quite a bit. I have butternut and cans of pumpkin in my pantry now. I use canned for pureed uses if it is not fall harvest season for pumpkins (other squashes easier to get through the year) like soup, muffins, pancakes, pies, cheesecake, milkshakes, ice cream, etc. One of the farms here has a pumpkin ice cream days countdown in the fall, posting on a sign each day as it gets closer to availability because they get so many requests. Started at 40 days last fall. I use cut up fresh pumpkin or squashes for soups, stews, or just as a side, and sometimes puree for the other options, especially in our fall and into winter. Varieties are more limited in the markets here, but farm stands or farmers’ markets often have more variety. Some Americans don’t, of course, but some don’t cook much either. We actually have a pretty rich heritage of using squashes and pumpkins, since they keep well.

    Reply
    • Hey Jenny – Pumpkin ice cream? Sign me up! 🙂
      I too, have embraced using fresh pumpkin for all kinds of recipes – soups, stews, curries, and more. Here in Peru (where I now live), they’re cheap and cheerful.

      Reply
  35. This is great! I googled pumpkin pie Australia to know which pumpkin to use – I love that this post and all the comments have been going for years and the OP now lives in Peru! Hahahah

    Reply
    • Bronwyn – LOL, glad you found me, and are making pumpkin pie! Curiously, here in Peru I’ve referenced the very same recipe, since it’s not common here either!

      Reply
  36. I’ve been making this recipe now for years, if this page ever goes down I will be lost and sad.

    Thanks for a great and easy recipe

    Reply
  37. I’m an Aussie living in the US for 17 yrs and I still don’t like pumpkin pie, especially from a can. I’ve tried sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie made from real fresh pumpkin/potato and those were much better than the canned versions. I love fresh pumpkin however, in Australia we would eat it roasted (all caramelized) with roasted dinners/yorkshire pudding/gravy, in scones, salads, curries and pureed as soups,. Not as dessert. I love all other American pies though!

    Reply

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