How To Get Smooth Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is emblematic of warm holiday meals and is often the most fitting (and delicious) means of ending Thanksgiving dinner. Some people are perfectly fine picking up a pie at the grocery store. But others fuss over achieving the perfect crust, the ideally set custard, or the best whipped cream topping. If you're in the latter camp, Mashed asked Elizabeth Nelson, test kitchen manager at Wilton, for some tips on achieving the smoothest, silkiest pumpkin pie.

First things first: You'll want to chill the pie dough, which will help the butter stay solid, make the dough easier to roll out, and ensure a flaky crust. You don't want to overwork the dough, either, Nelson says — that can make it "sticky and tough." And if you really want to get fancy with the crust, you can upgrade your pumpkin pie by adding cocoa powder to the dough, suggests SalonThe Cookful also suggests adding cinnamon to the dough to give it a bit of extra pizzazz.

As for the pie's filling, you're not alone if your pumpkin pies always seem to end up cracked on the top. Here's how to fix it, once and for all.

How to combat a cracked pumpkin pie

Wilton test kitchen manager Elizabeth Nelson explains that most cracks are because the pie has been over-baked. "Pumpkin pie is a custard, and if the eggs are overcooked, it will affect the texture," she says. "If the oven temperature is too high, that can also cause the edges of the pie to bake too quickly, leading to cracks later." Cooks Illustrated concurs, noting that when eggs in a baked item are exposed to too much heat, they can over-coagulate. This may result in lumps, curdling, or uneven cooking. 

Nelson also notes that timing is key, as the pie will settle further as it cools. "The pie should be just barely set in the center — it's important to take it out of the oven as soon as the center is set so it won't be overbaked," she says. "Times in recipes are usually guidelines — using all of your senses is important when determining when to pull the pie from the oven."

And if you still end up with a few cracks in your pie, don't worry — it isn't ruined. Nelson suggests covering a less-than-perfect pie with whipped cream or "decorative elements, such as leaves."