Imposter Pumpkin Pie

We’re all thinking about our Thanksgiving menus this week, including the important pies and desserts to please everyone around the table.

I have rarely made a pumpkin pie from scratch, and when I have (once) it did not turn out as good as my mother’s. Couple that with the fact I’m not a pumpkin pie lover, there has been little experimentation in my house, although I make one every year for those who don’t think it is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I use the canned pumpkin with no apologies, and they are happy.

Squash pie? Pumpkin pie?

When I was going through my mother’s recipes, I found squash pie, which I remember she often made, and it tasted just like pumpkin pie. The pumpkin pie recipe? It was a recipe from the back of the pumpkin can! Her squash recipe used fresh squash.

Hmm. What did she know that it took me years to figure out? I looked up pumpkin pie recipes from some of the cookbooks from the 1930s and 40s, and they often listed “Pumpkin or Squash Pie” as one recipe. Obviously, they were used interchangeably, but it was odd that my mom made her pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin, but her squash from fresh.

Just don’t cook the Jack-o-lantern

There are a lot of stories and explanations out there in the internet whether canned pumpkin is actually squash. In the past, I’ve grown an heirloom pumpkin that looked more like butternut squash, and a squash that looked just like a pumpkin! While it doesn’t really matter since it is all the same family, the fact that the pumpkin (or squash) that is used in the canned, is not the jack-o-lantern “pie pumpkins” that we see for sale this time of year, but a different variety altogether.

Recently, I decided to make a scratch “pumpkin” pie using squash, as well as one from canned pumpkin and see what my family and friends thought. I couldn’t find the heirloom squash I was looking for, so I decided on what was available, a butternut squash. I chose the organic canned pumpkin I always use Farmers Market Foods.

A little twist, here and there

Of course, as always, I couldn’t just leave it at that; I added a few things not in my mom’s recipe, black pepper, cayenne, a little crystalized ginger to top it off. I also used my rosemary lemon pastry crust, and it worked well in this, according to the pumpkin pie lovers.

The result? The people who love pumpkin pie, loved the traditional canned pumpkin pie best. The folks, including me, who don’t, preferred the squash pie, not that it would be any of our first choice.

Plan accordingly for your holiday gathering. You might have to take a poll.

For me? I’ll be eating the lemon meringue, tart, extra meringue…


Imposter Pumpkin Pie

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

On a rimmed baking sheet place:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the squash is soft.

Scoop out the flesh, puree in a food processor or blender, and reserve 2 cups for this recipe. The rest can be frozen.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350.

In a small bowl, combine:

  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

In a large bowl, beat:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups of squash purée
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Add the sugar mixture, and mix well.

Pour into pie plate lined with:

  • 1 rosemary lemon pastry crust, or favorite recipe

Place on a baking dish, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pie is set except for a little jiggle in the center.

Cool for 4 hours or overnight.

Top with:

  • 1 tbsp. candied ginger, chopped
  • Lemon zest

Serve with whipped cream if desired. Or cut yourself a slice of lemon meringue and find a corner.


My seven-year-old granddaughter made a beautiful pumpkin pie this year for Thanksgiving. She used the canned pumpkin and the traditional Libby’s recipe, with a few extra spices. She rolled out the crust, and made the leaf decorations herself! She reminded me to post this photograph here! The pumpkin pie lovers loved it!!!

Leolas pie

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  1. Interesting Dorothy! I have never been a pumpkin pie fan, we’re having Pecan Pie Cheesecake!

    1. Well, that sounds like a delicious and interesting mash up! It’s funny, the first thing that goes in our family is always the cheesecake!

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve read recipes for squash pies, but considering I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie I’ve never even considered trying one. If it’s ok with you I’ll be sharing your lemon meringue pie, a favorite of mine.

    1. Yes, I’ll save you a slice!

  3. How intriguing. 🍁🍂🌾

  4. simplywendi says:

    I have had this before and it is so very good!

    1. Glad you like the squash version! Thanks for stopping by!

      1. simplywendi says:

        my pleasure Dorothy….

      2. Well, thank you so very much. We’ll save you a piece!

      3. simplywendi says:

        🙂 thank you so much 🙂

  5. It was interesting to read about your experiments. I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan myself, so usually use the canned puree for gingered muffins.
    Your pie looks delicious! I like the idea of using butternut squash, and love the addition of rosemary, lemon and spices. 🙂

    1. The spices in the crust certainly add a different element to the pie! You know it’s funny, I don’t mind pumpkin bread or muffins, it’s the pie I really don’t like!

      1. Same here! I guess it’s something about the texture. 🙂

      2. Yes, I think that’s it!

  6. Yummeee!! You are a indeed a server to crowds. 💕. I am a pie fan who is loving your recipe secrets.

  7. Chris says:

    I love the lemon rosemary pie crust you used for your pie. While reading the recipe I followed further to your pie crust tips. Absolutely great information. ❤️

    1. Thank you so much Chris! These are little tidbit I’ve learned along the way, usually the hard way!

      1. Chris says:

        That’s a sign of a great cook.

      2. Thanks! We learn a lot more from our mistakes than our successes!

      3. Chris says:

        So true, Dorothy.


    1. Thanks China! I hope others enjoy the recipe!

  9. chef mimi says:

    Well, I can’t do the rosemary part. I must be too old fashioned, but I can’t put lavender and rosemary in savory food, or in cocktails, or in ice cream. But, your pie looks fabulous!!! And I admire your creativity.

    1. Thanks for saying so Mimi! And thank you for stopping by. I promise not to serve you my lavender tofu!

  10. JOY journal says:

    Our Thanksgiving table includes pineapple upside-down cake made in an iron skillet for some reason. My oldest daughter makes it and it’s my favorite part of the meal. 🙂 Have a blessed holiday.

    1. Sounds divine. My mom used to make a pineapple upside down cake as well, and we all loved it. She made hers in this large, square electric frying pan and it always came out great!

  11. Bradley Blake says:

    Wow beautiful

    1. Thanks! The pumpkin lovers loved it!

  12. Chris says:

    Sorry, it would not post under Mashed Potatoes and when I tried again I accidentally opened a different recipe.

    1. There are gremlins about…

  13. Angela says:

    Dorothy, my mother always used a long-neck pumpkin, as opposed to a round one, and it was much more like butternut squash, which I have used myself for years. We all love the squash. But I remember telling people over the years that it was squash, not pumpkin, and they seemed stunned if not horrified! I tend to go lighter with the traditional spices, too.

    1. Thank you so much for your family’s story! I’m sure your mom’s pie must have been the absolute best, and yours now. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I suspect her pie might be on the menu?

      1. Angela says:

        Yes, trying to talk myself into making the crust now. We always have apple pie, too (Northern Spy!).

      2. I love Northern Spy! Such a lovely apple, and it keeps well. I’m making my crusts for the Thanksgiving pies tomorrow and tucking them away in the refrigerator until Wednesday night.

  14. artfromperry says:

    Smiles, for me, the best imposter pumpkin pie would be a store-bought pumpkin pie that has less than five ingredients in it. And then top the whole pie off with a huge amount of whipped cream 🙂

  15. Vienna Brewer says:

    I love pumpkin pie, but I love sweet potato pie even more. It doesn’t have that pasty tone of the pumpkin. You don’t have to use as much sugar either. Squashes are my favorite veggies period. Or are they fruits? 🤔

    1. Technically, a squash is a fruit! It’s funny how we all have different reactions to sweet. For me, I find sweet potatoes (unless they are mixed in with lots of other veggies) to be too sweet for me. Some people in our family love sweet potato fries, but I’d rather a regular white potato French fry! Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Vienna Brewer says:

        It’s funny, but I think I got the love for squash while visiting my husband in Japan. We went to a rare Christian families home where the lady of the house served squash soup and fried clams. She also fixed us a bento box lunch that was visually exquisite, and her son took us to a rock next to the ocean to eat it all gone.
        I’ve tried to find a similar recipe for the soup, but can’t quite repeat it.
        Thank you for your reply.

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