If you can't choose between pumpkin pie and pecan pie, Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie is your answer! This pie has a warmly spiced pumpkin custard filling topped with a crunchy pecan praline topping, all in an easy to make graham cracker crust. Sized for two, this mini pie delivers big Fall flavor!
[Side Note: a version of this post first appeared on my OutlanderCast column, November 16, 2018]
Why this recipe works
- A yummy pie made from warmly spiced pumpkin custard and a crunchy pecan praline topping
- With a graham cracker crust, there's no messing about with pie dough
- A mini pie is sized for two, which is good for portion control
Some decisions are easy. Some are hard.
Take choosing Fall pies, for example. Are you a pecan pie person or a pumpkin pie person? (Whoa, try saying that three times fast!) I love both types of these classic Thanksgiving pies and have a hard time choosing between the two.
What do I do? Here's my solution: Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie. It's a pecan topped pumpkin pie that works! And if I'm baking for two, making a mini pie helps with portion control (trust me, it's hard to stop when there's a delicious pie in the house!).
What you need
A Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie recipe is made of three basic parts: a graham cracker crust, a pumpkin custard filling, and a pecan praline topping.
The ingredients for the pumpkin pie filling are standard: pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling), brown sugar, heavy cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, and warm baking spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. A pinch of black pepper is included in the custard to add a little “zing” of heat. Don’t worry, it’s subtle but effective.
The ingredients for the pecan praline topping are straightforward as well: chopped pecans, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Usually pie crust for pumpkin pie is a standard pastry pie crust. However, since we're using a graham cracker crust, only 3 ingredients are needed: graham crackers, sugar, and butter. No messing about with making pie dough.
How to make Pecan Pumpkin Pie
Step 1: Make the pie crust
Prepare a graham cracker crust by mixing together ¾ cup (75 grams) of graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2½ tablespoons of melted butter. Press firmly into a 7-inch pie pan (a pastry dough tart tamper can help this process), and bake at 350˚F for 8 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside while you make the filling.
Step 2: Make the pumpkin custard
Cooking the pumpkin filling ensures that it's sturdy enough to support the topping, and also so it's not as wet going into the graham cracker crust. Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, cloves, and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened (photo 1). Allow the mixture to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
Whisk in the heavy cream and milk, mixing well. Stir in the eggs and vanilla (photo 2). Make sure the eggs are thoroughly whisked into the pumpkin custard - you don’t want areas of unincorporated eggs in the custard.
If the pumpkin mixture is still too warm after stirring in the milk and heavy cream, temper in the eggs by adding a small amount of pumpkin to the eggs to warm them before adding the eggs back into the pumpkin. This will ensure there are no bits of scrambled eggs in the pumpkin custard.
Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center barely jiggles (photo 3).
Step 3: Make the pecan praline topping
Toss the pecan praline topping together while the pie is baking (photo 4). You can use corn syrup, maple syrup, or golden syrup to moisten the topping. Each will bring subtle flavor to the overall pie.
Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling. Return the pie to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (photo 5). Allow the pie to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before serving.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
Sure! You can replace the graham cracker crust with a homemade pie crust (using a 6 : 4 : 2 recipe ratio of flour, butter, and water for a half a single crust pie) or a store bought pie crust. Par-bake the crust at 375˚F before filling it (see these instructions on how to par-bake pie dough without beans or pie weights).
You can make a full-sized pie by doubling all the ingredients and using a 9-inch pie pan. If you want a standard pastry pie shell, use the 9 : 6 : 3 recipe ratio of flour, butter, and water for a single crust pie.
Pro Tip: Make sure the custard is well mixed
I mentioned above about making sure the eggs are thoroughly whisked into pumpkin custard before baking. I made this mistake the first time I made this pie by not whisking the beaten eggs into the cooked pumpkin mixture well enough. This caused bits of cooked egg to be noticeable in the pie before the topping went on. Don’t be like me...mix in those eggs!
Praline Pumpkin Pie checks both boxes
Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie is wonderful! It's full of spicy pumpkin flavor reminiscent of Autumn with toasted praline pecans adding texture and crunch. The graham cracker crust adds its own molasses undertones. Served with a dollop of whipped cream, it's truly a pie better than the sum of its parts.
This pie can be made 2 days ahead of time, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before serving. Cover and store any leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (if you have leftovers, that is!).
If you’re interested in other variations of traditional Thanksgiving desserts, try my Black Bottom Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie (made without corn syrup), Southern Brown Sugar Pie (it's like pecan pie without the pecans), Sourdough Spice Cake, or a Sourdough Pumpkin Cake. Or dress up your favorite fruit pie with a lattice crust.
Let's not forget my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. My father-in-law won’t let me in the door at Thanksgiving unless I promise to bring him one, and that’s upwards of 30 years now!
With all the daily decisions we have to make, let's give ourselves a break. Choosing Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie is a dessert that can satisfy both pumpkin pie and pecan pie people, and you can make it a mini pie. Or make a full-sized pie for Thanksgiving or anytime.
That's a choice I'll leave to you!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Pies and tarts can be sweet or savory, and there are so many fillings from which to choose. From fruits to nuts and custards, there's bound to be a pie or tart that catches your fancy! Here are a few choices to try.
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Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie for Two
- ½ recipe graham cracker pie crust, see Recipe Notes
For the pumpkin filling
- 1 cup pumpkin purée, pure, NOT pumpkin pie filling
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch black pepper, finely ground
- ⅓ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the praline topping
- ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup, golden syrup, or corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- whipped cream, lightly sweetened, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Prepare the pie crust: Prepare a graham cracker crust by mixing together ¾ cup (75 grams) of graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2½ tablespoons of melted butter. Press firmly into a 7-inch pie pan (a pastry dough tart tamper can help this process), and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside while you make the filling.
- Make the pumpkin filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, cloves, and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Whisk in the heavy cream and milk, mixing well. Stir in the eggs and vanilla (see Recipe Notes). Make sure the eggs are thoroughly whisked into the pumpkin custard - you don’t want areas of unincorporated eggs in the custard.
- Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center barely jiggles.
- Make the praline topping: While pie is baking, stir together the pecans, brown sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the maple syrup, golden syrup, or corn syrup and the vanilla and stir until the mixture is evenly moistened.
- Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling. Return the pie to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
- Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream (if desired), and enjoy!
- This pie can be made 2 days ahead of time, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before serving. Cover and store any leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (if you have leftovers, that is!).