A Recipe: Pumpkin Custard for the Thanksgiving Table

Pumpkin custard, faintly sweet and deeply nourishing, finds its way to our Thanksgiving table each year.  One of my favorite desserts, pumpkin custard is suitable for those who adhere to gluten- or grain-free diets, serving as a perfect and elegant substitute for classic pumpkin pie.  I love the gentle sweetness, the rich and creamy texture of a good custard.  It’s a humble food, but elegant, too. A basic custard of egg yolks, cream and a sweetener is lovely on its own, the inclusion of fresh pumpkin puree elevates the simple dessert beyond its common roots into something extraordinary.

A lovely, seasonal food, there’s nothing quite like fresh pumpkin.  While I cherish the first strawberries of spring, the fuzzy and sweet peaches of summer, it is the pumpkins and hard-shell squashes of autumn that make my heart sing.  From the green and knobby kabochas to the striated carnival squashes, I love them all, but it’s pumpkin with its sweet orange flesh that calls to me – and loudly, too.  Pumpkin, like all winter squashes, is a nourishing food – rich in carotenes, particularly beta-cryptoxanthin which may provide some element of protection against cancer.  A study of over 60,000 Chinese found that those who consumed the most beta-cryptoxanthin enjoyed a 27% decrease in the risk for lung cancer.  Of course, pumpkin, like most vegetables, is best served with abundant, nourishing fats which help the human body to better absorb its antioxidants and vitamins.

In any dish featuring pumpkin puree, from pumpkin custards like the below recipe, butternut squash soups or those beloved pumpkin pies, it’s best to start with a fresh pumpkin – splitting, seeding and roasting it yourself.  Not only will the flavor of roasted pumpkin puree taste better than canned versions, but it will also offer a better array of nutrients and your body certainly won’t miss the endocrine-disruption bisphenol-A which lines so many cans of food.  .  This recipe for pumpkin custard, and over 175 other holiday favorites are included in Happy & Healthy Holidays, a new series at Nourished Kitchen.

pumpkin puree pumpkin custard pumpkin custard half-eaten

Pumpkin Custard

Gently sweet and deeply nourishing, this pumpkin custard calls to memory the flavors of classic pumpkin pie, but without all the fuss of a crust.  Those who must adhere to a dairy-free diet either by necessity or choice would do well to substitute coconut milk for heavy cream in this dessert.  This recipe is featured in the new holiday cooking series at Nourished Kitchen which offers ten lessons , thirty holiday menus, twenty-five video tutorials and more than 175 nourishing recipes that can help you transform your holiday favorites into wholesome, healthy recipes.  Learn more about the class, or register today.

pumpkin custard

By Jenny Published: November 22, 2011

  • Yield: about 6 servings (06 Servings)
  • Prep: 20 minutes mins
  • Cook: 30 to 40 minutes (baking) mins
  • Ready In: 50 mins

Pumpkin custard recipe featuring roasted pumpkin, vanilla and cream.


  • 1 pie pumpkin (puree, about 2 cups)
  • 9 pastured egg yolks (beaten)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized)
  • 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 dash unrefined sea salt
  • creme fraiche, whipped cream or double cream (preferably raw, to serve)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk pumpkin puree, nine beaten egg yolks, two cups heavy cream with one-half cup unrefined cane sugar, one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon, one-quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg, one teaspoon vanilla extract and a dash unrefined sea salt.
  3. Bring about two inches of water to boil in a double boiler or saucepan fitted with a bowl, and stir the custard continuously until thick enough to coat a spoon.
  4. Pour the thickened custard into a baking our souffle dish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit about thirty to forty minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the custard’s center comes out clean.
  5. Serve warm with creme fraiche, whipped cream or double cream.

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What people are saying

  1. Joan Gazzard-Dsrosiers says


    Just found your Web site, lucky me……..I too am always looking for healthier ways to eat. I am already a Coconut Oil fan, and I am truly looking forward to you weekly E-mails. have a great day, and Thank You Joan Montreal . Canada

  2. Joan Gazzard-Desrosiers says

    Hello again,

    Just noticed that I spelled my last name incorrectly,……….. in too much of a hurry to get my “Thank You ” off. Joan

  3. Nan says

    Hi there Jenny,
    Thanks for this GORGEOUS recipe!! Yum!!
    So I’m totally going to make this but the only problem is I live in New Zealand and we don’t really have “pie pumpkins” here but I’m going to do some research and find the closest thing I can. Can not wait to try this!!! Will use our raw cream from organic, grass-fed Jersey’s–my mouth is already watering.

    • Anita says

      Rachel or Nan, when you find out a similar pumpkin to a “pie pumpkin”, please let me know. I am over in Australia in sunny Queensland :) My mother in law uses a “grammar”(?) to make her pie/slice…perhaps this would work? It looks like a butternut, only bigger and I think, green skin. They are quite difficult to find. Never see them in the shops. She sources them from rural New South Wales through her green grocer 😉

      • Patty says

        Hi! I used to have the same problem trying to figure out the difference betweent the Aussi pumpkin and ours.
        The one you described, (which is delicious roasted isn’t it??!!) is a lot like butternut, so go for it!
        Jealous of you in sunny Qld!! We used to live there too, but now in Montana

  4. Maria says

    I am thinking about making this dish for a Sunday lunch. Can I make the custard on Saturday night and bake it on Sunday morning? Thank you :)

  5. says

    I’m home today a little under the weather & awaiting the big storm — seems like a good day to try this. I love pumpkin pie & regular custard — sounds so yummy. I don’t have the option today for using fresh pumpkin — have you tried it with the not so great canned method?? What about butternut squash?

  6. Rachel Lorenz says

    What sort of pumpkin do you use (since the canned pumpkin is not the same type as the halloween pumpkins). Where I livein germany, I can easily source organic Hokaido pumpkins. Also, I just made a pumpkin custard last night using greek yoghurt instead of cream and raw honey instead of rapadura. It was absolutely delicious, and the yoghurt gave it a slightly different dimension!

  7. says

    That looks lovely! I think I might just cook it on the stove top, as I don’t really care for the texture of baked custards. I bet it would make a very nice pudding.

  8. Drusy says

    Hello Jenny,
    I’m new to this change in healthier eating habits, so I can use all the help I can get! I will have to use coconut milk in place of the heavy cream or is there something besides coconut milk/cream that offers the same consistency? Also, can I substitute stevia for the unrefined sugar? If so, how much stevia?
    Thanks so much! Looking forward to trying this for Thanksgiving. We have a very different menu this year!

  9. Angela says

    Tasty custard! I subbed canned coconut milk (just the solid part) for the heavy cream to make it dairy free. I also skipped the thickening step and just put it in the oven with a pan of hot water beside it. Turned out very good!

  10. says

    How come I didn’t see this when I was hunting the web a few months ago for pumpkin custard! Been looking for a nice way to flavor and use up eggs when my hens are laying prolifically. Now I find this when I’m down to only one or two eggs a day. Boo!

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