Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Chiffon pies were invented in 1926 by “Pie King” Monroe Boston Strause out of Los Angeles, CA. This lightweight and airy pie was named by his mother after the fabric of a similarly light texture.

What gives chiffon pie its signature mouthfeel is the aeration of whipped egg whites folded into a thickened cream base. Originally, the thickener was cornstarch but now these pies are usually stabilized with powdered gelatin.

Traditional pumpkin pies are a staple at every holiday table, but if you are like me and want to eat all the pies, this chiffon variation is an excellent lighter alternative so your dessert stomach has more room for the others.

“The delicious and textural ginger snap base really sets this recipe apart from other pumpkin pie recipes. The filling has a wonderful and rich flavour with a perfect texture. Despite the use of gelatine, the recipe isn’t rubbery in the slightest. The pie also holds incredibly well, so you can get a picture-perfect slice. It takes a little longer than other pumpkin pie recipes to make, but is well worth it as it’s a stunning pie to present at your thanksgiving dinner!” —Cara Cormack

Overhead shot of a pumpkin chiffon pie with gingersnap crust and whipped cream on top, on a purple background A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 34 gingersnaps, or enough to yield 2 1/4 cups ground crumbs

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 2 3/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

  • 3 tablespoons cold water

  • 3 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

For the Stabilized Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin

  • 1 tablespoon cold water

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

For the Crust

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    pie crust ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. Combine the gingersnaps, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it yields fine crumbs.

    gingersnaps in food processor ground up for crust

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. With the food processor running, drizzle in the melted butter until completely combined and the crumbs start to come together.

    melted butter added to cookie crumbs in food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Press the crumbs evenly into and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. The crust should be slightly darker and harden once cooled. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

    pie crust crumbs pushed into pie tin

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

For the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    chiffon pumpkin pie filling ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. Bloom the gelatin by placing the water in a small dish and sprinkling the gelatin over it. Give it a quick stir to make sure all the gelatin granules are wet. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it congeals and becomes soft.

    gelatin bloomed in small bowl with water

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in a medium mixing bowl and whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure not to get any yolk in the egg whites or they will not whip up. Set the bowl with the egg whites aside.

    3 egg yolks in bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Whisk together the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice until pale and smooth, about 1 minute.

    egg yolks whisked with other ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  5. In a small pot warm the buttermilk and heavy cream over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin until completely dissolved.

    small pot with milk and heavy cream

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  6. With one hand, slowly pour the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture while whisking with the other hand to prevent making scrambled eggs. Whisk until fully combined.

    hot liquid whisked into egg yolk mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  7. Add the pumpkin purée and whisk to combine. Set aside while you whip the egg whites.

    pumpkin puree whisked in to egg yolk custard

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  8. Attach the bowl of egg whites to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for about 45 seconds or until they start to get frothy.

    egg whites in bowl of stand mixer whisked until frothy

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  9. Turn the speed up to medium high and add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar little by little, allowing it to be incorporated after each addition.

    egg whites whipped until light peaks with sugar added

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  10. Whisk for another 2 to 3 minutes until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip or it will not fold in as nicely. The whites should look silky smooth like shaving cream, and not curdled or broken.

    egg whites and sugar whisked to soft peaks

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  11. Fold half of the whipped egg whites into the pumpkin mixture to lighten.

    whipped egg whites being folded into pumpkin mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  12. Once fully incorporated, add the other half of the whipped whites and fold it in using broad intentional strokes until there are no more streaks.

    all of egg whites folded into pumpkin mixture for pumpkin chiffon pie filling

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  13. Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    filling poured into crust

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

For the Whipped Cream and Assembly

  1. Gather the whipped cream ingredients and prepared pie.

    ingredients for stabilized whipped cream

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. Put the gelatin in a microwave-safe bowl or 1-cup measuring cup. Add the cold water and let stand for 5 minutes, until very thick.

    Put the thickened gelatin in the microwave. Microwave the gelatin until it dissolves and becomes liquid, 7 to 10 seconds. Check after 5 seconds, then check it every few seconds until it is completely liquefied but not hot. You can also use a double boiler to liquefy the gelatin mixture.

    gelatin blooming in a small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed in a large mixing bowl until it begins to thicken, then beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and continue beating until thick but not quite to the soft peak stage.

    cream whipped in bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. While still beating constantly, pour the liquid gelatin into the cream in a thin stream (if the gelatin has thickened again, heat again for a few seconds, just until liquid but not hot). Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

    liquid gelatin added to bowl of whipped cream

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  5. Spread the stabilized whipped cream on top of the cooled and set pie.

    stabilized whipped cream added to top of pie

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

Warning

Raw Egg Warning: Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of foodborne illness. If this is an issue, you can substitute pasteurized high whip egg whites (most of the ones you will see at the supermarket will not whip up, so make sure to check before you buy). Alternatively, you can make a Swiss meringue topping, which is a cooked meringue.

Recipe Tips

  • You can substitute 3 1/2 silver gelatin sheets for powdered gelatin. But you will still need to bloom it by placing the sheets in ice water for 2 to 3 minutes until soft. Squeeze any excess water out of the sheets then place on a paper towel until ready to use. 
  • You can make your own pumpkin purée by steaming or roasting the flesh until soft then placing the cooked pumpkin into a blender to purée.

Recipe Variation

Don’t like gingersnaps? Try using graham crackers, vanilla wafers, Biscoff cookies, or a blind baked pie crust.

How to Store

The whole pie can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing the pie.

Make Ahead

The crust can be made ahead of time and kept wrapped in the fridge for 3 days, or frozen for 3 months.

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