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Food & Recipes

Make This Ingredient Swap for the Best Pumpkin Pie Ever — So Easy!

We tried it and will *never* make pumpkin pie without it


Your tried-and-true pumpkin pie recipe deserves its rightful place at the Thanksgiving dessert table. But, if you’re looking to make your signature filling extra creamy and smooth this year, sneak a surprise ingredient into it: sour cream. While dollops of sour cream usually adorn baked potatoes and tacos, our Woman’s World test kitchen says it’s also delicious in pumpkin pie, giving the dessert a velvety texture and mildly tangy flavor. Although sour cream will be doing some of the heavy lifting to create a tasty pumpkin pie, we’ve got other suggestions for the best type of crust to use and a trick for repurposing excess filling. Here’s how to make a sour cream pumpkin pie that guests will want seconds (and thirds) of!

The basics of pumpkin pie

Traditional pumpkin pie consists of a filling made with pumpkin purée, eggs, sugar, spices and dairy like evaporated milk. This filling is then poured into a pie shell and baked until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While this pie already features a sweet filling with a buttery crust, using sour cream adds extra creaminess and a slight tang to the dessert!

Why sour cream works well in pumpkin pie

While sour cream’s uses are mostly for savory dishes, Woman’s World Food Director Julie Miltenberger says it’s perfect for pumpkin pie. “Adding sour cream to desserts and baked goods makes for a rich and creamy treat — the slightly tart tang is similar to yogurt but with the richness of heavy cream,” she says. Julie suggests swapping the full amount of evaporated milk (or other dairy) listed in your desired recipe with sour cream. Once added to the filling mixture, whisk until it’s smooth before pouring into the crust. (To ensure the filling stays smooth, click through to learn how to keep a pumpkin pie from cracking.)

The best type of crust for pumpkin pie

Whether you opt for an store-bought or homemade pie shell, Julie recommends using a deep-dish variety as it hold more filling than a standard size.

If all you have is a standard size pie shell, Julie recommends pouring enough filling so the crust is about ⅔ of the way full. Then, repurpose the remaining filling by turning it into a mini crustless pumpkin pie. “Coat 1 or 2 small ramekins with cooking spray and divide excess pumpkin pie filling between the ramekins,” she says. “Bake at the same temperature as your pie, but only for about 15 minutes, until no longer jiggly in the center.” Allow the ramekin to cool for 10 minutes before enjoying a treat as the larger pie continues baking!

RELATED: How to Keep Pumpkin Pie From Cracking

How to make sour cream pumpkin pie

This Epicurious recipe for Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie combines the creamy fridge staple with warming cinnamon, rich dark brown sugar and other classic ingredients. Trust us, one bite of this pie is more than enough to make it your go-to every holiday season!

Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie

A sour cream pumpkin pie with a slice removed


  • 1 deep-dish pie shell (around 9 to 10 inches)
  • 1½ cups full-fat sour cream
  • 1 (13 oz) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Whipped cream (optional for serving)


  • Active: 40 mins
  • Total time: 5½ hrs
  • Yield: 8 servings

Special Equipment:

  • Pie weights (raw rice or uncooked beans); an instant-read thermometer
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. To partially bake crust: Lightly prick bottom and side of chilled pie shell with fork. Line crust with foil and fill with rice or beans. Bake until pastry is lightly golden along rim and set below foil, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights. Bake shell until bottom and side of pastry are pale golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely in pie plate on wire rack, about 20 minutes. Keep oven o
  3. To make filling: Heat 1 cup sour cream in large metal bowl set over large wide pot of boiling water until warm. Stir occasionally. In separate bowl, mix pumpkin, egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and remaining ½ cup sour cream until combined. Whisk mixture into hot sour cream.
  4. Cook filling over simmering water, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, about 6 minutes. Mixture should be thickened and register 170°F on thermometer. Remove from heat and cool pumpkin filling in bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, beat egg whites by hand or with electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold whites into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly.
  6. To bake pie: Pour filling into cooled pie shell and smooth top. Bake until filling is set and puffed around edge, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature on wire rack, about 2 hours before serving.

    Note: You can make the pie 1 day ahead and chill covered in the fridge. Then, serve the pie chilled or at room temperature.

My taste test

As someone who looks forward to an extra slice of pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, I decided to give this recipe a go. Before taking the first bite, I noticed that the pie’s consistency was lighter than others I’ve made. It almost reminded me of the airy texture of chocolate mousse, which I loved.

I was also fond of the sour cream adding a subtle tart flavor that complemented the sweetness from the dark brown sugar, while spices like ground nutmeg and ginger gave it an aromatic taste. It’s basically “pumpkin pie 2.0” — it has all the flavors that you might be familiar with, but the sour cream takes it up a notch and balances all of the ingredients to achieve perfect harmony. Although this recipe took a little extra effort to prepare, it was truly worth it!

Pumpkin pie
Alexandria Brooks

Continue reading for more seasonal dessert recipes:

These Thanksgiving Cookies Are *Almost* Too Cute to Gobble Up — 6 Easy Recipes

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies Are *The* Ultimate Fall Treat — 2 Delicious, Easy Recipes

These Thanksgiving Cupcakes Couldn’t Be Any Cuter — 7 Easy Recipes That Wow

Click through for more Thanksgiving tips, recipes and other stories.

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