Pumpkin Pie With a Vodka Crust Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

Adapted by Emily Weinstein

Pumpkin Pie With a Vodka Crust Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 3 hours, plus cooling
Read community notes

This recipe made waves among home bakers when it was published by Cook's Illustrated magazine in 2008 because of its brilliant use of vodka in the dough, which all but ensures that the baked crust is tender. The vodka, which evaporates in the hot oven, is essential here, and you shouldn't taste it in the finished crust, so do not skip it. The filling is delicious too, pillowy with a deep, rich flavor. Cook's Illustrated advised readers to add the filling to the prebaked crust when both the crust and the filling are still warm; it helps ensure accurate cooking times and a crisp crust. —Emily Weinstein

Featured in: Pumpkin Pie

Learn: How to Make a Pie Crust

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Yield:8 servings

    For the Crust

    • cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6¼ ounces)
    • ½teaspoon table salt
    • 1tablespoon sugar
    • 6tablespoons (¾ stick) cold unsalted butter , cut into ¼-inch slices
    • ¼cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into two pieces
    • 2tablespoons vodka, cold
    • 2tablespoons cold water

    For the Filling

    • 1cup heavy cream
    • 1cup whole milk
    • 3large eggs plus 2 large yolks
    • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1(15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
    • 1cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (or use regular canned yams)
    • ¾cup sugar
    • ¼cup maple syrup
    • 2teaspoons grated fresh ginger
    • ½teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1teaspoon table salt

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

517 calories; 29 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 9 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 56 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 31 grams sugars; 7 grams protein; 495 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Pumpkin Pie With a Vodka Crust Recipe (2)


  1. For the Crust

    1. Step


      Process ¾ cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until hom*ogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining ½ cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

    2. Step


      Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

    3. Step


      Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about ⅛ inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

    4. Step


      Trim overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

    5. Step


      Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

  2. For the Filling

    1. Step


      For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. Step


      Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. (The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly.) Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.



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Cooking Notes


Since I used this crust with an apple pie I can't comment on the filling here, but I will say that the vodka crust is now my go-to crust for all baked pies; the vodka evaporates more quickly than the water leaving a flakier crust behind. My other advice would be to use good quality European butter (which has a higher fat content), meaning there's less water in the butter which, like the vodka, keeps the crust incredibly flakey.


The folks at Cook's Illustrated say that the vodka pie crust recipe is better for pies like apple or blueberry, in which the crust is not partially cooked ahead of time. They recommend a pate brisee for pumpkin and sweet potatoe pies, in which the crust is partially pre-baked.


This crust is perfect; I will never make a pumpkin pie without it.


This is, hands down, the best crust I’ve ever made. There was no pie crust recipe with the lemon meringue pie from Alice Waters (and by the way, run don’t walk over to that recipe too!). Crust flaked beautifully and was flavorful. It’s also pretty fast with the food processor technique and only 45 minutes to chill in the fridge. Next time I would double the recipe and make an extra to freeze. If there was a 6th star I’d give it!


Your pie crust dough was too warm when you placed it in oven resulting in the goop you describe. You need to refrigerate it twice at 15 minutes each time before baking it and make sure to use pie weights or pennies.


Why, oh why do recipes for blind baking say to use foil? Never use foil, chances are good the dough will stick and you’ll lose your crust. Use parchment!Learned this the hard way.


Simply the best pumpkin pie! Have been making it for years and will make no other. I use the crust for other pies, too!

my notes

Change seasonings to:1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp ginger1/4 tsp nutmeg or allspice1/8 tsp cloves. Adjust to taste


So close to perfect, but wish I'd tweaked flavors more. I used 1/4 C of brown sugar, cut white sugar to 1/4 C, and increased maple syrup to 1/2 C. Used an immersion blender after cooking filling, which was so much easier than straining, and created a very smooth texture. Added 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and subbed Bourbon for Vanilla. Recipe's 1 tsp of salt made it saltier than we like, and I wish I'd increased the spices so they popped more. Baked 85 mins to slight jiggle - perfect texture!


Why, oh why do recipes for blind baking say to use foil? Never use foil, chances are good the dough will stick and you’ll lose your crust. Use parchment!Learned this the hard way.


This pie and crust are amazing. The pie filling does not crack like most pumpkin pies, and the straining process makes it the smoothest, creamiest pumpkin pie you can imagine. The downside is that this pie/crust takes a long time to make, including multiple bakings of the crust, and the straining is not easy. But I believe it’s worth it!

my notes

Used for crust

Mary R

Super yum!! Excellent crust but pretty time consuming. Will say while adding the vodka and cold water, I was skeptical, as the dough if one follows the amounts of fluid to be added, would yield a very wet initial crust. I used a little over half of the recommended fluid. I let it sweat for a few minutes before wrapping w plastic. But the several stages of chilling after rolling the dough with lots of additional flour, resulted in a beautiful golden crust. Avoid any more than negligible handling.


This is one of my favorite pies. I was not able to get any candied yams so I replaced it with a second can of pumpkin, and it still turned out great. I did have some issues with the amount of time it took to bake, as it took about an hour altogether. I ended up increasing the temperature to 350 and baked for an addition half hour. Would definitely make this again!


What size pie pan is this for?


Has anyone had a problem with this crust falling apart in the oven? Mine just did. It looked perfect going in, but within 5 minutes, a huge chunk of the pinched trim fell off into the bottom of the oven. Sad, so sad.

Brenda K

This pumpkin pie was a lot more work than what I saw my grandma do, but worth every minute. My family asked that I never lose this recipe! I used canned sweet potatos and because I 2.5x the recipe I used 2c heavy wipping cream and a half cup of evaporated milk. I wanted to make sure I had enough filling for 2 pies and 2.5x was the only mistake I made - I filled all the ramekins in my house and then some! I also used ground ginger instead of fresh because I ran out. This is a super recipe.

Rad Rad

I tried this recipe but had neither vodka nor canned yams, so used whiskey and some fresh sweet potatoes that I candied before adding into the mix. I also used all butter instead of part shortening. When I opened my can of pumpkin I realized it was a pie filling, not just fruit. This made me really sad , but there was no going back! So I omitted the sugar.The result was still delicious, but if I make it again I’ll use fresh pumpkin and I might actually replace the yam with more pumpkin too!


This seems like more liquids (milk, yams) than usual for a pumpkin pie. I don't want my pie to overflow on the crust, burning the pastry edge. What size pie plate should be used?

Jen in RI

This pie was absolutely delicious. I was skeptical about whether putting the filling through a strainer was worth the effort, but it made the filling velvety smooth. I followed the crust recipe to a T and it came out perfectly. My only quibble is I wasn't sure whether the pie, once filled, should still be baked on the lowest rack or moved to the middle rack. I moved it around while baking and that's probably why it took longer than the recipe states to set.


The finished crust is wonderfully crisp and tender, but I found it much harder to work with than my usual pâte sucrée recipe. I live in a very dry part of the country and needed to double the amount of liquid to make the mixture come together. The filling is rich in flavor and worth the effort.

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Pumpkin Pie With a Vodka Crust Recipe (2024)


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