best moist but structural vegan pumpkin pie recipe?
December 24, 2009 9:48 PM   Subscribe

My ideal pumpkin pie is very moist, not too sweet, and quite structural. Is it possible to achieve this in a vegan recipe?

We have a can of pumpkin in the cupboard. I'd love to whip up a pie. I have silken tofu, Bob's Red Mill egg replacer, tapioca starch, sugar, soy milk, rice milk, soy yogurt, bananas, and coconut milk "drink".

Does anyone have experience with a vegan (no eggs or condensed milk) pumpkin pie recipe that's delicious and moist, and solid at room temperature?

My previous attempts have either not gelled or have been kind of like eating dehydrated sugary pumpkin sediment - better than my description sounds, but not what I want. On reflection, I think that my favorite non-vegan pumpkin pies have had a lot of egg to provide the structure to keep them thick and moist while holding their shape when cut (and providing decent mouth feel).
posted by amtho to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Solid at room temperature... for how long?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:31 PM on December 24, 2009

So I guess you probably don't have any... but, agar agar and xanthan gum make an excellent gelling combination. Together, they'll set practically anything. And they're vegan. Well, the xanthan comes from microorganisms. But you probably eat yeast, so it's okay.

Get the agar at the Asian store (or the Asian section of a really well-stocked grocery store). Xanthan gum is available in the "gluten free" baking section of your local hippie-dippie-yuppie grocery store (although my local Albertson's has it).
posted by Netzapper at 10:49 PM on December 24, 2009


The most important thing about making a vegan custard pie is to cook the filling first. Why? Because you're most often using starch to thicken the pie and activating the starch while baking at 350 is hit-or-miss. The amount of starch depends upon the amount of fluid to thicken, I think I usually end up with ~4 tablespoons of cornstarch for a pie, but you actually have to watch the filling thicken to know.

So you're going to make your crust, lay it out all happily in the dish, then cook your filling until it's the appropriate thickness, pour it in and bake until the crust is ready. The filling should already be fine to eat; when you're cooking a nonvegan custard pie filling you're doing so to set the eggs, which you don't need to worry about here, so as long as the filling tastes okay, it's ready.

The last round of pumpkin pie I made benefited from a soft vegan 'cheese' (a cream cheese replacer or sometimes sour cream or basically anything that's got a thick structure at room temp). This made the pie itself thicker but also added a lot of flavor which is missing if you just use pumpkin + starch.

Silken tofu is probably the easiest way to make a vegan pumpkin pie, but I avoid it since the resulting pie also often tastes like soy beans. You'll be using tofu in place of most of the milk and the eggs in a traditional recipe so first try blending the tofu and pumpkin, sugar, spices and see if it has the texture you want. If not, you need starch and need to follow the directions above about cooking.

You can also use agar and/or xanthan gum as stated above. It's hard to get the right balance of agar and pumpkin and you can easily end up with a pie that's gelatinous in a bad way. I've not used xanthan gum, but it has a reputation of being the easiest thickener to work with.
posted by beerbajay at 4:10 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wonderful, helpful answers that advance vegan science! Thank you! I'm still interested in more, of course. beerbajay, thanks for all the info on thickeners. I agree with you about the tofu, too, and the idea of using the vegan cream cheese or sour cream is interesting (I just learned a recipe for stuffed shells that used a silken tofu / sour cream / nutritional yeast combination for a "ricotta" filling, and it was pretty good).
posted by amtho at 8:30 AM on December 25, 2009

Well, since you ignored my question, I'll post a recipe for some other vegan should they come across the thread:



1 cup coconut meat (fresh is best, but canned is okay)
3/4 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup coconut butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup date paste
2 cups carrot juice
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours or more
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp sea salt

Throw all that in a blender and blend until smooth.

If you want to go store-bought with the crust, just by a Keebler graham cracker crust and coat it with some of that egg nonsense and bake it for 5 mins (or whatever the instructions on the crust say).

Pour blended concoction into your crust. Put in the fridge for 3 hours to set and then it should be good to go at room temperature for several hours.

Note that the more coconut butter/oil (which is not milk or drink) you use, the faster it will set and the longer it'll stay that way... but the more coconut flavored it'll be. The prescribed amount should be masked by other flavors but if you don't mind coconut taste with your pumpkin pie, add a bit more for more structure.

I'd post a vegan crust, but gotta run.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:29 AM on December 25, 2009

Vegan crust is easy-peasy. Take a normal flaky pie crust recipe (a good one, like from Joy of Cooking) and replace a hard margarine for butter. Done. Don't fuck around with vegans trying to reinvent a basic foodstuff.

Also, although agave nectar and dates and soaked cashews and coconut are all really tasty, you don't need to use them to get a respectable pie.
posted by beerbajay at 1:06 PM on December 25, 2009

Vegan and gluten-free: Gluten-free Goddess or FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

You should be able to make the second recipe with what you have in the house already. :)
posted by nyxie at 1:23 PM on December 25, 2009

I apologize, but I am in a near-hallucinogenic state from flu medications, otherwise I'd give you several detailed recipes. Instead I'll cut to the chase:

1. Find the classic canned-pumpkin-and-condensed-milk recipe. (this recipe should contain no eggs)
2. Replace the condensed milk with your favorite brand of vanilla soy/rice ice cream substitute. The x-cream will need to be warmed at room temperature just enough to allow you to fold it into the rest of the filling. DON'T MELT IT, or warm it in a microwave. Just get it soft enought to work with.

Ice cream is soft (and not a hard chunk of ice) because of all of the tiny air bubbles that are stirred into it as it freezes. When you melt the ice cream in your oven (to set the pie filling) all the air bubbles escape. This leaves you with a velvety - sometimes moussey- texture. Best pumpkin pie ever.

Also, almost all store-bought graham cracker pie crusts are vegan. (even though most store-bought graham crackers aren't) Cheap and easy, and great for experimenting.
posted by Anoplura at 12:41 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You Should See the Other Guy - Sorry, didn't mean to ignore your question. The idea of a pie that was solid only as long as it took to melt didn't occur to me, and I wasn't sure if you were serious, or how to respond to your question. My bad -- obviously you were serious!

Thanks for the recipe - you too, Anoplura.
posted by amtho at 6:56 AM on December 26, 2009

Response by poster: Post script: Here are some promising links I found by accident while searching for something else:

Vegan pumpkin cheesecake (bottom of page)

Vegetarian Times' vegan pumpkin pie - not sure how moist this will be.
posted by amtho at 5:46 PM on December 27, 2009

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