Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie. Expect the extraordinary. With or without dairy. Both gluten-free.

Once every few years we take a walk on the wild side and make a different kind of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert. 

This year it’s a caramel pumpkin pie and it tastes anything but ordinary. And we prepared the pie two ways –  full of dairy and totally without any dairy. Whichever way you want to go, the pie will be fabulous. The recipe lists ingredients for both.

It isn’t hard to make caramel, but just the idea of heating sugar on the stove-top might make me anyone a little panicky. But no worries. I didn’t burn the house down (or in my case 400 other homes because we live in a matchbox apartment).

Caramel can seem scary because it stinks (literally) and smells like a fire is imminent, but it isn’t. Watch David Lebovitz show you how to do the dry method (which we use in the recipe) here.  Use a fork and drag the sugar to the center and keep the heat on medium. When you get to the part where you add the remaining caramel ingredients and the newly melted sugar turns into rock candy, don’t fret. Just keep it on the heat a bit longer and stir away until it all melts, which it will. Just keep in mind that anything you add to hot melted sugar will bubble up and since it is very hot, make sure to use a long-handled spoon, a deep-sided saucepan and pot holders.

The caramel needs to be prepared ahead of time so it has time to cool. It will end up being all liquid and keeps until you’re ready to assemble the pie. If you sense there are any solids in the caramel just strain the mixture into the remaining pie ingredients. I usually have a few left-over rock candy pieces that refuse to melt. Straining those out of the filling will save someone from breaking a tooth which is probably in some Emily Post manual about being a good hostess.

The dairy-filled crust is adapted from one that Flo Braker makes for pastry. Instead of water we are using all sour cream. The dairy-free crust uses organic shortening. Just make sure either crust is chilled before blind baking for best results. And pour the filling into the partially baked shell very carefully so the force of the liquid doesn’t break the pie crust.

Those little fancy-schmancy (but easy to make) leaf cut-outs dress up the pie and will make your mother-in-law or pesky Auntie Noe-T-All swoon at your cleverness. You know. Kind of like that neighbor who ends up at every holiday table and reminds everyone when you baked that pie and used salt instead of sugar – just at the moment when everyone is about to take that first bite of pie. But since the holiday is all about grateful-something-or-other just give out extra big servings of caramel pumpkin pie and no one will bring up the salt thing again. Until next year.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie. Expect the extraordinary. With or without dairy. Both gluten-free.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie
Whether you make the pie dairy-free or dairy-full, it is a wonderful addition to the holiday table. The caramel portion of the filling adds a nice complimentary flavor to the pumpkin and makes the pie just a little bit different from the ordinary. Just remember to melt the sugar gently until it reaches the color of an old penny. The crust will make two pies. Save half in the freezer for another time or double the filling and make two caramel pumpkin pies or use half for pretty little leaf cut-outs to decorate the pie.
  • 300 grams Canteen flour blend (2⅓ cups) (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 180 grams Spectrum Organic shortening (1 scant cup) or 195 grams unsalted butter, cold, cubed (13 tablespoons)
  • 60-100 grams ice cold water (1/3 to ½ cup) or 160 grams full fat sour cream (2/3 cup)
  • 50 grams granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 360 grams full fat canned coconut milk (1 ½ cups) or 240 grams whole milk (1 cup) plus 120 grams heavy cream (1/2 cup)
  • 50 grams brown sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup or maple syrup
  • 400 grams canned pumpkin puree (2 cups) (organic preferred)
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Canteen flour blend
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a fork blend in shortening or butter until the mixture forms uneven coarse chunks. Don’t over mix. Add sour cream, if using. Or add water, a little at a time just until the mixture mostly comes together in a ragged ball. Using clean hands knead the dough right in the bowl until the mixture comes together which should take just a few turns. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half between sheets of plastic wrap and place into a 9 to 10-inch pie pan. Save the other half by wrapping it in freezer safe plastic wrap for another pie or use it for leaf cut-outs. Set the prepared pan with the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  2. While the pie is chilling preheat the oven to 375°F. Meantime, make the filling.
  3. In a small tall sided sauce pan melt the granulated sugar over medium heat until it turns to liquid. This is the dry method of making caramel and while it seems scary – it is not. Just don’t leave the pan alone. As soon as you see it start to liquefy, using a fork, drag the dry sugar to the center. Don’t let it burn and use your nose. Once it is becomes all liquid let it turn a very nice shade of old penny copper which will happen quickly once it melts. Keep using your nose. If it smells burned, it probably is. Start over. Have the coconut milk or milk and cream, brown sugar and Lyle’s or maple syrup ready to go. Once it is melted and dark-penny brown, stir in the ½ cup off coconut or whole milk off-heat. It will bubble up so use a wooden spoon with a long handle. Add the brown sugar, the remaining coconut milk or milk and cream. Then add the Lyle’s or maple syrup. If the caramel hardens and forms clumps or rock candy like things when you add the other ingredients, just put it back on medium heat and stir until the candy melts and everything is liquid. Once it is done, let the mixture cool for at least 15 minutes before finishing the filling.
  4. Place the frozen pie crust on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Cool slightly while finishing the filling.
  5. Once you can place your hand on the bottom of the caramel pan, it is ready. In a medium bowl, mix the pumpkin with the eggs. Add the flour, vanilla, cinnamon, clove and ginger (if using). Whisk to incorporate. Add the caramel mixture and whisk to combine. Strain caramel into the pie mixture if you think it is necessary.
  6. Carefully pour filling into the partially baked pie shell while it is still on a baking sheet (pour carefully so the crust stays in one piece). If you’ve used a 9 or 10-inch pan you should use all the filling. There will be a little leftover if you used an 8-inch pan. You can bake the remaining filling in custard cups. Place pie on baking sheet in the oven and bake 15 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 325°F and bake 35-40 minutes more or until the filling in the center is set and the crust is a nice dark golden brown. Cool to room temperature on a rack.
Leaf cut-outs
  1. Roll out the remaining chilled pie dough to about ¼ inch thick and cut out small decorative leaves. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake along with the pie for about 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown depending on the size of the leaves. Cool on a rack. Add to the pie right before serving.
Canteen flour blend is 2 parts superfine brown rice flour plus 1 part each superfine white rice flour and tapioca flour by weight. See About Flour or Resources: Flour for more information.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie, gluten-free. Dairy and dairy-free options.


  1. What a gorgeous pie, Lisa! Pumpkin and caramel flavors and textures together? Swoon! 🙂 Love the comments about the pesky relatives! Hehe. Just added this to my pumpkin pie roundup on All Gluten-Free Desserts!

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks,

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      You, too! And thanks. And thanks for including us in all those great round-ups. We are certainly in good company.

  2. huntfortheverybest says:

    it looks yummy!

  3. Lisa Martin says:

    Where did you get your leaf cutters? They really make the pie look fabulous!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Lisa – Those are from Williams Sonoma, but there is also a link in the post to some that might be less spendy.


  1. […] Caramel Pumpkin Pie from Gluten Free Canteen ~ gluten free, vegetarian, with dairy-free option […]