Yes, You Can Make Pumpkin Pie Without Evaporated Milk

November 25th, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Short or Sweet

Today let’s be thankful for leftovers.

Pumpkin Pie Without Evaporated Milk

I made pumpkin pie this year! Until this week, the only thing I knew about pumpkin pie was that I liked to eat it.

Therefore, as a pumpkin pie newbie (and a girl without a lot of extra energy to spare right now), I decided to go with the tried and true recipe on the side of the can of Libby’s pumpkin puree.

And it looked simple enough. Pumpkin, sugar, spices, eggs… a can of evaporated milk?

While I’m sure I’ve eaten plenty of pumpkin pie made with evaporated milk (and I’m sure I wouldn’t turn a piece down if someone handed it to me either) I did want to find a substitute ingredient for that questionable can of evaporated milk since I was the one making it this time.

A little digging around the web and looking at lots of pumpkin pie recipes, I discovered Yes! You can definitely replace the evaporated milk for something that feels more like “real food” if you so desire.

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie (without evaporated milk)

3/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs, beaten
1 15 oz can of pure pumpkin
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
1 c of heavy cream (or milk for fewer calories)

Preheat oven to 425, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat eggs, stir in pumpkin and then sugar mixture. Gradually stir in milk and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, reduce temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 40 to 50 or until knife comes out clean. If your knife refuses to come out clean even after 55 minutes, call your grandmother to find out if this is normal. (And Grandma said yes, this is normal.)

If you get a can of Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin, it basically says the exact same thing on the label. Except for that last part about Granny.

I made two pies yesterday. One for my mom’s house, and one to leave here so leftovers were assured. One was made with heavy cream, one with 2% milk. Both pies tasted as good as any pumpkin pie I’ve ever had, I couldn’t even tell the difference between the two. Both pies have had MORE heavy whipping cream heaped on top… heavy cream whipped with a little sugar and vanilla of course.

So if you’ve never made a pumpkin pie before and you find yourself wondering if you can skip buying that can of milk when you’re looking at the directions on the side of the pumpkin can? Why yes, as a matter of fact as you can.


**Update Thanksgiving 2013

I modified this recipe to use 3 eggs and 3/4 c cream.  I had no issue with getting the knife to come out clean after 50 minutes, it set up beautifully!

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70 Responses

  • Lisa says:

    How interesting about the evaporated milk! That stuff is so weird and creepy….agh.

    So…if I ever make a pumpkin pie (which might happen, someday), I’ll know to sub in the heavy cream :)

    Glad Grandma was there to answer your question!

    • Jeanine says:

      I did a search this year for pumpkin pie without evaporated milk ONLY because neither my daughter nor I can drink milk! Thank you for the info.! I wish I had thought about searching in years past. I will substitute with rice (milk) =) Sidenote: there’s a recipe for pumpkin apple pie using apple pie filling (I canned some this year) that I think I’ll try now =)

      • Hey Jeanine, I bet rice milk would work here, I sub non-dairy milk in various recipes sometimes too and would venture a guess that rice milk would be a fine substitute. Report back with your results if you like, I’d love to know how it turns out! Maybe you can help another dairy free pumpkin pie lover out there!

        Pumpkin apple pie?! Is it Thanksgiving yet? I’m hungry!

  • Hi, mama!

    Now that you have Libby’s great recipe, you might want to consider using a different brand of canned pumpkin next year (or puree your own). Libby’s is owned by Nestle, and there’s a boycott on because of Nestle’s infant formula marketing practices that violate World Health Organization standards.

    I don’t want to rain on your gorgeous pumpkin pie! But thought you & your readers might like to know.

  • Duby says:

    thank you so much for this blog post !!!!!! do you know how often ive skipped recipes because of that darn Evaporated milk situation ?!?!?!?!?!

    a million thank yous —

    Have a wonderful HOliday season !!!

  • Gabby says:

    I was just wondering, for the part where it says that it’s normal for the knife not to come out clean even after 55 minutes, does that mean leave it in longer until the knife does come out clean, or does it mean to take the pie out and it’ll firm up on its own?

  • Hannah says:

    This is the best pumpkin pie recipe EVER. I always come back to this site to use it, it’s fabulous! Evaporated milk is disgusting, I never use it unless I absolutely have to. Also, just using cinnamon and nutmeg works just as well, but cloves are also a good touch. Do you have a good dough recipe, that uses oil instead of butter or lard?

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  • Jess says:

    Great recipe. Thanks for experimenting and publishing. Yours was the first post up in google when I asked the question matching your headline. I had everything but evaporated milk and needed help. It’s delicious and I can’t tell the difference at all!

  • Robert Lasher says:

    Glad to find this. A lot of dieters in our midst this year. Trying substituting the Truvia baking mix: stevia/sugar to lower the calories and carbs. Also baking in smaller glass containers so people can have a “whole” pie to themselves. We’ll se how this turns out.

  • Robert Lasher says:

    Just for the record, the truvia baking mix was NOT a hit, although I happened to like it.

  • kendra says:

    Thanks for the recipe for the pumkin pie In the evaporated milk Phosphateis in it. My husband cannot have.

  • jen says:

    Now I know myself I’d rather use heavy cream (with the extra calories) or milk.. but I’m curious what’s questionable about evaporated milk? Or am I too trusting in believing that it’s really just what it says it is? hehe

    • It’s just too processed. Milk in a can at room temperature on the shelf for 12 – 15 months? That’s just… not what milk is supposed to be. What are they doing to the milk to make it shelf stable? I don’t know, and the fact that that question even comes to mind means I’m leaving it behind!

      (Although I suppose it’s no worse than cheese in envelope in a box of Mac and Cheese, something that definitely appears in our pantry from time to time…)

  • Jan says:

    Hi there. I too was looking to substitute evaporated milk in my pumpkin pie recipe. Just wondering what the sub proportions should be if using pumpkin pie filling? It calls for 1/3 cup of evaporated milk. Would that be 1/3 cup of milk then? I appreciate your input on this and thank you in advance!

  • Jan says:

    I don’t have a website. Sorry!

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  • Dani Hale says:

    Just an FYI evaporated milk is simply milk that has been simmered to reduce it’s water content. Just like you would reduce a sauce or other liquid. It is used because it is richer than regular milk. Nothing questionable about it.

    • Thanks Dani. I’m afraid I still find milk in a can on the shelf questionable – it contains additives and preservatives like carrageenan. If someone really wanted to use evaporated milk in pumpkin pie (or any recipe) making your own evaporated milk at home from quality dairy seems like a simple thing to do and is a better option than buying what’s on the store shelves.

      • Sarah says:

        The reason I have been looking for an alternative is because of the carrageenan too, can you believe that in Canada all cream has carageenan as well? So I will try with regular 1% today, and see how it works!

  • Thanks so much for letting me know that I can skip the cans of evaporated milk! I would always buy a few too many and they’d expire. Did you know you can easily make and freeze your own pumpkin puree?

    Hollow out a pumpkin (that will fit in your oven) as if you were going to carve it. Pop the lid back on, put it on a dish with sides (like a 9×13 pan, or a deep baking sheet because lots of liquid can come out while you bake the pumpkin). Bake at 375 for 2 hours.

    Once the pumpkin has cooled a little, you can cut it into pieces, peel off the rind, and puree it in a blender or food processer. I freeze mine in 2-cup portions because that’s what my pie recipe calls for.

  • Jody Noel says:

    Thank you so much for this great recipe! I was looking for one without evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk because I don’t even know what that stuff is! I figure if I don’t know what it is, it isn’t ‘from scratch’ enough for me. I used freshly roasted & pureed pumpkin and the heavy cream. It was delicious!

  • Michael Biggs says:

    Substituting heavy cream for the evaporated milk is the start of a GREAT pumpkin pie recipe. It increases the fat. The spices should be SLIGHTLY adjusted because of that. This can be done by adding the same spices in very small amounts to the whipped cream that will be used as a topping. The texture will stay better longer with heavy cream.

    These simple changes turn a $10 pie into a $40-$50 pie.

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  • Jean says:

    I have to admit I’m really disappointed. I shouldn’t really eat dairy, and since I am new to making pumpkin pie, i didn’t buy evaporated milk. Trust me, as bad as it is more me in so many ways, I think it’s amazingly delicious, and I would have used it. I assumed the eggs were what was going to hold this pie together, but it never really set up, it just mush. Very tasty mush, but mush. I will never skip the evaporated milk again, or I will just make a different pie.

    • What a bummer. It looks like some people here had good luck with rice milk, perhaps you could try a non-dairy milk dairy next time? I would consider coconut milk, almond milk or even applesauce could be worth a try.

  • Ann Webb says:

    Thank you for this!! I think probably Libby’s was giving a shout out to their own companies as ingredients when they required Evaporated Milk as a “necessity”! I’m looking for this on Thanksgiving morning in the UK where it’s difficult to find Libby’s pumpkin pie filling and now that I have it, had forgotten the evap. milk!! Good to know I don’t need it. Interesting what we grow up assuming.

    • Jeanine says:

      This year we substituted evaporated milk for almond milk because two of us are lactose intolerant. Couldn’t tell a difference once again. Last year we used rice drink =)

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  • natalie rivera says:

    Im vegan so im using almond milk :)

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