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Let Chef Gilligan guide you to the perfect homemade pumpkin pie for ThanksgivingGetty Images

Chef Gilligan's homemade fresh pumpkin pie recipe

It's almost time to start prepping but don't panic, Chef Gilligan's here to help.


Thanksgiving is just a day away and Chef Michael Gilligan is here to help!

It's almost time for everyone across America to start prepping for the great eating fest, but if you've decided to try your hand at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, don't panic – Chef Gilligan is here to give you a few tips to give you a jump start on your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Chef Gilligan is executive chef and owner at The Henderson Inn, North Carolina. The inn's restaurant, Harvey's, has been inspired by Michael's time at some of America's finest hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants, so he definitely knows a thing or two about Thanksgiving dinner and pumpkin pie!

Thanksgiving pumpkins. Credit: Getty Images
Thanksgiving pumpkins. Credit: Getty Images

The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for “large melon.” The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, “pumpkin.”

The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico.

While you might call them a vegetable, pumpkins are actually squash-like fruits that range in size from less than 1 pound to over 1,000 pounds. Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. In general, pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and square (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.


This homemade pumpkin pie recipe uses fresh pumpkin, which is a little more work than the classic pumpkin pie but is well worth it. In America, pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie filling can be bought ready-made in cans, but making the filling fresh creates a much nicer result.

Molasses is the secret ingredient in this recipe. It creates a wonderfully smooth, thick filling with a rich taste that mixes perfectly with the incredible flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If you can't get your hands on molasses, use treacle instead as they are basically the same thing.

This pumpkin pie recipe has true classic all-American flavours in every bite!


  • 1 pre-cooked pastry crust (you can get these in Tesco or make your own pastry using this recipe)
  • 180ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups fresh pumpkin puree (instructions below)
  • 30g melted butter, unsalted
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • 240ml cream

Read More: Roasted butternut squash, coconut, and curry soup recipe


  1. Preheat an oven to 180°C
  2. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl until frothy. Add the scalded milk, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in the pumpkin, butter, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Whisk until thoroughly blended.
  5. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake until the centre is firm, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  6. When ready to serve, beat the cream with a mixer until soft peaks form. Serve on top of the pie or in a separate bowl for individual serving.

How to make pumpkin pie filling from a fresh pumpkin:

  • Split a medium pumpkin crosswise, remove the seeds and fibres, then discard.
  • Place the pumpkin, cut side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 160°C until tender, about 1 hour.
  • Scrape the flesh away from the skin, then discard the skin.
  • Place the flesh in a blender or food processor fitted with metal blade, then process in batches until smooth.
  • Push the purée through a coarse sieve. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of purée for this recipe, then store the remaining purée in the freezer for up to six months.

* Originally published in 2010 on our sister website Irish Central

Do you have a favourite Thanksgiving recipe? Share in the comments!