Julia Child’s Aunt Helen’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie Recipe (2024)

By Julia Moskin

Julia Child’s Aunt Helen’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie Recipe (1)

Total Time
2 hours
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This recipe was published in Parade in November 1982, when Julia Child was writing a recipe column for the magazine. As all cooks (and writers) know, Thanksgiving is an adventure and a challenge: how to come up with fresh ideas that keep the dish on the right side of tradition? In this pie, Mrs. Child’s addition of molasses, extra spices and especially bourbon breathe new life into the filling. If you like your desserts on the spicy side, add an extra tablespoon of molasses and a pinch of black pepper.

Featured in: Thanksgiving, the Julia Child Way

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Yield:Two 9-inch pies, 16 to 20 servings

  • 4eggs
  • 215-ounce cans (3½ cups) pumpkin purée
  • 1cup light brown sugar
  • 1cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3tablespoons molasses
  • 3tablespoons bourbon or dark rum (optional)
  • 3teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3teaspoons ginger
  • ¼teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼teaspoon cloves
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • ¾cup milk, more as needed
  • 2unbaked 9-inch pie shells, or one 11-inch pie shell (see recipe)

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (18 servings)

291 calories; 13 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 41 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 25 grams sugars; 3 grams protein; 309 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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Julia Child’s Aunt Helen’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 450 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Separate eggs and set aside.

  2. Step


    Using a mixer, blender or large bowl, blend pumpkin, the 2 cups of the sugars, 1 teaspoon salt, molasses, bourbon or rum (if using), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, egg yolks, cream and milk until smooth. Add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is stiff: it should be a soft purée.

  3. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until foaming. Whip in a pinch of salt, then gradually whip in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until shiny white peaks form. Beat ¼ of the whites thoroughly into pumpkin mixture; gently fold in the rest.

  4. Step


    Immediately ladle filling into the shells, filling to just below the rim of the pan. Place in oven and bake just until rim of crust begins to turn gold, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake another 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the filling 2 inches from the rim comes out clean. (The center should still be a bit wet; it will cook more as it cools.) If the rim of the crust starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminum foil.

  5. Step


    Immediately turn oven off, leave door ajar (stick in a wooden spoon to hold it open if necessary) and let sit 20 to 30 minutes more as the oven cools; this will prevent the filling from turning watery. Serve warm, or let cool, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Let pie come to room temperature before serving.



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Cooking Notes


I don't really want to buy a whole bottle of molasses and then use only 3 tbsps. Can I used all dark brown sugar instead?

Katherine R

This delicate, moist "pumpkin soufflé in a pie crust" is one of my favorites-—been making it since the late 1980s when a version was published in Julia Child's "The Way to Cook". It is both sophisticated and comforting, with the soufflé texture and the bourbon or rum and the lovely spices, and really impressive if you go for the 11-inch shell. The timed intervals to monitor the pie and lower the heat require dedication, but the result is worth the effort!

Middle agedF

I've been making this pie every year since it came out in Parade magazine. The thing I like about it is the airy texture from the beaten egg whites and the assertive spicing. Some hints:
Prebake the crust so it doesn't get soggy. My current favorite pie crust is Kenji's on Serious Eats.
Use 9" deep dish pie plates, as the filling will puff up to the top of the plate while baking and then collapse a little.
The recipe halves easily and successfully.


Everything in the recipe halves easily and there is nothing in the preparation that would make the larger quantity more successful.

Jeff Winett

May I post on my post? I have made this pie, 3 times within a 2 week period. My 3rd. rendition was the "charm" I had pondered. I did not separate and treat the whites and yolks as separate entities. The out of shell whole eggs were simply whisked and added to the filling, like most of the pumpkin pies I have baked over the years. This was the best pie yet!


Is the ginger in this recipe dried or fresh? (I assume dried but wonder whether anyone has tried grated or minced fresh.)

Kip Leitner

That's twice as much sugar as needed. Really too much. Other spices OK. Nice touch with the whipped egg whites. Good for fluff.


Absolutely, only half the sugar. Make it brown sugar. Use up the molasses: a fast and great breakfast molasses bread is in Diet For A small Planet. That's a paperback from the '60's. Find it on Ebay.


Molasses is a good one to have in your cooking arsenal. It can be used in a range of recipes, from sweet to savory -- I've been surprised to find it used even in making a number of fairly common Asian food sauces. Plus, it lasts forever.


Every November when I take out my files for the Thanksgiving holiday, I first read an old Gourmet magazine article from 1976--A Time of Plenty by Marilyn Kluger. Indiana farm circa 1939. Her grandfather can't abide a solid pumpkin pie, so grandmother whisks up egg whites with a flat whisk on a meat platter. No recipe, but there is one for grandmother's mincemeat pie, made with real boiled beef and suet.

The article always gets me in the mood to extra-please my family and guests.


without mace, it ain't pumpkin pie.
do a double blind randomized trial; ,make 2 pies, one with another without mace, have the tasters compare the 2 and the mace bearing pie will win


Thanks to the commenters who warned that the recipe was far too sweet. I made it with only brown sugar and it was quite sweet enough.

Julia Moskin

Because of the whipped egg whites, the pie needs to be filled and baked in quick succession, or the whites will deflate.

However, if you bake the pie all the way and then let it cool as described in the recipe, you can reheat it during the meal and serve warm.

Good luck!

Jeff Winett

I went in to this project thinking "how different can a pumpkin pie be?" Well, now I know. This pie is utterly sublime. The bourbon, spices, molasses, and the slightly higher amount of total sugars all played their parts in what will become our heirloom version of this seasonal treat. The pie shell absolutely needs to be a 9 inch "deep" dish rendition. I fully baked off the shell before filling. Additionally, I baked the pie at 350° for 1 hour, and then cooled.


Why would any good pumpkin pie chef use canned puree? Try the real thing like Winter Luxury Pumpkin which is easy to peel and prepare and tastes heavenly. Plus you get seeds.


Great soufflé texture. Made for Thanksgiving with Matt Beth Fritz, again with Ardell to take to Peter’s house Feb 23, 2024.

Cooking in seoul

I have a 9 inch pan, but even by halving the recipe amounts, I still got two pie worth of filling!! @@

Cooker Ree

Amazing. I made one 9" pie using 1 1/4 cups leftover baked butternut squash (no pumpkin, canned or otherwise). I expect to make this one again and again. I was able to save time by whipping the egg whites in the stand mixer and everything else in the Vitamix.


Recipe makes 3 regular 9 in pies, not 2.


Note: the eggs are separated! Too bad for me that the ingredient list didn't say so.


Has anyone made this in a springform pan? Would it work this way?


You can lighten (or fluff up) any pumpkin pie recipe by separating out the egg whites, beating them and folding them into the main mixture. I always do this, though I never use the same recipe from year to year. I don't beat them stiff, which causes cracking, but til they are soft and fluffy. Nor do I bother with beating sugar into them. Just fold them into the main mixture. I prefer the lighter texture to the traditional dense (and sometimes gummy) custard.


Just like my Grandmother used to make. Perfect. Absolutely the best pumpkin pie.


Maybe it has a great taste, but 3 tablespoon of rum or bourbon made a soup, not a custard. I wish I had seen some kind of notice to bring my attention to it so I could reduce the liquid portion. Darn!


I made this for Thanksgiving 2022 & did not like the taste of molasses. It doesn't look nearly as good if you make ahead and serve it the next day. Lastly, the dark color was unappealing


Butchered recipe. 1/2 & no crust. No molasses, beat whole eggs & all dark brown sugar until ribbons. No rum so used good French brandy, no cream so evaporated skim milk. Cooked up very soft but held shape. Flavor was super outstanding intense. Forgot mace. Custard Did not crack or weep! Leaving it to finish cooking & cooling in open oven was the key to being done but not over cooked. If add molasses I will cut back on sugar as sweetness was perfect.


Doubled spices


My family said this was the best pumpkin pie they ever had!


A lot left out like baking the shells beforehand, maybe the author takes it for granted that everyone does this, but it is not evident to everyone.Also, the amounts of ingredients given yielded enough for at least 3 pies. I followed the directions closely, something is off with the measurements here. It also says you should end up with the pumpkin mix being a "puree" consistency, mine ended up looking more like a soup, using the exact ingredients they stated to use. Disappointed.

Elizabeth F

This pie is my Thanksgiving go-to. I now switch out 1-1/2 tablespoons of the bourbon for Fireball. Don't use 3 tablespoons of Fireball. More is not better here. Skip all cinnamon in the recipe. Everything else keep the same. I agree with other comments that call for blind baking shell. It really helps take this pie to the next level.

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Julia Child’s Aunt Helen’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie Recipe (2024)


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