The Best Vegan and Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

butternut squashed vegan pumpkin pie

Since my senior year in high school, Thanksgiving at my mom’s house meant Thanksgiving with her shady boyfriend.  Although my mom liked to pretend he was my step-dad, I wanted nothing to do with him and his Coors Light addiction.  I did not attend one Thanksgiving Day dinner at my mom’s house, for all the eleven years she was with him.

I coped by baking my mom’s pumpkin pie recipe every single year, wherever I went.

Since I was born, my mom had always used the same pumpkin pie recipe every Thanksgiving.  It was from the Betty Crocker cookbook she got from a mail order book club she joined soon after she married my pappy (that’s my dad, not my grand-dad).  It had a red-orange hard cover, and sported a blackened burn mark on the front of it.  Every year, even after she met the Coors Light Drinker, she would roast a humongous butternut squash in the oven, mash it up, and use it in place of the pumpkin in Betty’s recipe.  This was a little Pennsylvania Dutch secret for making the best pumpkin pie, and my mom knew it well.

I made her exact version for the first four Thanksgivings I spent away from her.  I made it in Texas.  I made it in New York.  I made it in New Jersey.  I made it in Pennsylvania.  The fifth year away was my first Thanksgiving being archerfriendly.  I still made her version then, because I loved it so much and I thought that being a-f was a temporary gig.  When the 6th Thanksgiving rolled around, I had been archerfriendly for over a year.  I made an exception that year, just for her pie. This Thanksgiving was spent with my (future) husband’s professional bagel baking family in south Jersey, and they loved her pie.  What I loved most was that I could bring a little bit of my mom everywhere I went.

By the 7th Thanksgiving away from my mom, I had been a-f for over two years.  It was time to bless my body with food it liked, so I started the arduous process of making it low glycemic and allergy friendly.  The original a-f butternut squashed pumpkin pie had dairy and eggs in it.  It was sweetened with one tablespoon of honey and a big pinch of stevia.

butternut squashed vegan pumpkin pie

Things got knotty when the pie needed to be free of dairy and eggs.  I was having the hardest time making a low glycemic pumpkin pie without sugar, dairy, eggs, or soy.  I even tried putting pureed white beans in it to make it work.  Fail.  Then I stumbled upon this recipe, which gave me the buckwheat idea.  Then I investigated how Flying Apron made their vegan pumpkin pie — they use an apricot puree in their cookbook.

Most vegan pies are too sweet for my blood sugar, so I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to work. But it did… wonderfully. Amazing.  Wendy’s eating husband approved!

I sweetened the pie with 15 unsulphured organic Turkish apricots.  I feel like a sugar traitor for allowing this much fruit “sugar” in my pumpkin pie.  However, if you make this pie with my pumpkin seed crust, your blood sugar may fare well.  The protein in the crust, given by the pumpkin seeds in lieu of a starchy refined flour, will help to balance the sugars from the apricots.  And, if the fast food taste bud spouse approves, maybe you shouldn’t change the recipe.

Because I used buckwheat, the pie develops a little bit of a skin during the baking process.  I wish it wasn’t there, especially because it easily darkens in the oven, but after 46 tweaked recipes, I had to stop somewhere.  I’m practicing anti-perfectionism by making peace with my pumpkin pie’s imperfections.

Eleven years of cathartic pumpkin pie making have given me a treasured allergy friendly, lightly sweetened, beloved pumpkin pie.  I almost gave up on my pie.  I almost gave up on my mom. Thankfully, I now have both.

butternut squashed vegan pumpkin pie

Betty Crocker Pumpkin Pie vintage recipe

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8 Responses

  1. Pragati

    Lots of blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is my favorite!


    Dr. Archer

    Thanks, Pragati. Blessings to yours as well!


  2. Rebecca - we are large people

    What a great post, Archer! Definitely my favorite post of yours, ever.

    I may have to try the butternut squash instead of pumpkin. I sure do love me some butternut squash!


    Dr. Archer

    Oh, Rebecca. Thank you so much for the encouragement. This type of post is my favorite way to write — combining my life with a recipe with a little science.

    Yes. Do try the butternut squash in your pie! Let me know how it works out for you if you do.


  3. Diane Squyres

    I love your post! You had a little bit of your mom on Thanksgiving…precious. I’m copying my used recipes and you may have the book.


  4. Helen

    I will never forget my first and last Thanksgiving dinner at your Mom’s in the middle of summer. (Hi Diane! You were really good to me when I was at your house :)) I’m even thinking of celebrating Thanksgiving here this year! Blessings on you and your family, and well done for finding a way to make a great Archerfriendly pumpkin pie. Keep up the good work of blessing your body!


  5. Diane Squyres

    I love you ..


  6. Jackie

    Im so excited to try this recipe! Im not vegan though are you willing to post the original recipe? That includes dairy?


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