Halloween is over, and whether you believe it or not, it’s time to start planning for the holidays. From entrées to sides and desserts, you’re going to want everything to be the best and if it’s your first holiday season cooking plant-based, it might feel a little overwhelming. Ideally, you want the food that you put forward to be just as good, if not better, than the classic versions that you grew up with.
Of course, it’s not Thanksgiving without dessert and it’s not Thanksgiving dessert without pumpkin pie.
A symbol of the harvest season, pumpkin pie is an iconic dessert for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Traditionally, it consists of a custard-like filling made from pumpkin purée, eggs, and spices atop a buttery crust, but these days, learning how to make a plant-based pumpkin pie is as easy as, well, pie. To help take some stress out of holiday planning, we’ve gathered the best tips and tricks from our Food Monster bloggers. Here they are:
When it comes to making pie, the crust is often the hardest part. Traditional pie crusts are made from flour, ice cold water, salt, and cold butter. For sweet pie crusts, you can add a little bit of sugar and spice into the mix. To make a vegan pie crust, just swap out the butter for vegan butter or cold, refined coconut oil (unrefined coconut oil might make your crust taste like coconut). Olive oil or canola oil can also be used, but a solid fat is what gives pie crusts their wonderful, flaky texture. For butter, you can make your own, like this Palm-Oil Free Butter or this Homemade Butter made from cashews or you can opt for a store-bought variety, like Earth Balance Butter Sticks or Miyoko’s European-Style Cultured VeganButter.
To make a gluten-free pie crust, you can swap out all-purpose flour for a gluten-free all-purpose flour that has a 1:1 substitution rate, like this Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour or. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pie Crust Mix. You could also try making your own blend. To learn more, read The Ultimate Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Substitution Guide or try Joyce Gan’s gluten-free pie crust blend here. You could also make a pie crust from crumbled vegan cookies, like in this Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie.
Most importantly, make sure that you keep the crust cold. Rhea Parsons suggests keeping the vegan butter (or oil), water, and even the bowl and utensils you plan on using in the refrigerator until you’re ready to get started. Since your hands will heat the dough, it’s best to use a food processor or a pastry cutter to blend everything together. When your dough is combined, roll it into a ball, flatten it, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. For even more tips and pie crust recipes, read How to Make Perfect Homemade Dairy-Free Pie Crust for Your Holiday Pies.
For No-Bake Pies
While not traditional, you could also make a no-bake pie. Typically, no-bake pie crusts are made from fruit, nuts or seeds, and sometimes oats or coconut oil. Medjool dates are the preferred fruit for making a no-bake crust, as they’re naturally soft and gooey and blend well, but Delget Noor dates or raisins work well for a budget-friendly option — just be sure to soak them in hot water for at least 15 minutes before getting started, so they blend easily.
For nuts and seeds, most will do. Cashews are a popular option, but pecans, walnuts, and sunflower seeds also work. For example, these Pumpkin Pie Cheesecakes have a crust made from Medjool dates, pecans, almond butter (instead of oil), and cinnamon. This Raw Chocolate Orange Mousse Tart has a base made from walnuts, almonds, dates, and orange zest. And these Ginger Slices have a base made from flaked coconut, coconut oil, fresh ginger, dates, almonds, oats, and vanilla. There are a lot of ways to make a no-bake pie crust and browsing our Raw Vegan Desserts recipes page is a good source of inspiration.
When making a vegan no-bake pie crust, be sure to use a springform pan, rather than a traditional pie pan. Removing a no-bake pie from a traditional pan can be a messy task.
First and foremost, if you’re making a homemade pumpkin pie, be sure to pick up a can of 100 percent pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin purée is pumpkin and only pumpkin while pumpkin pie filling includes spices and sweetener.
In a traditional pumpkin pie, eggs help with texture and they help stabilize the pie so you have clean slices instead of a runny mess. There are a quite a few ways that you can replace eggs. This Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Rum Whipped Cream uses silken tofu. This Creamy Pumpin Coconut Pie uses cashews and coconut butter for a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Egg replacers that have a 1:1 ratio are also a good idea, as in this Cinnamon Nut Pumpkin Pie. This Pumpkin Pie uses canned coconut milk. You could even use vegan cream cheese to make a pumpkin pie cheesecake, like this Spicy Pumpkin Almond Cheesecake.
Some pies also make use of starches, like cornstarch, arrowroot, or tapioca flour to make the pie filling firm, like eggs would. This Date-Sweetened Pie, for example, gives the option of adding tapioca flour.
For No-Bake Pies
There are also a few ways you can make a no-bake pumpkin pie filling, ranging from using minimal ingredients to more complicated concoctions. These Low-Fat Mini Pumpkin Pies use just pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, and dates. These Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Slices use cashews, maple syrup, pumpkin purée, coconut oil, and spices. These Mini Pumpkin Pie Cheesecakes use cashews, canned coconut milk, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, spices, and lemon juice. And these Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts use pumpkin purée, agar agar, and water.
A pumpkin pie without some kind of topping is like a sundae without the cherry. Still good, but deep down inside, you know that something is missing. So when planning your holiday dessert, don’t forget to come prepared with a topping!
Whipped cream is an obvious first choice. You can pick up a can of vegan whipped cream, to make the job easier, but making your own vegan whipped cream is surprisingly easy. Dairy-free whipped cream can be made from full-fat coconut milk or aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas). One of the most important details is, you want your tools to be cold, so chill the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer or hand mixer for about 20 minutes prior to starting. To learn the details, read How to Make Awesome Plant-Based Whipped Cream.
Other Topping Ideas
Pair your plant-based whipped cream with any of these other delicious ideas. This Open-Face Apple Pumpkin Pie is topped with cinnamon-spiced apple slices. This Pumpkin Pie is topped with candied pecans while this Chai Pumpkin Cheesecake is topped with chai-spiced candied pecans that are baked on top, resulting in a crunchy, praline-like texture. Or, just keep it simple with a drizzle of dairy-free chocolate.
Ready to get started on more holiday planning? Check out our Recipes for The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Menu.
If you need help figuring out entrées and sides, check out recipes for The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Menu: From Meatless Main Courses to Dairy-Free Pies and read up on 7 Delicious Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without the Turkey. Let us know what you’re planning in the comments below!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Date-Sweetened Pie