How to Troubleshoot Watery Pumpkin Pies

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Pumpkin pie is a staple of the fall holiday season. It doesn't feel like Thanksgiving without one. While it's technically a straightforward recipe, pumpkin pie can be tricky. At some point, most bakers fall victim to a soggy, curdled-looking filling that seeps liquid. Here are some tips for avoiding this sad pie experience.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Reasons Why Your Pumpkin Pie Might Be Watery:

  • You used fresh pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin
  • Your recipe needs more eggs
  • You docked your pie crust
  • Refrigeration before cooling
  • The pie was baked for too long
Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Canned Pumpkin vs. Fresh Pumpkin

There's nothing wrong with using either canned pumpkin or a fresh sugar pumpkin. Each has its pluses and minuses, and both are great options for pumpkin pie. However, it's important to understand that fresh pumpkin has a higher water content than canned pumpkin puree.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Strain or Reduce Fresh Pumpkin Puree

If you want to use fresh pumpkin, roast and then strain it overnight before baking it into a pie. Roasting is a better option than boiling since boiling has the potential to add even more water content. After roasting the pumpkin, briefly puree it in a food processor, then place it in a fine mesh strainer (or a colander lined with cheesecloth), and allow it to drain in the refrigerator overnight. This will remove any excess water before baking. If you're pressed for time, you can also place the puree in a saucepan and reduce it.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Add More Eggs

Pumpkin pie filling is essentially a custard. Eggs are what hold custards together. Adding an extra egg or egg yolk will help solidify a pumpkin pie recipe that is runny and won't hold its shape.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Don't Dock the Dough

Most pie recipes call for "blind baking" the dough, which means baking it before any pie filling has been added. These recipes also suggest docking the dough, which means adding numerous small holes to prevent air bubbles from forming. Pumpkin pie dough is not typically blind baked, and docking the dough will cause liquid to seep into the dough. This will create a soggy crust with liquid on the bottom.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Blot the Moisture

If the pie is placed in the refrigerator before it has completely cooled, moisture will rise to the top. This is sometimes referred to as "weeping." Simply use a paper towel or clean cloth to blot away the excess moisture.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Over-baking/High Heat

As with any custard, over-baking or baking at too high of a temperature can cause the pie to become watery and curdled. Remove the pie from the oven when it is still slightly jiggly in the center. It will continue to set as it cools.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -