Silky and rich baked pumpkin custard is like pumpkin pie without the crust. Serve it with whipped cream and chopped pecans.
This is a perfect fall dessert, flavored with vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and then a little extra cinnamon and ground ginger.
Make this simple ramekin dessert recipe at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or your next holiday gathering. They are perfectly portioned into single-servings for special occasions during the holiday season.
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- Individual dessert cups: This recipe makes four individual pumpkin custard cups.
- Crustless pumpkin pie: Say goodbye to pie crust! This custard is just like traditional pumpkin pie filling.
- Fall flavors: Pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla.
- pumpkin purée: for a delicious pumpkin flavor
- eggs: for a smooth and rich custard
- evaporated milk: for a creamy taste
- light brown sugar: packed
- pure vanilla extract: for flavor
- cornstarch: to thicken the custard
- pumpkin pie spice: a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
- salt: for flavor
- cinnamon: for added cinnamon flavor
- ground ginger: to boost the ginger flavor
- whipped cream: optional, to serve
- chopped pecans: optional, to serve
See the recipe card for quantities.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
The wet pumpkin mixture should be completely smooth.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, spices, and salt. Break up any clumps.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, whisking until well-blended. Tip: Do not let the dry ingredients clump up.
Pour the mixture into four 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups, dividing evenly.
In a 6-ounce ramekin (pictured), the custard will fill up the cups to the lower inner rim.
Place the cups in a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with high sides. Add enough warm water to the baking pan that it comes halfway up the sides of the cups. Read my water bath tips below.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set and browned lightly. Tip: The ramekins will be very hot, so handle them with care.
When set, the center will have a slight jiggle and a knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Carefully transfer the pumpkin custard to a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm, cool (room temperature), or chilled with whipped cream and pecans (optional).
How to use a water bath
This pumpkin custard recipe calls for a hot water bath. Cooking the egg custards in a water bath (also called a bain-marie) helps the heat to evenly distribute around the ramekins and prevents the eggs from curdling.
Without a bain-marie, the custard would overcook on the edges before the center has a chance to set. A hot water bath prevents a dry, rubbery texture.
The water should be warm or boiling. Hot water is closer in temperature to the oven temp than cold water. This helps create a more uniform texture.
Do not splash the water into your custard dishes. The water should come halfway up the sides of the cups.
Be careful. Fill the large pan with water while it is already in the oven to avoid spilling water. Pull out the oven rack, place the pan on the rack, then fill.
Learn more about how to make a bain-marie.
- Evaporated milk: This can be substituted with half-and-half, whipping cream, or heavy cream. Full-fat canned coconut milk is also a great option.
- Cinnamon and ginger: The added cinnamon and ginger boost these flavors. If needed, they can be replaced with ½ teaspoon of additional pumpkin pie spice.
- Pumpkin puree: For a different spin on this dish, try sweet potato puree or butternut squash puree.
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free. Most homemade custards are naturally gluten-free, but it's always important to read ingredient labels for recipe ingredients.
To make this recipe dairy-free, substitute the evaporated milk with canned coconut milk (full fat).
Make it ahead of time
Pumpkin custard can be made in advance. Fully cook and cool the custard before storing it in the refrigerator. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to three days.
To prevent a skin from forming over the top of the custard, press the plastic wrap lightly against the surface of the custard.
Baked Pumpkin Custard
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 16 fl oz evaporated milk
- ⅔ cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- whipped cream optional, to serve
- chopped pecans optional, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, spices, and salt. Break up any clumps.
- Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, whisking until well-blended.
- Pour the mixture into four 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups, dividing evenly. Place the cups in a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with high sides. Add enough warm or boiling water to the baking pan that it comes halfway up the sides of the cups.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set and browned lightly. When set, the center will have a slight jiggle and a knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Carefully transfer the pumpkin custard to a wire rack to cool.
- Serve warm, cool, or chilled with whipped cream and pecans (optional).
Combine white sugar and molasses in a small bowl. For every cup of sugar, add a tablespoon of molasses. Mix until thoroughly blended.
Custard must be cooked in a hot water bath for even cooking and a smooth texture. Without a hot water bath, the outer edges may overcook leading to an unpleasant texture.