Liddie’s Traditional New Mexican Dishes: Pumpkin Pie

Video demonstrating how to make pumpkin pies. Created by Liddie Martinez

Pumpkins for making a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner and any other time. Photo by Liddie Martinez

Española Valley

We have talked quite a bit about pumpkins and squash and traced the origins of the first gourds to northeastern Mexico as early as 8000 BC. So, while pumpkins in all their culinary forms have an ancient history in our southwest surroundings, using pumpkin in the form of a pie is relatively new around here.  Introduced by European Colonists, pumpkin pie is a new family favorite, relatively speaking, and very easy to make. 

There are a million shortcuts to engage in if this particular recipe poses a challenge, including taking advantage of commercial bakeries but, I implore you to use the Halloween Pumpkin at least once with a young child when the Jack-o-lantern’s lights have gone out. It is an experience every young person should try as it leads into the magical transformation from scary object to delicious dessert.

It is also next to free! Just scrape out all the burned or smokey pulp to discard before baking sections (flesh side down) at 400° for 1 hour and 15 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to cool slightly so that you can handle it then have the kids scoop out the flesh into a container. They can watch as you whirl it around in a food processor then transfer into a strainer. Place a small plate on top of the pulp and weigh it down with a canned product. Make sure a bowl is in place underneath to capture the excess juice to discard. You can do this overnight and make the pie in the morning.

I lived on a farm in my childhood where nothing went to waste. Our homegrown Halloween pumpkins became pies, empanadas and soup. In these strange COVID times, it is important to teach self-sufficiency as much as possible to our young people. Make it a fun and delicious experience! Just remember smaller pumpkins are easier to manage and more flavorful.

Pie Crust

2 Cups all-purpose flour

¾ Cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt

1 ½ Cups ice cold water, more or less

Mix flour and salt together and cut butter into flour using pastry blender. This is where your time should be spent. Keep at it until the mixture looks like coarse sand. There will be pieces of butter visible in the dough; that is ok.

About the liquid, you will never use the exact same amount of water in your crust. Weather, level of humidity, how your house is heated will all factor into the amount of water required. I always prep plenty of ice water and then water a plant with the remainder.

Never knead pie crust! When you add the water, do it in small quantities. Rake your finger through the mixture and around the bowl until a dough ball comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling or overnight.

Pumpkin Filling

2 Cups pumpkin, cooked, mashed and drained

1 ½ cups heavy cream or evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cloves

Roll out using bench flour on surface and line pie plate with pastry, trimming off the excess. Flute edges and fill with pumpkin mixture.

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl beat eggs and add mashed pumpkin, sugar salt, and spices and mix well. Add milk and combine until mixture is even in color and smooth. Pour into pastry lined pie plate and bake for 15 minutes at 425° F then reduce heat to 350° F and bake for 50 minutes.

Cool completely before serving.

Editors note: Liddie Martinez is an award winning author. Her bestselling Chile Line Cookbook: Historic Recipes of Northern New Mexico, is available online at

Thanksgiving desserts created by Liddie Martinez. Photo by Liddie Martinez