It’s almost Thanksgiving, and you’re in the mood to bake a pumpkin pie. You’ve got all the ingredients and tools set out on your countertop, and you’re getting excited about creating an edible representation of how thankful you are for this year.
So you pull out your recipe and get ready to start mixing things up in the kitchen. But then something happens: Your pie doesn’t set!
In fact, it seems like it’s still liquidy even after one hour of baking time has passed. Not only is this disappointing, but it also means that your pie isn’t going to taste very good either!
Luckily, there are some easy fixes for your pumpkin pie not setting. Let’s go over them!
Why Is My Pumpkin Pie Not Setting?
There are several causes for a pumpkin pie not setting. Don’t worry though, this is a pretty common issue most people face.
Fortunately, there are steps you can do to avoid this happening again and maybe salvage the situation before it’s too late!
Now, let’s take a look at possible reasons your pie isn’t setting and what you can do about it.
1 – You Didn’t Bake It for Long Enough
One of the most common reasons a pie doesn’t set is that it was not baked long enough. If your pumpkin pie is undercooked, the custard will not set. This will result in a runny, jiggly filling.
If this is the case for you, simply stick your pie back in the oven for a few more minutes to finish baking. Repeat the process if needed.
Make sure to keep an eye on your pie to prevent it from overcooking! A good rule of thumb is to take it out of the oven before it’s completely cooked.
This is because pies actually tend to finish setting as they cool outside of the oven. Of course, this is only applicable when you’re certain the pie has been cooked long enough.
2 – The Temperature Was too High
Another common cause is the temperature at which you bake the pie was too high. Generally, the crust cooks more quickly than the filling, so it’s easy to overbake it before the filling has set.
When the temperature is too high or your pie is overcooked, the custard will curdle and crack, resulting in a watery pie.
With that said, the recommended temperature for a pumpkin pie is 350˚F or 180˚C.
If your baked pies are coming out of the oven with runny centers and burnt crusts, there are a few easy tricks you can try that should help solve the problem.
- Reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.
- Increase the cooking time by five minutes.
- Increase the baking pan size by one inch.
- Use a glass pie plate instead of a metal one (this will allow more heat to escape).
- Use a pie crust shield to protect the edges of your crust (this is especially helpful if you’re using an aluminum foil shield).
3 – You Didn’t Use Enough Eggs
Do you know how eggs are runny when they’re raw but then harden when they’re cooked? That’s exactly what happens when you incorporate eggs into your pie filling.
They help in the pie’s solidification and setting. This is why most pie recipes ask for three to four eggs.
Some people skip the eggs in the recipe because they’re afraid the pie would taste eggy, but it doesn’t! Others make the mistake of using the incorrect-sized eggs.
You’d think egg size wouldn’t matter, but you wouldn’t be more wrong!
So, if a recipe asks for three large eggs, don’t substitute them with small ones. If small-sized eggs are the only ones available, add an extra one to the mix!
4 – You Used Fresh Pumpkin Instead of Canned
Another reason your pie isn’t setting is that you used fresh pumpkin instead of canned. While there’s nothing wrong with either, fresh pumpkin might be tricky at times.
This is because each pumpkin is different. Some pumpkins, for example, have a higher water content than others. Others have more sweetness to them.
It’s worth noting, however, that fresh pumpkin always has higher water content than canned pumpkin. This may result in extra moisture in your pie, which doesn’t help it set.
To save time and energy, use canned pumpkin puree instead.
Pro tip: If you choose to use fresh pumpkin, I’d recommend roasting it rather than boiling it. This ensures that you’ve removed as much excess moisture as possible.
After all, you want a dry pumpkin puree, not a wet one.
5 – You Refrigerated It Too Soon
Your pie is done, and it looks like a buttery, flaky piece of art. However, it’s not time to serve it yet. You’d think that popping it in the fridge would be a reasonable idea.
After all, there’s nothing better than a cold pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. Yum! However, putting your pie in the fridge right away is one of the worst things you can do!
By doing so, you’re preventing the steam in the pie from evaporating. As a result, the pie will become soggy and moist by the time it’s ready to serve.
What you should do instead is allow the pie to cool down at room temperature for a few hours before sticking it in the fridge.
How Do I Know When My Pie Is Done?
If you’re new to baking or have never made a pumpkin pie from scratch, it can be tricky to tell when your pie is finished.
You can tell if your pumpkin pie is cooked just right by the way it jiggles. A perfectly set pumpkin pie should be slightly softer than gelatin and will jiggle just a little in the center when you move the pan around.
If your pie is wiggling like crazy in the middle, it’s probably undercooked and needs more time to bake. If your pumpkin pie is hard and doesn’t move at all when you shake the pan, then you’ve overcooked it!
Besides the jiggle test, there are other methods you can use to check if your pie is done.
1 – Check the Color
When a pumpkin pie is fully cooked, the filling darkens slightly in color. In addition, the crust becomes a beautiful golden brown.
Although the color difference may not be noticeable at first, you’ll get the hang of it with more practice.
2 – Use an Oven Thermometer
A quick and easy way to know if your pie is done is by inserting an oven thermometer in the center. If the thermometer reads 180°F, then your pie is ready!
3 – Try the Toothpick Method
I use this method for all of my pies, cakes, and muffins. And it works like a charm! Simply insert a toothpick right in the center of your pie.
If the toothpick comes out clean, then your pie is done. You don’t necessarily have to use a toothpick; a skewer or a cake tester would suffice.
I hope these tips gave you a hand in getting your pumpkin pie set. Remember, baking at a lower temperature is always preferable to baking at a higher temperature.
This will save the situation and ensure that your efforts don’t go to waste. But, even if there’s no turning back, don’t throw in the towel just yet!
With time and practice, the whole baking process will be easy as pie!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.