10 Ways to Upgrade a Pumpkin Pie

From filling to crust, dress up this famous Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin-Pecan Streusel Pie
Photo: Helen Norman

Like turkey, gravy, and dressing, pumpkin pie has a permanent spot on the Thanksgiving table. But that doesn’t mean you have to make the same old pumpkin pie recipe every year. A lightly spiced pumpkin pie filling pairs well with so many other flavors and ingredients, like salted caramel sauce, candied nuts, streusel, coconut, and more. Read on for our best ideas and recipes.

Crumble on some streusel
A buttery, crumbled streusel topping makes a nice contrast with the pie’s smooth, creamy filling. Our simple pecan streusel comes together in one bowl and works with almost any pumpkin pie.

Decorate the crust
Love your go-to pie recipe but want to make it look a little prettier? Break out the cookie cutters and decorate your pie with piecrust cut-outs. Arrange small circles around the edge of the crust, or top the center of the pie with overlapping fall leaves. It’s a smart way to make good use of any extra piecrust—no one will complain about having extra crust to eat!

Sprinkle on coconut
Coconut pairs wonderfully with warm spices in pumpkin pie such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add swap out the vanilla for coconut extract in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe, add shredded sweetened coconut to a graham cracker pie crust, or top the pie with dollops of whipped cream topped with coconut. Or all of the above!

Drizzle on caramel sauce
One of the easiest ways to upgrade a pumpkin pie is to give each slice a generous drizzle of sweet, buttery caramel sauce. There are many good-quality jarred caramel or salted caramel sauces but making caramel sauce from scratch is a fun project that you can make with pantry staples you probably have on hand.

Add a cream cheese swirl
A swirl of cream cheese in pumpkin pie filling creates a striking marbled look—and tastes great, too. For a truly showstopping dessert, try this recipe for Pumpkin Lemon Cream Cheese Chess Pie.

Line the crust
Everyone will ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ when they see that there’s a layer of hidden goodness at the bottom of their slice of pie. Before you add bake the pie crust, top it with a mixture of crushed gingersnaps and pecans, like in our Pumpkin Pie Spectacular.

Top with candied nuts
Candied nuts are great pre-dinner snacks, but they also make a pretty pie topper too. Try sugared pecans, walnuts, or even peanuts.

Pair with chocolate
Pumpkin and chocolate are a match made in dessert heaven. Top the pie with piles of dark chocolate shavings, drizzle with fudge sauce, or make a black bottomed pumpkin pie with a layer of melted chocolate on the crust.

Top with meringue
A billowy, burnished meringue topping is an elegant way to top a classic pumpkin pie. Take it even one step further with meringue made with clover honey.

Use sweet potatoes
Instead of the usual pumpkin pie, why not try an old-fashioned Southern favorite—the sweet potato pie—instead? We love this version made with nutty browned butter.

Click here for our best pumpkin pie recipes.
Looking for other ways to use pumpkin? Try these sides, desserts, and more.
Check out our best sweet potato side dishes.