Caramel + Browned Butter Pumpkin Pie (with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream!)

The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch | With Browned Butter and Caramel
Rich caramel and nutty brown butter step in for sweetened condensed milk in this delicious pumpkin pie recipe!

Two years ago, I had the most amazing pumpkin pie I’d ever tasted.
The crust was crispy, light, and flaky, and the custardy filling tasted of pumpkin spice, caramel and browned butter. It was from Petee’s Pie Company, and if you find yourself of the lower east side of Manhattan, you HAVE TO visit there!
After that taste of heaven, I wanted to try my hand at a pumpkin pie with caramel and browned butter, and here it is! This pumpkin pie recipe is one of my most cherished recipes, and though its a labor of love, it’s well worth the time and effort.

The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch | With Browned Butter and Caramel

Recipe Notes

Browned Butter:
Browned butter tastes like butter thats been turned into magic.
And although “browned butter” sounds super uppity, browning butter is a very simple process: Unsalted butter is melted and cooked down over low heat to eliminate any water content and toast the milk solids, turning them golden brown. Basically, ya cook butter over low heat until it is brownish in color. Be careful though that the heat isn’t too high, because burnt butter is brown too, but isn’t at all magical.

Caramel can be made two ways: dry or wet.
Dry caramel uses no water. The sugar is simply melted and cooked until it is caramelized, which happens very quickly– meaning it tends to burn easily.
Wet caramel contains water. It is much more difficult to burn, but takes longer to cook, and, its caramel-y flavor isn’t nearly as potent as dry caramel.
In this recipe, we use a hybrid caramel with just a few tablespoons of water to help keep the caramel as unburnt as Daenerys Targaryen.

Now listen, I know that making caramel is like, a whole thing, but it’s not that wild. I have never, to this day, had caramel burn or crystallize even once (knock on wood), and I’m by no means a pro, so you can do it too!

Here some caramel-making tips to help you on your way to flavor town:

  • Cook caramel in a stainless steel heavy bottomed saucepan. It is more likely to heat evenly and less likely to burn.
  • Don’t stir it. Ever. At all. I’m serious, don’t even THINK about sticking a spoon in there.
    You can gently tilt the pan, or slowly, barely swirl it.
    One more time, don’t stir it. I am the caramel police and I WILL FIND YOU.
  • Check the sides of the saucepan as the caramel cooks for sugar granules or crystals. If you see any, dip a heat-proof pastry brush in water and paint the water on the side of the pan just above the crystals to dissolve them. Rogue crystals are what cause crystallization of caramel, and rogue crystals are much more likely to form if you stir the caramel. So don’t stir it.
  • In the case of this recipe, have the ingredients for the filling measured and ready to go so you can add them to the caramel as soon as they are needed. Once the caramel reaches the perfect rich caramel color we want, it needs to be cooled down with the butter and cream so it doesn’t overcook.
    Be sure the browned butter, cream, and eggs are at room temperature. If the butter or cream are cold they will cause the caramel to seize up. This actually isn’t a huge deal– if it happens to you, put the pot back on low heat and whisk until the caramel is smooth again, then take back off the heat.
  • Last, and maybe most importantly, don’t leave the kitchen. Don’t multi-task. Stare at that caramel until its done! Caramel likes to be watched, but not touched.

Pie Crust:
I’ve got a whole bunch of details about making the Classic Pie Crust recipe here!

This pumpkin pie recipe was first published during the first month of my blog, and now the recipes, photos, and the copy have all be completely updated. This note was from my original post, (now two years old,) when I was a sweet baby angel:
If you’re feeling intimidated, don’t be.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my past year of cooking, it’s that so many of the things I thought I could never cook, I have cooked successfully. Nothing is impossible in the kitchen if you have knowledge, patience, and desire. You can do it!

Keep Scrolling For The Recipes!

The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch | With Browned Butter and Caramel
The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch | With Browned Butter and Caramel
Hubba hubba!

Caramel + Browned Butter Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Course: dessert + sweets
Servings: 1 9.5" Pumpkin Pie


  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • prepared + blind baked classic pie crust recipe below!


Brown The Butter:

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the milk solids have browned slightly and the butter begins to smell nutty and delicious. Transfer the browned butter to a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

Make The Caramel + Filling:

  • Pour the granulated sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and shake gently to level. Sprinkle the water over the sugar and set over medium heat. Do not stir. The sugar will begin to liquify as it heats, and the pan may be gently swirled once or twice to help the sugar caramelize evenly. If you spot any sugar granules or crystals on the sides of the pan, use a heat-proof pastry brush dipped in water along the side of the pot to dissolve them. (See recipe notes in the article above for more information.)
  • Cook the caramel until it is a rich caramel color, (a medium brown and no longer light golden.)
  • Move the caramel off the heat and carefully stir in the room temperature cream and the browned butter to the pan (it will bubble.) Whisk in the brown sugar and stir until smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. One at a time, whisk in the eggs.

Bake The Pie:

  • Heat the oven to 375F and set a baking sheet on the middle rack.
  • When the oven has heated, pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and shake gently to level. Bake the pie on the preheated baking sheet for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Continue to bake until the center of the pie has only a slight jiggle in the center when the pan is nudged, about 60-80 minutes more. You may need to use a pie shield or foil to protect the pie crust from burning during the last 20-30 minutes of baking. Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing and serving.
The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch | With Browned Butter and Caramel

Classic Pie Crust Recipe

Classic Pie Crust

Course: dessert + sweets
Servings: 1 9.5" Pie Shell


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 13 tbsp very cold unsalted butter cut into 8 slices (I slice mine, then chill again before using)
  • 6 tbsp ice water
  • 1 egg for blind baking


Make The Dough:

  • In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt to combine.
  • Remove the food processor lid and add the butter pieces to the flour mixture one at a time, getting a little of the flour mixture between each piece. Replace the lid and process on high for just a few seconds until the butter is broken up into petite pea-sized pieces. The mixture will look very dry.
  • Remove the food processor lid and drizzle 5 tbsp of the ice water over the top of the mixture. Replace the lid and pulse a few times until the mixture is the texture of cornmeal. It will still look very dry, and not at all like a dough, which is good.
  • Remove the lid and pinch the mixture between your pointer finger and thumb. If the mixture holds together, your pie dough is ready to chill. If it doesn’t hold together, add 1-2 tsp more of the ice water, pulse a few times, and do the pinch test again. (Be careful not to add too much water, you want the mixture to stay dry and not become wet and sticky.)
  • When the dough has passed the pinch test, prepare a large sheet of cling wrap. Pour the mixture out onto the cling wrap, then gather the corners of the cling wrap together to pull the mixture together into a ball. (You don’t need to squeeze it together, let the cling wrap gently pull it together.) Chill the dough ball 30 minutes in the refrigerator before rolling.

Roll The Dough:

  • When you’re ready to roll, remove the pie dough ball from the fridge and allow to sit out 5 minutes to thaw a bit. Flatten the ball slightly to form a disk. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough, turning the dough 90 degrees every few rolls. This will prevent sticking and keep the thickness even all over. Add more flour to your surface as needed as you roll and turn.
  • Roll the dough to ⅛” thick circle, about 11-11.5” in diameter. (You can check the size by inverting your pie plate onto the center of the dough. There should be about 1.5-2” of excess dough surrounding the edge of the pie plate.)

Shape The Dough In The Pie Pan:

  • To transfer the dough to the pie pan, place your rolling pin on on side of the dough. Lift the edge of the dough and gently drape over the rolling pin. Continue to lift the dough off the surface, letting it drape over the rolling pin for support, until the rolling pin has reached the center of the dough and the dough is essentially folded in half with the rolling pin in the center of the fold. At this point, lift the dough by the rolling pin in its folded formation and drape over your pie pan.
  • Center up the dough, then loosely and gently nestle the dough into the pie pan, trying not to stretch the dough. Gently press the dough into the bottom, corners, and sides of the pie pan. Fold any overhanging dough along the edges under itself, then crimp the edge as desired. Freeze the dough in the pie pan for 20 minutes before baking.

Blind Bake The Dough:

  • Heat the oven to 425F with a baking sheet on the center rack. When the oven has heated, remove the pie dough from the freezer. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or rice, being sure the corners and sides of the pie dough are filled and weighed down.
  • Transfer directly to the preheated baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes, or until the top edge of the crust is just slightly golden brown.
  • Remove the pie crust from the oven and remove the pie weights, beans, or rice by lifting the parchment by all four corners and setting aside. The crust will still look wet and raw on the bottom.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 2 tsp water vigorously for 1 minute, or until well combined and slightly lightened in color. Brush the bottom, sides, and top edge of the crust with the egg wash. Bake the pie crust on the heated baking sheet 5-8 minutes more, or until dry and shiny. Allow the pie shell to cool completely before filling.
Tender, Flaky Homemade Pie Crust Recipe | How To Make Easy Pie Crust From Scratch
I’ve never worked so hard on anything as I did on this crimped pie crust edge.

Whipped Cream Recipe

Whipped Cream

Servings: 6 Servings


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  • Chill the mixing bowl (glass or stainless steel) and whisk attachment or beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the cream and sugar to the chilled bowl and beat on medium-high speed until medium-stiff peaks are formed.


Leftover whipped cream can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. Whisk for 10 seconds before reusing.
Easy Small Batch Homemade Whipped Cream Recipe | Easy and Quick with Heavy Cream and Sugar
I added one vanilla bean, split and scraped, to this whipped cream for a little extra zhuzh.
Too bad vanilla beans are like $800 each or I’d do it all the time!

Looking For More Festive Recipes? Check these out!

The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Scratch | With Browned Butter and Caramel
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