Pumpkin Pudding is made from scratch on the stovetop in only a few minutes! Similar to custard, it tastes like pumpkin pie but lighter, cooler, and creamier, making it the ideal dessert for after a heavy meal (like Thanksgiving). Best of all- you can make it ahead of time for a fuss-free dessert recipe everyone will love! I like layering it with crumbled gingersnaps and topping with whipped cream.
Is it blasphemous for me to suggest skipping pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving in favor of this pudding? Maybe. But honestly, I almost never have room for heavy pie after stuffing my face with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
This pumpkin pudding has all the taste of pumpkin pie but the cool, creamy, light texture is so good after a big meal. And it’s a delicious sweet treat any time- not just on Thanksgiving!
You only need 15 minutes to whip up a batch of this pumpkin pudding, and then just refrigerate it (for at least two hours) until you’re ready to eat. You can even assemble individual portions ahead of time in dessert glasses or stemless wine glasses, layered with crumbled gingersnaps, all ready to go for your guests.
And this homemade pumpkin pudding recipe is made entirely from scratch with only a few ingredients – no pudding mixes or sweetened condensed milk here!
Ingredients for Pumpkin Pudding
- Whole milk – I don’t recommend low fat, since this is dessert, but you can use it if you really want to. Half and half would also work for a richer version.
- Pumpkin puree – the canned stuff. NOT pumpkin pie mix- just pureed pumpkin.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix – here’s how to make your own pumpkin pie spice with ingredients already in your pantry.
- Sugar – plain old white sugar is great, but brown sugar will also work (the color of the pudding will be darker if you use brown sugar).
- Cornstarch – this is crucial for thickening it.
- Salt – just a pinch, to help balance the sweetness.
- Egg yolks – you can use 2 whole eggs in place of 4 egg yolks if you really want, but the texture won’t be the same and the color won’t be as rich. Just throw the leftover egg whites in a frittata or quiche so they don’t go to waste!
- Vanilla Extract – you can omit this if you like, or use maple extract instead.
- Salted butter – this is stirred in at the end for a delicious rich flavor and texture. Use unsalted if you like, with a pinch more salt in the pudding itself.
How to make Pumpkin Pudding from Scratch
- MIX pumpkin puree, milk, and pumpkin pie spice mix in a medium sized pot and heat on the stovetop.
- MIX sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle milk in gradually and whisk together until it’s super smooth. Add the egg yolks and mix together until everything is well combined.
- Ladle some of the hot pumpkin mixture into the egg yolk mixture and stir/whisk constantly, to temper (warm up and partially cook) the eggs.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture into the pot and stir/whisk constantly and continue to heat. Keep whisking until the mixture has thickened, which takes about 3-4 minutes. Bonus: this is a great workout for your arm :-)
- Finally, turn off the heat and stir in some salted butter and vanilla extract and stir until it’s melted in.
How to store and cool the pudding
Once the pudding has cooled a little bit, pour it into a bowl or container and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface and stick in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until you are ready to serve.
Alternatively, you can layer the pudding in individual dessert glasses (stemless wine glasses work great for this) with crumbled gingersnap cookies. I smash my gingersnaps in a large zip top bag with a rolling pin.
Whether you make fancy layered individual portions or just throw the whole batch in a bowl, it’s delicious topped with crumbled gingersnaps and whipped cream.
1. Is pudding the same thing as custard?
Kind of. Usually, custard is thickened entirely from egg yolks, whereas pudding has egg yolks as well as a starch (in this case, cornstarch). But some custard recipes do use both egg and starch or even other thickeners like gelatin. Both can be baked or made on the stovetop.
So I guess you can call this pumpkin custard if you like!
2. How long is it good for in the fridge?
This homemade pumpkin pudding will last 5-7 days in the fridge. I suggest pressing a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and keeping it in an airtight container.
3. Can you freeze pumpkin pudding?
Yes, you can. And it might be a good idea to add it to popsicle molds for a frozen treat! But keep in mind the texture may change a bit if it’s frozen. Once it’s thawed out, stir it up a bit if there is any separation. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
4. Does this pudding have raw eggs?
Nope! This pudding is heated on the stovetop until the eggs are cooked all the way through.
5. Can this be made dairy free?
I haven’t personally tried it, but I think you can likely use a plant-based milk and skip the butter in the end for a dairy free version. Or, try this vegan pumpkin pudding recipe.
Other make-ahead dessert recipes
- Butterscotch Pudding from Scratch
- Maple Cinnamon Pudding
- Dutch Butter Cake
- Meyer Lemon Bars
- Pineapple Cheesecake Whip
- Two-Ingredient Rice Pudding
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Pumpkin Pudding from Scratch
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together 2 cups of the milk, the pumpkin puree (15 oz.), and the pumpkin pie spice mix (2 teaspoons). Heat on medium-low, whisking occasionally, until it begins to bubble gently.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar (1 cup), cornstarch (1/4 cup), salt (1/4 teaspoon. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of milk while whisking, making sure to smooth out any lumps of cornstarch before adding more. Add the egg yolks (4) and whisk to combine until everything is very smooth.
- Using a ladle, transfer about half of the hot pumpkin mixture to the sugar and egg mixture, gradually, whisking continuously. Continue whisking until it's a smooth mixture. Then, gradually transfer the mixture back into the saucepan, whisking continuously.
- Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until it starts to bubble. Continue to cook and whisk constantly (it's a workout!) until the mixture has thickened (about 3-4 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon) and salted butter (2 tablespoons) and whisk/stir to combine until butter has melted.
- Transfer the pudding to individual serving dishes or a small-medium bowl. Press plastic wrap on the top to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until cool (about 2 hours). Serve garnished with crumbled gingersnap cookies and whipped cream, if desired.
- To crumble the gingersnaps, place them in a zip-top plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin.
- Store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days, with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Stir together if there is any separation.
- Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Or pour into popsicle molds for a frozen treat!
- For a dairy free version, use plant-based milk and omit the butter (or use ghee instead).
- You can use two whole eggs instead of 4 egg yolks, but the texture will be different (not as thick, rich, and creamy) and the color will be different. Instead, I suggest saving the egg whites and using them in a frittata or quiche.