Thanksgiving Dinner Skill-School Day #3: Make-Ahead Pumpkin Pie Filling & Freezer Crust

Yay! We’re so glad you dropped in to take a peek in our kitchen! If you are just joining us, you may want to check out our first three posts in this series before we get cookin’!

My mom is a pie whispering wizard. When she hosted Thanksgiving growing up, there wasn’t just one pie on the Thanksgiving table, there were always at least THREE—usually pumpkin, apple, and boysenberry. I don’t know how she managed to make three different kinds of pies in addition to the entire Thanksgiving feast. And how in the world was the kitchen not grease-stained and berry-splattered underneath a giant white cloud of white flour dust?? As you can probably guess, I am not a pie whisperer. I’m a humble pie.

I love to smell homemade pies baking in the oven . . .

I love to see homemade pies adorning the table . . .

and of course I adore eating homemade pies . . .

but to be honest, I don’t really love making them.

The kids and I have made-ahead almost half of the Thanksgiving feast already and still the idea of baking pies on Thanksgiving day, or even the day before, had me feeling a bit . . . flaky.

Be that as it may, I really wanted our kids to experience all that goes into making a homemade pie. Picking up a pre-made pie at the store robs us (I mean our kids) of the educational experience of making a pie from scratch. There is a lot of science, reading, math, and good-old-fashioned work that goes into the art of pie making. Not to mention, I have a special fondness for the memories I have of my mom rolling out pastry and crimping a beautiful row of pies . . . and I want our kids to have a pie mom, too! So . . . we made our pies today! Papa was home to help (ok, yes I scheduled pie day for Saturday on purpose) and we all pitched in. We froze the crusts, and fridged the filling—so now all that needs to be done on Thanksgiving morning is pop the crusts out, fill them with lovely pumpkin pie puree, and get those bad boys into the oven!

On Thanksgiving day, the house will smell warm and pumpkiny, and the table will proudly display a homemade pumpkin pie . . . but all the stress and mess will have had a chance to chill out for a few days, and I will be free to give the turkey a nice herb butter rub and then spend the rest of the day with my family.

I invite you to join us and get rolling (ahead of time)! It may not be as easy as . . . pie. But I promise you, this will be a day in the kitchen that you and your kids will never forget.

First up . . .

Freezer Pie Crusts

*about 1 hour start to finish with kids*


*Adapted from*

We barely changed anything for this recipe. We even used real butter, which is rare for us. In our experience with pie crusts, vegan-butter or coconut oil crusts do not roll. They do, however, press perfectly well . . . which is what we usually opt for. But for these Thanksgiving pie crusts we really wanted to roll them out and freeze them, so all we changed to the above recipe was to swap coconut sugar for cane sugar.

OUR *BARELY* ADAPTED RECIPE (makes two bottom crusts):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Let’s get Cookin’!

*click here to check out our tips for kicking it with kids in the kitchen*

1.) Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor (ages 2 and up with help)

2.) Cut cold butter into cubes (ages 6 and up with help / best judgement by child)

Papa is braver than mama . . . he even helped our two year old (who is going through a major hat phase) cut the butter! As you can see, she thought using a knife was about the coolest thing she has ever gotten to do.

3.) Add butter half at a time: add half of the cubed butter to the flour mixture in food processor, pulse several times until partly combined, then add the second half of butter cubes pulse about 8 more times until largest pieces of butter are no bigger than a pea (ages 2 and up with help)

4.) Add ice water slowly: add 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse. Keep adding a tablespoon at a time, and pulse after each addition until the dough barely starts to form together. The mixture is ready if when the dough starts to press together and hold when pinched between your fingers. Add water slowly and cautiously . . . water you add, too much will make the crust hard rather than flaky.

5.) Form two dough discs: on a clean surface, make two even mounds then form together with your hands and press down into discs. (Pictured, we have four discs because we doubled this already doubled recipe.)

6.) Sprinkle each disc lightly with flour, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days

Do you want to build a dough-man?

7.) Remove your discs, let them sit for about 10 minutes, and then get rolling! The dough will need a few minutes to become malleable which will depend somewhat on the temperature of your house.

Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll out your discs into about 12-inch circles and about 1/8 inch thick. If the dough is sticking to the surface, add a sprinkle of flour to your surface when you need to.

8.) Carefully transfer your pastry to your pie tins, cover, and freeze until Thanksgiving day!

Gently press the pastry down into the pans so that the bottom and sides of each pan are lined with pastry. Trim off excess with a sharp paring knife or kitchen scissors, if necessary. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing it down directly onto the pastry even at the bottom of the pan. Store in the freezer until half an hour before you are ready to bake your pies.

My, my! Miss American Freezer Pie!

Next up . . .

Pumpkin Pie Filling

*about 1 hour active cooking time with kids*


*adapted from*

We swapped out a few ingredients, reduced the sweetener, and doubled the recipe for our two bottom crusts.

  • 2 15oz cans Pumpkin Puree (or make your own like we did!)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (canned, full fat)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fresh zested/grated nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp pre-ground)
  • 1 tsp *optional* ground ginger (we did not use in ours)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Let’s get Cookin’!

*click here to check out our tips for kicking it with kids in the kitchen*

1.) Make your own Pumpkin Puree for an awesome hands-on, nature-based activity for the kids!

  • Wash and dry your pumpkins! (ages 2 and up)
  • Scoop out pumpkin seeds (ages 2 and up with help)
  • Sprinkle clean pumpkin halves with salt (ages 3 and up with help)
  • Bake your pumpkins face down on parchment paper, at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes (when flesh will scoop out easily)
  • Scoop out pumpkin pulp (ages 3 and up with help)
  • Puree pumpkin pulp until smooth! (ages 2 and up with help)

2.) Place all ingredients in food processor or Vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy about 3 minutes (ages 2 and up with help)

3.) Store in an air-tight container for up to a week before baking

4.) When you are ready to bake your pie(s):

Take crust(s) out of freezer and let sit for half an hour. Pre-heat oven to 350, and pre-bake crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, pour your pie filling into the crust, and then bake your pie for 40 minutes or earlier if the surface becomes golden brown or the crust edges begin get too dark. Remove and tent with foil and bake another 20 minutes or until slightly firm but wobbly. Allow to cool and then refrigerate at least for 2 hours or until you want to serve.

YUM! Warm, spicy comfort food!

Thanks for reading!

Join us on Monday for Prep-Ahead Sourdough Stuffing!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

7 Replies to “Thanksgiving Dinner Skill-School Day #3: Make-Ahead Pumpkin Pie Filling & Freezer Crust”

  1. Humble Pie! feelin’ Flaky! My, My Miss American Freezer Pie! Had a good laugh over this post and I can just smell your kitchen with all those herbs and spices. Happy, happy blessed kids. Thanksgiving can’t just be one day, it takes a week! Love!

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