Simple Tips for Avoiding (and Fixing) Cracked Pumpkin Pie

If your pumpkin pie has a habit of cracking, follow our tips on how to make it prettier (or creatively hide the flaw)!

It's a bummer when you bake a cheesecake or pumpkin pie only to find it's got a big crack running down the middle. Sure, it's still edible (heck, probably still delicious), but it doesn't have the smooth and seamless top you were hoping for. And when you're the one in charge of bringing pumpkin pie to the family's holiday dinner, the last thing you want is to present them with a cracked pumpkin pie. Here you can learn why pumpkin pies crack and how to prevent pumpkin pies from cracking in the future. If you just opened the oven to find your pumpkin pie with a cracked top, we've also got some clever ways to still make it presentable for the big feast.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Why Does Pumpkin Pie Crack?

As with most baking recipes, there's a science to making custard-based desserts such as pumpkin pie. Here are some important factors to avoid pumpkin pie cracks.

  • Over-baking your pumpkin pie is one major cause of cracks in your baked dessert. Custard pies continue baking once they're out of the oven, so you'll want to follow the timings exactly as your recipe states. Follow our tips to know exactly when your pie is done in order to prevent your pumpkin pie from cracking.
  • Bake at the correct temperature. A tip from Baker's Hotline at King Arthur Flour, make sure your oven is preheated and bake your pumpkin pie at the required temperature. It's a good idea to use an oven thermometer ($7, Target) to ensure the temperature is accurate.
  • Cooling pumpkin pie too quickly also causes cracks. Once your pie is done (there should be a slight jiggle to the center), allow the pie to fully reach room temperature before serving. You can also try cooling the pie in the oven (turned off) with the oven door ajar to let it gradually cool.

How to Fix a Cracked Pumpkin Pie

If you already baked your pumpkin pie and it's cracked, no need to worry. There are a few delicious ways to disguise a cracked pumpkin pie.

  • Cover the pumpkin pie's entire surface with a cloud of sweetened whipped cream just before serving. You'd probably be adding a big dollop to your slice anyway.
  • Turn leftover piecrust scraps into leaves (see this apple pie's design for inspiration) or other seasonal shapes using cookie cutters ($10, World Market). Brush the cutouts with egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbsp. water) and bake at 350ºF (or whatever temperature you just baked your pie) for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Strategically place your pretty baked pastry cutouts over the cracks of your pumpkin pie for a pretty display.

If you want to avoid a cracked pumpkin pie from the start, you could try a new recipe that features toppings already. Go for a fluffier topping like this ginger pumpkin meringue pie. Combine the traditional pumpkin with pecan pie for an unforgettable dessert mashup. Try adding some crunch with chocolate-covered toffee or a streusel-nut topping. Give the chocolate lovers in your life a slice of chocolate-topped pumpkin pie. Beyond pie, we've also got quite a few pumpkin desserts perfect for any holiday spread.

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