Carnation’s famous pumpkin pie: The traditional Thanksgiving dessert (1959)

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Carnation's famous pumpkin pie The classic '50s Thanksgiving dessert

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

The traditional pumpkin pie is still the best (1959)

Pumpkin pie remains a seasonal dessert, even though few of us make it with fresh pumpkin any more, and the canned product is available the year around. Somehow we associate it with harvest time, November and Thanksgiving. Somehow it tastes best at this season!

No cook has ever been able to improve upon the taste of pumpkin pie as made in the traditional way. Many have tried.

I’ve tasted pumpkin pie with orange or lemon or wine in it, with mincemeat or pecans, with pineapple or applesauce, and somehow my reaction is this: Why don’t we let a perfect pie just be itself?

Even the chiffon and frozen versions aren’t as good as good old pumpkin custard pie, the kind great-grandma, grandma, and ma made, the Thanksgiving dessert that is a favorite and best of all!

The kinds and proportions of spices may vary a little, and one cook may prefer evaporated milk to milk or cream for her pie. Another may make it with brown sugar instead of white, and the amount of pumpkin is variable, too.

The trimmings — whipped cream or candied ginger or cheese — don’t matter much. But let pumpkin pie be pumpkin pie, I say!

A helpful trick to avoid spilling the uncooked filling as you carry the pie to the oven is this: Don’t fill the crust full before you put it in the oven. – Mary Meade, Chicago Tribune

ALSO SEE: 8 ways to make pumpkin spice mix at home

Carnation’s famous pumpkin pie recipe

Carnation's famous pumpkin pie: The traditional Thanksgiving dessert (1959)

Carnation's famous pumpkin pie The classic '50s Thanksgiving dessert

Carnation's famous pumpkin pie recipe

Yield: 1 9" pie (8 servings)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

The sure way to a cream-smooth pumpkin pie...


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1-2/3 cups large can undiluted Carnation evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 9-inch single-crust unbaked pie shell


  1. Mix filling ingredients until smooth. 
  2. Pour the filling into unbaked pie shell. 
  3. Bake in hot oven (425 F) for 15 minutes.
  4. Lower temperature to moderate (350 F) and continue baking about 35 minutes or until the custard is firm.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 208mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 30gProtein: 6g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

Carnation’s famous pumpkin pie retro recipe card (1950s)

Carnation's famous pumpkin pie recipe card (1950s)

DON’T MISS THIS: Classic pumpkin pie recipes: The ultimate collection

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I have been making the Carnation Evaporated Pumpkin Pie recipe for 55+ years. Always use Carnation brand. I can’t explain why but you will notice your pie won’t have as much of a smooth and silky texture if you use other brands. I even made homemade baby formula with Carnation when my first child was born; she thrived! I hope Carnation Evaporated milk continues to be produced. Thank you!

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