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19 Nov

Ultimate Walnut Pie Crust with Pumpkin Filling

Traditions are a big part of the holiday season for many people, but if you find yourself doing something strictly out of tradition and not because you particularly enjoy it, then it’s time for a new tradition. Or maybe, just time for a new recipe. Take pumpkin pie – it’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without one, but too often it’s a soggy, bland dessert that disappoints. Made with a cup of sugar and white flour crust, it’s an indulgence that’s not always worth it.

But what if you broke from the traditional recipe by taking the granulated sugar and flour out and it actually made the pie taste better? What if this new and slightly untraditional version of pumpkin pie had a buttery, crunchy crust and silky-smooth filling? Sure, you could call this new and improved version Primal Pumpkin Pie, or, you could just call it by another name: Damn Good Pie.

The best place to start the re-invention of pumpkin, or really any pie you’re serving, is with the crust. Nut-based crusts don’t have the exact same flavor or texture as a crust that you roll out from a flour-based dough. However, the buttery-crumbly texture and naturally sweet flavor of a nut crust will pair really well with any of your favorite pie fillings: pumpkin, apple, berry, other fruits and chocolate. The natural sweetness of nuts also means that you can add less sweetener to your pie filling. Also, nut-based crusts are filling, so a small slice of pie is likely to fill you up and satisfy.

Almonds and walnuts tend to make crusts that hold together better than other nuts and using a tart pan instead of a pie plate gives the crust better shape. To avoid a soggy bottom, pre-bake the crust, then add your filling and continue baking until the filling is done. Nut crusts are a little fragile, so let the pie cool completely before cutting into it and use care when removing the pie from the pan.

The filling of Primal Pumpkin Pie is made with coconut milk instead of heavy cream, which gives the pumpkin a silky texture but doesn’t impart any detectable coconut flavor. A little bit of arrowroot powder ensures that the coconut milk filling firms up, or, you can opt to use heavy cream instead of coconut milk and skip the arrowroot. However, the coconut milk also gives the pie just a hint of sweetness, so a scant 3 tablespoons of maple syrup for the entire pie is the only additional sweetener needed. Throw in a generous blend of baking spices and their aroma alone will have you salivating as the pie bakes.

When you, and even your non-Primal friends and family, take a bite of Primal Pumpkin Pie it will confirm that change is a good thing. There is, however, one pie tradition that’s worth keeping – a dollop of whipped cream on top (of course, you can always make it with coconut milk instead of whole cream).

This recipe for pumpkin pie is a way to indulge without straying too far from healthy eating goals, but just because a dessert is Primal doesn’t mean you have a free pass to eat the whole thing by yourself. Primal or not, dessert is still dessert, a treat to be savored in moderation and shared with those you love. Besides, pie isn’t the only thing on the table. Fill up on succulent turkey, holiday veggies and savory stuffing first. Then treat yourself to a bite of something sweet.

The Ultimate Walnut Crust:


  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


Blend walnuts, baking soda and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and pulse until butter is mixed in.

Scrape the batter into a 9-inch tart pan. You can use a rubber spatula to smooth the batter over the bottom and up the sides, but ultimately your fingers will be the best tool. Take your time smoothing and patting the batter out evenly. It’s better to spread the batter thinner across the bottom of the pan and thicker around the edges of the crust.

Place the pie on a cookie sheet (helps to keep the bottom from burning) and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the crust from the oven and pour your filling of choice inside. Bake again until filling is done.

Pumpkin Filling:


  • One 15-ounce can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (found the spice section of grocery stores)
  • 3 eggs, whisked


Mix together all ingredients. Pour into the pre-baked crust. Don’t overfill the crust – you might have a little batter leftover.

Bake for 50 minutes. The center of the pie should be fairly firm and only jiggle a tiny bit if you shake the pan. Let the pie cool completely before cutting into it. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’m a huge pumpkin pie fan from way before going paleo so .. this looks really good. Then I tried it and .. couple lessons learned.

    First, WATCH THE TEMPERATURE! I scorched the crust on the first one – its’ edible, but not as good as it should have been.

    Second, READ THE INGREDIENTS! Some canned coconut milks have sugar added, some don’t .. my first batch came out unpleasantly un-sweet; although the flavor is good, it isn’t dessert without being a little on the sweet side.

    If your coconut milk is sweetened, it should be fine. If using unsweetened, add an extra tablespoon of maple syrup, and an extra pinch of salt to balance things out.


    JP wrote on November 20th, 2012
  2. I made this recipe and was excited about it because it was Gluten free. I am a little concerned, it is cooling on the counter now. I think the crust looks a little too done. I baked at 350 for 50 min. Also reading the comments on here I am worried it will be too salty. I am also concerned it will not be sweet enough. I used unsweetened coconut milk, but added 1/2 tsp more syrup? I am all of of nuts, and this is for Thanksgiving…and dont have time to re-do. I have not “officially” tried it yet…put tasted a little of the crust and filling on finger….

    shona wrote on November 21st, 2012
  3. does anyone know how long to bake this without burning it if using it for a non baked filling?….I’ve baked it for about 20 + minutes and it’s browning a bit much but still kinda soft. does it crisp up?

    Dianne wrote on November 21st, 2012
  4. Just made this for TG dinner. Was fabulous and I had 2 small pieces. Yummy, yummy. Loved the buttery crust. Gently sweet. Can;t feel guilty about eating this and it will be great for breakfast!

    Wowiezowie wrote on November 21st, 2012
  5. By the way, my coconut milk was unsweetened and it was still delicious. But I did think I might add more maple syrup next time because it is more of a treat at holiday to have it be sweet. I had no trouble with burning either the crust or the filling and my filling cooked through in 55 min.

    Wowiezowie wrote on November 21st, 2012
  6. I made this today and it turned out great! Skipped the cardamom though. Who has that?! Lol

    Amanda wrote on November 22nd, 2012
  7. I was so excited when I saw this crust recipe. I can’t have almonds or grains or coconut or sugar and was having a lot of trouble finding a crust recipe for my pumpkin pie. I made this the other night and am very disappointed in it. I tasted the crust before it went in the oven was really worried about the taste- it was salty and I could definitely taste the baking soda. I thought it would change once baked, but it tasted horrible. I don’t think it needed sweetness, but it was extremely salty, I could still taste the baking soda, and it looked burnt around the edges. I had to throw my pie out. I am not sure why there is so much baking soda and salt in the recipe, but I won’t be trying it again.

    Lauren wrote on November 22nd, 2012
  8. Can you freeze the pie??? If so would you bake t then freeze it? I want to make it for Christmas. Also, do you simply store it on the counter… If it lasts longer than one meal.

    Stefanie wrote on December 20th, 2012
  9. I baked the walnut crust as directed and then filled it with a traditional pumpkin filling. The pie filling directions were 15 mins at 450 and then 325 for 40 to 50 mins. I pulled it at 40 mins and the crust was burnt. Do you have any idea what I did wrong? I want to baked it again for New Years.

    Paula Blum

    paula blum wrote on December 25th, 2012
  10. The crust definitely needs works. Way too salty and the bottom was mushy which is admittedly my fault since I used glass. I would completely omit the baking soda. I added 10 drops of nunaturals stevia drops to the pie and the filling was very good.

    Kathleen wrote on July 8th, 2013
  11. We forgot the eggs and it was still edible with lots of whipped cream. Take away – Don’t forget the eggs.

    Mariya Sullivan wrote on September 28th, 2013
  12. Just made this today. Awesome recipe. I used steps instead of maple syrup but it was still good. Thanks for this!!!

    kelli wrote on October 13th, 2013
  13. The walnut crust was pretty good. I forgot the coconut milk, but putting the filling mixture (including fresh roasted sugar pumpkin) in a blender still made it nice and creamy. I think the coconut milk would have made it way too liquid. Also, as Gina pointed out, it needs just a bit (1T maybe?) more maple syrup or honey.

    Anna wrote on October 22nd, 2013
  14. Made this today, it is DEVINE. I added a tad more of the nutmeg/cinnamon, but its SO great. Perfect for Christmas coming up. I have been struggling to find paleo recipes that everyone enjoys (People that are used to eaitng refined sugar and tons of processed foods) and I must say, I think this pie will do the tricK :) thanks

    Lexi wrote on November 3rd, 2013
  15. I tried 4 other paleo/primal recipes before this one. This one is by far the best!

    I loved the saltiness of the crust. It was a little mushy in the middle. Next time, I shall let it cool before adding the pumpin pie filling and I hope that helps.

    I used heavy cream instead of coconut milk and arrow root as Mark suggested. It was so creamy! And, cooked in only 40 minutes.

    I will add more spices next time as I like it little spicier.

    Thank you Mark!

    Sheri wrote on November 17th, 2013
  16. I made this pie last year for Thanksgiving, and it was so delicious – it’s on the menu again this year!

    emw wrote on November 21st, 2013
  17. I made it last year and loved it. I did pour a bit of extra maple syrup on it to make it sweeter, but that was last year when I was just going primal. This is still my go-to pumpkin pie recipe…I think it’s perfect just as it is!

    Maya wrote on November 24th, 2013
  18. Made this for the first time for Thanksgiving yesterday.

    Doubled the spices in the filling. It was good, but still a little on the bland side for me. However, I like strong flavors. I think next time I’ll add double plus 1/2 of the amount of spices called for. Since II was cooking for both Paleo-ish and non-Paleo folk, I added 1 extra Tbsp of maple syrup to the filling for a tiny bit more sweetness. I made the nut crust with half walnut, half pecans and added 2 packets of the brand “Pure Via” (powdered stevia) to the crust.

    Using a 9″ nonstick tart pan, I pressed the nut pastry with my fingers, and as directed made the edges of crust thicker than the bottom. Baked in 350 convection oven for 13 minutes so it didn’t burn. Let the crust cool for 20 minutes before adding the filling. I had leftover filling, so I put it in a ramekin I greased with coconut oil for a crustless pumpkin ‘custard’.

    Baked the pie itself for 45 minutes in a convection oven, and put the ramekin in for last 25 minutes of baking time.

    Pie and ramekin of ‘custard’ turned out perfectly. I used a 2 piece non-stick 9″ tart pan so that lifting the bottom of the pan away from the sides of the tart after cooling was easy, then cutting slices of pie was a breeze.

    Again – very tasty. Though I doubled the spices in the filling, I’d easily add another half again of the spices to the filling next time.

    Great starter recipe to use for tweaks – thanks, my guests enjoyed it!

    frogdogs wrote on November 29th, 2013
  19. why baking soda?

    colleen wrote on December 23rd, 2013
  20. Thanks for this- I live in the UK and have never made pumpkin pie and never really see it, but got a can from Wholefoods and IT’S ON having finally found one with a san-out ingredient list (walnuts and coconut milk!)

    Would it be possible to use egg replacer, do you think?

    Many thanks!

    Candice wrote on December 28th, 2013
  21. oh god, please excuse my typos. I’ve got brain-fog.

    Candice wrote on December 28th, 2013
  22. i made this a few days ago and loved it! next time i will make sure to cover the tops with foil since it browned a little bit too much after i filled it with the pumpkin pie filling, but otherwise i loved it! thanks so much for sharing!

    christine wrote on October 24th, 2014
  23. I made this pumpkin pie and although it tasted great, it came out GREEN instead of orange! Kind of embarrassing! What happened? Why the green color? The only real difference in the recipe is using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk? Yikes!

    Alice wrote on December 25th, 2014
    • hi, alice,

      i use heavy cream not coconut milk. it does not come out green to me for me.
      (i used canned pumpkin puree 100%).

      i dont’ know may be it’s the pumpkin filling you use that makes it green?


      pam wrote on December 26th, 2014

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