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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. There’s nothing wrong with canned pumpkin. It ain’t the pumpkin, but what you do to it that really counts. Case in point, we had a taste test at Thanksgiving–two pies, one with canned pumpkin and one from fresh sugar pumpkins. The one made from the canned stuff one was the winner, hands down. Don’t become pumpkin snobs, folks.

    Dave wrote on December 5th, 2011
  2. If you think this recipe tastes as good as standard pumpkin pie you are delusional. The crust is excellent but the filling is completely bland and nowhere near sweet enough. I recommend doubling down on the spices as well as the maple syrup to get more sweetness and flavor into the filling.

    Tyler wrote on December 26th, 2011
  3. Made the pie tonight for Boxing Day desert. I don’t have a food processor so smashed the nuts as well as I could. Followed the recipe but forgot to put the cookie sheet under the pie pan. I used a glass pie dish and when the pie set, I realized that the nut crust had burned…boo hoo hoo. The filling was good, but I would add more spices. My son thought it was not sweet enough..he’s only eaten store bought pumpkin pie. I will definitely try it again and tweak it a bit. It was a very expensive crust to burn.

    Getting There wrote on December 26th, 2011
  4. i used this walnut crust with sweet potato filling. it was delicious but i think i overcooked the crust a bit. will try again

    Gayle wrote on December 27th, 2011
  5. When I made this it was so salty we couldn’t eat it. Shame to waste so many walnuts. Is this supposed to be made with UNSALTED butter? If so,the recipe should say so.

    Brian Primeau wrote on April 16th, 2012
  6. Wonderful! I used coconut oil instead of butter in the crust, and coconut cream whipped cream for a topping. Also for extra sweetness reduced grade b maple syrup and a cinnamon stick with orang and lemon zest and drizzled over whipped coconut cream. Yum!

    Chelsea wrote on May 12th, 2012
  7. I’ve been reading over the recipe and was wondering- are you suppose to separate the coconut cream from the milk in this recipe or use it all together?

    Sara wrote on June 23rd, 2012
  8. Sounds delicious. Would substituting the ground walnut for ground pecan be acceptable, or would my pie crust be too crumbly?

    Hussain Elnahry wrote on August 31st, 2012
  9. I just made this the other day, and it was delicious! I like the level of sweetness, but for those not used to a Primal diet and/or low-sugar desserts, I might add a bit more sweetener. Otherwise, it was delicious and I’ll definitely be making it again!

    Genevieve wrote on September 24th, 2012
  10. I want to try this as we have started eating Paleo. We tried another before that called for coconut milk and instead I used cocnut cream. Is this ok? Still primal?

    Amanda wrote on September 25th, 2012
  11. Wondering if butter can be substituted for something else: olive oil, perhaps?

    I guess paleo doesn’t take into account the dairy-intolerant among the cavemen (nor those allergic to eggs). Well, no diet’s perfect I guess, and all diets should be tailored to the individual rather than a rule book of religious doctrine that one should follow. Just as aside.

    Talia wrote on October 6th, 2012
    • Try ghee instead. We’re dairy free and we use ghee 1:1 to butter

      Rob wrote on October 18th, 2012
    • An easier pie crust that is dairy free is to use 1 part nuts to 1 part dates. You could also use the recipe here, but sub coconut oil and an egg for the butter.

      Joseph wrote on November 19th, 2012
  12. The filling was delicious with wonderful texture, but I didn’t care for the crust. I followed the recipe exactly but mine was almost burnt. When I put in the filling I covered the edges with tinfoil to try to prevent it from browning even more but it didn’t help. I also found it tasted a bit salty and no sweetness at all. I would make it again, but next time I think I would use almonds (something lighter in colour and flavour) and mix in some shredded coconut.

    Mairi Campbell wrote on October 9th, 2012
  13. Made today, without butter, used 1/2-1 cup pecans also.
    Too much salt in crust as walnuts abit bitter aswell, the crust was not crisp enough also maybe I added 2 much coco oil, the filling was okay, baked ony for 40mins and was set!

    Ryan carter wrote on October 22nd, 2012
  14. I just made this using fresh pumpkin puree, about 1 3/4 cups, which is about equivalent to what is in 1 can. It was absolutely delicious!

    J White wrote on October 23rd, 2012
  15. Where do you find canned coconut mile?

    Linda wrote on November 1st, 2012
  16. WOW i made this but with a coconut flour crust. I used nuttykitchen’s crust with this filling. I added 1 extra tablespoon of syrup and baked at 400F for 1h10min. Thanks so much!

    Kimberly wrote on November 9th, 2012
  17. This looks really yummy but I’m alergic to both walnuts and pecans. Can I use almonds or another kind of nut?

    Lillieth wrote on November 16th, 2012

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