Pumpkin pie – homemade vs. store bought

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to do another pumpkin pie taste test this week (but really, there’s a can of pureed pumpkin that’s been sitting in my pantry for the past year that I’ve been wanting to use up).

During the last pumpkin pie taste test, I realized how easy it is to make pumpkin pie. I also learned that people preferred canned pumpkin verses canned pumpkin pie filing and that using a frozen pie crust can be just a good as using one that’s homemade. So, if making pumpkin pie is just a matter of mixing a few ingredients and pouring it into a frozen pie shell, why not just take the ultimate short cut and buy one already made at the store?

A few things about canned vs. fresh pumpkin:
The thought of using fresh pumpkin for a pumpkin pie taste test did cross my mind. But after doing some research on the subject, it turns out that various sources indicated that using fresh pumpkin generally isn’t worth the extra effort. It depends on the freshness of the pumpkin and the water content can vary depending on the process whereas canned pumpkin is highly standardized.

My thoughts:
I am secretly hoping that the store bought pumpkin pie will come out as the winner. If it’s really as easy as opening up a can of pureed pumpkin, stirring in some spices and pouring it into a frozen pie shell, why not just take the ultimate short cut and buy one that’s already made?

With pumpkin pies being sold at the grocery store for $6.99 (or on sale for $3.99) the price can’t be beat. It’s even cheaper than buying the ingredients not to mention the time it takes to actually bake it. Does a homemade pie taste that much better that it’s worth the effort? Let’s find out!

Taste testers:
Please taste each pie and comment on taste, texture and appearance. Which one do you like more?
Is it worth it have a homemade pie when it takes a lot more time, effort and costs twice as much?

The reveal:
Thank you everyone for posting your comments. Here are the results:

Pie A: Store bought pumpkin pie
Pie B: Homemade pumpkin pie

The majority of taste testers preferred the homemade pumpkin pie over the store bought pumpkin pie because they found the flavour to be less strong and it had a more pure, pumpkin pie flavour. Most people noted that the store bought pumpkin pie had a stronger flavour of spices and in some cases, some people preferred the stronger flavour over the homemade pie.

However, most individuals noticed the difference in texture in that the store bought pumpkin pie was more mushy and not as custardy/silky in texture as the homemade pie.

Note: The store bought pie that was used for this taste test was actually frozen before hand and was thawing out on the grocery store shelf when I bought it. I think that there are some structural changes that occur during the freezing/thawing process. (the filmy top part layer that some taste testers noticed is probably a result of this).

Bottom line:
I would say that, if you’re in a pinch, there is nothing wrong about buying a store bought pie. I actually preferred the flavour of the store bought pie more (but perhaps this is because I’ve had more store bought pumpkin pies than homemade). However, I have to agree that the texture of the homemade pie was by far superior to the store bought one.

So if you have the time, make your own pumpkin pie but if you’re in a pinch for time, store bought will be just fine (but not quite as good).

My observations re: homemade vs. store bought:
These taste tests have really brought to light the point that it really depends on how seriously you take certain desserts/foods and what your personal preferences are. The pumpkin pie connaisseurs in the group preferred the homemade pumpkin pie hands down whereas the people who didn’t have pumpkin pie that often didn’t notice as big a difference between the two pies.

Another point is that, both the store bought and the homemade pies were simple pumpkin pies. If you used recipes that called for more ingredients/variations (more spices, maple syrup, etc) you’d be hard pressed to find this kind of pie in a standard grocery store. If you really value a good pumpkin pie, or have a secret family recipe that is more complicated than your standard pumpkin pie – it’s best to make it from scratch.

So to summarize, homemade products are good for the following purposes:

  • If you want to know exactly what’s in it.
  • If you are particular about certain desserts/foods that you have a keen taste/preference for.
  • If you have a special recipe that is different from the run of the mill varieties that you would find available at most grocery stores.

But are these reasons enough to make it worth putting in the extra time and effort?

It really depends on the individual, their background, their aptitude in the kitchen, their resources and how much they value the points listed above.

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9 thoughts on “Pumpkin pie – homemade vs. store bought

  1. Pie A was not as good as Pie B. There are two reasons for this. First is the texture. Pie B is much more smooth and doesn't have the same film that is on the top of Pie A. Also, as the pies cooled down, Pie A stayed much more smooth than Pie B. Reason two is the flavour. Although both pies were pretty good with Pie A having a bit more of a pumpkin taste (this could be the perception I make because of years of eating store bought pumpkin) and Pie B had more of a pumpkin spice flavour which i find a lot more desirable. Pie B wins hands down!

  2. A was darker in colour and look then B. It also seemed a lot stronger in taste and spice. It had a bitter after taste. B was my favourite of the two. And I'm guessing B was the home baked pie.

  3. To be honest, I could tell right away that the crust on A looked suspiciously perfect so to me, this suggested this was the store bought one. A: darker colour filling; more sweeter flavour, texture is smoother and more gooey, more pronounced cinnamon flavour. The crust is soft. Don't like the crust, I prefer B's crust. B: lighter coloured filling; more eggy flavour, custardy texture. The crust is more flaky. I like this one. The appearance of both are comparable. Both looked appetizing. Considering the crust as well as the filling, I prefer B. I think B is the homemade one but I could be wrong! There isn't a huge life-changing difference between the two so if you had to opt for store bought, it could be acceptable. But if A is homemade, it still comes out on top. Not bad for canned pumpkin and a frozen crust. Thanks Lisa!

  4. Pie A:Filling is a bit heavy/sticky. I want it fluffier, not sure how you’d achieve that. Good flavour though, nice and spicy. Crust is buttery goodness. Pie B:Lighter! Not as flavourful or rich in flavour though. This tastes like I could eat half a pie, and that’s what I like. Crust isn’t as nice, which makes me think this is the bought one. Maybe they use oil, or substitute instead of real butter. When i bite the crust, it’s got a grainy texture, not as smooth as dark slice.

  5. I liked pie A best because it had a stronger taste but I'm not sure if this is because I have a cold. Pie B was still good, much lighter in colour and flavour. They also have a very different texture. Pie B was firmer and easier to cut. Thanks for the pie!

  6. I'm not a huge pumpkin pie eater and didn't grow up with homemade pumpkin pie – so I don't have any memories to compare to!They don't taste that different to me but Pie A looks store bought in that the crust is very "perfect". Pie B is a little spicier. I think both are fine but I'll say Pie B is homemade.

  7. I say would say Pie A is store bought and Pie B is homemade. Tough call on which one I like better because the filling in Pie B is lighter in texture, smoother too. Pie A's filling is a bit spicier and I like spice. Overall I'd say B is better.I was right on my first guess wasn't I? :D

  8. Pie A: Slightly darker in color, more mushy texture, stronger flavour. Pie B: Slightly lighter in color, soft, light, custard texture, more subtle spice flavour.I definitely preferred the texture of pie B but preferred the stronger flavour of Pie A. Perhaps this is because I grew up on store bought pumpkin pie and am used to the taste. The texture of the store bought pumpkin pie was not very good though (might be due to the fact that it was previously frozen) – the texture of the homemade pie was much better. I would say that the store bought pie was acceptable, but if you have the time and are really picky about pumpkin pie, make it from scratch.

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