Pilgrim Squash Pie

Recipe: Pilgrim Squash Pie

Summary: There is a long standing debate in my family about squash vs. pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. I'm personally grateful it's a gluttonous day and can justify both, but the debate with the New England relatives rages on. We are descendants of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins so this is no little family spat. The crux of their argument is that our country's first settlers wouldn't have had pumpkins. They had squash and therefore made squash pie. Truthfully they wouldn't have had sugar either and I personally don't think I could eat either a squash or pumpkin pie that was sweetened only with molasses. You'll find the squash similar to pumpkin in its preparation, but the final product is much lighter in flavor, texture, and color.


  • 2 cups squash
  • 1½ to 2 cups whole milk, cream, or evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, or more to taste (I always prefer fresh grated)
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger (optional)
  • Prepared, unbaked 9" pie crust


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Mix squash, milk and eggs together.
  3. Beat in sugar and spices.
  4. Pour batter into 9" pie plate prepared with unbaked pastry.
  5. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 for an additional 40 minutes, or until center is set.  (Adjust time and temperatures to work with your oven.)

Quick Notes

1. Until the advent of the internet, there weren't a lot of squash pie recipes readily available because it wasn't a recipe that was written down in anyone's secret stash or even many cookbooks. For the most part, like today's pumpkin pie bakers, modern cooks used the recipe on the can! Squash, like pumpkin, is very labor intensive to peel, chop, and cook down to a usable form even before you make the pie crust and only pilgrims without access to canned goods should have to make this pie completely from scratch.  This is not one of those instances to freak about freshness because it won't make a difference in the final product.  New England bakers can usually find the One Pie brand of canned squash at the supermarket.  Organic canned squash is also out there.  Even frozen squash is perfectly acceptable.   Midwest and west coast bakers will need a specialty store or suck it up and do it from scratch.

2. Steam the squash in the microwave or bake it and let it cool before trying to peel it. You will save yourself hours and stitches. (Yes, I've had the stitches too.)


1. Use canned or frozen squash if you can find it.

2. The kind of squash you use doesn't especially matter, but make it a winter squash. I like butternut or acorn. The acorn is a little harder to peel and yields less pulp.

3. Adjust the milk, egg, squash proportions to make your pie a heavier custard or more chiffon-like.

Cooking time_   lots to get from squash to pie

Meal type_ dessert

Culinary tradition_ USA (Traditional, historic)

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