Grain-Free Pumpkin Pie (Vegan, Sugar-Free, Candida-friendly, Paleo)

[Want an entire Thanksgiving dinner menu that’s free of gluten, sugar, eggs and dairy? All but one recipe is also grain-free, too! Grab the Sweet Life Thanksgiving ebook here! This Pumpkin Pie is vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, and low glycemic. Suitable for all stages on an anti-candida diet.]

Vegan, candida diet, paleo pumpkin pie recipe on

Despite possessing the usual female litany of insecurities, one skill set I’ve always felt confident about is baking. Growing up with a baker mom and an aunt who was a caterer, I learned to bake at a really young age. It wasn’t long before I felt totally at ease wielding a wooden spoon or creating my own recipes from scratch.

On the other hand, ask me to mix up traditional pie crust and you’ll see me quaking in my Doc Martens. You see, my mom never really taught me or my sisters how to make pie pastry–and for some reason, I never pursued that skill on my own, either.

That’s how I ended up at age 44 enrolled in the Baking Arts program at our local culinary college in Toronto. Although the program was traditional (read: no vegan or even vegetarian options; formal; very Cordon Bleu style methods), I knew that it devoted a segment to pies and pie crust, and I was keen to learn the basic techniques so I could then apply them to my own baking.  On the day that we focused on pie pastry, I was a mess. I’d attempted pie crust perhaps half a dozen times in my entire life up until then, with, shall we say, less than stellar results (it did make a good doorstop, though).

Praise for Ricki's Sugarfree, grainfree Pumpkin Pie recipe

[Comments about the pie on my Facebook post about it]

After we’d donned our chef’s whites, industrial shoes and hairnets, the class gathered round the instructor to learn the type of pie she would demonstrate (and that we students would subsequently attempt ourselves). Turns out it wasn’t just any pie; it was traditional APPLE pie. A classic! Iconic! The Queen Pie of Pies! I felt faint.

With deft speed and running commentary about why we must keep the ingredients chilled, be careful not to touch the dough with our hands, use both lard and Crisco to attain an ideal flaky texture (plus many other pointers I’ve since wiped from my mind), the teacher presented the class with a perfectly smooth, golden disc of pie dough ready to chill in the fridge.

While the dough rested, she prepared a conventional filling that would, today, make my toenails curl: sliced apples, cinnamon, white sugar, regular cornstarch and–just for good measure–glucose syrup. Once she’d rolled out the dough, modeled how to drape it over the rolling pin, lay it in the pan and gently shape it, she then mounded the filling into it, topped it with another round of dough and set it to bake. Next, it was our turn.

The recipe yielded two double pie crusts: one to use in class, and a second to bring home with us for some future pie adventure.  I followed the instructions exactly and was surprised when my pastry didn’t crack or break apart as I maneuvered it from the tabletop to the pie plate. Hurdle Number One passed successfully! I even managed to flute the crust and recreate the exact oval cuts in the top crust (to allow steam to vent) that my instructor had made in her own pie. Hurdle Number Two conquered! I engraved a tiny “RH” near the edge so I’d be able to identify my own pie when it emerged from the oven.

As we scrubbed the countertops, washed the dishes and swept the kitchen floor, the pies heaved, browned and bubbled, filling the entire work space with the enticing aroma of apple and cinnamon. I could hardly believe it–it smelled like “real” apple pie! We had just finished stacking the clean dishes on the shelves and placed our hairnets in the laundry basket when the timer went off.

I simply couldn’t believe how perfect the pie looked. Could it really be. . . . a successful apple pie, made by me? I was forced to wait until I got it home to find out (even back then, I didn’t eat white sugar or lard, so I transported the pie home with me to test it out on the HH). I placed the pan on the countertop, carefully sliced a thin wedge, and proffered the plate to the HH. He slid the fork into his mouth, began to chew. . . and said nothing.

Suddenly, his face transformed. His cheeks flushed a little, and he closed his eyes as he continued to chew, and chew.

“This pie is. . . amazing!” he blurted, clearly shocked that it had been created by my hands. “This crust! It’s so flaky! It’s absolutely perfect! And mmm, the filling. . . .sooooo good. . . “. There was sugary, glucose-laden goo dripping down his lower lip. “Mmmm . . . the only thing that could make this better would be REAL ice cream! Do we have any real ice cream?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“How about real whipped cream? Any of that?”

“No.” By now, I was beginning to feel a little annoyed. I mean, had the guy forgotten that we’d been eating natural, whole foods for years by that time?

“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” he continued. “This is the best dessert you’ve ever made! And you have a whole other crust you can use to make another one! This is GREAT!”.

I let him finish the slice and, as per his request, served another one. I placed the second disc of pastry in the freezer.

The HH ended up finishing that pie within 3 days. He ate a slice when he came home from work, one after dinner and took more of it to have at work.

As for me, I vowed to re-create the same gastronomic glory in a pie crust of my own making, using healthy, whole food ingredients, natural fats and sweeteners.

Gluten-free, vegan, candida diet, Paleo pumpkin pie recipe on

It took me a few years, but I did manage a flaky, buttery, rich-tasting pie crust that could rival the best of them. (I included that recipe in Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free). In the end, though, I’ve come to accept that, like my mom, I’m just not a pastry kind of gal. And that’s okay. Sure, I can produce it when I need to, but it’s not what I turn to first.  So, when I decided to create a perfect Pumpkin Pie for the holidays, I knew that the crust would be unconventional.

In this candida-diet friendly pie, the crust is much like a regular crumb crust. In other words, there’s no chilling, no rolling, no folding–no worry. Just press, fill, bake and serve. (Of course, if you do prefer a more conventional pastry, you can always go with something like the crust in this recipe).

This pumpkin filling is creamy, rich and perfectly spiced. It’s ever so slightly more dense than regular pumpkin pie, a function of the coconut butter (and lack of eggs that would otherwise hold it together). Once chilled, it slices beautifully, and retains its shape at room temperature.

A couple of years after I’d completed my baking course, I was planning a special home-cooked dinner for the HH’s birthday. “What would you like for dessert?” I asked.

“Hey, remember that amazing apple pie you made?” he said. “How about making another one like that?”

I nodded and looked askance. “Hmmm. . . . that’s a possibility,” I murmured, already daydreaming about what I could whip up instead. I wandered over to the fridge and opened the freezer compartment. There, still hiding behind the ice cube trays, was the disc of pastry I had placed there two years earlier. “Well, we’ve still got the crust, anyway,” I said.

Needless to say, we went with something different that year. The blob of lard and Crisco was quietly placed in the trash. The HH relished his Coconut Cream Pie.  And this year, he enjoyed this Pumpkin Pie. With real coconut whipped cream, no less.

PS With US Thanksgiving so close, I’ve been contemplating thankfulness. I wrote about why I’m thankful for Candida Related Complex on my friend Hallie’s blog (and check out the rest of her Thankful 30 series, too).

Vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, candida diet pumpkin pie recipe

Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? Here’s my mega roundup of 75+ Healthy, Whole Foods, Vegan& Gluten-Free recipes!


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  1. Linda Hutson says

    Sounds delicious. Can we use almonds and almond butter instead of cashews? Is there a replacement for physilium?

    • Hi Linda,
      You can always use other nuts in place of cashews, but just be aware that the flavor is different, and almonds produce a slightly dryer, grainier result in recipes. So your pumpkin filling won’t taste as much like regular pumpkin pie–it will have an almond flavor to it. As for the psyllium, you could try ground chia, but I have always found the results to be a bit gummy when there’s too much chia in a recipe like this. I like psyllium because it holds together well (the crust might fall apart with just chia). Of course, you can use ANY crust recipe for this pie–even a regular one–if you prefer. If you have a good crust recipe you already like, just use that one instead. 🙂

  2. When you call for Psyllium Husks, is that the POWDER?

    Also where is the note re: English Toffee stevia?? Did I miss it?

    I really want to try making this recipe for Thanksgiving. Thanks!

    • Maria, I’m using “whole psyllium husks,” not powder. If you click on those words in the recipe it takes you to the listing on amazon for this product. The note re: stevia was actually right within the instructions; I’ve left it there (it notes that stevia loses a bit of sweetness when baked, so you should sweeten a bit more when raw) and removed the “see note” in the ingredient list, as I think it was a bit confusing. I hope you give it a try. Let me know what you think if you do! And have a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  3. This looks delicious Ricki 🙂 Do you think cashews would work instead of pecans in the crust? I do hope your older dog Elsie is feeling much better really soon. My little guy has a bit of arthritis too, thankfully it is not too severe at the moment, it is hard seeing them in pain. Best wishes, Mel xo

    • Hi Mel,
      I think it would work, but you might need to add a bit more oil for it to hold together, as cashews tend to be more powdery when used this way. Walnuts would definitely work in place of the cashews. Thanks so much re: Elsie! She’s a trooper, for sure. And yes, it’s tough. We’ve gotten lots of suggestions from people since I wrote about her, so we are going to try some of them. And thankfully she is still happy and her appetite hasn’t been affected, so I’m less worried than I was. 🙂

  4. this makes me excited for thanksgiving! looks great!

  5. I bet this is so good! These flavors are perfection!

  6. This looks phenomenal Ricki! Much better than a sugar and butter filled pie. Hope the HH agreed!
    I made pumpkin pie for the first time last year – Dreena’s recipe- and loved it.

  7. Looks delicious!
    How lovely to find a recipe using liquid stevia (makes it instantly more anti-candida friendly). I made my very first Pumpkin pie recently, I used Xylitol to sweeten it, which worked nicely, too.

    • Thanks, Sandra! I use liquid stevia in pretty much all of my sweet recipes. 😉 I’ve recently begun to play with xylitol, too, and have been pleasantly surprised! I bet it would have been lovely in a pumpkin pie. 🙂

  8. This looks delicious, Ricki. I love using a nut crust for many pies. Thanks for sharing at Gluten-Free Recipe Fix!

  9. Is there a substitute for the English Toffee Stevia in this recipe? Thanks.

  10. Sounds deelish! I definitely want to make this, but I only have psyllium powder. Can I still use the powder to replace the psyllium husks? If so, how much?

    • Hi Rejane, I’ve never made that substitution myself (I always use the whole husk, like this one), but I’ve read that the powder should be substituted at about 1/3 the amount of the husk. So, for this recipe, you’d use 2 tsp (10 ml) instead of the 2 Tbsp (30 ml). I can’t guarantee it will work, though! Please come back and let everyone know how it worked out if you do give it a try. 🙂

  11. Can you use flax instead of psyllium husk?

  12. Hello Ricki! It’s quite difficult to find Coconut Butter in Europe – do you recommend any substitute or it’s better to search for it more? 😀

    • Hi Alina,
      The coconut butter is essential for the correct texture of the filling, but you can make your own if you have a food processor or strong blender. Just put some dried unsweetened coconut (shredded coconut) in the blender–I start with about 3 cups or 720 ml–and blend until it liquefies (it takes a total of about 5 minutes). That is coconut butter!! It will re-solidify eventually at room temperature (no need to refrigerate). I usually melt it again before using in recipes. I hope that helps!


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