Delicious Pumpkin Custard Cups

This pumpkin custard recipe has been a go-to dessert for us for years. It’s a great (naturally) gluten free pumpkin dessert that is loved by everyone who tries it!

Be sure to try these easy pumpkin bars, too!

pumpkin custard with white pumpkin seed flower on top.

We have a long-standing tradition in our household that each one of us “brings” a dish to our holiday table. Yes, even the people who live here. They are asked to plan and prepare a dish of their choice.

My eldest makes his famous ginger spiced cranberry sauce every year. My youngest found his go-to recipe years ago in a FamilyFun magazine (it’s no longer on their website). [Disclaimer: I wrote for FamilyFun for years.] It’s one of our favorite desserts.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Custard

These pumpkin custard cups are naturally gluten free and oh, so good. Trust me — these are a great option for everyone, not just your gluten free folks! Some of us even prefer this over homemade pumpkin pie with a pie crust.

They’re kind of like an individual crustless pumpkin pie, but if pumpkin pie filling was creamier

This is a great solution for people who are trying to skip grocery store packaged foods but aren’t quite confident in their pie crust making skills yet! 

Custard Ingredients

Pumpkin — I like to use homemade pumpkin puree, but if you don’t have it, canned pumpkin is just fine. Just be sure to get plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix.

Sugar — I opt for coconut sugar or organic granulated sugar in order to avoid genetically modified beet sugar. That’s my personal little quirk, though — the original recipe simply calls for sugar. You could also use brown sugar, for a little bit of molasses flavor in the pumpkin custards.

Maple syrup — This is the sweetener that gives these custard cups its signature maple flavor. 

Dairy This pumpkin custard recipe calls for both milk and heavy cream. If you’re dairy free, I’d substitute your favorite nut milk (for milk) and coconut milk (for heavy cream). We’ve made them this way successfully with almond milk, much to the delight of my dairy-free guy.

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Eggs This can — of course — be made with standard chicken eggs, but for an extra richness, try using duck eggs

Spices — Vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg give this dessert the classic “pumpkin spice” flavor that we so love.

making custard: mixing ingredients.

Making it

Start by mixing the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, spices, and salt together in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. 

Whisk the milk and heavy cream, pumpkin puree, and maple syrup together in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

making custard: cooking.

Ladle the heated cream and pumpkin into the sugar and yolk mixture, stirring constantly. If you pour it all in at once the yolks will cook; you don’t want that to happen.

Divide the custard evenly among six prepared baking cups and arrange the filled cups, evenly spaced, in a baking dish that has 3/4 inch of water in the bottom. Cooking the custards in this warm water bath helps insulate them from the direct heat of the oven and prevents cracking. 

Bake and allow to cool. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe with butternut squash?

You sure can! Just cook the squash and process it into a puree just as you would make pumpkin puree, outlined here.

What does this baked pumpkin custard taste like? 

It’s similar to the filling of a pumpkin pie, but much creamier. It has the same pumpkin spice flavor that we all love, without the crust. It’s naturally gluten free, and a great go-to for those with special diets.

Can this recipe can be made in a single dish?

I generally make individual pumpkin custards, but the answer is yes, I’ve done it. However, you’ll need to adjust the time and really keep an eye on it. (Sadly, I didn’t make notes about how long I cooked it this way.) Fill a baking dish with the custard mixture so that it’s no more than two inches deep. Any deeper and you’ll have trouble getting the center cooked before the outside is overdone.

pumpkin custard with a spoonful scooped out.

★ Did you make this easy pumpkin custard recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

pumpkin custard with white pumpkin seed flower on top.

Baked Pumpkin Custard Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These pumpkin custard cups are the perfect dessert for special occasions and holiday season. This gluten free pumpkin dessert is loved by everyone who tries it!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300º F.
  2. Whisk sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, spices, and salt together in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the milk and heavy cream, pumpkin purée, and maple syrup. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is hot but not boiling, about 7 minutes.
  4. Ladle into sugar and yolk mixture, stirring constantly. (If you pour it all in at once the yolks will cook; you don't want that to happen.) Once egg mixture and hot mixture are roughly the same temperature you can add it a bit more quickly.
  5. Pour 3/4 inch of hot water into a large, shallow casserole dish. Divide the custard evenly among six custard cups and arrange the filled cups, evenly spaced, in the baking dish.
  6. Bake the custards, uncovered, on the center oven rack for about 45 to 50 minutes. The centers may jiggle a bit, but shouldn't be too fluid. 
  7. Transfer the custard cups to a wire rack to cool.
  8. When the custards reach room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least six hours.
  9. Serve topped with whipped cream (or ice cream!) if you like.

Notes

Serve with freshly made whipped cream - or not!

I use organic cane sugar for this recipe, but any granulated sugar will work. I've also use coconut sugar successfully.

For dairy free folks, we've had good luck substituting thick canned coconut milk for the heavy cream and almond or oat milk for the milk. You could also use all coconut milk.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 individual dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 452Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 4gSugar: 35gProtein: 10g

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3 pumpkin custard cups on a wire rack

Originally published November 2015; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

10 comments… add one
  • Sherri Starkey Nov 25, 2020 @ 13:33

    When this is finished, is the texture more like pumpkin pie without a crust, or more like an egg custard? My eyes and brain cannot agree when I look at the recipe and the photo! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 30, 2020 @ 7:51

      Hm. Somewhere between the two?? It’s creamy, but not as soft as an egg custard.

  • Teresa Stauble Nov 7, 2019 @ 17:33

    Such an easy recipe. We loved it!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 7, 2019 @ 19:38

      I’m so glad!

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 19:21

    Super easy to make and delicious.

  • Brenda Oct 30, 2016 @ 18:27

    Can you bake this in a single dish and not individual ones?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 1, 2016 @ 11:39

      You can, and I’ve done it, but it needs to cook longer. 10-15 minutes, maybe?

  • Elisabeth Nov 9, 2015 @ 11:45

    This looks incredible. Do you know if you could substitute a bit of coconut milk for the cream? I’m wondering if it would give the same sort of depth that coconut sugar does. I don’t have any coconut sugar.

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 9, 2015 @ 11:47

      Well, I haven’t *tried it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t. (And trust me – it’s good with regular ole sugar, too!)

  • Sonia (foodiesleuth) Nov 6, 2015 @ 14:56

    Thank you, so much!

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