Ancho Chili Pumpkin Pie

My sister, a transplant to New Mexico and master pie baker, uses ancho chili by the handful. We, having transplanted from New England to Mexico/Mexico and back again, also tend to use it a lot in cooking, particularly in Mexican dishes and in chili. Anchos are just dried poblanos, and they’re not particularly hot…they just add a mysterious, pleasant background glow to your dish.

Unfortunately, there’s a real dearth of ancho chilies here in Maine. We tracked some down at Whole Foods, to the tune of around $3 bucks for two whole, dried chilies. This recipe calls for ground ancho chilies, which you can either make yourself using the pepper pods, or order online, if they aren’t available in your area. We went a different route and added the ancho the same way we do when we make chili, and soaked the seeded pepper for a few minutes, squeezed it dry, before finely chopping it into mush and adding the whole thing. This method leaves pleasing little chunks of chili in your pie, but makes the heat level more difficult to control. Whichever method you choose, you’ll love the way the gentle heat of the chilies complements the pumpkin, and remember, if it gets too spicy, you can always cool it down with more vanilla ice cream.

Ancho Chili Pumpkin Pie


For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 teaspoons cold water

For the filling:

  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1 2/3 cups whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried ancho chili (or use dried whole chilies…see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


For the crust:

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Add butter, and break apart using two knives, blending into mixture of tiny, irregular chunks the size of coarse breadcrumbs. Add water a teaspoon at a time, until a rough dough forms. Flour your work surface, and roll out into a circle, about 12″ in diameter. Lay pie crust into 9″ pie pan, and gently press into bottom and sides of pan. Fix cracks or tears in crust by pressing together. Prick crust all over with the tines of a fork, and flute the edges of the crust. Here’s a quick video lesson on pie crust fluting:

Bake pie crust at 375 degrees until crust just begins to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes, and remove from oven.

For the filling:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and whisk or mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour into hot pie crust, and return to oven to bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until center of pie filling is just set and barely wiggles. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving, at least two hours.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.


  1. Did you try getting your chilies @ La Bodega? Also, I’ve gotten some nice dried chipotles @ the Deering Oaks Farmers market from one of the Cape E. farms. Sometimes you just have to poke around to find what you need.

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