The Ultimate Guide To Costco's Pumpkin Pie

Certain sights and smells evoke seasonal memories, and none more so than the autumnal pumpkin. Once Halloween is over and out, many of us have only a single desire for our pumpkins — to eat them in a pie with a dollop of whipped cream!

Let's face it, Thanksgiving dinner would not be the same without that scrumptious dessert. And in a perfect world, you would spend hours lovingly preparing a home-cooked pumpkin pie in the days leading up to the big event. But in the real world, something's gotta give, and often that something is dessert. In the absence of a homemade pie, a store-bought one will have to suffice, and Costco is the first choice for many, according to some testimonials and the sheer amount of sales. Their pumpkin pie has become the stuff of legends, rivaling the turkey for the most favored spot on the table.

Whether you're buying a Costco pumpkin pie for the first time or you have been passing it off as your own for years (Hey, we're not judging!), it's time to take a look at one of America's treasured desserts. Join us as we explore Costco's pumpkin pie, a Thanksgiving staple that has captured the attention of pie lovers across the country.

Behind the scenes of Costco's pumpkin pie

Taking a look behind the scenes at the creation of Costco's pumpkin pie shows the sheer scale of the operation — 1.2 million cans of pumpkin puree are used to create enough pies for the holiday season, from September through to December. That puree gets cooked twice — before it gets canned and then again after, meaning five and a half hours of total cooking time before making it to the pie.

In Costco's central bakeries, the pie crust, famed for being thin and crumbly, is hand-pressed into pie tins before a recent addition to the process — the pie-filling machine — takes over, cutting overall costs and allowing them to keep their price low. Each pie weighs a whopping 3.8 pounds before it gets baked alongside 23 other pies to transform them into the ready-to-eat desserts that will adorn millions of Thanksgiving tables across the United States.

History of Costco's pumpkin pie

Costco is a store that has become synonymous with bulk buys and lower-than-retail bargain prices. While it is popular in the holiday season with savvy shoppers looking to bag a bargain for Christmas, it sees an influx of customers in November looking for one of its iconic food products — the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

The now legendary Costco pumpkin pie first hit the shelves in 1987, and amazingly, the recipe has remained unchanged. The size has increased, however, from 10 inches in diameter to a whopping 12 inches, while the price hasn't increased much.

The popularity of Costco's pumpkin pie is undeniable, with 6 million pies sold between September and Christmas every year. An incredible 2 million of those are sold in the few days before Thanksgiving. Their popularity comes down to a mix of value for money and reliability. If you can't make your own pumpkin pie from scratch, you need to have a store-bought version you can depend on. Clearly, Costco has provided that — a classic, familiar festive taste that will have loyal fans queuing up every year to grab a slice of the action.

What does Costco's pumpkin pie taste like?

So, the burning question: What does this famous pumpkin pie actually taste like? If you have never enjoyed a Costco pumpkin pie, it would be helpful to know the answer before you serve it up to your entire family at Thanksgiving. Firstly, the custard filling is moist and can be difficult to cut a perfect slice of pie from, so be sure to chill the dessert well in advance of slicing. The pumpkin filling is soft and creamy, with warm notes of cinnamon and a subtle sweetness. The pumpkin flavor is naturally sweet and well-balanced, avoiding the sickly sugary flavor that some store-bought pies can have. The pie has a thin layer of apricot jelly over the top, which some people may not like since it changes the texture slightly, but it is easily removed by wiping with a paper towel.

The crust of Costco's pumpkin pie is famously thin and buttery, though firm enough to allow you to serve it in one piece. It complements the rich filling perfectly, creating a comforting dish that is an excellent fall dessert, especially at the end of a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.

Ingredients in Costco's pumpkin pie

Have you ever taken a bite of a Costco pumpkin pie and wondered what the secret ingredient was? Some enchanting elixir that creates the perfect mouthful of festive magic? Well, prepare to be disappointed, as the genius of this pumpkin pie lies in its simplicity. High-quality core ingredients and a perfect balance of spices — simple!

The pumpkin is, of course, the main ingredient, and the squash of choice is the Dickinson pumpkin. This pale-fleshed version bears a closer resemblance to a butternut squash than the typical Jack O'Lantern orange pumpkin and has a sweet flesh that is perfect for baking.

Though Costco does not disclose exactly what spices are used in the recipe, it is likely to be a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. These warming spices give the classic festive flavor we are so familiar with that captures the holiday season perfectly.

Of course, it wouldn't be a dessert without sugar, but the key is to get the proportion of sugar correct, as an overly sweet dessert after a Thanksgiving feast may not agree with an already full stomach. Costco pumpkin pie has just the right amount of the sweet stuff to keep us satisfied without ruining the end of the meal. The smooth custard filling made from eggs and milk is the perfect texture to complement the crumbly crust made from enriched wheat flour.

The allure of Costco's pumpkin pie lies in the well-balanced ingredients and silky texture. It provides the ideal end to a hearty holiday feast and the perfect blend of nostalgia and comfort.

Nutrition in Costco's pumpkin pie

Though health and nutrition may be the furthest thing from your mind as you tuck into your pumpkin pie, it may be worthwhile looking at the nutritional aspects of the dessert, especially if you are comparing it to other brands. First, some home truths — homemade desserts are always going to be healthier than store-bought since you can control exactly what you put in the pie, and there are unlikely to be artificial flavors and colors.

So we know that Costco pumpkin pie is not exactly a health food, but how do the numbers stack up nutritionally? A slice of pie contains just over 300 calories, which is not a disaster, given that the average adult eats around 2,000 calories per day. The real damage comes from 30 grams of sugar. This is an entire day's worth of sugar for an adult, and considering it is unlikely to be the only sugar you eat that day, indulging in a slice of pumpkin pie is not going to be good for the waistline. On a more positive note, the pumpkin in the pie is full of nutrition, with vitamins E and K and beta-carotene, which are all great for your immune system.

In terms of allergens, Costco's pumpkin pie contains eggs, wheat, soy, and dairy. They are also made in a factory that contains nuts, making them unsuitable for those with nut allergies.

How to recreate Costco's pumpkin pie at home

If you leave your Thanksgiving shopping till the last minute, you run the risk of not being able to get your hands on a famous Costco pumpkin pie. But fear not; you can replicate the delicious flavor at home and have the added satisfaction of knowing it is home-cooked. With a little know-how, you can make a pretty close replica that will wow your guests on the big day.

First, the pumpkin. Since Costco's pumpkin pie is made from Dickinson pumpkins, you will want to find a brand of canned pumpkin that uses the same. Libby's canned pumpkin is made from Dickinson pumpkins and may, in fact, be the brand used by Costco, though they are famously tight-lipped about their suppliers.

For spices, add a subtle blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and an optional dash of nutmeg to recreate the warming underlying flavor of the Costco version. Eggs and milk can be whisked up and mixed with the pumpkin and spices to create a smooth custard. Either buy a pie crust from the store or make your own shortcrust pastry, then add the pie filling and bake until set.

Your guests will enjoy their pumpkin pie as much as always, and this year, you don't have to feel guilty about passing the store-bought version off as your own!

What to serve with your pumpkin pie

Now that you've got your Costco pumpkin pie — or you've recreated it in the kitchen — it's time for the fun of serving it up. While it tastes rather fantastic on its own, a few finishing touches will jazz it up a bit. The classic topping is, of course, whipped cream — perfectly poised on top to cut through the sweetness and provide an airy contrast to the texture of the pie. Or why not try ice cream instead for a similar creamy flavor but a cold twist? The cold ice cream melting on the warm slice of pie will create a sensory delight for your taste buds.

If you want to increase the sweetness, consider whipping up a quick caramel sauce just before serving for your guests to drizzle over the top, or add it to roasted pecans, then dot across the top of the pie for a satisfying crunch.

Lastly, consider what drinks will match the pie perfectly. Coffee is a classic choice, the bitterness cutting through the sweet custard. Dessert wine would also be a great option, with Oloroso sherry being the ideal partner. Otherwise, a small glass of dark rum or vintage port can complement the spiced flavors of the pumpkin pie.

How to store leftover pumpkin pie

Once everyone has finished the mammoth Thanksgiving feast and is ready to roll their way to bed, you may find you have some of your Costco pumpkin pie left over. This pie is not known for being on the petite side, so unless you have a huge family gathering, there's a good chance it will not all be eaten on the night. Leaving it out all night would not be a good idea, so start by making some room in the fridge.

To keep the pie as fresh as possible, wrap it in foil or plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container. As well as preventing it from hardening, it will keep other stronger flavors in the fridge from being absorbed. In general, the "best before" date on the pie is around three days, so it will keep perfectly well in the fridge until then.

If you don't see yourself finishing it within a few days, you would be better off wrapping it up and popping it in the freezer. This way, you can save it for another family feast that is only a few weeks away from Thanksgiving — or until you have an unexpected pie craving. Just remember to defrost it thoroughly before serving.

How does the price of Costco's pumpkin pie compare to elsewhere?

There are many words to describe Costco's pumpkin pie, but expensive is unlikely to be one of them. Since first being released in 1987, the pie has represented a great value Thanksgiving dessert, and the price has barely changed in almost 40 years. At $5.99 for a pie that can serve your entire family, Costco's pumpkin delight is streets ahead of most other commercial pies in terms of value. Due to the sheer volume of pies being sold at Costco across the country in the fall months, they are able to reduce production costs without sacrificing quality.

Buying your pumpkin pie from a smaller bakery will likely mean paying significantly more, and if you are hosting Thanksgiving, the cost of food can add up quickly, meaning a bargain dessert will come as a relief. According to Costco, the chances of stores running out of pumpkin pie are also slim, meaning you won't be disappointed even if you are a last-minute shopper.

Battle of the pies

Costco's pumpkin pie has become a bit of a cult Thanksgiving classic, with loyal fans all over the country. There are several key factors that stand out as reasons why it trumps the competition. Firstly is its size: measuring 12 inches in diameter and weighing in at more than 3.5 pounds, this mammoth dessert is all the average family will need to keep everyone satisfied during Thanksgiving and probably for days afterward.

Next is the flavor — the Dickinson's pumpkins used in the filling give it a distinctive flavor that may be lacking in other store-bought pies. The smooth texture of the filling and crunch of the crust are the final elements that make this dish so popular, though some reviewers have complained of the filling being overly wet.

While Costco's pumpkin pie regularly makes the headlines, a similar product can be found at Sam's Club and won the battle of the pumpkin pies, according to one reviewer. They considered the filling to be significantly better than Costco's, though the crust fell short. If you are curious whether another pie could be just as good as the Costco favorite, there is only one way to find out: Buy both pies and conduct your own little tasting experiment!