P. Allen Smith’s Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

It’s hard to beat a traditional pumpkin pie for a harvest dessert—unless it’s creamy and topped with a caramelized crust that begs to be cracked with a spoon. P. Allen Smith shares his recipe for Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
pumpkin creme brulee, p allen smith
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée is sure to please your guests at fall gatherings.

At my home at Moss Mountain Farm in Arkansas, October brings autumn leaves, brilliant blue skies and the colorful blooms of aster, salvia, and goldenrod. In the vegetable garden, pumpkins are ready for harvest. I’m a big fan of pumpkins for decorating and for cooking so I make sure to have plenty around. It’s amazing all the ways you can prepare pumpkin beyond the traditional pumpkin pie, and pumpkin crème brûlée is one of my favorites.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Makes 8 servings


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for topping
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ginger
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree


1 | Preheat oven to 300°.

2 | You will need 8 (½-cup) ramekins or custard cups.

3 | In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and ¼ cup sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. You will know the cream is ready when small bubbles start to form on the edge of the pan and the top of the cream has started to ripple. Remove from the heat.

4 | In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add ¾ cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. This is referred to as tempering the mixture and prevents it from cooking the eggs. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. You will notice that there may be some of the pumpkin left behind. Divide among the ramekins.

5 | Place ramekins in a baking dish. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until chilled or overnight.

6 | Sprinkle each crème brûlée with about 1 teaspoon sugar in a thin layer. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar or use your oven broiler until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Rotate the cup every two minutes to avoid burning.

By P. Allen Smith

About Allen

P. Allen Smith is one of America’s most recognized garden and design experts. His Moss Mountain Farm serves as a place of inspiration, education, and conservation. Book tours at pallensmith.com/tours.