Wheat-free Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is one of those fixtures of Thanksgiving dinner that, when recreated without wheat, can be enjoyed without worry. No worries over weight gain, increased blood sugar, triglycerides, blood pressure. No leg edema, abdominal cramps or diarrhea. No depression, moodiness, or crabbiness–except that aimed at your weird brother-in-law who keeps on licking his fingers after touching everything.

The pumpkin puree poses only a slight potential carbohydrate challenge. The entire pie contains 36 grams carbohydrates; if divided into 8 pieces, that yields 4.5 grams carbohydrate per slice–a tolerable level for most people. Heck, even two pieces yields about the same carbohydrate load as half an apple.


Pie crust
1 1/4 cups ground walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
4 ounces butter or coconut oil, melted

Pie filling
2 cups pumpkin puree
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Sweetener equivalent to 3/4 cup sugar (e.g., 5 tablespoons Truvia)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, mix together ground walnuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. In small bowl, whisk eggs and add butter or coconut oil. Pour liquid mix into dry mix and blend by hand thoroughly.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan with coconut oil or other oil. Transfer mix to the pie pan and spread evenly along bottom and up sides. If mixture is too thin, place in refrigerator for several minutes to thicken. For ease of spreading, use a large metal spoon heated under running hot water. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine pumpkin, cream cheese, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly by hand. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sweetener and continue to blend by hand.

Pour pumpkin mix into pie crust. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until toothpick or knife withdraws nearly dry. Optionally, sprinkle additional nutmeg and/or cinnamon, top with whipped cream or coconut milk.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. I’ve taken to ditching the whole idea of a crust and cooking a custard instead – with that custard made up entirely of pumpkin, eggs, homemade whole milk Greek Yogurt and a little bit of Maple syrup (and assorted seasoning.)

    Delicious, firm and dense – and no ingredient in any quantity that you wouldn’t eat at any time of day.

  2. Thanks for this! I was just about to post my blog about eating a gluten free Thanksgiving dinner and all I needed was a recipe for a delicious Pumpkin Pie! I am going to try making this and post my opinions after the big day! I am 3 weeks into being gluten free and LOVE the way I feel, look and think (focus). Thanks for changing my life!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

      • I did make this pie for Thanksgiving dessert and it was delicious!! I used almonds for the crust and the flavor was incredible. The only thing I may try next time is to cut the ginger by half. I love ginger but it was a little over-powering. For my next “experiment” I plan to make the cheesecake (the recipe in Wheat Belly) for our Christmas dinner. I will keep you posted on that, too!

        • Great, Amy!

          Yes, adjust spices to your taste. Spices can vary widely in intensity. I’m also guilty of loving nutmeg and perhaps I’m a little overenthusiastic with its use.

        • celebrated my first wheat free Thanksgiving…it was wonderful. I never felt deprived .I also made the pumpkin pie and it was delicious. I have made 3 batches of the chocolate chip cookies but I have to swear off of them for a while. I can’t stop at one!

  3. Lori

    Hi there,
    I am not sure where to begin! I was in the book store this weekend and was drawn to your book. I have been reading it since with great interest. This is mostly due to my personal struggle with weight for as long as I can remember. I am your typical lose and gain weight loss story. Additionally, most recently I have been having many bowel/stomach issues for the past few months. HOWEVER, what drew me to writing you tonight before bed is when I reached CHAPTER 11-Wheat and the Brain. You see, my mother has CEREBRAL ATAXIA! She was diagnosed in 1993 at the Mayo Clinic (after many mis-diagnoses in Canada). She is currently 69 but spent her 60th birthday in a nursing home and has been there since. So, I am sitting here with many questions and curiosities. I suspect I may have some wheat issues. I once did a low carb/no carb diet and remember losing belly fat pretty quickly. Unfortunately I didn’t stay on it so it was just another diet. I am also sitting here thinking about my mother who has the very thing you write about in chapter 11. Wow! I am fascinated and would welcome the opportunity to hear you speak or email you.

    • Lori

      Wow. I must also add (after I did a quick search on your blog) that I also have carpel tunnel in one hand and I’m waiting for surgery. I was drawn to your book really not realizing the impact this might have! Again-all I can say right now is wow.

      • Yes, Lori, you are beginning to appreciate the reach of this thing into many aspects of health.

        When people argue that “wheat elimination is not that big a deal because everybody doesn’t have gluten-sensitivity,” they fail to recognize the incredible range of disease this thing can cause. Unfortunately, conditions like your Mom’s can progress for decades before the question is even raised.

        • Lori

          Thank you for your reply. I am heading off to continue reading your book. I’ve been talking about to so many people at work about what I’ve read so far. I look forward to discovering more about my personal connection to wheat and the mystery of how it may be affecting me. Do you recommend food sensitivity testing through holistic medicine or going to my GP for testing?

          Thanks again!

          • Lori

            Dr. Davis,
            I need to add that last night I looked into something else. A few years ago I had Epstein Barr virus. It started with horrible fever like symptoms, incredible soar throat, then I was very jaundice was admitted to hospital and ended with a rash over my entire body in addition to the fatigue that kept me home from work for about a month. I decided to google wheat and epstein barr last night and to my shock it too is related!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel like I need to call my doctor and get some tests before I change my eating – she usually sees me within a day or two of calling. Please let me know if I should be asking about celiac disease, wheat allergies to help get the proper tests. I am baffled, amazed, shocked and relieved all at the same time. So many little mysteries have happened to me (carpel tunnel, cancer soars in mouth, carpel tunnel, terrible stomach and not a regular bm in months as well as my mother’s ataxia), And all this after being drawn to your book – it must have been the bagels on the cover ;-)

          • Hi, Lori–

            Unfortunately, celiac testing identifies only a small fraction of the people who benefit from wheat elimination.

            This is a fundamental problem: Even if someone responds dramatically to wheat elimination, they can still have no blood marker for it. This is why I stress that wheat-free is for everybody, regardless of celiac markers, HLA markers, or others.

          • Hi, Lori–

            With regards to food sensitivity testing to wheat, no. Because wheat’s effects cannot be fully gauged by any test such as allergy testing, celiac testing, stool examination, or HLA testing, I advocate complete and total elimination . . . period. No test, for instance, will examine susceptibility to the appetite-increasing effects of gliadin in wheat, or the intestinal “leakiness” provoked by wheat germ agglutinin.

  4. Brenda

    I got your book about a month ago. I am not overweight. I did LC for years and got down to 115. I then started to add in some carbs here and there. You guesses it, wheat. Eventually I put on 7 pounds. Felt like crap and very bloated all the time. I then was diagnosed with IBS. The doc said to try elimating things to see what is maybe causing the problem. That is when I found your book. I have been 95 %wheat free since. I have had a smidge here and there. But, I have lost all 7 pounds and my bloat is almost gone!! I feel better and think better. Thanks for the book..I wish others would take the time to read it. There are a lot of wheat bellies out there.

  5. Anya

    I am so excited to try this. I am going to make it today as a trial run. I am really appreciative that you always use Truvia. I have looked for other wheat free/grain free pumpkin pie recipes online and found most of them had honey.

    I recently read a report that was out of Univ. of Texas (can’t remember which campus) where they tested every container of honey sold in grocery stores in Maryland and found that 76% of them contained not one single drop of honey (pollen). They were made out of corn syrup with honey flavoring but labeled and sold as honey!

    I am feeling these days like everything is such a scam that we have been told. Grains, wheat, honey as “natural and wonderful,” etc. Once your eyes are open, there are just so many lies….

    Again, very thankful for Wheat Belly helping me on a path of wellness! Very excited to try this pie :)

    • Hi, Anya–

      Wow. I wasn’t aware that honey is often high-fructose corn syrup. Though I’m not surprised, given all the other shenanigans thrust on the consuming public.

      Let us know how your pie turns out!

  6. Fiona

    Thanks for this recipe, I am going to try making it over the Christmas holidays (we don’t have Thanksgiving here).
    @Lori. It’s interesting how eliminating wheat has so many effects other than the obvious ones.
    I had the beginnings of a Dupuytrens contracture under my ring finger on my left hand, which was advancing to the stage called ‘cording’. I have read elsewhere that this is considered a marker for the development of Diabetes, so I was worried about it. (My mum has one too, and she was diagnosed with T2 Diabetes about 5 years after it appeared).
    Since starting my low carb plan and eleiminating wheat 4 months ago my Dupuytrens contracture has definitely reduced. I can hardly believe it, but yes, it is definitely straightening out again, the cording is smoother and less bumpy. (I’ve also lost 30lbs and my blood pressure, HbA1c and lipids all came in at normal values at my recent Drs visit – woohooo!).

    • Excellent, Fiona!

      Thank you for talking about the Dupuytren’s. This is something I hadn’t heard of before, i.e., improvement off wheat. I will have to watch for this effect.

  7. Jessica

    Low Carb Squash Casserole (Alternative to Sweet Potato Casserole)
    Serves 8
    2.9 net carbs per serving
    • 3 cups cooked cauliflower
    • 3 cups baked Japanese Kabocha squash (lowest carb winter squash)
    • 2 tablespoons salted butter
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spices
    • Sweetener to taste (calculated using 0 carb sweetener)
    Stab squash with large fork and cook in microwave on high for 10-14 minutes, until as done as a baked potato would be. Cool for 10 minutes, cut in half and cut out seeds. Scoop out 3 cups. Save the remainder for later.
    Cook cauliflower in glass container with lid until soft.
    Place cooked cauliflower and squash in mixer or food processor, adding butter, salt and spices to taste. Adjust salt and sweetener for great balance of flavor.
    Can be reheated in glass container with lid in oven (20 minutes) while other items are cooking or heated in microwave. This is a fabulous replacement for the usual high carb sweet potato dish with sugary marshmallows. Doesn’t need the marshmallows but if you must, use sugar free “Peeps”.
    Kabocha squash is easy to find at most grocery stores.

    Thank you, Dr. Davis! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

  8. This is GREAT! I used your pie crust for my bean pies and I’m so happy! :D Really interesting too because every time I take a small piece of bean pie I already know I’m coming back for 2nds and 3rds – just cannot stop! This time I ate a piece and it was wonderful and filling and I felt happy. That’s it. Didn’t rush back to get more and more and more and…. :o Totally different experience!! :) Thanks a great pie crust, Dr. Davis.

    • Great, Linda!

      Yes, the crust can be used in multiple recipes. Occasionally, especially if kids will be consuming, it may help to add some sweetener to the crust mix.

  9. Caitlin Russell

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I made the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and loved it! So did my sister who is also doing no-wheat/LC like me. It was very rich and I could not eat more than a small slice. I did have a couple bites of other desserts that family brought and they were way too sweet for my taste. It’s amazing how your tastes change and you can’t handle the super-sweet stuff anymore once you’ve eliminated sugar from your diet.

    I used powdered xylitol as the sweetener and added a couple tablespoonsfulls to the crust too. I cooked the crust for about 5 minutes before adding the filling because I like my crusts a little crispy. I would recommend turning the oven down to 350 degrees if doing that so as not to get the crust too brown once you start cooking with the filling in it.

    Loved it with some real whipped cream on top! Others who are not WF-LC didn’t say they loved the pie too much. :) I imagine it was not sweet enough for them. If I were making this for a crowd again, I may add more sweetener next time. Then again, I may not….more for me!

    Thanks for your wonderful book. I’m really enjoying it and have been mostly wheat free for a number of years. Your recipes are adding more variety to my diet and for that my family and I are appreciative!

    • Great, Caitlin!

      This is a hurdle in creating these recipes: The longer people are wheat-free, the less sweet they need. So I try to write the recipes with sweetness somewhere in the middle-range: not too sweet, not too unsweet. (Is that a word?)

  10. Paul

    Dr. Davis:

    I noticed, to my surprise, that WB (p. 209) limits the amount of butter to one or two servings a day, because of the “tendency that dairy protein has to increase pancreatic release of insulin.” Not sure what one “serving” of butter is, but I’ll guess it’s one tbsp.

    As a low-carber, I had thought that I could pretty much eat all the butter I wanted (aside from the calories!), because butter is virtually pure fat. Indeed, I just looked at my box of Organic Valley cultured butter, and it’s supposedly got 0 gms of protein, and 0 gms of carbs. And I seem to recall that most of the LC writers (e.g., Dr. Eades’ Protein Power Lifeplan, p. 320 & p. 342) view butter as a “good” fat.

    Is there a trace amount of dairy protein in butter that concerns you? And any trace amount of dairy protein in butter is somehow more insulin-triggering than the comparatively substantial amount of dairy protein in cultured cheese, which you approve of? Even in “cultured” butter?

    I’m sure you can see my confusion. Any comments much appreciated.

    By the way, I myself have had a suspicion that butter is much more fattening than some other fats, but primarily because butter is addictive to my palate — when I have some I always seem to want a lot more. But coconut oil, even if I use a tablespoon or two in a dipping bowl and dip my meat in it as I eat it, is satisfying and doesn’t lead to wanting more and more. I don’t know why. I’ve noticed the same thing with chicken fat: I enjoy eating it but don’t want more and more (unless it’s the fat in rotisserie chicken and brown and crispy).

    Thanks very much.


    • Hi, Paul–

      I only glossed over this issue, because it is a topic all by itself. It involves the introduction of the (poorly named) advanced glycation end-products and lipoxidation products, highest in butter compared to all other dairy products. This includes ghee.

      The conversation cannot be just about fat vs carbohydrate. There are emerging issues such as the generation of advanced glycation-end products and other products of heating. There are taurate-triggered byproducts of bacterial digestion in the colon unique to meat consumption that may contribute to colon cancer risk. While I am part of the low-carb conversation, I believe it is not entirely correct to embrace everything that only meets of the criterion of low-carb.

      Perhaps this is worth discussing in more detail in future. A bit much for a book on wheat, I thought.

      • Paul

        Dr. Davis:

        Thanks for your comments. Yes, I would very much look forward to eventually hearing more elaboration from you about this subject — perhaps in your next book or an article in your blog. I enjoyed the book and found your reasoning quite persuasive on any number of topics.

        Would you please confirm that I understood you correctly in the first place: that the trace amounts of dairy protein in butter is more injurious to health than the much greater amount of dairy protein in cheese? And if that’s because cheese is cultured, well then, what about cultured butter?



        • Yes, correct, Paul.

          However, I’ve never heard of cultured butter, so no opinion/insight.

          There are undoubtedly problems with bovine-sourced products of mammary glands, but cheese I believe is the most benign despite its potential for extreme acidity.

          • Paul

            Cultured butter is widely available. In FL, I just look through the butters available at the mainstream supermarkets, and some of the organics or imported are cultured.

            Indeed, Wikipedia says that the butters that have listed ingredients including lactic acid (many) are an attempt to mimic the taste of cultured butter.

            And if you type “cultured butter” into Google, you’ll get a quarter of a million results.

            In other words, it’s a common way of processing butter, and is commonly available, although I myself had never heard of it until recently.


  11. Nancy

    Just wanted to tell you that you have converted my husband to a pumpkin pie lover!!! He never, never ate pumpkin pie in the past, but this Thanksgiving it was the only desert available so he tried it. Now he wants me to make one once a week!! He loves your recipe. I can’t wait to try the new Chocolate/Raspberry cheesecake.
    I have been wheat free, sugar free, low carb since June 1 and I have lost 44 pounds. Not bad for a 61 year old lady with severe osteoarthritis in her knees. Just trying to lose another 30 lbs. before knee surgery.
    Thank you so much for all your help.

    • That’s great, Nancy!

      I’d be interested in knowing whether, despite the severe arthritis in your knees, whether your symptoms improved with your wheat-free weight loss.

      • Nancy

        So far – no. My knees and hips seem to be getting steadily worse, but I am sure that they would be in much worse shape if I had not changed my diet. I do feel better in general and I think that, finally, I am now eating this way for life. I don’t think of it as a “diet”, something that will change when I get to a certain weight, but that this is simply how I live. Your book made a huge impression on me and even if I do miss a French baguette with my mussels, I would not think of eating it – would be like considering poison a nice side dish!
        Thank you so much for all the information you provide, it is really life changing.

  12. Lorraine

    Anyone else have the problem of the butter overflowing on to the bottom of the oven and setting off ALL of the smoke detectors in the house! My friend had the same problem when she made it.

  13. Penny

    Hi Dr. Davis and Friends~
    I’ve been making the best pizza crust in town. I make the Flaxseed wrap as usual and then top with homemade pizza sauce, toppings and plenty of mushrooms, onions and peppers and top with shredded cheese. I bake my pizza at 425 for about 8-10 minutes! Absolutely, delish! I’ve also been using the Flaxseed wrap to make hamburger buns and using for breakfast as english muffins! They are so yummy! It’s amazing what you can come up with when you are fully and totally committed to the Wheat Belly lifestyle. Thank you so much!

  14. Elizabeth

    For those of us who don’t want to bother with a crust, the filling is equally delicious just baked in greased ramekins. Also, since pumpkin pie spices taste “sweet” you don’t really need to add any sweetener. I love spices and always add freshly grated ginger, ground cinnamon and nutmeg.Sometimes I add a bit of pure maple syrup (which may not be strictly kosher). I top the “pie” with freshly whipped cream with a little vanilla extract or vanilla beans scraped from the pod.