Grandma Menard’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie


with Janet Johnston
November 1, 2018
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Tags: Baking Holiday Traditions Pumpkin Pie
Grandma Menard’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

The funny thing about Grandma Menard’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is that I don’t remember her ever making it. At some point in the 70’s the honor was bestowed upon my Aunt Noel and every Thanksgiving she brought two to dinner. My Grandpa George built a nifty square wooden box with two shelves and a handle to carry these pies to and from.

Recipe Box
Grandma Menard's Recipe Box &
Handwritten Pumpkin Chiffon Pie Recipe

I was told that my Grandma Martha had gotten the recipe from a Mrs. Tiffany who lived around the corner. Yes, my grandparent’s names were George and Martha. My great uncle Fred, Martha’s brother, married a very eccentric woman named Wilma. I kid you not.

The last time I visited my parents I dug into Grandma’s old recipe box (another adorable little box that Grandpa had found and fixed up for her) to find the original recipe. I found no less than 4 different pumpkin chiffon pie recipes, some handwritten and two clipped from newspapers. Seems that Mary McEachron AND Dorothy Rideout had claimed ownership of said pie. The newspaper clippings, which had pretty much the exact same recipe, looked to be about 40 years apart in age.

Regardless of where the recipe came from or who made it, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie was always considered Grandma’s. It fit her - a classy version of the original, light and fluffed with egg whites, completed with a cloud of whipped cream dolloped atop. A pie as beautiful as she was that melted in your mouth and made you forget as a young child that you were eating pumpkin. The version of the recipe I have is a copy written in her hand, with notes by Aunt Noel.

I serve the pie nowadays in a graham cracker crust that I add just a dash of Ground Ginger to. As Mrs. McEachron suggests, for ‘an extra touch’, I add a few pieces of diced Crystalized Ginger on top of the whipped cream and of course, I use Savory’s Pumpkin Pie Spice. Grandma lists cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in her recipe, but written very small in the margin she wrote, ‘or pumpkin pie spice.’ 

Grandma passed away just days after Thanksgiving in 2005, a year after Mike and I had started Savory. She had been too ill to understand that her granddaughter owned a company that sells spices, coincidentally, much like her father had in 1908. But I make her Pumpkin Chiffon Pie every Thanksgiving in honor of her, and something tells me that she knows.

Recipe: Grandma Menard’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Grandma Menard
Janet's Grandma Menard


For graham cracker crust:

  • 1 sleeve (9 whole) graham crackers, crushed
  • 5 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger

For pie filling:

  • 1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 cup milk

For graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Press into a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 8 min.

For pie filling: Sprinkle gelatin into cold water and let sit for at least 5 min. Beat 3 egg yolks and stir in sugar, pumpkin puree, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and milk. Cook mixture in a double boiler or in a glass bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water for about 20 to 30 min. until mixture is thick, stirring often. Add softened gelatin and stir until gelatin mix is completely melted. Remove from heat and let mixture cool completely. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Spoon mixture into graham cracker crust and chill for at least 3 hours to set.

Serving Suggestions
Serve with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream.

1 Pie

Comments on this Article

(guest), on November 06, 2017

My mother has been making this very same recipe since before I was born. 1948. It was a family tradition. She passed it on to me and I have been making it for 40 years for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Truly the best pumpkin pie ever. Andrew

(guest), on November 06, 2017

This sounds amazing! Never would have thought of the gelatin. Thank goodness for all the grandmas of this world and their hand written recipe cards. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without my grandma's fruit drop cookies so I totally understand! And I'm definitely going to try this one.

(guest), on November 06, 2017

My Mother began making this in the1950's. She got the recipe from the Boston Globe and it was called... Mamie Eisenhower's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. I started making it in 1969 and did so @ Thanksgiving & Christmas for more than 30 years. Very good, use a baked piecrust, not graham cracker and cover the pie with whip cream.

(guest), on November 06, 2017

This sounds delicious and I plan to try it out this year. But what makes it even more special is how the photo of Grandma Menard reminds me of my mom, who we miss very much this holiday season. They look very similar, right down to the same style of glasses. Thanks for sharing this delightful story.

(guest), on November 06, 2017

Wonderful story! Family recipes, newspaper clippings, hand written index cards sprinkled with ingredients of days gone by. Some of our best memories of parents and grandparents bring us back to the kitchen! Thanks for sharing!

(guest), on November 06, 2017

Love the way you share recipes and love your grandmother. I will be in the store soon for multiple seasonings, including pumpkin pie spice

(guest), on November 06, 2017

I loved reading the back story behind this recipe and I look forward to trying it out, but with substitutions as I am allergic to both wheat and dairy. I will be substituting a nut crust for the graham cracker one, and using coconut milk in place of the regular milk. Thank you so much for this, J.

(guest), on November 06, 2017

I am going to try your grandma's recipe this year. I have never made a pumpkin pie with gelatin, or that needed the double boiler. My double boiler does not get enough use, lol! It will be put to work in a couple of weeks. I like the idea of a bit of ginger in the crust, and your idea of candied ginger as a decoration. Can never have too much of that, and whomever eats it won't have to worry about a Thanksgiving tummy ache.

(guest), on November 06, 2017

Do you need to be concerned about samonella with uncooked egg whites?

Ashlee Redger (registered user) on November 06, 2017

Thanks for the question regarding the egg whites! There IS a risk associated with consuming raw egg whites (or yolks), but it is a fairly small one—especially for people who don't fall under the categories of small children, pregnant, elderly, and/or immunocompromised. If you're cooking for someone who belongs to one of those groups or if you are concerned, you can find shelled, pasteurized eggs in most grocery stores. Use these the same way you would use non-pasteurized eggs!

(guest), on November 06, 2017

Your pumpkin pie spice is the absolute best! Pumpkin pie is my favorite. My son-in-law Michael loves it, too. He brought me back pumpkin pie spice after a trip to Denver. I was amazed in the difference between the store brand and yours. It was night and day better. I plan to order other spices in the future. Your recipes are inspiring me to cook flavorful meals.

(guest), on November 07, 2017

Nice story. Great example of the idea: “food as love.” What a wonderful person your grandmother must have been. Nice tribute. Make me want to try it, and pumpkin pie isn’t my favorite.

(guest), on November 07, 2017

Thanks for your holiday communications and wonderful suggestions. Would love to access these recipes... and of course come in to your store for a fresh bottle of pumpkin pie spice! Thanks. D Cole

Janet (registered user) on November 09, 2017

Thanks everyone for your comments and sharing your stories of the infamous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie! Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. Janet

(guest), on November 13, 2017

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