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Vintage Pumpkin Icebox Pie Recipe

My husband and I both enjoy cooking. We like sampling and discovering new and different foods from all areas of the world.

Slice of pumpkin ice box pie

Slice of pumpkin ice box pie

My Mother's Old Recipe Box

When I found this pumpkin icebox pie recipe in my mother's old recipe box, I decided to give it a try. When was the last time you heard a refrigerator called an icebox?

Before refrigerators became the norm, people had iceboxes in which chunks of ice, generally taken from lakes in the wintertime and stored, would be used to keep perishable foods fresh.

I have an old photo of a delivery truck and some young men who delivered ice back in the day when it was routine. My grandparents had an icebox at their summer cottage on a lake in Wisconsin back in the 1920s. They did have a refrigerator at their primary home in Milwaukee. Things were a bit more primitive at the cottage, which was a part of the fun for them of spending time there.

My mother's old recipe box

My mother's old recipe box

Making This Pie

I used graham cracker crumbs in this recipe, but ginger snap crumbs could be an alternate ingredient for the crust. I am sure that it would be tasty as well.

When you look at the cooking time below, please understand that it is a rough guesstimate. Other than cooking the filling in a double boiler and then allowing it to cool before adding the rest of the custard ingredients, most of the time suggested is for cooling in a refrigerator.

I put 12 hours for the "cook time," which is the refrigeration period, but I refrigerated the pie for an entire day before we cut into it. You could chill it for fewer hours than 12, as long as it is entirely cooled and set.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

12 hours

13 hours

8 generous slices


For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water


  1. Start by cooking the egg yolks, pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, and salt in a double boiler until thick; then set aside to cool.
  2. While that pumpkin mixture is cooling, melt the butter and pour it into a bowl with the graham cracker (or ginger snap cookie) crumbs, and combine until well mixed. Press the crumbs into a pie plate.
  3. When the pumpkin mixture is sufficiently cooled, dissolve the gelatin into the cold water and add it to the pumpkin custard. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the sugar and mix well.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they form still peaks, then gently fold into the pumpkin custard mixture.
  6. Pour the custard mixture into the crumb crust, and refrigerate until well-chilled and ready to serve.

Crust or No Crust?

Graham cracker crusts are often baked for a time and then left to cool before adding a filling. They can also be left unbaked, as in this recipe. You can find online recipes for graham cracker crusts both ways. You can buy ready-made crusts in grocery stores and shorten the time to make this recipe.

When I next make this recipe, I intend to put the pumpkin mixture into individual serving dishes without any crust and treat it as a flavorful custard. It will eliminate some of the calories and still be a tasty dessert.

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."

— Jim Davis, creator of "Garfield"

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2020:

Hi Peg,

We have my mother's and my mother-in-law's old recipe boxes. They are handy for cataloging recipes instead of searching for some that may be in recipe books. Of course, we also have an assortment of recipe books. The years pass quickly, don't they!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on December 08, 2020:

What a great alternative to the traditional baked pumpkin pie. I love custard so this sounds great to me. That recipe box of your mother's looks just like the one I still use with recipes I've made for decades. Yikes. It's hard to believe that I've been cooking that long.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It has been fun trying out some of these old recipes. We share some of the results with our neighbors, so we get some feedback on which ones are good to share with others. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2020:

Hi Mary,

You are familiar with iceboxes from what you wrote in your comment. It must be so much fun for you to get away and stay in your cottage. Stay warm up there! Thanks for your comment.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 08, 2020:

I like the different twist on this pumpkin pie. Your old recipes are so tantalizing!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 08, 2020:

Such an interesting recipe from the past. We still have our ice house in the cottage.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2020:

Hi Devika,

I hope you give this recipe a try. We think that it is a refreshing twist from the normal pumpkin pie.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 08, 2020:

I have not heard of it

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 08, 2020:

Peggy you have brought to my attention a unique recipe and sounds a great idea.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

Indeed we have come a long way since the use of iceboxes! That woman who was offering her services in the early days of Covid-19 sounds like a generous soul.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2020:

Hi Ankita,

I am pleased that you liked learning about the old iceboxes and how it relates to this recipe. I hope you give this recipe a try. Thanks for your comment.

manatita44 from london on December 08, 2020:

A woman give me a piece that looked like yours recently. She probably called it the same thing. She was calling homes and offering her services, during the early days of Covid-19. It was a small slice, but so delectable!

You take us back a while with your mom's ice-box. We've come a long way. Awesome!

Ankita B on December 08, 2020:

The recipe sounds delicious. I loved your grandmother's old recipe box and also enjoyed reading about the icebox. Thank you for sharing another great recipe.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Liza,

I would not doubt for a moment that your husband's grandmother has a recipe box like this one. We have one almost identical from my husband's mother. So they were very common back then. You should ask her the next time you talk to her.

Liza from USA on December 07, 2020:

I wonder if my husband's grandmother has something like that (the recipes box). She's 84 years old, and she is an excellent cooker. I once learned how to make a traditional tortilla from her. Thanks for letting us know more about your family story, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Linda,

Pumpkin is such a good flavor. I agree with you that any kind of pumpkin pie is good. This recipe is a good variation on the classic.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 07, 2020:

I like any form of pumpkin pie. Thanks for sharing your mother's recipe, Peggy. The pie and the crust sound delicious

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Liza,

This old recipe box is the one my mother used, but there are plenty of my grandmother's recipes in it. I am glad you enjoyed learning about those old iceboxes. In another article I had written some time ago, I have a photo of the ice delivery to my grandparent's cottage. My mother used to fondly think of those days spent at the lake when she was a child.

Liza from USA on December 07, 2020:

I think this pie is perfect for a family treat. By the way, I enjoy reading the story of the icebox, and I love your grandmother's old recipe box. I bet there are countless delicious recipes she has written and keep in that box. Thanks for sharing another great recipe from your grandmother.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Shannon,

I believe we will all be happy when the comments are restored on all of our articles. It is hit or miss this way to be able to find some on which we can comment.

Shannon Henry from Texas on December 07, 2020:

I need to try this recipe! I made what I call ice cream pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. It's a variation of one my grandma used to make, but it seems like I remember hers tasting better than mine turns out. I lost her recipe years ago and no one in my family seems to have it. Maybe it was similar to yours. I just remember the main ingredients being the pumpkin and ice cream. Cinnamon, of course, and the graham cracker crust. I'm glad this hub was in the main news feed so that I could comment. That way, it will come back up in my notification, hopefully. ....I'll be glad when they get comments working properly again!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I am having some fun going through many of these old recipes. I remember eating many traditional pumpkin pies over the years but do not remember eating this one. Both are very good! Enjoy the balance of your week also!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Fascinating! I've never heard of it, which surprises me a bit. Evidently my mother never made it. Thanks for the recipe. It actually sounds like something that would be fun to try.

Have a wonderful week, Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Dora,

It is fun trying some of these old vintage recipes. This one turned out well. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Diana Carol,

It really turned out to be delicious. I will make it again.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

The longest amount of time it takes is to let the pumpkin and egg mixture cool enough to add the gelatin and fold in the egg whites. So I allowed an entire hour for the prep time because of that.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 07, 2020:

The thought of a vintage pie appealed to me, plus the fact that I like pumpkin. Thanks for sharing the nostalgia and the actual cooking experience.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on December 07, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your recipe eith us .

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on December 07, 2020:

Love pumpkin pie. It does not sound delicious on paper but it really is to the taste buds:)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2020:

The recipe sounds very good, Peggy. I would buy a ready-made crust most likely. While it takes time to chill, I don't think it would take to long to make. It seems like you are enjoying trying out these old recipes. Thanks for sharing them.

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