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Vintage Pumpkin Icebox Pie Recipe

I have a sizable tried-and-true cookie recipe file, but I am always eager to discover new ones. Who doesn't love cookies?

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 someone call a refrigerator 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