During the fall and winter months, pumpkin spice is a must. It's hard to beat creamy pumpkin and fragrant cinnamon—especially when it's served with a dollop of whipped cream! These pumpkin pie parfaits channel the flavors of pumpkin pie, but without needing to make an actual pie. Slightly sweet pumpkin filling is layered with fresh dairy-free whipped cream. Crumbled ginger molasses cookies make a delicious stand-in for pie crust. And because the components can be made in advance, you can simply assemble personal-sized portions whenever you want. Or serve during the holidays and let everyone assemble their own.
The idea for these pumpkin parfaits came from Ina Garten. I was flipping through her cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home and the festive Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits caught my eye. Her original recipe has lots of whipping cream, egg yolks, and gelatin—so I wanted to make a healthier version that's also vegan. The results are delicious!
How to make
These pumpkin pie parfaits come together quickly. There is no baking involved and the fridge does most of the work. Here's how you make these parfaits:
- Make the pumpkin filling: The night before, whisk together the ingredients and let it set in the fridge. (And, put the cans of coconut milk or cream in the fridge too.)
- Make the coconut whipped cream: Use electric beaters to whip the coconut cream until fluffy. (If you're looking to save time, you can use store-bought instead.)
- Fluff up the pumpkin spice filling: Whisk the set pumpkin spice filling and fold in some of the whipped cream.
- Assemble: Layer crumbled ginger cookies, pumpkin filling, and coconut whipped cream. Then dig in and enjoy!
- Pumpkin puree (from a can): Use pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling has spices mixed in—but we'll be adding our own instead.
- Spices: I always recommend adding your own spices to pumpkin puree (when baking a pie or anything else), because you get to control exactly what goes in it. This recipe uses cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Maple syrup: A splash of maple syrup not only acts as the natural sweetener in this recipe, but it also adds a subtle maple flavor that pairs well with pumpkin.
- Chia seeds: Ground chia seeds help thicken the filling. You can gind them using a spice grinder or blender. I used white chia seeds just to make sure there was no trace of them visible, but you can use any color you'd like.
- Ginger molasses cookies: The cookies add a nice textural element to the soft filling. You can use homemade vegan ginger molasses cookies or store-bought ginger snaps or cookies.
- Canned coconut milk: The whipped cream gets made from the coconut solids that rise to the top of the chilled cans of coconut milk (or cream). Alternatively, you can skip the step of making homemade vegan whipped cream altogether—and just use store-bought instead (the recipe below includes substitution details).
Serving and storage tips
If you want to keep the crumbled cookies as crisp as possible, then assemble these pumpkin pie parfaits just before serving. You can assemble them in small glasses, mugs, ramekins, or anything other small container you have on hand. For an easy, casual dessert just bring the components to the table and let everyone serve themselves.
Extra pumpkin filling and extra whipped cream can be covered and refrigerated. Store cookies at room temperature. If you have extra assembled parfaits, cover them and store in the fridge.
Pumpkin Pie Parfait
- 1 (15 oz/14 fl oz/398 ml) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 3 to 4 Ginger Molasses Cookies (or store-bought, gluten-free if needed)
Coconut Whipped Cream
- 2 (14 fl oz/398 ml) cans full-fat coconut milk (see note 1)
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- The night before: In a medium sized bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt until smooth. Sprinkle in the ground chia and orange zest. Whisk vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes so that the chia gets evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Also place a mixing bowl, and the cans of coconut milk in the fridge (see note 1).
- The next day: Scoop the coconut solids from the cans (see note 2) and add to chilled mixing bowl. Set aside or discard the remaining liquid in cans. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the coconut solids until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and maple syrup (to taste). Beat for another 30 seconds to incorporate.
- Fluff pumpkin mixture: Whisk the pumpkin mixture for 1 minute to fluff it up slightly. Transfer about ¾ cup of the coconut whipped cream to the pumpkin mixture, and gently fold to mix. Keep the remaining coconut whipped cream for assembly.
- Assemble: Crumble the cookies. Just before serving, layer the pumpkin mixture, coconut whipped cream, and crumbled cookies among six cups or ramekins (see note 3).
- Coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk is required to make coconut whipped cream (buy the highest fat content you can find). In the store, I like to shake the can to test it: the less "sloshing" the better (it likely means some of the coconut has already solidified). There's a lot of variability across brands and cans, so we recommend buying extra in case you get a dud. Refrigerate overnight, or for the best results, 24+ hours.
- Coconut whipped cream: If you didn't have luck getting the coconut to separate - or don't want to make the whipped cream yourself - don't worry! Just substitute with store-bought (coconut) whipped cream instead. This recipe (1x) will yield about 2.5 to 3 cups whipped cream, made from 2 cans of coconut milk.
- Make ahead option: Make the pumpkin mixture, coconut whipped cream, and crumbled cookies in advance. Keep them separate until just before serving, then assemble. The crumbled ginger molasses cookies will soften in the parfait as it sits.
- Recipe adapted from Ina Garten ("Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits" from Barefoot Contessa at Home)