We Made Libby’s Pumpkin Delights from 1971—and This Fall Dessert Is Still Delicious

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This vintage recipe for Libby's Pumpkin Delights makes ultra-creamy pumpkin pecan ice cream. Your guests won't be able to resist a second helping!

Just make this dessert once, and Libby’s Pumpkin Delights will be one of the recipes you look forward to each fall! The ingredients are simple: pumpkin pie mix and vanilla ice cream. You combine them together to make some of the best pumpkin ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

How to Make Libby’s Pumpkin Delights

Libbys Pumpkin Delights detailMelissa Erdelac for Taste of Home

The recipe below is a modified version of Libby’s vintage recipe. The original ingredients called for one quart of vanilla ice cream. Because ice cream is now often sold in 1.5-quart containers, I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly.

The original recipe also had sugar on the ingredients list. While I did add it to the recipe, I felt like it could be omitted without affecting the taste. Both vanilla ice cream and the pumpkin pie mix include sugar, so adding more seemed redundant. It’s up to you to add the extra sugar or leave it out.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 2-1/4 cup Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix
  • 1/3 cup sugar (optional)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Tools You’ll Need

  • Trigger Ice Cream Scoop: This tool is ideal for this recipe because it quickly and evenly makes uniform ice cream balls. I also love to use an ice cream scoop for cleanly distributing muffin batter in tins.
  • Hand Mixer: While the original recipe instructs stirring by hand, using a mixer speeds up the process and better incorporates the ice cream with the pumpkin pie mix.
  • Baking Sheet: This is used to simply transfer the ice cream balls to the freezer, so any baking sheet will do. However, these Nordic Ware baking sheets also perform optimally when making baked goods.

Directions

Step 1: Mix ice cream with Libby’s pumpkin pie mix

Libbys Pumpkin Delights mixtureMelissa Erdelac for Taste of Home

Start by softening the ice cream. The best way to do this is to let the ice cream thaw slightly in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This helps the ice cream melt more uniformly, rather than with liquidy edges and a frozen middle.

Once the ice cream has softened, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin pie mix, optional sugar and vanilla extract. At this point, stir the ingredients together with a large spoon or use a hand mixer on low speed to combine thoroughly.

Step 2: Refreeze the pumpkin ice cream

Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface of the mixed ice cream and place it back in the freezer to refreeze until solid.

Step 4: Shape into balls

Libbys Pumpkin Delight ballsMelissa Erdelac for Taste of Home

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Use a trigger ice cream scoop to make large serving-sized balls and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back in the freezer for 15-30 minutes so the ice cream freezes in solid balls.

Step 4: Dip in pecans and freeze

Place the chopped pecans in a shallow dish. Remove the pumpkin ice cream from the freezer. If the ice cream balls are frozen solid, let them sit out for 5 minutes. The ice cream should be just soft enough for the pecans to adhere to them.

Transfer the balls to the chopped pecans, rolling and pressing the nuts on with your hands. Place the coated balls back onto the baking sheet and cover securely with foil. Freeze until ready to serve.

Here’s What I Thought

Libbys Pumpkin Delights Melissa Erdelac for Taste of Home

This recipe brought me back to my mom’s kitchen, when recipes came from newspaper clippings, handwritten note cards or the package of a beloved product. I can remember her carefully peeling off can labels to save the recipe and make it again!

If I were to judge just the pumpkin ice cream alone, it was seriously some the best I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) stop sneaking bites as I shaped the balls. However, when making this recipe again, that’s where I would stop. The multiple freezing steps and coating in pecans did nothing to enhance the flavor. In fact, as the ice cream melted and refroze, it affected the texture and ended up more icy than creamy.

While I loved the saltiness of pecans paired with pumpkin, it would have been just as simple to serve the ice cream with chopped pecans—or even go the extra mile and make 5-minute candied pecans to serve on top. In fact, why stop there! Offer up whipped cream and caramel ice cream topping, too.

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Melissa Erdelac
Melissa Erdelac is the cookbook author of Frugal Gluten-Free Cooking and blogger / photographer behind Mamagourmand, where she shares affordable gluten-free recipes to a monthly audiece of over 200,000. She has been featured by many outlets, including Parade magazine, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Better Homes and Gardens and more. She lives in Valparaiso, Indiana, with her husband and four children.