You can serve whatever other desserts you want, but let’s be real—it’s just not Thanksgiving without pie. No matter how much you stuffed yourself during dinner, it’s tough to turn down a slice. I’m not interested in waxy store-bought pies, though—this is the time to go homemade, which is easier than it might sound. We have two dough recipes to get you started (a super-quick food processor version and a more old-fashioned one), and from there you just need to figure out how to fill the crust. To give you some ideas we’ve rounded up 18 of our favorite Thanksgiving pie recipes, from apple done two ways to chocolate cream to pecan—and don’t worry, of course we didn’t forget pumpkin.
Classic Thanksgiving Pies
I tend to avoid Thanksgiving’s most iconic dessert—I’ve been burned by too many lousy supermarket pumpkin pies that have a grainy consistency and taste like nothing. This pie, though, gets plenty of flavor from pumpkin purée (homemade is best) and spices and it has a luxuriously smooth texture thanks to cream cheese.
This is everything we think of when we hear “apple pie”—a juicy yet firm filling lightly spiced with cinnamon and salt and swathed in a flaky crust. To give the filling the perfect texture we par-cook the apples in boiling water before baking, activating an enzyme that keeps them from getting mushy.
I have a particular soft spot for rich, butterscotch-y pecan pie. This intensely sweet dessert is actually one of the simplest pies around—the filling is made in one bowl with corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. The hardest part is arranging the pecans on top, and even that’s a breeze.
Thanksgiving often means big groups, and normal pies unfortunately don’t scale well. If you’ve got a lot of mouths to feed then a rustic slab pie might be a better option—this recipe, which mixes together apples and cranberries and is topped with a brown-sugar crumble, is big enough for the extended family.
More Apple Pies
Calling an apple pie “perfect” is pretty bold, and I recognize that our other recipe isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite. Don’t worry, though, because if you prefer your apple pie to have a gooier filling we have you covered. The trick to baking a pie thick enough to slice cleanly is to cook down the apples to drive out excess moisture, then finish the mixture with a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch.
This recipe is perfect if you’re looking for a simpler take on apple pie—not only is there no par-cooking involved, but you can actually make the filling entirely in a plastic bag. All you have to do is macerate the apples in brown sugar and spices for a few hours, then pour the mixture into a pie crust and bake.
Apple pie can be a little boring and pecan pie can be punishingly sweet—this recipe stacks the two on top of each other to give you the best of both worlds. The earthiness of the sautéed apples keep the sweet pecan/bourbon/caramel topping from getting into cloying territory.
Our Easy Pie Dough recipe makes homemade crusts relatively simple, but you still have to deal with lots of pressing and crimping once the dough has been made. If that’s more work than you want to put into dessert, you may want to try a freeform pie like this tart-and-sweet apple-cranberry version.
Cream and Custard Pies
If my choice is between a cream pie and a fruit pie, I’m picking the latter nine times out of ten—unless we’re talking about this intense chocolate pie, which I’ll go for every single time. The beautifully rich filling is made with Dutch cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and just a pinch of espresso powder, and it gets topped with a fluffy meringue.
I never ate sweet potato pie as a kid since I grew up in the Midwest, but the cinnamon- and nutmeg-scented dessert has since become one of my favorites. Most recipes start with canned condensed milk, but we prefer to simmer the potatoes in milk and cream until the mixture reduces down to something like a DIY condensed milk. We pair the mixture with our Flaky Pie Dough, which is able to stand up to the custard no problem.
While I didn’t know sweet potato pie, growing up in Indiana came with its own regional treats. The ingredient list for our sweet, custardy state pie pretty much is all in the name—it’s made with sugar (a mix of white, light brown, and dark brown) and cream, plus cinnamon and a bit of flour to thicken it up.
Sugar cream pie is, as the name implies, quite sweet. For something with the same comforting custardy texture but a more balanced flavor, this pie is the way to go—the tangy buttermilk keeps the sugar in check. We like to bake our buttermilk pie with a top crust because the extra crispiness complements the creamy filling.
You definitely won’t find this pie on a traditional Thanksgiving table, but it might just earn its spot on yours. This updated take on a classic ’50s dessert ditches grandma’s crème de menthe in favor of a splash of Fernet Branca. A topping of cocoa nib fudge adds deep dark-chocolate taste and crunch to contrast with the creamy and cool peppermint filling.
This pie relies on the killer combo of citrus and dairy (think Creamsicle) for a mellow, sweet, and sour dessert. The crispy whole wheat crust underscores the zippy custard with its graham-like flavor, while fluffy peaks of toasted meringue recall those of a classic lemon meringue pie. It all comes together in a pie that tastes both familiar and distinctive at the same time.
Pumpkin and chocolate are almost never partnered up, and I don’t really know why—rich, bittersweet cocoa and sweet squash complement each other wonderfully. This dessert pairs the two ingredients by swirling melted chocolate into a standard pumpkin pie filling.
There’s a running debate here at Serious Eats about whether or not a galette counts as a pie, but I’m in charge right now and I vote yes. Sure it’s a little flatter than a traditional pie, but you still get the flaky crust and fruity filling—in this case pears flavored with vanilla bean, Chinese five-spice powder, and ground cardamom.
You may not realize that the pumpkin purée that comes out of a can actually isn’t pumpkin, but squash (for the full story on that, you’ll have to check out Stella’s book). With that in mind, Stella set out to make the pumpkin pie to rule them all, and all it takes is some roasted butternut squash purée and homemade sweetened condensed milk. While it’s a bit more effort than a pumpkin pie made with squash out of a can, it’s easy to make a couple of the components ahead of time, and the pie itself keeps very well for a couple days.
This easy blueberry “pie,” cooked in a cast iron skillet, relies on the intense heat of a broiler to quickly snap it all together, from the crisp graham cracker crust to the juicy, lime-scented blueberries and the rich layer of cream cheese in between. You’ll be in and out of the kitchen in no time.
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