12 New Spins on Classic Fall Pies

Move over, pumpkin. Step aside, apple. This season's pie lineup brings some unexpected flavor combinations to the table. From sophisticated new takes on fruit pies to Southern classics revamped with different ingredients, here are a dozen alternatives to get excited about this fall.

By: Patty Lee

Cranberry Orange Chess Pie at Winston Pies, Los Angeles

Self-dubbed "Chief PieSmith" Brianna Abrams studied law before Los Angeles' farmers markets inspired her to get into the food business. Fusing the city's abundant fresh produce and the Southern pie-making customs of Abrams' North Carolina upbringing, Winston Pies offers a mix of classic and seasonal specials. For fall, Abrams drew inspiration from her mom's holiday treats to conjure up a sweet-tart cranberry chess pie. The custard-like filling bursts with whole berries that are brightened up with freshly juiced and zested oranges and baked inside a buttery crust.

Oh My! Caramel Pie at Beatrix, Chicago

This decadent slice was dreamed up by pastry chef Yasmin Gutierrez as a way to incorporate Beatrix's beloved cookies into another standout dessert. Gutierrez pulverizes her shortbread treats to form the crumbly cookie crust, which holds a flan-like caramel filling that's at once luxurious and homespun. Each slice is accompanied by a simple dollop of freshly whipped vanilla-bean cream.

Maple Whiskey Walnut Pie at Petee's Pie Company, New York

Pecans are usually the starring nut at Thanksgiving tables across the country, but baker Petra "Petee" Paredez may change that tradition with her walnut pie. Spiked with whiskey and sweetened with maple syrup from Soukup Farms, the filling boasts the same gooey texture as its pecan sibling, but it's punctuated by crunchy whole walnuts and encased in Petee's signature grassfed-butter shell.

PB&J Pie at Theorita, San Francisco

The combo of peanut butter and jelly grows up in the nostalgia-inducing pie at this Divisadero diner named after co-owner and pastry chef Angela Pinkerton's grandmother. Theorita passed her love of pie baking to Pinkerton, whose PB&J dessert features a juicy fruit mixture made from seedless Thomcord grapes and a crunchy peanut-and-oat crumble spiced with nutmeg.

Cinnamon Buttermilk Pie at Pie Bar, Woodstock, Georgia

Once autumn rolls around, wife-and-husband owners Lauren and Cody Bolden give many of the classic pies at their industrial-chic bakery a fall makeover: Apple is mixed with salted caramel and a streusel topping, pecan is sweetened with bourbon and chocolate, and buttermilk gets an infusion of warming fall spices. The simple addition of nutmeg and cinnamon breathes new life into the Southern classic, turning it into a spiced custard that's reminiscent of a snickerdoodle cookie in pie form.

Plum Almond Tart at Choc O Pain, Jersey City, New Jersey

At her stylish French cafe, pastry chef Clémence Danko seizes the season by adding plums at their peak to a traditional almond tart. Juicy ripe plums are sliced and then baked on top of an egg-and-almond flour mixture, with the fruit serving as a sweet, acidic complement to the rich center and buttery tart shell.

Ginger Chai Cream Pie at Honeypie Cafe, Milwaukee

The cream pies at this retro cafe all start with Wisconsin's best dairy. Local eggs and milk form the silky custard base, which gets its chai flavor from a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice. It's chilled atop a ginger cookie crust that plays nicely with the aromatic spices and then finished with fresh whipped cream and a dusting of even more cinnamon.

Mezcal Sticky Toffee Pudding Pie at Valerie Confections, Los Angeles

Sticky toffee pudding is a classic holiday treat, and it's been re-envisioned as a pie by confectioner Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections. She infuses dates with mezcal and grills the pudding in a Big Green Egg, not just to add extra smokiness and deepen the caramel flavor, but also to create a crispy edge that makes it feel like you're digging into a pie crust.

Miso Apple Crostata at Butler Bakeshop, Brooklyn

Honeycrisp apples are the star of this rustic crostata created by Butler Bakeshop's Ryan Butler, but the Michelin-starred pastry chef replaces the typical salted caramel with miso. Sliced apples are cooked down in the soybean paste alongside muscovado sugar, butter and vanilla to make a sauce that's sweet, tart and slightly salty. The apples are arranged on a baked crostata crust in a beautiful shingled pattern, then topped with housemade mascarpone cream.

Smoked Hickory Nut and Sorghum Tart at In Bloom, St. Paul, Minnesota

This tart created by Chef Thomas Boemer of In Bloom is loosely based on a pecan pie. There's a thick, jammy center studded with nuts, but sorghum takes the place of corn syrup and smoked hickory nuts are used instead of pecans. Each tart arrives with a finishing quenelle of an equally rich apple butter mousse.

Caramel Custard and Pistachio Pie at Marsh House, Nashville

When pastry chef Lisa Marie White moved from New Orleans — where she was a chef-partner at Willa Jean — to Nashville, she brought along her extraordinary pies. The dessert menu at her new home, the seafood-centric Marsh House, includes a dreamy pie that layers caramel custard, pistachio nougat and white-chocolate whipped cream inside a golden-brown crust.

Mixed Berry and Goat Cheese Pie at The Rhu, Asheville, North Carolina

The classic pairing of jam and cheese takes a new but equally delicious form in pastry chef Kaley Laird's popular pie. Seasonal berries and rhubarb (this bakery-cafe is named The Rhu — as in Rhubarb — after all) are sweetened with a bit of sugar and citrus zest, then tossed in dollops of tangy Asheville goat cheese and baked inside a shell that's parcooked to hold up to the fruit filling. A crumb topping adds another layer of texture to the pie.