On the Road: The Best Bakeries for Thanksgiving Pie
Find the best pies in America, from a classic Southern pecan to a funky pie fit for a king.
Photo By: Rachel Sale of RAS Photography
Grab a Slice
Finish off any feast with an irresistible piece of pie. Something about the buttery crust and rich filling brings comfort and nostalgia to the table, and we've rounded up plenty of restaurants dishing out just-like-mama-made pecan, pumpkin and apple pies. There are also outside-the-crust options (could you turn down something called the Fat Elvis Pie?), so check out our coast-to-coast pie guide and grab a slice (or two)!
Dangerously Delicious Pies
With a full roster of sweet and savory pies and quiches, this Baltimore pie palace knows how to fill a crust or two. The top-selling slice is the Baltimore Bomb Pie, which Duff Goldman deemed "the best of the best" on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. It's loaded with crushed Berger cookies (local specialties that are smothered in chocolate frosting), which melt down into a sweet vanilla chess filling. Chess is a transparent custard, and the Baltimore Bomb's chess filling is eggy, smooth and lush, with a hint of cornmeal and vinegar to cut the rich sweetness. According to Duff, "you lose consciousness for a few minutes after eating this pie," but chances are that you won't mind.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Nothing's more American than traditional apple pie, but this Brooklyn-based bakery manages to improve on the classic with a mouthwatering salted caramel version. Inspired by the caramel-coated apples found at carnivals, the ladies at Four and Twenty Blackbirds went above and beyond to replicate the hand-held treat in a pie shell. They sprinkle their homemade caramel with flecks of sea salt and dust Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apple slices with a warm spice mixture of allspice, nutmeg and black pepper, plus a few dashes of angostura bitters for an herbal edge. The salty-sweet finished slice is a "taste bud waker-upper" and was praised by Bobby as "what apple pie would look like if your grandma had game" on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Butter & Scotch
This retro-style cafe and bar specializes in liquor-infused treats. A must-try is the Bourbon Ginger Pecan pie, with a filling of organic pecans, three types of ginger (dried, fresh and candied) and a shot of bourbon. On Guilty Pleasures, Lorraine Pascal calls it an "X-rated version of a pecan pie." It's built on top of an all-butter crust and served warm with a dollop of whipped cream.
Hoosier Mama Pie Company
This Windy City house of pie is best known for its sweet slice inspired by "The King of Rock 'n' Roll." As a tribute to Elvis and his favorite peanut butter-banana sandwich, Hoosier Mama created the Fat Elvis: an incredibly indulgent layered pie of dark chocolate pastry cream, thick citrus-spiked banana slices and peanut butter cream cheese filling, all housed inside a crust of crushed graham crackers, peanuts and pretzels. Sprinkled with a topping of pretzel bits and banana chips, this creamy confection is certainly fit for a king. After sneaking a sliver for himself on Sugar High, Duff described it as "a peanut butter slap in the face," and he was sure Elvis would've written a song about this dreamy, soul-satisfying pie.
Nestled in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, this off-the-beaten-path bakery defines itself with classic American desserts, including winning apple and pecan pies. A couple of "dessert archaeologists," the owners love to take old-fashioned recipes and breathe new life into them, which led to the invention of their Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie. This reimagined pie is so popular that Bobby Flay challenged it to a Throwdown against his own take on banana cream. Not only did this nutty banana cream pie win Bobby's vote, but it keeps the locals lining up for Baked's crave-worthy creations on a regular basis.
Linn's of Cambria
Leave it to California to turn out a hybrid berry that's perfectly primed for pie-making. Linn's uses the olallieberry, a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, to fill a juicy purple pie that Marc Summers just couldn't stop scooping on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. "Like floating on a cloud," the first forkful of this unusual wedge delivers familiar raspberry tang inside a flaky double crust. The secret behind the exceptional crust is good old-fashioned lard, which yields a crisp yet tender texture that melts when it hits your tongue. Plump olallieberries are tumbled with sugar and a pinch of salt to create the sweet-tart filling that's so good Marc was "tempted to lick the plate" clean. Splurge further with a dip of ice cream on the side and you'll have olallieberries on the brain all the way home.
The Apple Barn & Country Bake Shop
What began as a small roadside stand in 1910 branched into a 300-acre orchard in the Vermont hillside, where The Apple Barn grows high-quality apple varieties and hosts family-friendly fall activities like a corn maze and pumpkin-picking. The bake shop turns out racks upon racks of golden brown fruit pies each day, but for a taste of classic comfort food, Rachael Ray chose the apple pie a la mode when she visited on $40 a Day. After tasting its crisp, faintly tart apples and warming blend of spices, Rachael called this apple pie "a slice of country life on a plate," and a scoop of creamy vanilla topped off the perfect autumn treat.
Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe
This hidden gem near Charleston's Central Market sports a cozy atmosphere that's distinctly "Southern, from top to bottom," as Guy Fieri observed on Triple D. Known as a breakfast spot that serves the "bounty of the county," like fluffy biscuits and shrimp and grits, Dixie Supply also deals out Southern-style desserts, like Charleston chess pie and bourbon bacon pecan pie. Sweet, salty and over-the-top, the Bacon Bourbon Pecan slice is "as good as it sounds," with meaty strips of bacon folded into the gooey pecan filling and lined along the outer crust. With a tipple of bourbon lending deep caramel flavor, the pie is so satisfying that you'll be tempted to order it for breakfast; since the bakery's motto is "eat dessert first!" they'd surely let it slide.
Paris Coffee Shop
Open for nearly a century, this coffee shop is so renowned for its homemade pies that the recipes are kept under lock and key. Most beloved of all is the coconut meringue, described as "the craziest coconut pie on the planet" and so alluring that Duff woke up at the crack of dawn to snag a slice on Sugar High. The neatly pressed dough is made with a special shortening created just for pie crust, which cradles a dense coconut filling that's chock-full of sweetened coconut flakes. A mountain of meringue hovers over top and is baked to a puffy browned peak, with even more coconut sprinkled on for good measure. With its mix of light meringue and rich coconut custard, this tantalizing pie proved to Duff that it's worth waking up early in Fort Worth.
Overlooking the banks of the Mississippi River, Brigtsen's boasts some of the best pecan pie you can find in the South. As Southern food writer John T. Edge put it on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, "when all the good pecans go to heaven, this is where they go." Though pecan pie is a common dessert across the region, Brigtsen's pie brings out the depth of local Louisiana pecans by roasting and grinding them so that every bite bursts with true pecan flavor. This simple and honest approach to baking results in a pie that makes you want to sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. You may even ask for a second slice and extra time to linger at the table, since it's "so rich that you'll want a cup of coffee."
The Little Pie Company
Though it originated in the owner's tiny apartment about 20 years ago, this bakery has an empire-size following. While its reputation was built on the Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie, it's the "all-American" Mississippi Mud Pie that keeps chocolate cravings in check around the Big Apple and beyond. A "truly chocoholic pie," the Mississippi Mud Pie was featured on Food Finds for its double-fudge decadence that begins with a chocolate sandwich cookie crust. The fudgy inner custard is made with fine-quality Belgian chocolate and topped with a layer of house-made brownies that are mixed with even more melted chocolate. With shipping available all over the world, it's now possible for chocoholics anywhere to get a taste of this rich American classic at home.
Pie Town Cafe
Considering its dessert-centric location, it makes perfect sense that this cowboy country cafe is known for serving up seriously good pie. Duff raved about the New Mexican Apple Pie on The Best Thing I Ever Ate after taking a long "journey across the high desert" to seek it out. By outward appearances it might look like a straightforward apple pie, but locally grown pine nuts and hot green chiles lurk within the gooey layers and give the filling an unexpected kick. Those New Mexican specialties blend with sugar-spiked Granny Smith apples to create a sweet and spicy slice that's definitely worth the drive to this "middle of nowhere" pie haven.
Pie Moms at The Berry Manor Inn
The Pie Moms are two local celebrities in the world of homemade pie. Having staked their claim as the best pie-bakers in Maine, it came as no surprise when Bobby challenged them to a proper fruit pie Throwdown. With 100 years of combined baking know-how between them, the Pie Moms felt confident they could go dough-to-dough against Bobby. The flour started flying when the lively twosome took on Bobby's peach pie with their famed four-berry creation that stuffed wild Maine blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries into a thick double-crusted dough. With a pie featuring a golden-brown, sugar-crackled upper crust and juicy fruit filling, the Pie Moms produced "a little slice of heaven" that proved their worth as the two grand dames of New England's best pie town.
Omni Parker House
All diets are off at the Omni Parker House, where two famous regional favorites, Parker House Rolls and Boston Cream Pie, were invented. The cream pie alone is worth the trip to Beantown. It's called a pie because it was originally baked in a pie tin, but it's actually two layers of supple sponge cake that are slathered with a silky custard pastry cream and dressed in dark chocolate ganache. Toasted almonds coat the towering sides, making for a sleek slice that sings "like the Boston Pops Orchestra in your mouth," as Beau MacMillan described on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Fortunately, this elegant specialty is also available to those outside of Boston proper, since Parker House ships miniature versions of the cream pies all across the country.