23 Showstopping Classic Thanksgiving Pies
Apple pie. Pecan pie. Pumpkin pie. Sweet Potato. Cranberry. There's a reason these are the most popular Thanksgiving pies year after year. And thank goodness!
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Photograph by Olga Ivanova
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A pie is not just a treat for the mouth and a joy for the belly, but a serving of warm nostalgia, the kind of food that reminds us of grandmothers, flour-dusted kitchen counters, and holidays past. Anyone can dish up something sweet, but a truly great pie is ultimately an edible love story. These 23 pies are not just gorgeous; they will grace your Thanksgiving table with the warmth of tradition.
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Pumpkin pie recipes
Pumpkins, like all squash, are native to the Americas, where the Native Tribes grew them for food. In the 19th Century, the pumpkin pie as we know it became a Thanksgiving staple. The state of Connecticut once delayed Thanksgiving because of a shortage of ingredients for making pumpkin pies. These fabulous desserts deserve a place of honor at the Thanksgiving table.
Like a Shaker chair or a single gold autumn leaf, simplicity combined with quality delivers a peaceful beauty. Fortunately, this beauty is also delicious — in this clever riff on the traditional pie, the pumpkin puree is squeezed in a clean dish towel to remove excess water, which delivers a luscious texture. A dash of cardamom and shake of pumpkin pie spice complete the perfection.
Pumpkin pie sparkles and shines with this Silky Gingersnap Pie. The custardy pumpkin filling is an expression of glory for the gourd, while the crunchy gingersnap cookie crust adds a spicy, crisp counterpoint to the center’s silky texture. Add a dollop of homemade vanilla whipped cream and dreams begin to come true at the table.
If you follow a paleo diet, you don’t have to skip the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving — we’ve got the recipe you need. In this Paleo Pumpkin Pie, almond flour gives the pie crust a deep, toasty flavor in addition to crunch, while the pie filling gets its sweetness from maple syrup for a clean flavor experience to complement fall’s final hurrah. As a bonus, it’s also gluten-free and dairy-free.
Don’t be fooled by the title — this Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie is an elegant adult dessert disguised in a cloud of fluff that kids will swoon over. It's made the way you might make chocolate cream pie, only instead of folding whipped cream into chocolate pudding, you fold pumpkin puree into melted marshmallows. If you’re looking for a twist on Thanksgiving tradition, this could be the exclamation mark at the end of your meal.
If you like meringue pie with a little fall folded in, you'll love this version of pumpkin pie, a Yummly original. Brown sugar and whipped cream are combined with pumpkin to make an airy, fluffy filling that's spread into a gingersnap crust and frozen. When you're ready to serve, top it with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of crushed cookies. Because this is a frozen pie, it can be made ahead to spare you from a last-minute time crunch and holiday overwhelm.
Apple pie recipes
Johnny Appleseed was the original conservationist, as he crossed the young country planting apple seeds and then walking away before he could enjoy them. That same spirit of giving inhabits each of the apple pie recipes below.
As Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays, so is apple pie the most American of pies. The U.S. grows over 2,500 varieties of apples across the nation; this recipe calls for green Granny Smiths, but any crisp and tart apple will do. This pie goes beyond the usual cinnamon and folds in clove, nutmeg, and allspice to make it doubly warming and extra inviting.
The only thing better than a warm slice of freshly baked apple pie is a slice of caramel apple pie. This recipe calls for a mix of apples, ideally Cortland, McIntosh, and Granny Smiths, though any mix of tart and sweet apples will be delicious. The homemade caramel is thick, buttery, and luscious, and the pie is topped with a flaky lattice crust. It needs to chill several hours, making it the perfect candidate to be made a day ahead. Best of all, a bit of the caramel is reserved to be reheated and drizzled over each slice before serving, for true holiday decadence.
Fragrant notes of rosemary rise from the nearly savory cornmeal crust of this elegant lattice-topped apple pie. To balance the toothsome crust, this recipe calls for a selection of sweeter sliced apples, like the delicate Golden Delicious variety. The crust comes together quickly in a food processor, providing a dessert with speedy sophistication and simple, streamlined effort.
A Dutch apple pie combines the best of two desserts: a traditional flaky pie crust, and a crumb topping reminiscent of a crisp, crumble, or streusel. In between are juicy, cinnamon-spiced slices of apple.
The silky vanilla custard that the apple slices nestle into makes this pie an especially lush, decadent dessert. And while the origins of this pie may be French, it’s the best Thanksgiving pie for any elegant dessert table. A deep-dish pie plate is required to contain the delicate custard and Granny Smith apples that are fanned in a circle. It can be sprinkled with a streusel topping, but a smattering of cinnamon-sugar works just as well.
Pecan pie recipes
The folks you celebrate with may go nuts after you prepare one of the best pecan pies in the recipes below for your Thanksgiving table. The pecan is native to America and in the hickory family, and is traditionally harvested in the autumn. Gather some up and dig in to this decadent Southern treat.
Is it Thanksgiving without a tempting pecan pie on the sideboard? This bourbon pecan pie recipe strikes a lovely balance between the brown sugar, butter, and bourbon, with just a dash of salt to make the flavors pop. The pecans are toasted to coax out their nutty essence. There's nothing complicated about the ingredients or the preparation, making it a lovely note to end your holiday dinner on. Don’t be surprised when your guests ask for seconds.
If you were thinking about serving pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving, take a moment for a sidelong glance at this Vanilla Pecan Pie. This is a whirlwind dessert romance between silky cream cheese and pecans joined in sweet holy matrimony with pure vanilla and sugar. Do you take this pie to be your best Thanksgiving dessert? Yes, you do.
Traditional pecan pie is already bless-your-heart delicious; what could possibly elevate this Southern classic? Yes, of course: chocolate. This Chocolate Pecan Pie has all the best elements of the classic — the gooey center, the toasty nuts — but finds a new depth with a generous bottom layer of chocolate stirred into the pecans. Gild the lily with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Pecan we have some more?
Egg is a crucial ingredient in pecan pie — it thickens the filling, which helps hold up the nut layer for a delightful bite of crunchy-gooey goodness. The effect is the same for this vegan pecan pie, but instead of eggs, this pie recipe uses a flaxseed egg replacement to give the filling its necessary structure. This recipe is also flexible enough to be translated into a pecan tart.
There’s no need to skip dessert on Thanksgiving when you’ve got these paleo pecan pie bars on offer. There are no grains in the buttery shortbread crust, and nary a spoonful of refined sugar to be found. Instead, the sweetness of this slab pie-esque dessert comes from maple syrup, unsulphured molasses, and coconut sugar. To make it non-dairy, swap out the butter for coconut oil and dig in. Eating healthy never tasted so sweet.
Sweet potato pie recipes
Southern hospitality is rarely on greater display than when someone who loves you sets down a sweet potato pie the color of the sunrise. Some of these Thanksgiving pie recipes call for yams, which are native to Africa and are often mislabeled in supermarkets — for the following recipes, any variety of sweet potato will make a gorgeous pie.
This simple sweet potato pie has only nine ingredients, and each of them comes together to bake up a classic dessert that tastes like a grandma’s love. But with its modern crust and kick from the nutmeg and lemon zest, it’s bound to become a new favorite family dessert recipe.
Sweet potatoes are a member of the morning glory family, and it shows in this glorious pie. This recipe calls for garnet yams (which are technically sweet potatoes) if you can find them, but any variety of sweet potato will result in a lovely pie. The cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecan streusel caramelizes on the pie for the last 20 minutes of cooking to create a gleaming and crunchy sweet topping — a true crumble pie.
Is it a cheesecake? Or is it pie? After one bite, everyone will forget their questions because it's simply that good. The graham cracker crust serves as a crisp base for all the flavors of fall to swirl together to make a creamy, dreamy dessert you’ll want to serve for Thanksgiving again and again.
This striking pie boasts so many layers of flavors and textures. The crust is made with gingersnaps to give you that warm, gingerbread spice with a crunchy finish. The pie filling is a pure blend of roasted sweet potatoes and sweetened condensed milk that stands up quite nicely without egg. But the bourbon meringue topping is where this pie really sings — bourbon gives the whipped egg whites a deep fall richness that’s uncommon — it’s the fluff you’ll want to be stuffed with.
Cranberry pie recipes
Cranberries have also been called “bounceberries” because the ripe ones bounce when you drop them. But you’ll want to pick up as many of these scarlet gems as you can in order to make the classic New England pies to round out your Thanksgiving dinner.
Each bite of this apple cranberry pie alternates between the sweetness of the apple and the tartness of the cranberry — it’s what transitioning from fall to winter tastes like, making it the perfect Thanksgiving pie — and it satisfies any guest's craving for an apple pie. What's even better about it is that it’s one of the few double-crust pies you’ll eat between now and when summer fruits are next harvested, but it showcases the fruit with a decorative crust on top. And with lemon juice, plus orange juice and zest, it’s fragrant and bright.
The framework of this recipe is notably similar to that of a blackberry cobbler, but the flavors are those of a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. The tartness of the cranberries — which only grow in the Northeast — is offset by the sweet batter, and while the “crust” is cakey, the walnuts give it the customary crunch you expect from a pie. It’s an unconventional pie, but you won’t regret swapping out your regular pie for this one.
While we've already established that apple and cranberry are the perfect sweet-tart balance, what makes this fruit pie unique is that the homemade dough doesn't require a pie dish. In fact, this unfussy approach, folding the edges over the filling, creates more crispy crust edges to fight over. And what's more, this pie's forgiving crust means you can happily put it on your make-ahead list for Thanksgiving dinner.
This pie shines with fall’s loveliest flavors, bright with the tartness of cranberry and the duskiness of an autumn pear. The ruby red of the cranberries shines beneath the lattice crust that sparkles with raw sugar and is perfumed with vanilla beans in a true celebration of the abundance of Thanksgiving. A pod is split and the beans scraped into the dough to create a scrumptious pie everyone will ask for in years to come.
Need more inspiration?
Check out the following Yummly articles to round out your Thanksgiving dessert table … and let us know what you think!