We have the best Thanksgiving pie recipes—and two perfect crust recipes—for a great pie-baking day.
Ah, pie season! While other desserts reign supreme throughout the rest of the year, the holiday season (and in particular, Thanksgiving) is prime pie season. To make your holiday menu as easy as can be, we’ve pulled together our very best Thanksgiving pies for you to choose from. All these treats have been kitchen-tested to make sure they are top-notch for serving to all of your holiday guests. Let’s get baking!
How many Thanksgiving pies do I need?
We’re of the strong personal belief that there is no such thing as “too much pie.” This applies all the time, but particularly on Thanksgiving!
Typically, a 9-inch pie can be sliced into 6-8 slices—depending on the richness of the filling. Since Thanksgiving is a food holiday, many folks will enjoy more than one slice (especially if you have multiple types of pie to sample), so we recommend planning on at least two slices per person.
For a small group (under 10 people), that means we recommend at least two pies. For a larger group, plan on having one pie for every 5 or so people.
At Thanksgiving, where the food is plentiful and you probably have a smorgasbord of Thanksgiving desserts, you can typically get by with slicing pies into even smaller servings—10 slices per pie or even more. This allows folks to take a sample size slice of pie to taste each dessert at the table.
What kind of Thanksgiving pies should I serve?
For dessert, offer a set of pies with a variety of flavor profiles and textures—that way, you’ll have something for everyone! Here are the classic categories to choose from. Use these categories as your guide, and choose one from each for a truly well-rounded dessert cart.
- Custard Pies. A classic around Thanksgiving! Custard pies have creamy fillings typically set with eggs (but not always). This is where you’ll find Thanksgiving favorites such as pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, and sugar cream pie.
- Fruit Pies. Apple pie is the classic choice here, but cranberry pie and pear pie are also fall fruits that can make a great pie! Or if you canned pie filling this summer, you don’t have to be limited to what’s in season—if you love a cherry pie, go for it.
- Nutty Pies. The crunch of a nut-based pie can be a nice contrast to smooth and creamy custard-based or pumpkin pies. We love a bourbon pecan pie, but there are lots of walnut- or hazelnut- based pies out there too.
- Chocolate Pies. It’s the rare person who doesn’t love something chocolate-y to round out their meal. French silk pie, chocolate chess pie, or even pies with chocolate chips will fit the bill here.
Make sure to stock up on sweetened whipped cream for serving with your pies! You can make your own easily, but when serving to a crowd, it tends to be simpler just to grab the canned stuff and set it out by your dessert table.
When should I bake my pies?
If you’re trying to get ahead so you don’t have to do all your cooking and baking on Thanksgiving itself, dessert is a great course to prep ahead of time.
If you don’t want to assemble and bake the full pie in advance, even getting the dough for the pie crust made in advance can help cut down on Thanksgiving dishes and time in the kitchen on Turkey Day. Pie dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months (if you can prep for the holiday that far in advance, more power to you!).
Fruit-based pies can generally be stored covered on the counter for up to three days, so go ahead and bake those in advance. Pies that are custard-based or otherwise contain a lot of eggs and dairy in their filling will need to be stored in the refrigerator. If you also have a turkey and ingredients for side dishes in your fridge, there may not be room for these pies—instead, you’ll want to freeze them or make them on the day of. More on that next!
Pies are a great item on your Thanksgiving to-do list to delegate! When someone asks, “Can I bring anything to dinner?” happily take them up on their offer to help and ask them to bring a pie.
Can you freeze Thanksgiving pies?
Generally, yes, but some pies will freeze better than others.
Pies that are custard-based may have texture changes when they come out of the freezer, so we recommend keeping anything with a creamy custard filling out of the freezer. We’ve had okay luck with freezing Pumpkin Pie and Sweet Potato Pie, but only when we freeze after baking. The texture changes slightly, but not enough to scrap the pie.
Fruit pies, in general, are excellent in the freezer—you can make them months ahead of time, freeze them unbaked, and then have them ready to go for Thanksgiving.
We recommend freezing fruit pies unbaked—just assemble the pie in an aluminum foil pie plate, cover, and freeze as is. When it’s time to bake, no need to defrost. Just uncover and pop in the oven. Add about 20-30 minutes to the original baking time.
Now that we’ve covered all that, let’s move on to the pies themselves!