40 Sensational Thanksgiving Pies and Tarts
You may have noticed that when people offer to bring dessert to Thanksgiving dinner, they already know what it is they'll be making. That's because they're not making it for you—this is all about them. But don't take it personally; that is, you may not love pumpkin pie, but they feel strongly that a Thanksgiving meal would not be complete without a sliver of that warm, familiar taste of spice and a dollop of lightly whipped cream. Thankfully, our American custom of having a few different pies on the dessert table generally means that there's something for everyone to enjoy at the end of the feast.
Which dessert says Thanksgiving to you? Maybe a hint of bourbon in a luscious pecan pie makes you feel at home, or do you prefer the lofty meringue topping on a sweet potato pie, which always reminds you of your Great Aunt Joyce? How these pies and tarts became part of your holiday ritual might depend on how you celebrated Thanksgiving in your family; whether they were served at a favorite local restaurant and gained a cult following, like the Virginia Peanut Pie from the Virginia Diner in Wakefield, Virginia, or the Apple Sour Cream Crumb Pie made famous by Bookbinder's in Philadelphia. There are plenty of legendary pies with stories that hint of regional history; President Tyler's Pudding Pie and Shaker Lemon Pie, to mention two, tend to take on a mythical quality. After a couple of generations no one can even remember why they have seemingly always been on the Thanksgiving table—and really, no one can see any reason to make a change.
Unless, that is, something opens our eyes to exciting new possibilities. Then we happily take the plunge, adding a twist—like a phyllo crust—or a tweak—such as adding dates to an otherwise traditional pecan pie—and before we know it, our old favorite has evolved into something else. Old-Fashioned Apple Pie becomes Apple Rose Tart. Or we delegate the trusty, traditional pies to someone else and take a chance on a dazzling newcomer—sure to become an instant classic. And so it goes.
Cherry-Cheese Strudel Pie
Puff pastry provides a light and airy frame for a creamy ricotta filling with tart cherries. To serve, cut down the center, then slice into rectangles.
Lemon-Cranberry Meringue Pie
A thin layer of cranberry gelée on top of a smooth lemon filling topped with a cloud of meringue brings a classic pie to new heights. This is a happy way to finish any meal.
Five Spice Pumpkin Pie with Phyllo Crust
Shake things up this Thanksgiving. An impressive crown of paper-thin pastry hints that things are veering into unfamiliar territory; within the smooth pumpkin filling of this pie is an exotic hint of Chinese five-spice powder.
Chocolate Chess Pie
If members of your camp believe a dessert doesn't count unless it has chocolate in it, pull over here. The cocoa and espresso powders lend this iconic Southern sweet a sublime spin. It's a quick whisk-and-pour filling, requiring just one bowl, so you can easily check it off your list.
Poached Pear Frangipane Tart
Apple Rose Tart
Details do make a difference: Two varieties of apple are chosen for flavor and color. The apples, carefully arranged in delicate layers, will make this the prettiest dessert on the table.
Date Pecan Pie
Dates replace some of the sugar in this pie, providing an intense caramel flavor. Thoroughly blind-baking the crust before filling it ensures a flaky, golden shell that cradles the gooey nuttiness within.
Diamond Apple Pie
There's a mod sensibility to this pie, but when you cut into it, you'll find that the flavor is classic.
Brown Sugar Butternut Squash Pie
Apple Crostata with Cheddar Crust
Here's a rustic free-form apple tart with a deliciously savory note, thanks to the addition of sharp cheddar cheese in the crust. This dessert brings traditional flavors and up-to-the-minute style together with casual flair.
This polka dot pie features a flaky cream cheese dough that nobody will be able to pass up. The jammy filling is a nod to Oregon, the only state in the United States where marionberries grow. Substitute another fruit preserve if you can't find this unique berry.
Butterscotch Pie with Pecan Shortbread Crust
This cheerful pie breaks out of the circle—it's baked in a rectangular pie tin, accentuating the patterned pecans on top. It also presses all our nostalgia buttons: The crumbly crust, which tastes just like Pecan Sandies, encloses a fluffy butterscotch filling.
Sweet Potato Custard Pie
Pumpkin pie is the classic dessert of Thanksgiving. This year, evolve it with this pillow-top confection. It features the same cinnamon and nutmeg, but roasted sweet potatoes are denser and richer-tasting than canned pumpkin. Halved marshmallows, shingled in circles and toasted with a torch or under the broiler, make an arresting design with minimal effort: Just spritz kitchen shears with cooking spray and snip the puffs in half.
Quince Slab Pie
Panna Cotta Pie with Poached Fruit
Yogurt and cream sweetened with honey are set with just enough gelatin to make a cool, creamy filling for the gingersnap-walnut crust. This recipe uses dried plums for the poached fruit topping, but you could also use dried pears, apricots, cherries, cranberries, or peaches.
Pear Cranberry Slab Pie
Feed a crowd? Yes indeed. This mega-fruit pie is prepared in a rimmed baking sheet, has a crumb topping and a perfect crust-filling-topping ratio in each of its 24 slices.
This is a rich version of the classic pecan pie. Take the time to arrange the pecan halves decoratively on top for a beautiful presentation on the Thanksgiving table.
Traditional Pumpkin Pie with a Fluted Crust
Made with evaporated milk rather than cream, the filling of this classic Thanksgiving pumpkin pie is light with a concentrated pumpkin flavor.
Mini Cranberry Meringue Pie
These mini pies feature a cranberry filling and are topped with billowy meringue. The recipe calls for the juice and zest of blood oranges, but if unavailable, navel or juice oranges work, too.
Maple Custard Pie
Make this pie a celebration of the best ingredients; the filling is essentially just pure maple syrup, eggs, and cream. A touch of nutmeg and a dash of vanilla add warm spice.
Old-Fashioned Apple Pie
A buttery crust is packed to bursting with Granny Smith apple slices tossed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This may be the ultimate recipe for apple pie.
Double-Coconut Cream Pie
Shredded coconut is folded into a silky coconut-milk custard for the filling of this indulgent pie, then the whole thing is finished with whipped cream and toasted coconut.
Texas Hill Country Spiced Pumpkin Pie
It looks traditional but this pumpkin pie holds a little surprise: chipotle chile powder gives it a warm, smoky kick. Top each serving with a dollop of bourbon whipped cream.
Milk Chocolate-Pistachio Tart
There's a triple dose of pistachios in this rich chocolate tart: in the chocolate pastry crust, in the bottom layer of pistachio paste, and sprinkled over the milk chocolate top layer. The dough for this tart can be made a month before Thanksgiving and kept in the freezer; just thaw overnight before using.
Citrus Chess Pie
Traditional southern chess pie features a simple egg-and-sugar custard; this version adds tart lemon and sweet Cara Cara orange juices for a bit more sunshine.
Finely chopped walnuts take the place of some flour in this two-fruit pie. You can bake the pie up to one day in advance to minimize Thanksgiving Day work.
Shaker Lemon Pie
Thinly sliced lemons are marinated in sugar overnight to start this classic pie. The lemon filling is thickened with six eggs, making it temptingly rich.
Virginia Peanut Pie
Roasted peanuts are the star in this scrumptious pie, which is sweetened with golden syrup. It's so much fun, it'll bring out the kid in everyone.
Pumpkin Chiffon Pies
These individual pumpkin pies are a sophisticated alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving pie. They have a gingersnap crust and a silky, no-bake custard filling, and are garnished with ribbons of candied pumpkin.
Milk-Chocolate Pudding Pie
An easy press-in vanilla wafer crust surrounds a creamy, milk chocolate filling in this winner of a pie. Vanilla-bean whipped cream tops it off wonderfully.
Apple-Sour Cream Crumb Pie
This pie is a satisfying study in textures: Apples are tossed with sour cream, which melts to create a delicious, rich filling, and the browned crumb topping cuts through it all. Because it's dense, give it a long cooling time—this will make the creamy apple filling easier to serve.