It’s never not a good time for a pie, but Thanksgiving is a very good time for a pie. The more pie the better. We have this year’s it flavors, ways to make your pies look prettier and a primer on what the blind-baking fuss is about. From tips to recipes, crust to filling, consider this your best pie pal for the holiday season. Not into baking? That’s cool, we’ve got a bakery full of holiday favorites ready for you to order for your feast.
First thing’s first. The best pies start with the best ingredients. Our 365 by Whole Foods Market brand covers all your baking needs, from organic basics to alternative flours and beyond.
Pie crust is notorious for being difficult, but it’s more than worth it to make your own. With a few tips and tricks, you’ll be a crust-making king in no time.
First, pocket our go-to recipe for classic pie crust and these top crust-making tips:
Cold everything: The key to flaky crust is to keep all your ingredients very, very cold. Even the bowl can go in the freezer for a few minutes before you’re ready. Most importantly, after you cube the butter, put it back in the fridge.
Know your butter: The bigger the butter pieces in your dough, the flakier the crust. While great for fruit pies, slightly smaller butter pieces make for a sturdier crust good for custard-y fillings.
By hand, by pastry cutter or by food processor: All three butter-incorporating methods work well. Incorporating butter by hand gives you more control on the size of your final butter pieces, but a pastry cutter or food processor is faster, keeping the ingredients from getting warm too quickly. One downside of the food processor is it’s easy to over process the dough, resulting in butter pieces that are too small.
Want to get started? Try these pie crust recipes:
Blind baking — when and why?
Blind baking (also known as parbaking) is essentially pre-baking your crust: You line a pie pan with the dough and bake it before putting the filling inside. It’s the most surefire way to avoid a soggy bottom and is typically used for custard pies or pies that have an unbaked filling (think chess pies or quiches). Luckily, a recipe will almost always tell you whether to blind-bake your crust or not.
How do I do it?
Fit the dough into the pie pan and prick it with a fork all over — this allows steam to escape and prevents the crust from puffing up and creating air bubbles. Cover the formed crust with foil and use pie weights or dried beans to weigh down the foil before baking it in the oven at 450°F for about 25 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown.
What Kind of Pie Should I Make?
Now that you’ve got all the basics down, you’re ready for recipes.
Traditional & With a Twist
Can't go wrong with the classics — but we love a good twist, too. Choosing maple syrup instead of granulated sugar, add a pinch of sea salt or combine two classics into one!
Try ground nuts in the crust — almonds are often used, but pecans are great too! You can also pick up ready-made, gluten-free crusts in the freezer aisle.
Use silken tofu for ultra-creamy pies. Switch up flavors by trying the natural sweetening power of dates.
Amazing pies don’t need dairy; try chia seeds for their thickening power and your favorite alternative milks. Top ’em with Whipped Coconut Cream opens in a new tab.
Decorate: 6 Ways to Jazz Up Your Pie
Decorating doesn't have to mean hours spent on intricate patterns. Try these simple ways to bring more dazzle to your favorite pies.
Mix 3 cups sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks and 6 whole cloves with 3 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 1 minute, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in 3 cups of fresh cranberries. Cover and refrigerate for about 8 hours. Drain cranberries. (Reserve liquid as a simple syrup to add a holiday touch to cocktails.) Place 1 cup superfine sugar in a bowl, add cranberries and gently toss to coat evenly. Place cranberries on a baking sheet to dry, about 1 to 2 hours. Pile cranberries onto a baked custard pie (we like them with a lemon curd pie).
Crust Cut Outs
With any extra dough you have left over from rolling out your crust, cut out shapes (like leaves or acorns) using cookie cutters. If you’d like, use a fork to gently imprint lines or details into your shapes. Place on top of your pie (this works best on a double crust pie). Brush with an egg wash and bake!
You can’t go wrong with a classic lattice. Check out this cherry pie recipe for instructions. For a braided outer edge (the cool younger sister of lattice), follow these steps:
Roll out pie dough a few inches larger than the size of your pie tin and cut vertically into 6¾-inch-wide strips
Starting from left to right, weave three strips of dough at a time into braids. Keep the strips face up if you can and don’t braid too tight, as the dough will expand in the oven. Make 2 braids.
Place the braids around the outer rim of your pie (before you bake it) and connect the two braids where they meet on either side by gently pressing the ends together. Bake!
In a medium bowl, stir together ½ cup flour, ¾ cup chopped walnuts, ¼ cup packed brown sugar and ¼ tsp fine sea salt. Mix in 4 Tbsp room temperature butter with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. When you’re ready to bake your pie, sprinkle the streusel over the top, covering the whole pie. Bonus: Sprinkle with demerara or turbinado sugar for extra sparkle.
Punched Out Top
On a double crust pie, cutouts can act as both decoration and important vents to let moisture out of your pie as it bakes. Before you put on the top crust, take small cookie cutters (go for simple shapes like circles and stars — intricate shapes won’t show up clearly) and punch out holes with at least two inches between each. Transport the crust to the top of your pie, crimp the two crusts together and bake!
Whipped Cream + Cookie Dust
When in doubt, smother your whole pie with whipped cream (have you tried our 365 by Whole Foods Market Pumpkin Spice Whipped Topping?). Take a spoon and create swoops and swirls through the cream. Do this after you bake and your pie has fully cooled. For extra dimension, lightly dust the peaks with cocoa powder, crushed up gingersnaps or pulverized freezer-dried fruit (best for a fruit pie).
You’re now a pie expert, but it never hurts to have some extra pies on hand. Our holiday catering has you covered. We’ve got all the classics: apple, pumpkin, pecan and more. Be sure to check out our limited-time-only Scarlett Pie: flaky pie crust filled with juicy pear, tender apples and figs, and tart cranberries — all topped with a crispy walnut streusel. Only here for the holidays!