When thinking of Thanksgiving, images of mouthwatering meals, the crisp smell of fall air and time with loved ones might fill your mind. If you have a sweet tooth, there might be something that comes above all of those classic favorites: Thanksgiving pies. Known for their crisp golden edges and spiced fall flavors, there’s always room at the end of the meal for these delicious treats—no matter how much you snacked on that Thanksgiving charcuterie board.

Often viewed as the quintessential American holiday, Thanksgiving and versions of it are actually celebrated around the world. Countries like Canada, India, Japan, Brazil and the Netherlands each have their own harvest celebrations. Since each culture comes with unique traditions and food, only American and Canadian Thanksgiving share traditional dishes, including pie. 

Sticking to Tradition

If you’re a true Thanksgiving pie connoisseur, you know there is a lot more to this full-bellied holiday than pumpkin pie and apple pie. And while the combination of that nutty pumpkin flavor and spices like woody cinnamon and calming cloves is downright delicious, your inner foodie will be elated after discovering there’s a bounty of Thanksgiving dessert ideas out there.

Pecan Pie

A gooey slice of pecan pie is being taken out a silver pie tin with a pie server.
Photo by Keighla Exum on Unsplash
Most popular in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, you pecan-not go wrong with this ooey, gooey pie.

Coming in with another Thanksgiving classic, the pecan pie has been beloved for around 200 years. In 2018, GE appliances conducted a survey among 1,555 Americans in the 48 continental states to discover which type of pie was most popular in which states. Thirty states succumbed to pumpkin pie, ten to apple, while pecan and apple tied in four states and pecan won out in four more. 

Mud Pie

Mud pie might not have made it onto the map of most popular pies but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the most celebrated pies in the United States. As legend has it, Mississippi mud pie was inspired by Mississippi mud cake, which first became popular during WWII. Apparently, it was originally made of a mixture of ingredients that could be easily found in your pantry even during wartime. Today, it’s known for its crispy cookie crust and silky pudding filling. 

Get Inspired by the Fall Harvest

Thanksgiving began as a way to celebrate the bounty that autumn brings each year. Within that bounty is lots of delicious fruits—and even vegetables—that can make delicious pies. Some replace the pumpkin with other types of squash and starchy crops. Butternut squash pie as well as sweet potato pie are examples of this. 

You can also get creative with other fall flavors like maple, cranberry, pear, cinnamon, brown butter, and sage to make a salted maple pie, rustic pear pie, or cinnamon pie. 

Unique Twists on Classic Favorites

Trading in a pumpkin pie for a sweet potato pie might be a pretty common switch, but there are a few other baking substitutions and swaps that can be used in traditional thanksgiving pie recipes. Try your hand at a brown butter and bourbon pecan pie, salted caramel pumpkin pie, or apple crumble pie. You might even try making a vegan thanksgiving pie or a gluten free dessert

Sink Your Teeth Into Savory Pies

If you’re not a dessert lover or you got chosen to bring something savory to the Thanksgiving potlot this year, savory pies might be your new favorite dish. Just as easy to make and enjoyable to eat as classic pies, a thanksgiving shepherd pie will have your loved ones sitting down at the table faster than you can say “pie.” 

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

When it comes to leftovers, Thanksgiving might just have the classic cold pizza beat. A roast turkey sandwich with gravy doesn’t taste any better than it does on a cool, post-Thanksgiving afternoon. If you’re looking for a slightly more unique way to use your leftovers, look no further than the creamy, saucy Thanksgiving shepherd’s pie. 

Made with leftover turkey and mashed potatoes, you’ll only need to prep a few more ingredients to fill your home with the savory scent of this delectable dish. 

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pot Pie

Similar to the shepherd’s pie, but with a buttery, flaky crust instead of a potato-based one, leftover Thanksgiving pot pie is almost better than the original. Made with sweet peas, yesterday’s carved turkey, and a teaspoon of fresh thyme, it packs double the flavor and deliciousness. Plus, it’ll give you a chance to perfect the art of creating simple pastry dough at home. 

Getting Creative Is As Easy as Pie

A crispy, sugar crusted apple cheddar pie sits in the top left of the screen. Around its edges are two pie servers, five apples, and a few chunks of cheddar cheese.
Still from Skillshare Class  Picture Perfect Pie – Modernizing the classic apple pie recipe with a leafy, sharp cheddar crust. by Becky Sue Wilberding.

Caption: You’ve never tasted an apple pie quite like this.   

When talking about unique thanksgiving pies, there are few that beat the apple cheddar pie. With cheddar cheese in both the crust and in the filling, you’re sure to get some interesting reactions with this sweet and savory treat. 

If you’re a true apple pie lover, you’ll have to give the mile high apple pie a try. Known for its tall appearance, some recipes call for up to twelve different types of apples to really get that unique flavor.

Ready to whip out for your favorite autumnal table cloth and fill an entire table with pies? You should definitely add these unique thanksgiving pie ideas to your menu: 

  • Derby pie
  • Bean pie
  • Chocolate pecan pie
  • Chess pie
  • Apple butter pie
  • Maple walnut pie
  • Persimmon pie
  • French lemon tart
  • Cushaw pie

Testing Out Themed Pies

Leaf-shaped pie crust tops this uncooked pie. To its right is a bowl of egg wash, white sugar, and a brush.
This pie looks just as beautiful before it’s baked as it does afterward with its unique crust design. Still from Skillshare Class  Picture Perfect Pie – Modernizing the classic apple pie recipe with a leafy, sharp cheddar crust. by Becky Sue Wilberding.

If delving into the world of unique pie recipes isn’t your thing, you can turn a classic pie into a one of a kind creation with themed and decorated pies. Try exploring different pie crust designs or piping a gorgeous autumnal design on your pie using cream cheese frosting.

No matter what pie you end up with or how you make it uniquely your own, there is so much more to getting into the cozy Thanksgiving mood. Craft a truly special dessert set up by choosing a fall-themed table cloth or tying in autumn-colored plates and decor. Use miniature pumpkins, smooth magnolia leaves, and orange-hued flowers to add both warmth and beauty to your table decor. 

Pick Your Pie

Now for the hardest part: choosing your Thanksgiving pie for this year. With so many mouth watering options it can be difficult to choose the best one for you. As you gear up toward Thanksgiving, consider trying out a few pie recipes and seeing which you like most. 

The only wrong choice you can make is not making any pie at all. 

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Written by:

Calli Zarpas