On the eve of Thanksgiving week (is a week eve a thing? made perfect sense to me), and after two weekends of consecutive Friendsgiving celebrations for which I baked the pies, I’m here to give a shout to the best and the butteriest of the homemade Thanksgiving pie recipes. I personally am a believer that the classic apple and pumpkin pies are consistently underwhelming, so I’ve made it my personal mission over the past few years to bake at least one new, innovative pie each November holiday season. Not all of them made this list, but these are certainly some of my personal favorites (that I’ve also forced my family and friends to try in lieu of the classic options). Read on for the ultimate Thanksgiving baking inspiration, all tried and tested by me, as well as a sneak peak at the recipe I’ll be baking for Thanksgiving next week, and the recipes on deck for next year (because I’m crazy like that).
I am officially obsessed with the Sister Pie Detroit cookbook, and this was the pie that I baked for this year’s Friendsgiving numero uno. It has literally the perfect balance of flavors from the fresh, tart cranberries with a hint of orange, sweet and oat-y crumble, and the surprise addition of a thin layer of cream cheese lining the crust.
This pie recipe may go down as one of the most inventive I’ve ever made, and the richness and complexity of the flavors really sings. Four and Twenty Blackbirds is one of my favorite pie shops in all of New York (it’s based in Gowanus, don’t miss it if you’re in the hood), and their cookbook is a pie-lover’s masterpiece. The unexpected addition of bourbon, bitters, and white pepper, along with baking spices such as allspice and cardamom, makes for a really beautiful and thoughtful finish to your Thanksgiving meal (or any meal, really).
So, hear me out on this one. I know that my intro contains my thinly veiled reference to years of pumpkin pie disappointment, but this one most certainly is not like the others. Your parents probably remember Zweiback Toasts, which were a not-so-sweet digestif biscuit from decades past. When crunched up and mixed with cinnamon and butter, they make a delightful cookie crust for this cheesecake-esque pumpkin pie. It’s light, fluffy, and not cloyingly sweet, while still satisfying that pumpkin craving.
If you’re gonna go apple, this is the pie to beat. I typically find the plain crust, soupy apples, and overpowering cinnamon and sugar flavors to be boring in a classic apple pie, but this one really levels up the whole category. The crumble topping adds some crunch and mouthfeel to the soft apples, and the toffee sauce is epically caramel-y and delicious. I recommend topping it with flaked sea salt for a little bit of savory.
Note that I make my favorite pecan pie recipe every single year, but it was a recipe gifted to me by a friend a few years back and thus it is not published anywhere I can link to. Thus, it lives in perpetuity on my blog, and I have shared the recipe above. This is literally the simplest pie to make, can easily be doubled (I did so last weekend), and is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. It is sweet, so I recommend topping it with a very lightly sweetened whipped cream and a little sprinkle of flaked sea salt for balance.
Another pie recipe from favorite Four and Twenty Blackbirds, this black bottom oatmeal pie is what I will be baking for my own family next week at Thanksgiving. The “black bottom” refers to a thin layer of melted bittersweet chocolate which will be spread over the crust prior to freezing, which provides the perfect base for a dense, chewy, oatmeal-y filling. I’ll be sure to report back!
Alas, I was not able to get to making this pie recipe this year, but it is officially on the docket for Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving 2020. Yes, that’s how excited I am about this pie. I have never made this pie before, but had to include it because it’s a part of my aptly titled “pie wishlist.” I think it sounds like a really flavorful alternative to a pumpkin pie, and am excited to give it a go next year.
Sister Pie strikes again! This is the runner up for pie I’m most excited to make for 2020. You’re seeing my full pie-making hand for next year, people. Maple feels so seasonal for Thanksgiving, and I love the addition of cornmeal for even richer flavor. Plus, it’s been compared to Milk Bar’s Crack Pie. That sold me.
If you have a pie-lover in your life who you’re looking for a gift for, or just want to learn more about the art of pie-baking yourself, I can’t recommend taking a class at Pie Corps more. It’s a Greenpoint bakery and pie classroom, and I detailed the entire experience in my blog post here.