Who doesn’t love pie? Apparently, Americans love it a lot. The American Pie Council (yes, there such a group) estimates that 186 million units or $700 million worth of pies are sold each year in grocery stores alone. That actual number doesn’t account for pies picked up in restaurants, food service, price clubs – or dedicated pie shops.
Pies date back to the ancient Egyptians who ate free-form pies with a crust of oats, wheat, rye, or barley filled with honey. Around 2000 B.C., a chicken pie recipe was inscribed on a tablet in Sumer in Mesopotamia. The ancient Greeks and Romans carried on the tradition, making both sweet pastry tarts and savory pies containing meats.
In medieval times, pies were mostly packed with meat. By the 15th century, custards and fruit pies became popular. But not everyone loved pies. When Oliver Cromwell ruled England in the 17th century, he banned mince pies, claiming the treats were “frivolous.” Luckily, the ban was lifted in 1660 when the monarchy was restored.
When the Pilgrims came to America, they brought their meat pies with them. At the second Thanksgiving in 1623, the iconic pumpkin pie may have first been brought to the table.
By the 1870s, however, pies fell out of favor, criticized for their heavy crusts. As countries entered the Industrial Revolution, women went to work and didn’t have the time to home bake pies, anyway. In the 1950s, however, pies underwent a renaissance whose effects we still enjoy. (See what other old-fashioned dishes deserve a comeback.)
To determine the best pie shops in every state, 24/7 Tempo consulted reviews and rankings on a wide range of websites, including Yelp, Taste of Home, Thrillist, Fodors, Food Network, Spoon University, Forbes, Delish, and The Daily Meal, as well as numerous local and regional sites. While precedence was given to shops specializing in pies (often with “pie” in their name), in some cases bakeries with more general focus and occasionally places that are primarily cafés were included, if they were highly rated for their pies. Some of the pie purveyors on this list make savory as well as sweet pies, but we have showcased the latter.
Most of the pies mentioned here are of the traditional variety, filled with fruits, berries, nuts, custards, and/or chocolate, and sometimes a dash of booze. The Pie Junkie in Oklahoma City bakes up the Drunken Turtle, which is a graham cracker crust loaded with chocolate, salted bourbon caramel, and pecans – a riff on turtle candy.
Some pie-makers venture outside of the box – or crust. The Purple Pie Place in Custer, South Dakota, spices up its pie menu with a raspberry rhubarb jalapeño offering. Another spicy pie comes out of the oven at the Pie Hole in Phoenix, where you can satisfy your sweet and spicy tooth with a mango chile lime treat. (Here are some popular desserts from every state that you must try.)
Many of the pies mentioned here are seasonal, and you may have to place an advance order in some cases to make sure of getting what you want. But the wait and extra effort will be well worth it to relish these satisfying indulgences.
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