Perfect Holiday Pie Recipes & 13 Top Tips For Success
Whether you’re planning a small, informal gathering or a large and fancy Thanksgiving or Christmas soirée, you’ll want to end the event with something sweet. Homemade pies are a treat and often easier to make than you think. We have the perfect holiday pie recipes and professional tips and tricks for success.
We asked our very own “Prince of Pastry” Chef Eddy Van Damme for his top tips to making perfect pies for the holidays. Above all, be sure to follow your particular pie recipes closely – no shortcuts.
- Start with the right pan. Use a metal/aluminum pan like the professionals do. They may not be the prettiest pie plates in the bunch, but they conduct heat faster and better than anything else and will ensure the best baked-through bottom.
- Want a flaky pie crust? Use cold butter in your crust recipe. As the butter melts while baking, pockets of steam are created in the flour. Steam releases and a flaky crust is created.
- Sift your dry ingredients. This breaks up clumps and adds volume for a lighter crust. Use the “spoon and sweep” method: gently spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level off the top instead of dipping the measuring cup into the flour package. If your recipe calls for 1 cup sifted flour, make sure you sift the flour before measuring. If the recipe calls for 1 cup flour, sifted – this means you sift the flour after measuring.
- Go slow. Lower the pie crust dough into the pan carefully without forcing it into the corners.
- Finish your crust. To create a pretty edge to your pie crust, you can press along the rim with a fork or use your finger and thumb to create a scalloped edge.
- Pre-bake the crust when necessary. Pre-baking is baking your pie dough prior to adding the filling. This is important for moist cream pie recipes and cooked fruit recipes like apple pie. However, when you use raw fruit mixed with sugar, there’s no need to pre-bake. For more information about pre-baking pie crust, check out this blog post.
- Use pie weights (small ceramic balls) when pre-baking. Pie weights are used to help the dough hold its shape, allowing it to stay firmly against the pie plate.
- Gloss it up to prevent sogginess. Once the pie weights have been removed, brush the top of unbaked crusts with beaten egg, which creates a shiny gloss. Proteins in the egg forms a shield on the crust so the wet filling doesn’t get the crust soggy.
- All fruits contain a different amount of water and natural sugars. To thicken pies, each particular fruit will need a certain amount of thickening agent (flour, cornstarch, tapioca). Substituting is not recommended as the baked filling may become too runny or too gelatinous.
- Placing is everything. If baking in a conventional oven, place pies slightly below the middle rack so crust will bake better. Placing it too high will burn the crust before the filling is done.
- Mind your pecans. Pecan pies are essentially custards and should be baked in a low-temperature oven. The ratio of eggs to sugars and/or corn syrup to butter determines moisture and chewiness. Crunchiness is obtained by using an abundance of pecans so some of them will peak out of the custard and bake to a crisp state.
- Pay close attention to baking times. Your pie filling should bubble slightly and the center of your pie should no longer tremble when you move your pie plate back and forth.
- Stay cool. Heed the cooling time indicated in your specific recipe. You can serve an apple pie soon after it’s baked, but pumpkin or pecan pies must be cooled.
Ready to start baking? Here are some of our favorite holiday pie recipes.Caramel Apple Pear Pie with Salted Pecan Caramel Sauce – The flavors of fall meld together in this warm and delicious crowd-pleasing pie. Feel free to make this one ahead of time as it is just as delectable the next day.Sky High Cranberry Meringue Pie – Chef Eddy’s holiday twist on a lemon meringue pie, this Sky High Cranberry Meringue Pie has a deliciously tart cranberry filling and is topped with a tower of meringue.Cranberry Pear Pie – Cranberry and pear lovers, we have the pie recipe for you! This delicious Cranberry Pear Pie is lightly sweet and perfectly tart.No-Bake Cranberry Cheesecake Pie – Take the classic cranberry pie to the next level and WOW your guests with this easy to make No Bake Cranberry Cheesecake Pie with sugared pecans on top. Smooth and creamy with just the right amount of crunch.Homemade Sweet Potato Pie – Sweetalk Community Member Donna McGee Frank shares her Homemade Sweet Potato Pie – a family favorite.Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pie – This twist on classic buttermilk pie adds swirls of cinnamon to create a dense, custardy treat.
Looking for more pie inspiration? We have 137 pie and tart recipes on our website.