My Top 5 Thanksgiving Pies Revealed

My Top 5 Thanksgiving Pies Revealed

In my previous article I listed my favorite pies for Thanksgiving David Letterman style, starting with number 10. Here is the rest of my list, including the recipes. I hope you like them! Let me know if you have any of the same recipes on your list. Be sure to include photos if you give one of these a try.

5. Chess Pie
Chess Pie is an old southern favorite. The beauty of chess pie is it’s very versatile. You can add one or two other ingredients to alter the flavor. Lemon or chocolate are the two most popular variations, though I’ve seen orange, coconut, and even peanut butter. There are a couple of different camps out there. Some recipes call for buttermilk and others use whole milk. I like both, but my favorite recipe comes from Southern Living,

4. Peanut Butter Pie
My favorite peanut butter pie combines elements from a couple different recipes. What I really love is that it does not use a typical pie crust, (which as you may recall, I am hopelessly inept as making) rather it is a solid chocolate shell. Yum! This does contain a raw egg. If you are uncomfortable with raw egg, you could leave it out.

Ingredients: small bag semi sweet chocolate chips, 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 egg, 1 pint heavy whipping cream, chocolate bar for making curls

Melt chocolate chips and pour into glass pie dish. Spread evenly on bottom and sides. Freeze. Beat softened cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and egg; beat until creamy. Whip heavy cream separately. (You could also use cool whip.) Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture. Pour into pie shell and refrigerate. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings before serving.

3. Easy No-bake Cheesecake Pie
This is my go-to pie throughout the year. It is super simple to throw together and is always a hit.

Ingredients: graham cracker crust, 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 pint heavy cream (also called whipping cream)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and keep beating. Slowly add heavy cream and beat til thick and fluffy. Pour into cooled pie crust. Chill 24 hours. Top with canned fruit.

2. Heavenly Pie
This pie is light and delicious. It also takes considerable time and patience to make. I guess that’s why they say good things take time! The meringue crust makes an impressive base and the lemony whipped filling is pure heaven…thus the name! It is an old family recipe. Mine is never quite as ethereal as my cousin’s which is why it was on my menu this year. I need the practice! I’ve explained by steps.

IMG_2708Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, 4 egg whites
Beat whites until stiff. Slowly add sugar and cream of tartar. When meringue makes glossy peaks, spread over bottom and sides of well buttered 9″ pie plate. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour. Cool. See image on left.

Ingredients: 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 Tbs lemon juice, whipped cream
Over a double boiler beat the egg yolks. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Continue stirring nonstop until thickened (8-10 minutes). Cool. Fold in 1 cup whipped cream. Pile into cooled pie shell. Chill 12-24 hours. Top with more whipped cream.

Drum roll please! And now for Bradley Nierenberg’s top choice pie choice for Thanksgiving…the one I bake every year…


1. Derby Pie
Are you surprised? I know this is not a typical choice for Thanksgiving! I was sold after a friend from Louisville served this to me once, many years ago. There are many many versions of this Kentucky favorite, and they are all delicious. I prefer a version without bourbon, but that is entirely up to you! This is my friend’s original recipe.

Ingredients: 1 pie shell, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup English walnuts (broken), 2 eggs beaten, 1 cup sugar, 1 stick butter (melted and cooled), 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar and flour, then eggs, add butter, nuts, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees. If a toothpick comes out too gooey, bake longer. It depends upon your oven.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving! Please let me know if you give any of these a try. I would love to hear what you think!

Bradley Nierenberg’s Top Ten Thanksgiving Pies (Part 1)

Bradley Nierenberg’s Top Ten Thanksgiving Pies (Part 1)

piesForget the turkey and stuffing! When it comes to planning out my Thanksgiving meal, the first major decision I make is what kinds of pie will I serve! It’s not an easy choice considering how many delectable recipes are crammed into my old wooden recipe box. That’s one of the reason’s I invite extra people over for dessert – that means more pie!

10. Chocolate Cream Pie
This is my brother’s favorite, so if he is on the guest list, this one makes the list. There’s no actual recipe I follow since it is saved in my head. Ingredients: 1 box chocolate pudding (not instant), whole milk, heavy cream, graham crackers, sugar, butter.

Cook the pudding on your stove. Prepare a graham cracker crust (scratch is always best), and pour hot pudding into baked crust. refrigerate. Whip up heavy cream with some sugar. Top chilled pie with whipped cream and serve.

Hint: It is even better the next day for breakfast!

9. Apple Pie
I have not yet mastered traditional pie crust. I think it is because my Grandma’s is so perfect that any attempt I make falls short. Since I cannot seem to get regular pie crust “just right” I make apple pie using the French pie crust called Pate Brisee. I do not have an old family recipe. The best one I’ve turned out after trying many is from one of my favorite baking websites, Joy of Baking.” Here is Stephanie Jaworski’s recipe which cannot be improved upon IMO!

Hint: If you absolutely must improve upon this, I suggest warm caramel sauce over top. What the heck…you will eventually come out of your food coma, right?!?!

8. Frozen Pumpkin Pie

If you are not a huge fan of traditional pumpkin pie, this recipe might be palatable. I grew up eating this at my aunt’s house and so add it into my Thanksgiving rotation every few years. Ingredients: 1 baked pie shell, 1 cup plain pumpkin, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp each ginger/cinnamon/nutmeg, 1 quart vanilla ice cream, 1 cup heavy cream

Spread softened ice cream in shell and freeze. Mix all other ingredients except heavy cream. Whip cream and fold into pumpkin mixture. Spoon over ice cream in shell. Freeze. Simple and delicious.

Hint: Run you knife under hot water before making each cut and it should slide through more easily.

7. Maple-Pecan Pie
Maple syrup makes everything taste better, including pecan pie if you ask me! Ingredients: 1 deep dish pie crust, 1 cup pure maple syrup, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup white sugar, 3 Tbs melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbs flour, 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Spread nuts over unbaked crust. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour filling over nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Hint: If you use unsalted butter, you may want to add 1/4 tsp salt to the filling before you bake.

pumpkin-gooey-butter-cake6. Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Okay, okay! I know this is clearly NOT a pie recipe. But it does include pumpkin and this is a Thanksgiving list after all. So if you are not a fan of pies, but love pumpkin, this may be the recipe for you. Warning: It is exceedingly sweet. If that’s not your thing, then skip to the next recipe.

One of my favorite homey cooks, Paula Deen, makes this cake. It’s an easy recipe to throw together and fills a 9×13. If you are serving a crowd, this one is sure to please. Here’s the link,

Hint: It’s called “gooey” for a reason. Do not over bake!


Stay tuned for Bradley Nierenberg’s five favorite pies! Be sure to comment on what your favorite Thanksgiving pies are!