In this world, there are two kinds of people: those who prefer cake and those who prefer pie. Cake people obviously think that they have made the superior choice. Sure, that's hard to deny, since a cake has frosting, but we here at TheRecipe think that pie deserves a little more respect than it is used to getting. Sure, it's funny when someone gets one in the face, but how often have you ever thought about which pie is actually the best? You can put almost anything in a crust and call it a pie. You can even cover up a thick stew with mashed potatoes, bake it, and call that shepherd's pie! So what exactly makes a pie great? What are the best pie fillings out there?
Well, you asked, and we delivered. This definitive ranking of pies takes a look at many pies from all different regions, ranking them on their richness of flavor, the variety of fillings, and how well they balance all of their flavors together. After all, pie doesn't have to play second fiddle to cake. There's even a pie on this list that could really just be a cake masquerading as a pie! See? Even cakes want to get in on the pie game. So we must apologize to the cake people because this article is only going to be about the greatness of the pie. Whether you like your pie hot, cold, with whipped cream, plain, or a la mode, there's no denying that you will probably find your favorite somewhere on this list. These are 25 pies ranked from worst to best.
25 BEAN PIE
A pie made of beans? Yep, it exists, and it sounds really, really sad. Imagine going to someone's house, and they told you that they were serving pie for dessert, then they trotted out a pie made from navy beans. Would that not be truly disappointing? Sure, a pie made from starchy foods isn't unheard of (we'll be talking about sweet potato pie later on), but beans? There's nothing much that could make a pasty bean pie appealing to anyone (even if it is packed full of sugar).
24 STRAWBERRY RHUBARB
Nothing ruins a pie faster than the introduction of rhubarb. Rhubarb is meant to be considered a sweet treat that can be utilized in pies, but it's really more like a thicker, more bitter celery. Also, its leaves are poisonous, so that's fun! Strawberry rhubarb pie is just a lie. You bite into it thinking it will be great, because strawberries are delicious, and instead you get a mouth full of rhubarb. There might not be anything in this world that is more of a let down than that.
Bumbleberry is a pie that hails from Canada which combines a whole bunch of different berries into one pie. While this sounds like a pretty good deal, it's not actually all that great, because once again, our old enemy to flavor rhubarb makes an appearance. If bumbleberry pie was made without rhubarb, it might be slightly better, but the fact of the matter is that it's usually there. Not only that, but the combination of berries in this pie means that none of them really get a chance to shine.
You might think that a pie made with buttermilk would be pretty gross, but you would be wrong! However, it is true that buttermilk pie is definitely an acquired taste. It's not as sweet as custard pie, but the filling is similar. It's creamy and not overly sweet, but it also has the distinctive tanginess of buttermilk. This is the kind of pie that some people love because they grew up with it, but it really is the kind of thing that people trying it for the first time might not enjoy.
21 CUSTARD PIE
Custard pie is similar to buttermilk pie but it is not quite as off putting to people. Custard is basically an inoffensive dessert food, one that most people will agree tastes pretty good, and if you fill a pie crust with it, no one is going to object. The main issue with custard pie is that it can be kind of plain. It doesn't really have anything to cut through the creaminess of the custard or the sweetness of the pie crust, resulting in a flavor that can be kind of flat.
20 COCONUT CREAM
Coconut cream pie is the lowest ranking cream pie on this list, and only for the reason that coconut is not for everyone. It's the kind of flavor that can either remind you of a tropical beach or suntan lotion, depending on where you stand on coconut flavor. Coconut cream pie is definitely not for everyone, although it can be really, really good if it is made properly. It's just that most people would avoid it anyway, simply because it contains coconut. Given the choice, most people would go for more of a crowd pleasing pie.
19 CHESS PIE
Chess pie is a very regional pie that is characterized by the fact that it was originally made with any spare ingredients that people had on hand in their refrigerators (or "iceboxes," as they were known back in the day). The filling of a chess pie is made with flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, making it cakier than a custard pie, but retaining a similarly soft texture. It's not trying too hard, and it can be truly delicious when done right (for evidence of that, look to Milk Bar's crack pie, which is essentially just a play on traditional chess pie).
Raspberries can make some pretty great desserts, but there is just something about raspberry pie that doesn't work. Maybe it's the fact that the sweetness of the berries overpowers their more subtle tart notes, but what really makes a raspberry pie not nearly as good as other berry pies is one thing: seeds. With raspberries, it's just impossible to get rid of those tiny pervasive seeds, and while they don't need to be avoided, they can give off a bitter taste and get stuck in your teeth, making the whole raspberry pie experience quite irritating.
Blackberry pie ranks slightly higher than raspberry pie simply because blackberries have a slightly more complex flavor profile than their smaller, red counterparts. Blackberry pie still isn't the best pie out there, but the tartness of th berries and the more distinct flavor lends this pie slightly more character. If you ever want to make this one for yourself, the best thing to do is to get local, in-season blackberries so as to avoid any overt sourness in your pie. There's nothing worse than a batch of sour blackberries.
16 SWEET POTATO
Sweet potato pie may not be quite as popular as its closest cousin, the humble pumpkin pie, but it definitely has its place at many families' Thanksgiving tables. Sweet potatoes actually lend themselves very well to pies because of their inherent sweetness (it is right there in the name after all). Also, due to their smooth texture, which is far less starchy than the average potato, they can actually be whipped up in to a really nice, almost light pie filling. Of course, no sweet potato pie is really complete without a nice layer of marshmallows on top.
15 BOSTON CREAM
Okay, to be fair, Boston cream pie is less of a pie and more of a cake. However, since pie is right there in the name, we're including it, and really there's no reason not to. The combination of smooth custard, delicious cake, and a thick layer of chocolate ganache all come together to make a truly delicious "pie." While it doesn't exactly meet the specifications of the food it claims to be, this is definitely one of the better pies out there, even if it is in name only.
14 PEANUT BUTTER
It might not be the most common pie that people make, but a peanut butter pie can really be a great treat. Essentially you're just looking at a creamy, whipped peanut butter filling made with peanut butter and heavy cream, typically, resting in a crumble pie shell made from graham crackers (or any other cookie you might be interested in using. Oreos make a great crust for a peanut butter pie!). Peanut butter pie may be rare, but if you ever get a chance to try it, then dive right in.
13 MUD PIE
When you're talking about decadent pies, there's just no reason not to mention Mississippi mud pie, the creamy, thick, rich, chocolate creation from the southern United States. Mississippi mud pie may sound dirty, but it is just too good to pass up. This pie is made with two layers of chocolate filling and finished off with a whipped cream topping. Don't think that you can handle a big slice of this, because all the sugar is definitely going to weigh you down.
12 CHOCOLATE SILK
In contrast to the Mississippi mud pie, which piles up layers of chocolate and really just goes all in on being sweet, we have the chocolate silk pie. This lighter, creamier, more decadent pie utilizes a smooth chocolate mousse as its filling, typically atop a chocolate crust. You can top it with a dollop of whipped cream or a layer of meringue, but this pie is also perfect just on its own. It's a simpler, yet more refined chocolate pie, one that doesn't rely on thick layers of sweetness, but rather more subtle flavors, which can also be enhanced by the addition of coffee, which boosts the chocolate flavor.
11 BANANA CREAM
Here we have the highest ranking cream pie, one that beats all the others in flavor and presentation. Banana cream pie is something that can be truly delicious when it is made right. The cream filling gains a rich, yellow color from its namesake fruit, and the texture of the bananas lends itself very well to a cream pie. Due to their more subtle flavor, bananas actually provide a more nuanced flavor profile, one that is hard to replicate with other fruits. For all these reasons, banana cream pie wins against all other cream pies.
10 DERBY PIE
Derby pie is not something that is often found outside the state of Kentucky (it is named after the famous horse race), but if you ever manage to get a chance to try it, you won't regret it. Derby pie is basically just a pecan pie dressed up with a few extra ingredients, namely chocolate chips. You can't deny, though, the thought of eating a pie that is really similar to a pecan cluster would be pretty tempting. There are plenty of great recipes floating around out there to try making a derby pie, but you'd have to go the Kentucky Derby for the real thing.
As fun as a derby pie is with its addition of chocolate chips, there really is no topping the traditional pecan pie. With its crunchy pecan topping and melt in your mouth sugary filling, pecan pie really hits all of the right notes in terms of flavor and texture. This is the kind of thing that is a welcome change from any sort of fruit pie. when you see it sitting next to the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, it can make deciding between the two pretty difficult.
Peach pie is unfortunately not as common as some other fruit pies, but it should not be underestimated. While most people would prefer to just make something like a peach cobbler (which is basically just all the componenets of a peach pie in a different form), peach pie can really be a surprise hit. The sweetness of the peaches never becomes too cloying, and served with a bit of whipped cream, it can hit you just right. It's also a pie whose filling can be made from fresh or frozen peaches, with good results every time.
Strawberry pie is the kind of thing that not only brightens up a table but also tastes absolutely delicious. It's like strawberries were made specifically to go in pies. Their unique shape makes them perfect for artful arrangements, and their signature flavor, which is sweet with a hint of tartness, makes them a perfect pie filling. Although, most strawberry "pies" are actually tarts by definition, but at that point, you're really just splitting hairs. Whether they are in a pie or a tart, strawberries make a great filling.
6 KEY LIME
Key lime pie is not something that is often easy to find. This might be due to the fact that it has to be made with actual key limes to get the flavor right, and those are sometimes hard to uncover in certain parts of the world. However, if you ever get a chance to taste this sweet, tart, flavorful pie for yourself, do not let the opportunity pass you by. Also, don't be fooled by the pale yellow color. Key lime juice is a lighter green than regular lime juice. Plus, the addition of egg yolks gives the filling a more prominent yellow appearance.
5 LEMON MERINGUE
Some pies are truly iconic, and that's definitely true of lemon meringue. Not only is this a truly picturesque pie, with its perfect yellow lemon curd and fluffy white meringue, topped with just a little bit of brown from the oven, but it is also delicious. All of the flavors of this pie come together perfectly. The tart flavor of the lemon helps to cut through the rich meringue, which also compliments the more seet flavors of the fruit. If you can make this one from scratch, you'll really be able to impress people.
Blueberry pie is the king of berry pies. It's the kind of thing that you should never attempt to eat while wearing white, but even if it stains your clothes, it's so worth it. The way a sweet yet tart blueberry filling can play so well with a flaky, buttery pie crust is almost unreal. Plus, blueberries play well with plenty of other interesting flavors, such as lemon and ginger, which can be used to give any blueberry pie a little bit more of a complex flavor profile.
This might be a controversial pick to lead off the top three pies, but make no mistake: pumpkin pie is as delicious as it is iconic. From its depth of flavor that combines sweet, savory, and spice, to its alliterative name which can just brighten anyone's mood, pumpkin pie is always a winnner. If it wasn't so iconic, it wouldn't have the most popular Starbucks drink aping its flavors every fall. Pumpkin pie may be the kind of thing that is really only around in the cooler months, but it can warm anyone's heart and is delicious with a bit of whipped cream on top.
There might be another diner staple as popular for dessert as a good slice of cherry pie. This one might have its detractors, people who say it's too sticky or it's too sweet, but there's really no denying that cherry pie is a truly delicious dessert choice, and one that almost everyone will enjoy if you serve it. The bright red color of the fillig, combined with the slight tartness of the cherries, makes for a more balanced flavor than you might expect. Overall, cherry pie is a great choice, but it's not quite the greatest. That honor goes to none other than...
Come on, of course apple pie takes the top spot! This simple yet at the same time complex pie combines all kinds of flavors: the tart bite of good, crispy apples, the sweetness of sugar, the buttery, flaky and tender pie crust, and of course the spice blend which can utilize anything from cinnamon and nutmeg to cloves and cardamom. Apple pie can be served a la mode, or if you're feeling really daring, it can even be served with a slice of cheddar cheese on top. Apple pie is by far the greatest pie out there, and that's someone no one can argue with.