THE PIES HAVE IT
This all-American classic is bound to please nearly everyone. While fall is prime time for apples -- especially if a pick-your-own farm is nearby -- in most cases quality ingredients are easy to get year-round. The pros recommend using tart apples such as Granny Smith, Royal Gala, and Empire to make flavors pop. A popular recipe adapted from New York City restaurant The Dutch suggests pre-cooking the filling before baking.
Recipe: The New York Times
This Southern classic is always a winner in summer, at the height of peach season, though in a pinch frozen fruit will do. The key is to elevate the flavor of the peaches without losing them in overpowering modern flourishes, but using excess pie dough to decorate the crust is a nice touch.
Recipe: A Beautiful Mess
Another Southern staple, chess pie has been popular for centuries -- especially during lean times -- and is celebrated for its timeless simplicity and surprising richness. At its foundation, this custard-like pie incorporates butter, eggs, milk, and sugar, while cornmeal and vinegar are traditionally distinguishing additions that help balance richness. The name remains a mystery -- some say it was enjoyed by Southerners during chess games, while others say its derived from the Southern drawl of "it's jus' pie" -- but any way you slice it, it's delicious.
Sweet and gooey with a satisfying nutty crunch, pecan pie is a Thanksgiving staple with a Southern flair that can really be enjoyed anytime of year thanks to the simple ingredients. Some cooks add chocolate or bourbon, and others drizzle caramel on top or swap pecans for walnuts.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
Another Thanksgiving winner just as delicious in the off-season, pumpkin pie is often a hit with those looking for sweets with a subtle, savory touch from spices such as nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. The ambitious can make a pie entirely from scratch with fresh pumpkin, but most bakers agree it's not worth the effort -- canned works just as well and saves lots of time.
Recipe: Once Upon A Chef
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PIE
This sweet treat is packed with protein, thanks to the generous amount of peanut butter, but that's probably not why you're here. You're here to indulge, and this pie delivers thanks to the always wonderful pairing of chocolate and peanut butter. This is a from-scratch recipe that makes an exception for crumbled Reese's Cups as a fun garnish.
Recipe: Handle the Heat
KEY LIME PIE
Tart, creamy, and refreshing, Key lime pie is a summer classic. The Floridian staple is not everyone's favorite -- it can be too tangy for some, or too cloying with too much sweetened condensed milk -- but done right, it will convert some doubters. Ideally, use fresh Key limes, from Florida; bottled Key lime juice can work. Some recipe testers suggest a twist of lemon juice to balance out the tartness.
Another summertime winner, strawberry-rhubarb pie balances sweet and tart flavors beautifully. Not surprisingly, the fresher the ingredients the better. A charming lattice-top crust adds to the beauty of the red strawberries and rhubarb filling.
Recipe: Bon Appétit
LEMON MERINGUE PIE
An old-school diner favorite, lemon meringue pie ranks as a go-to for many -- though it's not often made at home these days, despite being fairly straightforward. The fancy can go for the Chez Panisse Meyer Lemon rendition; otherwise, keeping things simple will still make some fans.
CHICKEN POT PIE
While those with a serious sweet tooth may consider savory pies to be an entirely separate category, we think this classic deserves a place on the list. (Food historians will confirm that savory pies actually predate sweet ones, going as far back as medieval England.) Chicken pot pie is the perfect answer to a chilly, rainy day, and this recipe hits all the right notes. Care to follow it up with a sweet pie? Don't let us stop you.
Recipe: Barefoot Contessa
Another American classic, cherry pie done right is immensely satisfying, yet all too often can turn out too goopy or watery. The science-minded Stella Parks cracked the code by figuring out the ideal ratio of sugar, cherries, and tapioca starch using fresh or frozen cherries. Go the extra mile and make her cherry pit whipped cream.
Recipe: Serious Eats
BANANA CREAM PIE
Custard-based pies are not for everyone, but this banana cream pie will likely win over plenty of converts. The recipe calls for a rum-spiked custard between banana slices and homemade whipped cream, topped with white chocolate curls for added class. A bit of rum can be omitted.
Recipe: Food and Wine
Blueberry pie is one of the easier fruit pies to make, as it doesn't require peeling or pitting, and when made well is a big crowd pleaser. Definitely use fresh when possible, but frozen berries can still make an excellent pie -- they're picked at the height of freshness and maintain plenty of flavor. Let berries sit for 30 minutes after mixing with cornstarch, sugar, salt, and lemon juice and zest, to let them soften and to extract the juices, avoiding a soupy pie.
Recipe: Bon Appétit
SWEET POTATO PIE
This Southern classic is popular at Thanksgiving, but delectable the rest of the year as well. Despite its similarity to pumpkin pie, some people expect a pie involving sweet potatoes won't be sweet enough. One bite and the doubters will be convinced.
COCONUT CUSTARD PIE
Don't let the lack of color fool you: This is loaded with plenty of flavor. A recipe from the 1930s based on simply eggs, sugar, milk, shredded coconut, and a dash of salt ramps up flavor with coconut extract and coconut milk for a satisfying treat.
Recipe: Beyond Frosting
CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE
Another diner favorite, this pie hits the spot for chocolate lovers and can be customized with bittersweet, semisweet, or milk chocolate -- or a combination. Pros recommend straining the filling while warm and adding the filling only once the baked crust has cooled. Opt for a simple whipped cream topping, or get fancy with meringue.
Recipe: King Arthur Flour
The name of this old-fashioned Southern pie might strike some as unappetizing, but done right it's a surprisingly delicious, simple, and cheap crowd-pleaser. A cousin of the chess pie and equally popular when fresh fruit was scarce and "desperation pies" were born out of necessity, vinegar pie recipes typically call for apple cider vinegar -- it adds more complexity than white vinegar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract help make flavors pop.
Recipe: The Southern Lady Cooks
SHOOFLY PIE (MOLASSES PIE)
This classic pie with a charmingly old-school name comes straight out of Pennsylvania Dutch country. The molasses-based, crumb-topped pie is thought to be named because bakers would have to shoo away flies from the sweet ingredients as they cooled. Whatever the case, it's simple and satisfying and bound to pleasantly surprise guests. It calls for a mix of light and extra dark blackstrap molasses to balance flavors, but just dark molasses can be used.
Long regarded as the "poor man's pecan pie" when pricey pecans were subbed out for an oatmeal topping, this classic is still popular with many, particularly in the South. To add variation and a bit of modern decadence, add a layer of bittersweet chocolate on the bottom. Or just stick with the classic.
Recipe: She Wears Many Hats
While Shepherd's pie takes a decidedly sharper turn away from sweet pies than even chicken pot pie -- its crust is mashed potatoes, not pastry -- it's nonetheless classic comfort fare with a long history. and a delicious way to make use of leftovers. (Though to be Shepherd's pie, it must contain ground lamb; if beef is used, it's a cottage pie.)
Recipe: Good Eats
More than 200 different species of blackberries across America, in nearly every region, so there's likely plenty of variations for blackberry pie depending where you live. Another summertime favorite, blackberry pie is great with fresh berries, but will work with frozen. Let the berry mixture sit for at least 30 minutes to avoid a runny pie.
Recipe: Simply Recipes