7 Pie Recipes to Test This Holiday Season

From a classic sweet apple pie to savory hand pies, consider trying one of these recipes from local chefs and foodies.
by Addie Ladner

Pies are a classic and universally loved dish each holiday season. They also come in a host of flavor and texture profiles — some work best on a dessert spread, but savory pies can be a welcome hostess gift or heart meal. We rounded up recipes from local chefs and foodies to try this holiday season.

Preeti Waas’ Walnut Molasses Pie

Preeti Waas, the chef and owner of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium, adds just a hint of warm Indian spices to her traditional pies. Her Walnut Molasses Pie uses jaggery, a sugar found in India, to add depth of flavor.

Ingredients for pastry
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
6 tablespoon ice-cold water

Ingredients for filling
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups lightly toasted walnut pieces

Ingredients for topping
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
¼ cup honey, or melted jaggery
1 cardamom pod, with seeds crushed fine (discard the pod)

Directions: To make the pastry: In a large bowl, place the flour and salt and whisk together lightly. Using a box grater, grate cold butter into the flour. Using two forks or a pastry cutter, lightly toss so the butter is fully incorporated into the flour. Add ice-cold water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture just holds together. Place on a piece of plastic wrap, and pull wrap together tightly to create a disc. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the filling. 

Remove pie crust from refrigerator, and use a knife to separate into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. On a floured surface, roll out the larger piece until it is larger than the diameter of your pie tin. Fit crust into pie tin, then fold the edges over and crimp. Using a fine grater, grate a quarter teaspoon worth of nutmeg all over the crust, and lightly press in.

Fill the pie tin with the mixed filling. Roll out the remaining pie crust, and create a lattice for the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 – 55 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing. 

Whisk cream, honey or jaggery, and crushed cardamom into a soft, cloud-like consistency. Serve a generous dollop over each slice, and enjoy.

Grandma Char’s Crunchy Apple Pie

In Southern Smoke BBQ chef Matt Register’s family, his mother-in-law Charmayne Talerico — also known as “Grandma Char” — is in charge of dessert. Her Crunchy Apple Pie is a classic, beloved recipe.

Pre-made pie crust
7 Granny Smith apples, sliced 
1 tablespoon sugar 
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten 
1 ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Pinch of salt 

Directions: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Mix apple slices with 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon. Pour apple mixture into pie crust. Blend melted butter, flour, egg, white and brown sugars, chopped walnuts and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples. Bake for 45 minutesMakes 6-8 slices

Grandma Char’s Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

Another favorite on Matt Register’s table: his mother-in-law’s Double Layer Pumpkin Pie, which has both a cream cheese filling and pudding filling for a mix of textures.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
1 tablespoon milk or half and half 
1 tablespoon sugar 
1 ½ cups thawed whipped topping 
1 pre-formed graham cracker crumb pie crust
1 cup cold milk or half and half 
2 packages vanilla flavor instant pudding and pie filling 
1 can pumpkin 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
½ teaspoon ground ginger 
¼ teaspoon ground cloves 

Directions: Mix cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk and sugar in a large bowl; whisk until smooth. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread on bottom of crust. Pour 1 cup milk into another bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and spices; mix well. Spread over cream cheese layers. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with additional whipped topping and nuts if desired. Serves 6-8 

Tonya Council’s Chicken Pot Pie

“This is one of my favorite dishes, something I grew up on,” says chef and businesses owner Tonya Council, the owner of Tonya’s Cookies and Sweat Tea & Cornbread, and the granddaughter of famed chef Mildred “Mama Dip” Council. Says Tonya: “It’s almost a one-dish meal. You’ll have to make it to see why I love it so much!” 

Filling ingredients 
2 small potatoes, diced 
2 cooked whole chickens
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 16 oz bag frozen peas and carrots, thawed
2 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon base
2 pie crusts (ready-made or using the recipe that follows)

Directions: Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and dice the meat into bite-sized pieces to yield four cups.  In a large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, 1 cup water, and milk. Bring the mixture to a boil. In a separate dish, combine the remaining water and flour; blend into a paste. Add flour mixture to the cooking broth and mix until well combined. Let the mixture cook for 15 to 20 minutes on low heat until thickened. Add the chicken base and stir to combine. Press one pie crust into the bottom of a casserole or pie dish. Pour in the chicken and peas and carrots, then pour the broth mixture on top; spread it out evenly. Place the second crust over the top. Using a fork, pinch the bottom and top crusts together, then cut a few small holes into the top pie crust to allow steam to escape.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Pie Crust Ingredients 
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
for dusting 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2/3 cup shortening 
4 tablespoons cold water

Directions: Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the shortening and combine using a fork or fingertips until the mixture turns to coarse crumbles. Mix in the water, a little at a time, to bring the dough together. Divide into two, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. When ready to bake, place the dough on a lightly floured surface to roll out.

Three Root & Lamb Hand Pies

Chef and cookbook author Kaitlyn Goalen loves making a savory hand pie as a stackable, portable warm meal. Here, spices like cardamom and star anise elevate ground lamb and sweet root vegetables. ”Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, are some of the best cooking muses around,” she writes.

Hand Pie Ingredients
8 ounces (two medium) rutabaga, peeled and sliced into wedges
8 ounces (one large) turnip, peeled and sliced into wedges
8 ounces (one medium) sweet potato, such as Batus
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cardamom pods
1 star anise pods
½ pound ground lamb
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup sherry

Pastry Ingredients
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
Ice water
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

DirectionsPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the rutabaga, turnip and sweet potato wedges, butter, olive oil and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the vegetables. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. In a skillet, toast the cardamom and star anise. Break upon the cardamom pods and place the seeds and the star anise in a mortar and pestle. Grind finely and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the lamb and cook until no longer pink, about eight minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the red onion and cook until softened, about four minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the lamb. Add the reserved spices, the mustard and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the vegetables are done roasting, transfer them to a blender or a food processor and add the broth and sherry. Pulse until smooth, then add the root vegetable puree to the lamb mixture. Combine well and set aside. Make the pastry: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or in a food processor until no piece of butter is larger than a pea. Add six tablespoons of ice water to the flour mixture, using your hands to bring the mixture together. Continue to add ice water by the tablespoon until the mixture holds together in a ball. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a diameter of 7½ inches, then gather up the remaining dough and roll out again to get more circles. Repeat until you have six circles. In a small bowl, beat the egg well. Place ¾ cup of lamb filling in the bottom third of each circle, and brush the outline of the circles with egg. Fold the circles in half to form a crescent around the dough and press down on the edges to seal (you can crimp with a fork if you’d like).Place the pies on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 6

German Chocolate Pie

On the other end of the spectrum, Goalen makes a cake-like chocolate pie that was passed along from her mother. It’s worth the extra effort to toast the pecans and the coconut flakes, as it’ll activate the oils in both, which heightens the flavor,” she writes.

1 ¼ cups pecan halves
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
One 9-inch pie shell, homemade or store-bought
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ounce good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions: Preheat the broiler. Place the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 3 to 4 minutes (watch carefully as broiler strength varies from oven to oven). Let the pecans cool, then slice lengthwise into slivers. Place the coconut flakes on the same rimmed baking sheet and toast until just turning brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the flakes to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Par-bake the shell for 20 minutes. While the shell is baking, melt the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When both are completely melted, pour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir to combine, then mix in the eggs. Stir the pecan slivers and coconut into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Pour the mixture into the par-baked pie shell and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center is set. Let cool slightly, then serve. Makes 1 9-inch pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Rondi Goodman, who worked as pastry chef at Irregardless, makes a sweet Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Pie to round out a Thanksgiving (or any holiday) feast. Goodman makes her own pie dough, but recommends that home cooks unfamiliar with pastry dough purchase a high-quality prepared pie crust from Fresh Market or Whole Foods, and bake it for 15 minutes for this recipe.

Filling Ingredients
2 eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
½ cup cream
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cloves

Topping ingredients:
1 1/4 cup pecans
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, pumpkin, and cream in a mixer until combined. Add brown sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into pumkin-egg-cream mixture; continue mixing until combined. Pour into prebaked pie shell. Bake 45 minutes. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients in a bowl. After pie has baked 45 minutes, gently place topping mixture on top of pie; bake another 15 minutes.

This article was originally published on November 22, 2023 on waltermagazine.com