The Best Tips For Making A Yummy Holiday Pie


‘Tis the season, and it’s easy as holiday pie! Ok who am I kidding, it’s always the season for pies! I do love me a summer peach pie or chocolate silk pie or raspberry pie…mmmmm pie! I love pie, mainly because they are so easy to make. So most people have pie at family gatherings during the holiday season. I get that this year our gatherings may be smaller and we may be more exhausted.Pie GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

However, I’m here to tell you that this pandemic does not have to impact your holiday pie game!

I’m going to talk about some of the most popular pie flavors for the season, how to make it easier on yourself, and also how to elevate the pie to an instaperfect creation that will get all the oohs and ahhs.

First tip…wait for it…you do not need to make your own holiday pie crust.

Yup I said it.

Here’s the thing: unless something went horribly wrong, have you ever said, “that pie was delicious but I wish crust was (fill in the blank)?” Don’t get me wrong. An amazing flakey buttery crust does elevate any pie to the next level. But honestly, for most holiday pies, it’s just a vessel to hold the good stuff.

Kind of like lettuce is just a way to transport the dressing and croutons into your mouth.

If you are intimidated to make your own crust, I recommend buying a ready made frozen formed in the tin. I find that the roll out kind tend to be small and can rip easily. If I buy the roll out it is for decorating quickly (I’ll get back to that later.)

If you are going to make the crust, I think the hot water makes a big difference.

Take your time to get the right temp. and introduce ingredients slowly. Also, humidity helps. I know someone who has an old family crust recipe she can make in her sleep. It was always temperamental. She moved to Hawaii and never had a crack in her crust again, just fluffy crusty yumminess. The only change was the climate and the water. I’m no scientist but there is something to it.

Click here for my favorite holiday pie crust recipe. Enjoy!

Ok, let’s talk Pumpkin Pie.                             

How to make Pumpkin Pie easy:

Pumpkin is the easiest pie to make because you can’t go wrong with canned pumpkin. Please note, I said canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. There is a difference. You want to add your own cream and spices…trust me.

This year, at my 5-year-old’s request we made pumpkin pie from scratch. If you do this, make sure to buy the right kind of pumpkin for pie.

Not all pumpkins are right for baking.

Pie pumpkins are smaller but meatier with less seeds. It was good and different than pie made from pumpkin puree, but, not better. It also wasn’t cheaper.

You can’t guarantee you are going to get a tasty pumpkin and you aren’t saving money.

So save your self the time and buy the puree.


How to level up the pumpkin pie:

If your family are pumpkin pie purists, then level up with decorations or add a little ginger and/or carrot to enrich the flavor. They won’t be able to put their finger on it, but they will notice the richness.

If you are feeling adventurous, add a featured ingredient such as chocolate or coffee. You can also add a layer of cheesecake which is often a crowd pleaser.


Another classic holiday pie favorite: Pecan Pie

I love Pecan Pie! I also love sweet! Not everyone does. You can add a little bit of chestnut butter (it is bland) to the molasses when cooking or sprinkle sea salt on the top. This will cut the sweet. I of course don’t do either of these things…bring on the sweet!

How to make pecan pie easy:

Spoiler alert…it is already easy! Most pies actually are. What is great about pecan pie is that it has complicated flavor notes and looks intimidating to make, but it’s actually fast and easy: dump in ingredients, heat up, put in crust, bake, and voila!

How to level up this pecan pie:

Ok here it is: I add (or I should say my mom has been adding for 40 years) chocolate chips to her Southern Pecan Pie recipe that I have taken over. I strongly recommend semi sweet. Pecan pie is rich and sweet already. Milk chocolate would be too sweet (even for me) and dark would be too rich (even for me.)

Now a Chocolate Chip Southern Pecan Pie is going to be very rich and sweet, and you are going to love it!

Lastly (although if there wasn’t a word minimum I could go on and on), Apple Pie!

Make it easy:

Buy an apple peeler if you can. Pros are it is not very expensive and soooo fast. Cons are it is a fairly large kitchen addition that you may only use twice a year. Or get your kids (that are old enough) or partner to do the peeling.

My point is the peeling, coring, and slicing is the hardest part.

So a quick apple dessert lesson: If the apples are open to air, decorated beautifully and flat to the crust it’s an apple tart. If there is a buttery delicious crumble on top it is a dutch or french apple pie. If it looks like a calzone or empanada and you can hold it in your hand it is a southern hand pie. If it had crust on the bottom and crust on the top its an good old fashion American apple pie. We often see a lattice pattern with the crust. If you are adventurous and try this you don’t have to weave it in and out (although that’s awesome if you do). You can lay out all one direction first then the other and it still can look great.

Level up that apple pie:

Umm duh, caramel! Two options here: melt it into your apple and spice mixture or create a thin layer on the bottom crust. I like option two because it reminds me of a caramel apple on a stick.

Another option for your holiday pie is to add in another fruit.

Any berry works great, but since it is the season I might go with cranberry. I would add some sugar (not a lot) especially if you aren’t using a sweet apple as cranberries are quite tart on their own.

Lastly, (I bet you didn’t imagine I could talk about holiday pies for so long…ha, you underestimated this dessert lover!)

Leveling up your crust. This is all about presentation.

There are a ton of Youtube videos out there on making crust designs that will blow your mind. Some will take practice (“who has time for that,” says every parent reading this) and some are easy (like a quick fork on the edge technique.)

My favorite though is cookie cutters.

Now if you are a crust-purchasing pie maker, this is when the roll out crust comes in handy. Buy the crust formed in the tin and then use the roll out to cut out pumpkins or fall leaves or flowers to add to your pie. These can be gently laid right on the filling as pictured below.

I highly recommend a pie crust cover for baking.

It keeps your ends from over-browning. I did not use one in the picture below. Here is a link to one brand but there are many.

Below is a picture of an apple strawberry rhubarb pie I made. I used two sizes of apple cutters and then I used play-doh letter stamps (well washed) for the letters. Easy peasy and social media ready!

Oh last suggestion…wear comfy pants.

Happy baking…and eating!!! And if you are still intimidated to make your own pie, you can buy it. If you are local, check out the post on Best Pies in Orange County that will be going live here on Monday. 

The Best Tips For Making A Yummy Holiday Pie PIN

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I grew up in Orange County then went to Los Angeles (with a short detour in Santa Barbara) for college and spent the next 12 years there thinking that was home until I met my amazing, now husband on and moved back here to start our life together. I have a young son and daughter that are two years apart. They are thick as thieves and keep us laughing. I worked in Hospice care for 15 years and now I take Working Mom to a whole new dimension with a private mental health practice I worked hard with many jobs hustling for many years to grow my own business. I'm proud to say I'm helping people in my own office full time. The decision to quit my full time job working for some one else and to work towards creating much needed grief, trauma and self esteem support in Orange County fills my soul. I may not spend 24/7 with my kids but I plan to be role model to them and the time we have is all about quality not quantity. I'm working on a life/work balance but I find this is much easier when I love all aspects of my life and work and self.