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All Types of Pies to Enjoy ... or Throw?

2023-07-13   ◆   6 minutes read

The popularity of pies is such that there seems to be no limit to the types of pies available. Few things stir up nostalgia and childhood memories as strongly as the smell of a freshly baked apple pie! Relatively simple to prepare, they offer a multitude of flavours and fillings, and with so many possibilities, it can be difficult to choose the perfect one for every occasion. 


That’s why at Dessert Advisor, we’ve created the ultimate guide to help you navigate through the various choices and understand the different options available.


Mango Rose Tart (CBC)

Mango Rose Tart (CBC)

The Origins of Pies 

Pies have an ancient and diverse history that spans various cultures around the world. They originated from the practice of wrapping fillings in pastry, offering a convenient method of cooking and eating food. During the Middle Ages in Europe, pies gained in popularity and sophistication thanks to the use of butter and lard in the pastry. Over the centuries, they have continued to evolve, adapting to culinary traditions and regional preferences. Every country and culture has developed its recipes and varieties of pie.


Although we also love savoury pies, we’ll concentrate here on the sweet types of pies to give you the best advice for your next purchase. That way, you’ll have all the information you need to fully appreciate and enjoy these delightful treats!


Types of Pies: Crust Layouts 


Let’s start with the basics: the different crust layouts.


Single-crust raspberry pie (Audrey Cuisine) Single-crust raspberry pie (Audrey Cuisine


  • Single-Crust: For many people, the term “pie” evokes a single-crust pie, as this is the most common arrangement. The pastry is used as the base, and the filling is spread on top.


Apple tarte tatin (Chef Simon)Apple tarte tatin (Chef Simon)


In the case of tarte tatin, the filling is placed at the bottom of the mould, and then covered by the crust before being placed in the oven. Once baked, the pie is turned upside down like a pineapple upside-down cake.


Double-crust cherry pie Double-crust cherry pie 


  • Double-Crust: For the double-crust pie, the dough is divided into two. The first half is used as the pie base, while the other half is placed on top of the filling and sealed with the edges of the pie base to form the cover. The top crust can be vented by cutting slits or decorative patterns to allow steam to escape during baking.


Apple pie with a lattice crust (Redpath)Apple pie with a lattice crust (Redpath)


  • Lattice Crust: Some double-crust pies have a top crust made of thin pastry strips, alternating vertical and horizontal stripes to create a pattern. This is known as a lattice crust.


Summer fruit galette (Dinner Then Dessert) Summer fruit galette (Dinner Then Dessert)


  • Galette: Galettes are a more rustic, informal type of pie with pleated or folded edges that create an irregular shape. The filling is added to the centre of the pastry, and the edges of the pastry are folded inward to enclose the filling partially.


Blueberry crumb pie (Allrecipes)Blueberry crumb pie (Allrecipes)


  • Crumb Pie: Crumb pies are pies with a coating of butter, white sugar, brown sugar and flour. This mixture becomes crisp and rich when the pie is baked. This type of pie is  usually eaten warm or at room temperature.


Banana Pudding Slab Pie (Betty Cooker)Banana Pudding Slab Pie (Betty Cooker)


  • Slab Pie: In addition to the classic round shape, you can also give the pie a square or rectangular shape, which allows you to prepare larger quantities to feed crowds.


Raspberry hand pie (Cook and Drink)Raspberry hand pie (Cook and Drink)


  • Hand Pie: Finally, a smaller form is available for individual portions. Hand pies are quite literally pies that you can hold in your hand.

The Different Types of Dough


Let’s talk about pastry. A pie is generally prepared with a pastry covering the bottom and sides of a pie tin. The filling may be added before or after baking. Shortcrust and puff pastry are the two most popular dough types for making pies: 


  1. Shortcrust pastry is the most commonly used because of its ease of handling. It fits any mould and is waterproof, making it a good choice for moist fillings such as juicy fruit.
  2. Puff pastry, on the other hand, is rich in butter, light and crisp. Its preparation is a little more complex, and it can lose its crispness if over-moistened. It is, therefore, better suited to drier fillings.

Other types of pastry include pâte sablée, which is similar to shortcrust but sweeter and trickier to make, as well as yeast dough and filo pastry. Finally, it’s also possible to make no-bake pies using graham crackers in the style of an icebox cake.


Types of Fillings


Now that we’ve laid the foundations, let’s move on to the fillings. Fillings can be classified into four main categories: cream-based, custard-based, fruit-based or sugar-based.


1. Creamy Fillings


A single-crust coconut cream pie (Easy Desserts Recipes)A single-crust coconut cream pie (Easy Desserts Recipes)


Cream pies are usually served cold, making them a refreshing dessert, perfect for warm summer evenings. They have a creamy, smooth texture and can be infused with different ingredients such as fruit, chocolate or vanilla. Several types of cream can be used, such as whipped cream, crème pâtissière, diplomat cream, ganache or mousse. 


In general, the cream is prepared separately and poured into a pre-baked pie base. Then the pie is placed in the fridge to allow the filling to set and develop its creamy texture. Cream pies are often decorated with fresh fruit of all kinds, such as peaches, bananas or kiwis.


Chocolate cream pie (Live Well, Bake Often)Chocolate cream pie (Live Well, Bake Often)


  • Chocolate Pies: This type of pie features chocolate in various forms, including chocolate cream, ganache and mousse. They can be decorated with additional toppings, such as fruit, whipped cream or chocolate shavings.

Lemon meringue pie (Food Network)Lemon meringue pie (Food Network)


  • Meringue Pies: Meringue pies are cream pies covered with a layer of meringue. Meringue is made by beating egg whites with sugar to a light, fluffy consistency. The meringue is then spread over the pie filling, and baked in the oven to obtain a golden, fluffy, slightly crisp surface, sometimes decorated with patterns. Lemon pie is one of the most popular types, thanks to its combination of acidity and sweetness.

Tropical fruit chiffon pie (Pillsbury)

Tropical fruit chiffon pie (Pillsbury)


  • Chiffon Pie: Originating in the United States, chiffon pie has a light, airy-textured filling, usually obtained by incorporating meringue into a mixture thickened with unflavoured gelatin. This filling is placed in a pre-baked pie shell and refrigerated.
Butter pecan ice cream pie (Plain Chicken) Butter pecan ice cream pie (Plain Chicken


  • Ice Cream Pie: Ice cream pies, sometimes called frozen pies, are among the easiest type of pie to make. First, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet or gelato is softened, possibly combined with other ingredients such as fruit, chocolate chips or nuts, then spread on a pre-baked crust. The mixture is then placed in the freezer to firm up the consistency. They are, of course, ideal for hot summer days.

2. Custard Fillings

Old fashioned custard pie (Small Town Woman)Old fashioned custard pie (Small Town Woman)


Unlike traditional cream pies, custard pies are prepared by baking the cream and pastry simultaneously. As the pie is baked, the eggs impart a smooth, creamy texture. This type of pie can be eaten at any time of day and in any season and is particularly tasty when eaten cold.


Traditional flan pie (Les recettes de titi)Traditional flan pie (Les recettes de titi)


  • Flan Pie: Also known as Parisian flan pie, this French delicacy is based on the recipe for the famous flan. It contains a custard infused with vanilla bean and sometimes lemon or lime. It is baked in the oven until the custard solidifies and the surface becomes golden.

Chocolate crème brulée pie (Ma pâtisserie)Chocolate crème brulée pie (Ma pâtisserie)


  • Crème Brûlée Pie: Crème brûlée pie is a refined dessert that combines delicious crème brûlée with a crisp pie crust. Once cooled, the pie is sprinkled with granulated sugar and caramelized with a kitchen blowtorch to form a crisp, golden layer on top. The contrast between the smooth custard and the burnt sugar layer gives this pie a unique texture and a deliciously sweet taste.


Pumpkin pie Pumpkin pie


  • Pumpkin Pie: Custard can also be mixed with fruits or sweet vegetables. Such is the case in this mouth-watering pumpkin pie; an autumn classic often served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The creamy texture of pumpkin combined with autumnal spices makes this a very comforting dessert on cold days.


Chess Pie (The Pioneer woman)Chess Pie (The Pioneer woman)


  • Chess Pie: Chess pie is a type of pie typically associated with the southern US African-American community. The custard is made with eggs, sugar, butter, milk, cornmeal and vinegar. It has a smooth texture, and its flavour is sweet and slightly tangy. Some variations include chocolate, caramel, peanut butter or coconut.


Pasteis de nata (Golden Wheat Bakery and Pastry)Pasteis de nata (Golden Wheat Bakery and Pastry)


  • Pasteis de Nata: Pasteis de nata, or pasteis de Belém, are traditional Portuguese pies. They consist of a shell of crisp puff pastry filled with a custard filling made from eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla. These hand pies are true symbols of Portuguese cuisine and are very popular worldwide.

3. Fruits Filling


Raspberry pie with cream and streusel topping (The Kitchn)Raspberry pie with cream and streusel topping (The Kitchn)


Fruit pies are made with fresh or canned fruit baked in the oven with the pastry. They bring out the natural sweetness of the fruit. They are sometimes topped with cream or streusel (a mixture of butter, breadcrumbs and sugar). Fruit pies are best warm, especially soon after they come out of the oven. Their crunchy, comforting texture makes them ideal for the autumn and winter seasons, but just as enjoyable in the summer with seasonal fruit. 


Among the most popular fruit pies are:


Caramelized apple pie (750g)Caramelized apple pie (750g)


  • Apple Pie: An absolute classic, this pie combines oven-caramelized apples with a crisp crust, offering a sublime combination. Apple pie is particularly popular during the apple harvest season and is even tastier when the fruit has been picked directly from an orchard.
Cherry pie (Joy Food Sunshine)
Cherry pie (Joy Food Sunshine)


  • Berry Pies: Whether made with strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, or any other berries, these pies are a summertime staple. They are generally prepared with a two-layer crust. Some prefer to mix various berries for a burst of flavours, while others focus on a single fruit variety. Berry pies are appreciated for their balance between sweetness and acidity, as well as their bright colours and intense aroma.


Chocolate and pear pie at Première MoissonChocolate and pear pie at Première Moisson


  • Pear Pie: Pear pie is a delicious way to enjoy this delicate fruit’s sweet and juicy flavour. These fruit pies lend themselves to many flavour combinations and can be accompanied by nuts, chocolate or cream.


4. Sugar Fillings


Pecan pie (The Kitchn)Pecan pie (The Kitchn)


The fourth main category of pie fillings is sugar pie, made with brown sugar, maple cream or maple syrup. In Quebec, this type of pie is particularly popular during the sugaring-off season, when maple syrup is harvested. Sugar pies can be enjoyed on their own or with various nuts, the most famous example being pecan pie.


Pieing: To Laugh or to Cry?


Pies, especially creamy ones, are not only delicious but can also be funny when thrown or smashed in someone’s face unexpectedly, creating humorous situations. Pieing, or pie attack, has become a popular gag, initially in the theatre and later in silent films and cartoons. Renowned comic figures like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy made pieing a trademark of their comedies. It can also be a fun activity among friends, as long as all participants consent and food waste is limited. Using a paper plate with whipped cream or shaving foam can make cleaning easier.


Bernard-Henri Levy, King of pie-in-face (Stuff)Bernard-Henri Levy, King of pie-in-face (Stuff)


However, pieing can also be used as a means to humiliate celebrities at public events. In such cases, the intention of the perpetrator is to publicly ridicule the targeted celebrity to denounce their actions or stances on certain issues.  


Several prominent personalities, including Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, American billionaire Bill Gates and Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, have been subjected to this act. French writer Bernard-Henri Levy holds the probable world record for being pied, having experienced 10 instances between 1985 and 2017, across three different countries.


While pieing may seem harmless, as it typically causes no physical harm, and some victims take it with a sense of humour, it can undermine the dignity of those targeted and have serious moral consequences. Therefore, in many jurisdictions, it can lead to criminal prosecution and severe penalties, including imprisonment.


At Dessert Advisor, we believe that desserts should bring people together and symbolize joy and sharing, not hostility and division. For this reason, we do not endorse pieing as a form of political denunciation, and we prefer more peaceful forms of protest. 


We hope you’ve learned something new from reading this blog. The sight of all those mouth-watering pies may have made your mouth water, so now it’s time to use our search tool to find your favourite types of pies near you.

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About the author is an organization dedicated to the research of desserts, baked goods, and snacks. The community maintains one of the largest databases of dessert items and dessert places in Canada. 


With a mission to facilitate foodies’ search for their desired products, the site allows finding locations that dessert items are sold at, enhances knowledge on various treats (i.e., variety, flavours, health benefits, history, origins, etc.), and enables people to enjoy the wealth of life. is a proud member of the BBB Business Review


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