You’ve learned how to make all the cookies known to humankind, so what’s next, home baker? Might we suggest pie? After all, it’s impressive, nostalgic and adaptable to every season, and once you know the basic formulas for each type, creating a choose-your-own-adventure dessert is as easy as, um…you get the idea. Try your hand at these essential types of pie, and then invite us over for a slice.
1. Fruit Pie
Is there anything more quintessentially “pie” than a mound of freshly picked fruit encased between two flaky, buttery crusts? This is the type of pie you bake after spending the afternoon perusing the farmers market or picking strawberries by the bucket. Fruit pies can be made with a single crust, but most often they’ll have a top crust, whether it’s solid with vents or woven into a lattice. The juicy fruit will require a thickener—such as cornstarch or flour—to keep it from being soupy, and the pie will need to cool before you slice and serve it.
Try it: Cherry Slab Pie
2. Custard Pie
Custard pies have a creamy but firmly set filling, and typically start with a mixture of eggs, dairy and sugar that’s baked and cooled. From there, you can go wild with subtypes and flavorings. Chess pies are a type of custard pie that’s made with a small amount of starch, which adds texture and requires fewer eggs. Sugar pies are made with dairy, sugar and flour instead of eggs, so they’re nearly impossible to overbake and allow the other flavor elements to stand out.
3. Cream Pie
Rich, pudding-like cream pies are the stuff of diner dreams. They start with a fully baked crust that gets filled with a creamy stovetop custard—most often, it’s a form of pastry cream, but it could also be a pudding or a buttery curd. Cream pie fillings can also be lightened with whipped cream (and topped with whipped cream, too). After assembly, the whole pie goes in the refrigerator to chill before serving.
Try it: No-Bake Coconut Cream Pie
4. Chiffon Pie
Like cream pies, chiffon pies start with a pre-baked crust and a custardy filling. But here, the filling is lightened—traditionally with meringue, though sometimes with whipped cream. The other essential ingredient in chiffon pie is gelatin, which thickens and stabilizes the filling into an ethereal cloud of cream. (You can use agar-agar if you’re vegan.)
Try it: Spiced Orange Chiffon Pie
5. Silk Pie
At first glance, a silk pie seems indistinguishable from a chiffon pie. But it’s not thickened with gelatin and the texture is as smooth as, well, silk. It’s rich and velvety and frequently (but not always) involves chocolate. The filling is a lot like mousse, or a pudding that’s been lightened with whipped cream.
Try it: French Silk Pie
Since galettes are open-faced (aka they don’t have a top crust), they’re technically a type of tart. But we like to think of them as freeform pies, since they have a flaky crust and (usually) a fruit filling. They’re baked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie pan, making them nearly foolproof to assemble.
Try it: Berry Galette
7. Savory Pie
As any serious pie person will tell you, they’re not just for dessert. Since many classic pie crusts are made with little to no sugar, they’re the ideal vehicle for nearly any type of vegetable, meat or egg filling. The beauty of savory pies is that they’re relatively forgiving, and you can experiment as you please. (We like the flexibility of a galette-style pie here.)
8. Ice-Cream Pie
What do you get when you combine a pre-baked pie crust and a cold, creamy pint of ice cream? Ice cream pie, of course. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but ice cream pie features softened ice cream, gelato or sorbet that’s spread into a cooked pie crust (which can crumb or pastry style), then re-frozen until sliceable.
Try it: Mini Strawberry Ice-Cream Pies
9. Hand Pie
It turns out, you don’t need a fork to enjoy a piece of pie. Hand pies are exactly what they sound like: miniature versions of pie that can fit in your hand. The filling options are endless, but they’re best suited to pre-cooked or thickened fruit fillings or savory fillings like cheese since they’re enclosed in all that crust.
Try it: Biscuit Dough Pumpkin Hand Pies
10. Meringue Pie
While it’s more of a topping than a filling, we think meringue pies deserve their own category. Their defining trait? A loft plume of whipped egg whites and sugar, which can be toasted or left plain. FYI, you’ll most frequently see meringue on top of a custard- or curd-based pie—citrus is most popular—but we’d argue that it’s delicious on everything from fruit to chocolate.
Try it: Mini Apricot Meringue Pies