The problem with store-bought pie crust isn't that it doesn't taste good—although, don't get me wrong, some of crusts we sampled in this quest to find the best pre-made pie dough were really terrible. The bigger problem is that even the good ones tend to be more shallow than the standard pie dish. That's not too big a deal if you don't mind sacrificing some of your pie filling, but it's an important issue to keep in mind. And it doesn't just come up with pie crusts that are already shaped in foil tins; even some of the doughs that come rolled out and ready to transfer into your own pie dish just aren't the right size.
The early, extra pie is the one you truly get to savor.
In the end, we found one of each dough format that we can recommend if you aren't making pie crust from scratch this year, though they do come with some caveats (more on that below). While you're never going to get perfect pie crust out of a roll-and-fill dough from the grocery store, our very favorite, the Trader Joe's Pie Crust, is one we'd gladly eat again. For our methodology and the full list of store-bought pie crusts we tasted, scroll to the bottom of the page. First up, what we did and didn't like about our two winners.
The Best Store-Bought Pie Crust: Trader Joe's
This roll-and-fill crust by Trader Joe's is not an all-butter crust, and we do prefer an all-butter crust. But this dough does contain some real butter—in addition to other fats—which is probably why it was the most flavorful of the pie crusts we tried in our blind tasting.
It was slightly sweet—but not so sweet that it would seem strange if used in a savory tart or quiche situation. We liked the texture, but wouldn't call this a "flaky" crust. Instead, David Tamarkin called it "cookie-ish in a good way" like rich, buttery, sandy-textured shortbread. It also baked evenly and had enough overhang that we were able to crimp it in our favorite 9-inch pie dish.
BUY IT: Trader Joe's Pie Crusts, $4 for two roll-and-ready pie crusts in store at Trader Joe's
Our Favorite Tinned Pie Crust: Marie Callender's
If texture is more important to you than flavor (or your really dig the convenience of pie dough already set in a tin) go for this brand, which turned out the flakiest crust of the lot. The flavor is quite neutral, so it'd be a great backdrop for both sweet and savory fillings. Of the doughs that were already rolled and pressed into tins, this one also had the prettiest edge (though, real-talk, that isn't saying much) and was less prone to cracking or chipping than some of the others we tried.
One note about the size: the Marie Callender's packaging calls this a "deep-dish" crust, and while it is deep set, the diameter is shorter than the average deep-dish tin. That means it will not hold the quantity of filling that you'd make following an average deep-dish-pie recipe. Instead, we found the volume to be on par with a standard 9-inch pie dish. But keep this in mind: because of the crust's depth, you might have to be more diligent about checking for the doneness of any custard (like pumpkin or pecan) pies, since a deeper custard could take longer to bake than a more shallow one.
What We Were Looking For
To find the best store-bought pie crust, we were looking for dough that made crusts with great flavor and great texture. But the truth is, you have to decide which of those elements is more important to you. We looked for winners that were rich but not greasy, flaky and tender but not crumbly or cracker-like. Ideally, the best crust would also have the capacity to hold the entire amount of filling in any of our favorite standard 9-inch pie recipes. Again, in many instances here, sacrifices must be made if you're looking for the convenience of store-bought pie dough.
When we assessed the flavor, many of the crusts we tried begged for salt. (Yes! Pastry needs seasoning, too!) But one was so salty that we couldn't imagine using it for a sweet pie, even if salty-sweet is your thing. On the other end of the spectrum, some sweetness was ideal, but one crust proved to be far too sweet—set a pecan or chess pie in it and sugar overload is imminent.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the crust had to be easy to work with: if it was already set in a tin, did it have any cracks? If it was a roll-out crust, could it simply be unfurled and placed into a pie dish? In either case, were the directions for cooking or thawing the crust easy and logical? (One brand instructed us to microwave the crust to make it pliable. We suggest you...don't do that.)
We know you just got here because you're in the middle of making a pie and Google told you we could help, so we'll keep this short: Here are all of your Thanksgiving pie questions, answered.
How We Tested
I blind baked each ready-made shell in the tin it came in, set on a sheet pan. I filled each shell with a sheet of parchment and pie weights and baked them at 400°F for 10 minutes. I then removed the parchment and continued to bake the crusts until the shells were cooked through and had taken on a bit of golden color, about 15 minutes longer (timing varied greatly depending on the crust, likely due to sugar content and varying types of fat in each).
For the roll-and-bake crusts, I let them sit on a counter at room temperature for the time specified on the box and then unrolled them and transferred each into identical glass baking dishes. I then refrigerated each crust for about 10 minutes and baked them as specified above.
I tested the volume of our top pre-set contenders by filling a second set with water, pouring that water into a big measuring cup, and comparing the measurement to our favorite deep-dish pumpkin pie filling as well as a standard pumpkin pie filling.
The Other Pie Crusts We Tasted
- Pillsbury Pet-Ritz Deep-Dish Pie Crusts
- Whole Foods Market Homestyle Pie Shells
- Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts
- Wholly Wholesome Organic 9" Pie Shells
- Mrs. Smith's Deep-Dish Flaky Pie Crusts (sold as Oronoque Orchards Homestyle Deep-Dish Pie Crusts in the Northeast)
- Wholly Wholesome Organic Bake-at-Home Pie Dough
- Immaculate Ready-to-Bake Pie Crusts
Originally Appeared on Epicurious