Pie is a simple, comforting dessert that is a staple in any American holiday spread. Classic Thanksgiving variations include apple, pumpkin and pecan, and there are plenty of regional variations such as sweet potato, cranberry and cherry that highlight local ingredients. But if you’re looking to quickly whip up a pie for a potluck or holiday party, you might not have time to go to the grocery store and properly prepare an intricate pie from scratch. However, you can still make a quick and easy pie using some American ingenuity.
“Desperation” “make-do” or “pantry” pies are iconic parts of Southern culinary tradition. No matter what you call them, these pies can be made with whatever you have on hand in your pantry and fridge without needing fresh fruit or special ingredients. If you use a packaged crust or even pre-made pie dough, you’ll have a pie in no time.
As its name suggests, buttermilk pie uses buttermilk rather than citrus to give the pie a tangy flavor that balances the sweetness of its custard filling made with sugar, butter, eggs and flour. A recipe for buttermilk pie comes through in a pinch.
Chess pie is similar to buttermilk pie with a base of sugar, butter and eggs, but it's often thickened with cornmeal rather than flour and uses vinegar to cut its sweetness. Although its exact origins are hazy, the first recipe for chess pie appeared in the 1824 cookbook “The Virginia Housewife.” This simple recipe is tasty on its own but also works well when topped with any fruit you have on hand such as lemon or blueberry.
A Midwestern take on a pantry pie is Hoosier pie, also known as sugar cream pie. This pie’s rich custard base is made with sugar, heavy cream and butter. This humble pie is perhaps the most famous pie from the state of Indiana and can easily be made at home following this sugar cream pie recipe.
If you’re looking for more pie inspiration for the holidays, here are the most iconic pies from every state.