If you're planning to buy a pumpkin pie this holiday season, you need to know which store carries the best one — and which store you absolutely need to skip.
Last fall, a team of Insider taste-testers tried pumpkin pies from Key Food, Wegmans, Trader Joe's, Stop & Shop, and Costco to determine which was best according to filling flavor, crust, and appearance.
Wegmans came out on top with a pumpkin pie that looked and tasted homemade.
There's nothing better than a delicious slice of pumpkin pie.
However, while some people swear by their own recipes, others prefer to purchase their pie from the local grocery store, saving them time and the hassle of baking a pie from scratch.
Last fall, we tracked down store-bought pumpkin pies from five major grocery retailers — Key Food, Wegmans, Trader Joe's, Stop & Shop, and Costco — to determine which was best according to filling flavor, crust, and appearance.
Here's how they ranked, from our least favorite to our favorite.
The pumpkin pie from Stop & Shop was the cheapest store-bought pie we tried.
Stop & Shop stores are located across the northeast in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The 8-inch pie retailed for $4.99, but with Bonus Buy Savings, the pie came to $3.99 when we bought it.
While the pumpkin pie from Stop & Shop looked almost identical to the Key Food pie, which we tried later, the two desserts couldn't have been more different.
Some thought the Stop & Shop pumpkin pie tasted slightly watery, while others said the crust tasted slightly artificial — but then, it is a store-bought pie. One taste-tester did remark that they enjoyed the crust on the Stop & Shop pie the most out of all the pies, saying that it was almost like shortbread.
We also tried the sugar-free pumpkin pie from Stop & Shop.
The sugar-free, 8-inch pie was more expensive than the pies from Key Food, Costco, and Trader Joe's. It cost $6.29 when we purchased it. We were intrigued to see how a sugar-free pumpkin pie would taste compared to the others.
There were a few choice words from the taste-testers, none of whom are sugar-free eaters, including "bad" and even "ew."
While this review is based on only a few taste-testers' opinions — who all agreed we prefer sweet pumpkin pies rather than tart — we couldn't finish much more than a couple of bites of this pie. It was also deemed to be a little too watery, and the flavor was slightly bitter.
"It's a pie if you need a sugar-free pumpkin pie. But it's not anything special," said one taste-tester.
However, while the Stop & Shop pies weren't our favorites, they'll do in a pinch. And, if you're in need of a sugar-free pumpkin pie, this is one of the few grocery stores we found to carry one.
We also tried the Urban Meadows old-fashioned pumpkin pie from Key Food.
Key Food stores are located throughout the northeast in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The Key Food pie was the second-least expensive pie at just $4.99.
Multiple taste-testers said the Key Food pumpkin pie was slightly bland, and that the only flavor present was cinnamon.
While Insider's team of taste-testers did enjoy the cinnamon flavor of the pie, the texture seemed chunky somehow. We thought it tasted vaguely as if someone simply mixed canned pumpkin with cinnamon and called it a day on their pie filling.
The pie definitely didn't taste bad, per se, but it wasn't anything to call home about.
Next up: The 4-pound Goliath that is the Costco pumpkin pie.
Costco Wholesale locations are found throughout the country, allowing thrifty shoppers the chance to try the retailer's holiday dessert staple wherever they're located.
We were shocked to discover the price of the massive pie — a mere $5.99 — despite it being twice the size of the other pies and weighing 3.86 pounds. It should be no surprise then, that Costco reportedly sells millions of pumpkin pies every fall.
The recipe hasn't changed since 1987, so we were excited to see how it measured up to the other pies.
While we enjoyed the Costco pie, and it was deemed the best bang for your buck, it didn't really live up to its huge expectations.
The crust was flaky, but we weren't convinced about the taste, which didn't seem to be pumpkin-flavored. In fact, one taste-tester asked, "Does pumpkin pie have sweet potatoes in it?"
We guessed that the pie needed more cinnamon or sugar.
Then we tried the Trader Joe's pumpkin pie.
This pumpkin pie from Trader Joe's cost $5.99 and came in a festive box decorated with pumpkins, unlike the plain brown cardboard boxes the other pies came in.
According to a Trader Joe's store associate, the chain will be releasing its pumpkin pies in stores starting the second week of November.
Something about the pale-colored crust and orange color made the pie look slightly artificial, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
Our first reaction to the pie's flavor was that it was tart, rather than sweet like the other pies. The pie also tasted strongly of cinnamon, with some saying it tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
The crust was harder and less likely to crumble than the other pie crusts, and some said it tasted sweet like a sugar cookie.
As for the pie filling itself, some taste-testers reported the pie was too tart for their liking. However, we all agreed that the appearance scored top marks.
Our favorite pie was the pumpkin pie from Wegmans.
Wegmans has more than 90 stores across Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. After visiting the Wegmans in Brooklyn, New York, we were able to secure the grocery chain's pumpkin pie. It costs $9.00 and was the most expensive store-bought pumpkin pie we tried.
Right away, our team of taste-testers was impressed by the pie's flaky crust. We all remarked that although the pie was store-bought, it looked and tasted homemade.
In the end, we had to give the award for the best store-bought pumpkin pie to Wegmans.
The consensus was that Wegmans knocked it out of the park.
While Trader Joe's looked the nicest, the best filling flavor and crust came from Wegmans, which was also the most expensive pie.
From the flaky crust to the delicious creamy filling with just the right amount of cinnamon and pumpkin flavor, Wegmans had it in the bag. From the more rustic-looking appearance to the delicious flavor, this store-bought pie blew us away and is definitely worth the couple extra dollars.
While some thought the darker brown color of the pie was less festive than the other pies — which were all brighter orange — it was agreed that this made the pie look more rustic. If you put this pie on your table at Thanksgiving, it could definitely pass as homemade.
"It doesn't just taste like a homemade pie, it tastes like a good homemade pie," one taste-tester remarked. We all couldn't help but agree.
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