The Best Store-Bought Pie Crusts to Shortcut Your Holiday Baking
It’s Thanksgiving week, you’re running around like a chicken (um, turkey) with your head cut off and shortcuts must be made. What’s on the chopping block this year? Is it the stuffing or the mashed potatoes? Nope: It’s dessert. Lucky for you, dear reader, there are plenty of premade crusts on the market, so you can have your pumpkin pie and uh…yeah, anyway: These are the best store-bought pie crusts to make your holiday baking easier.
Here’s how we determined which store-bought pie crust reigns supreme:
- Value: Based on taste and quality of ingredients, is it worth the money?
- Ease of Use: How simple is it to prepare? Were the instructions clear and accurate? Was it *actually* more convenient than homemade?
- Quality: What’s it made of? Are the ingredients high quality? Are there a lot of mystery additions or preservatives?
- Texture: Is it flaky and tender, or is it tough?
- Flavor: Does it taste buttery and toasty or bland and dry? Are there any weird aftertastes or chemical flavors?
Important to note: We avoided basing our ratings on characteristics like shrinking and slumping because they’re ultimately the result of technique more so than ingredients. (Look at it this way: A total dud of a pie can look like a million bucks until you bite in, and a great-tasting pie crust can still slump in the pan even more than your teenage cousin slumped over his cellphone at the dinner table.)
Also, assuming not everyone has the pastry cook-level knowledge or experience baking pie crusts to freestyle it, we tried to follow the directions for each crust as closely as possible. That meant resisting the urge to add pie weights if not called for and following temperature indications; however, we didn’t follow cooking times to a T because, *steps onto soap box,* you should always rely on visual cues over cooking times when determining doneness. Tasting the crusts required baking them a little further, so after analyzing each crust at a parbaked level, we popped it back in the oven until fully cooked.
Our picks at a glance:
- Best Overall: Trader Joe’s Pie Crusts
- Best Last-Minute Option: Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
- Best Organic: Wholly Wholesome Organic Traditional Pie Dough
- Best Pre-Shaped Shell: Marie Callender’s Deep Dish Pastry Pie Shells
Read on for our picks for the best store-bought pie crust you can buy in 2021.
1. Trader Joe’s Pie Crusts
- Value: 20/20
- Ease of Use: 16/20
- Quality: 17/20
- Texture: 18/20
- Flavor: 19/20
- Total: 90/100
Trader Joe, you’ve outdone yourself again. In our notes for this pie crust, we wrote, “honestly great?” and that’s coming from a former pastry cook. The rollout-style rounds came from the freezer section, so we followed the instructions to thaw in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature for about 45 minutes before using. Even so—and this is our biggest qualm—the crust cracked significantly when we rolled it from its plastic sheath. (We worried it was user error, but the box actually mentions this, and instructs you to knead it back together with a rolling pin. It was fine.) We appreciated that TJ’s gives detailed instructions, which are similar to a cookbook recipe—it’s the only crust we tried where pie weights are suggested. Save for the cracking, the dough felt most like a homemade version, and there was plenty of overhang to make a pretty, distinct crimped crust. It tasted like the real deal, too, thanks to the fat: flaky, tender, slightly sweet and oh-so buttery.
- Tastes and looks homemade
- Buttery, flaky and tender
- Large enough to crimp the edge
- Dough was cracked and required some finessing
2. Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
Best Last-Minute Option
- Value: 18/20
- Ease of Use: 19/20
- Quality: 16/20
- Texture: 17/20
- Flavor: 16/20
- Total: 86/100
If, at the eleventh hour, you completely forgot that you need to make a pie and are still planning on doing so, first of all, we salute your commitment. Second, Pillsbury’s refrigerated pie crust is your new BFF. The rollout-style crust is available in the refrigerator section instead of the freezer, so you don’t even need to thaw it beyond a 15-minute rest at room temp before use. We found it easy to handle and quick to parbake, and the instructions were easy to follow and seemed accurate based on the results However, there are a few trade-offs for the convenience: It’s just large enough to fit a standard pie plate, but too thin to roll out for overhang if you prefer an elaborate crimp. It’s also made with lard and “hydrogenated lard,” which lack the flavor of butter. (There was a very slight chemical aftertaste, too.) The texture was flaky but not the most tender of the bunch, possibly due to the overall thinness.
- Easy instructions, handling and baking
- No thawing
- Not large enough to crimp
- Contains hydrogenated fat (and no butter)
3. Wholly Wholesome Organic Traditional Pie Dough
- Value: 17/20
- Ease of Use: 18/20
- Quality: 18/20
- Texture: 16/20
- Flavor: 18/20
- Total: 87/100
For a pie crust with organic ingredients, we recommend Wholly Wholesome’s organic traditional pie dough in the freezer section. The roll-out crusts call for thawing at room temperature for a few hours before using, and though we found the dough slightly delicate, it was otherwise smooth sailing. One downside, though, was that the dough was already too thin to roll out further but didn’t leave enough overhang to make more than a fork crimp. The texture was slightly more crumbly than flaky, but it was tender and pleasantly toasty (albeit a little bland). When we checked the ingredients, we saw organic palm fruit shortening was the fat, which explains the lack of butter flavor and slightly short texture.
- Made with organic ingredients
- Easy to handle
- Too small and thin for a fancy crimp
4. Marie Callender’s Deep Dish Pastry Pie Shells
Best Pre-Shaped Shell
- Value: 17/20
- Ease of Use: 19/20
- Quality: 17/20
- Texture: 19/20
- Flavor: 16/20
- Total: 88/100
Sometimes rolling and crimping is simply not in the cards—enter a pre-shaped pie shell in an aluminum tin. The Marie Callender’s deep-dish freezer version (as far as we know, the only version) requires little more than a 10-minute thaw, a quick docking with a fork and a 15-minute bake. This makes for an ultra-convenient crust, but we found that without pie weights, the bottom domed in the oven and left a crack once it cooled. However, the flavor was inoffensively plain and the texture was surprisingly flaky for being made with soybean oil.
- No crimping or rolling required
- Short thawing time
- Very flaky
- No ability to customize the crimp
- Puffed up in oven and cracked after cooling (but could be remedied with pie weights)
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what’s worth the spend—and what’s total hype. Learn more about our process here.