Ask A Seattle Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Ask A Seattle Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe
pieschoolcover Ask A Seattle Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Photography from “Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter” by permission of Sasquatch Books (Photography by Rena Jordan)

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, you probably have a pretty solid plan of attack for your holiday entrees and sides, but what about dessert? We’ve got you covered. We reached out to our favorite pie lady Kate Lebo to find out what she’d bring to your Thanksgiving feast if she had a seat at the table. Lebo is a writer, educator, pie maker and the author of the recently released Sasquatch Books title “Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter.” She also runs a pie pop-up shop dubbed Pie Stand and took first place at the first annual Cake vs. Pie Competition, so you know these pies are going to be stellar. So get out your flour and butter and let’s roll!

Kate Lebo
Seattle, WA

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Almond Flour Crust

“Some of us love pumpkin pie and tradition. Some of us don’t. I’m a fan of tradition, but not of pumpkin pie, so this chiffon pie has become a delicious compromise. Pumpkin traditionalists, don’t knock this until you try it. The flavor is the same—still that pungent mix of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg that makes pumpkin into pie, still the dollop of whipped cream, still the dark orange smear left on your empty plate. But the texture is all new—light and airy, a delight instead of a holiday obligation.”


  • 1 recipe Gluten-Free Almond Flour Piecrust (see recipe), baked and cooled 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 3 eggs, separated 
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling 
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 
  • 1 (14-ounce) can pumpkin puree 
  • 1/4 cup brandy, dark rum or bourbon (optional) 
  • 1/4 cup plus 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Make the crust and let it cool while you prepare the rest of the pie. 
  2. Set aside. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan off the stove, combine the milk and egg yolks, then stir in the brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and gelatin until evenly mixed. Set the pan over medium heat and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar and gelatin dissolve and the mixture thickens slightly. Don’t let it boil. 
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool. Add the pumpkin puree and the booze (if using). Refrigerate the mixture, stirring every 5 minutes, until it thickens enough to form soft mounds. This may take 20 to 30 minutes. 
  4. With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. Fold the meringue into the filling and pour the filling into the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, an hour or two. 
  5. Fifteen minutes before serving, chill a metal bowl and electric beaters in the freezer. Beat the cream on high with the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and the vanilla until it forms hard peaks. Spread over the top of the pie, sprinkle with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. 
  6. Serve chilled. Store leftovers under a large bowl in the fridge to protect the pie from off flavors and dry spots. Or drape the pie in plastic wrap. This pie will taste best if eaten within 3 days.

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Piecrust

“Almond flour makes a crumbly, yet dense crust with a light, nutty flavor. It’s too delicate to roll out and isn’t suitable for top crusts, but it makes a wonderful bottom crust. Save this for cream pies and chiffon pies.”


  • 2 cups almond flour or meal 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 1 large egg, beaten 


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Add the egg all at once and stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.  
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
  3. Put the dough into a pie plate and, using your fingers, spread it evenly over the bottom and sides, smoothing the rim. Bake the empty crust for 15 to 20 minutes. The crust is done when it is lightly toasted, slightly puffy, and fragrant. Set it aside to cool on a wire rack before filling.


whiskey maple pecan pie Ask A Seattle Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Whiskey Maple Pecan Pie (Photography from “Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter” by permission of Sasquatch Books. Photography by Rena Jordan.)

Whiskey Maple Pecan Pie

“Sugar, nuts, butter and eggs—that’s a pecan pie. This version passes up the usual Karo syrup in favor of more complex natural sugars, plus a slug of whiskey to add an extra buzz to sugar’s high. This is, by far, the sweetest pie in the book.”


  • 1/2 recipe any double-crust pie dough (for a single crust) — see Extra-Flaky Pie Crust recipe 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar 
  • 3 tablespoons rye whiskey 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups pecan halves 


  1. Make the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour, or overnight. Roll out the bottom crust and place it in a 9-inch pie plate. Tuck the crust into the plate, trim the edges, and fold them into a ridge. Freeze the crust while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with an electric hand mixer until frothy. Stir in the maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, vinegar, whiskey and salt. Mix in the pecans. Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth the surface with a spoon. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the crust is golden and the center remains firm when gently shaken. 
  4. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. Store leftovers on the kitchen counter loosely wrapped in a towel for up to 3 days.

Extra-Flaky Piecrust

“This recipe produces dough that’s a dream to roll out (often on the first try!) and a breeze to crimp. Once baked, it’s flaky enough to shatter on a fork, yet sturdy enough to hold its shape on the plate. It’s the bane of my vegetarian friends, who usually wish I hadn’t told them about the lard. My excuse—’It’s the meat you can’t see!’—hasn’t, so far, been convincing. Too bad. More pie for the meat eaters.” Makes 1 double crust


  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) well-chilled unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 cup well-chilled leaf lard (see note “On Lard”)


  1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1 1/2 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use 1/2 cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1 1/2 cups in the dough.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Cut 1/2- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and lard and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.  
  3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides, to incorporate all of the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.  
  4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about 1/3 to 1⁄2 cup water.)  
  5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough into 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling. 

Jenise Silva is a freelance writer in Seattle who has studied culinary, visual and performing arts. She penned the financial planning guide Women & Money, and has been writing about food and the arts for a number of years. Her work can be found at