Pie is a quintessential American dessert that is ingrained in our country’s culture. The dessert has been beloved for hundreds of years by the likes of pioneers to presidents, and its popularity has endured over the centuries. According to the American Pie Council, about 186 million pies are sold at grocery stores every year, not including ones purchased at bakeries or made at home. Pie is a simple, but every state has its own local twist on this classic recipe. Based on history, official state desserts and fruits inventions and innovations special to the area, The Daily Meal has identified the most iconic pie from every state.
Now considered a commonplace fruit, bananas were exotic delicacies in the 19th century. Though they were initially luxury items, they soon began spreading to more grocery stores throughout the country and homecooks became more comfortable working with this strange oblong fruit. The earliest recorded recipe for banana cream pie was published in 1877 and attributed to Mrs. Ella Turner from Selma, Alabama, revealing that Alabama women were pie pioneers. Try this decadent banana cream pie recipe at home.
Pirok, perok or peroche is an Alaskan adaption of a traditional Russian savory pie that makes use of the state’s supply of wild-caught salmon. According to Edible Alaska, these pastries migrated to Alaska by way of Russian fur traders in the 1700s and are a staple at special occasions like weddings, funerals, birthdays and New Year’s. Pirok is a salmon pie recipe that utilizes hearty vegetables that grow well in Alaska, such as cabbage and rutabaga.
Several species of pink-tinged prickly pear cactus grow in Arizona, dotting the desert and also making for a tasty dessert. Prickly pear cactus fruit is sweet and its spines are removed if you buy it at the store. The ripe fruit tastes like a mix between cotton candy and raspberry and makes a lovely pie filling. You can also find the pie for sale at Arizona eateries.
To “play possum” means to pretend to be asleep or dead. Possum pie is so named because its whipped cream topping hides the pie’s true chocolaty nature underneath. This iconic Arkansas dessert has another trick up its sleeve because the layer of chocolate custard hides another layer of cream cheese, sour cream or vanilla pudding underneath. All of this comes in a pecan sandy crust with pecans sprinkled on top.
Although there is some controversy over their origins, "black bottom” pies — pies with chocolatey crusts or bottom layers of chocolate cream or custard — had their earliest printed appearance in California around 1930. The LA Times credits “Pie King” Monroe Boston Strause as the inventor of this then-novel creation in the late 1930s. Regardless of its exact beginnings, this pie grew from a Golden State specialty to a nationwide dish that puts a decadent twist on classic pie. Make the California delight at home with this recipe.
Colorado has a claim to a slice of pie fame as the founder of National Pie Day on Jan. 23 lives in Boulder. While National Pie Day typically promotes pies of the sweet variety, Coloradoans are also fans of savory pies. The most searched pie in the state in 2018 was actually spaghetti pie, a hearty baked pasta dish. Colorado has strong Italian ties as immigrants started moving there in the 1850s before it was even a state. Today, there are more than 200,000 Italian-Americans living in Colorado.
White clam pie is a style of pizza that originated in New Haven, Connecticut, and attracts pizza aficionados from around the country. In fact, the white clam pie at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana tops the Daily Meal’s rankings of the 101 best pizzas in America.
While peaches are closely associated with Georgia, peach pie is the official state dessert of Delaware. Peaches have been grown in Delaware since colonial times, and the state was the country’s top peach producer in the 19th century. Follow this recipe for peach pie during the summer months when peaches are at their ripest.
With their name derived from the Florida Keys, Key limes are the key ingredient to Florida’s official state pie. The simple recipe for Key lime pie includes graham cracker crumbs for the crust and sweetened condensed milk for the cool, creamy filling.
“Desperation” “make-do” or “pantry” pies are Southern traditions, and they all have the same ethos — they can be made with whatever you have on hand without needing any fresh, seasonal fruit. Rather than getting its tangy flavor from citrus, buttermilk pie’s sweet custard filling is cut thanks to the addition of its namesake ingredient. The Yesterday Cafe in Greensboro, Georgia, is the self-declared “home of the buttermilk pie,” but you can make your own at home using this recipe.
Haupia pie is a chilled chocolate pie with an island twist. Between its base of chocolate pudding and whipped cream topping is a layer of its namesake haupia, a gelatinous custard made of coconut milk and cornstarch that is traditionally served for dessert at luaus. Haupia pie can be found as a signature dish at bakeries and coffee shops in Hawaii. With this recipe, it can even be found in your kitchen.
Idaho is a state known for its spud production. In 2018, Idaho grew and harvested more than $1 billion worth of potatoes. A classic pie recipe that incorporates Idaho’s official state vegetable is shepherd’s pie. This hearty casserole of meat and veggies topped with a mashed potato crust is a great way to use leftovers.
Illinois might be famous for its deep- dish style of pizza that looks like a pie, but the state’s pie of choice is pumpkin. The dessert became the official state pie in 2016. A Thanksgiving classic, no holiday gathering would be complete without one. If you don’t have a favorite family recipe, here’s one you can follow.
Since sugar cream pie is also known as Hoosier pie, it’s clear that the Hoosier state lays claim to this custardy delicacy. A Midwestern iteration of a “desperation pie,” sugar cream pie originated with the Shaker and Amish communities that settled in Indiana in the 1800s. This rich, simple pie can easily be made at home with this recipe.
Iowa is known for its famous state fair, which drew more than a million visitors in 2019 and inspired a hit Broadway musical and movie adaption by Rodgers and Hammerstein. One of the baking contest categories at the Iowa State Fair is sour cream raisin pie, an Iowa specialty that isn’t as appreciated in other parts of the country. This simple Iowa staple has a creamy filling and is often topped with fluffy meringue. Make it like grandma does.
Beef is the biggest agricultural product from Kansas — the state famously has more cows than people. This might explain why the most-searched pie in that state is cheeseburger pie. An easy weeknight meal, cheeseburger pie has been featured on the box of Bisquick for years. For those looking for a burger not in pie form, the Cozy Burger at the Cozy Inn in Salina, Kansas, is one of the best burgers in America. Though at the Cozy Inn, they don’t offer cheese on their burgers, a key ingredient in cheeseburger pie.
Invented and trademarked by Kern’s Kitchen in Prospect, Kentucky, Derby Pie is generally known as a walnut pie with a kick of chocolate chips. You can order a true, official race-inspired Derby Pie from Kern’s or try this tasty variation on your own at home.
*This slide was updated on Nov. 22, 2019, to reflect that the pie is made with walnuts.
Louisiana has many famous sweet desserts from beignets to king cake, but when it comes to pies, its most iconic one is savory. Natchitoches meat pie is the official meat pie of Louisiana, and the Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival is an annual celebration of the dish. This meat pie is a crimped, empanada-like hand pie filled with spiced meat that is inspired by Spanish, French, Cajun and Southern flavors. Try them at home with a spicy buttermilk dip.
Maine’s official state dessert is blueberry pie made with wild Maine blueberries. More than 98% of the nation's low bush blueberries are harvested in Maine, making the fruit one of the state’s largest exports. Along with the basics of flour, sugar and butter, add some lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg to your blueberry pie recipe to complement the fruit’s flavor.
Berger cookies are a Baltimore specialty. These German-inspired fudge-topped shortbread cookies are similar to New York City’s beloved black and whites. Famed Baltimore pie shop Dangerous Pies first turned these cookies into pie form by swirling them into a sweet chess filling. They dubbed the result Baltimore bomb pie, which was featured on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
There’s no Massachusetts dessert as famous as Boston cream pie, even if it’s technically more of a cake than a pie. The official state dessert of Massachusetts, Boston cream pie was created at the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston in 1856. The dessert consists of golden sponge cake layered with vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate icing.
Michigan is the top producer of tart cherries in the country, yielding 264 million pounds as well as almost 24,000 tons of sweet cherries in 2018. One of the best ways to use all this fruit is in a classic cherry pie. This recipe calls for tart cherries to create a bright, balanced pie.
For Americans going apple picking or baking apple dishes in the fall, one of the most coveted and popular apple varieties is the Honeycrisp. Engineered at the University of Minnesota, Honeycrisp apples were first planted in 1962 and were adopted as the official state fruit of Minnesota in 2006. Honeycrisp apples will work perfectly in your favorite apple pie recipe because they have a lovely balance of sweet and tart flavors.
The origins of rich, chocolatey Mississippi mud pie are hazy, with some chefs and publications claiming the dessert was actually invented near Jackson, Mississippi, around the time of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Regardless of whether that’s true, this layered pie became a phenomenon across the country. There are many variations of this pie like this one with ice cream, but the classic recipe involves a chocolate graham cracker crust, a rich chocolate filling with coffee liqueur and a layer of whipped cream on top.
Missouri’s most iconic dessert is its famous gooey butter cake, which was invented in St. Louis. This sticky cake actually has layers, including a crust and filling so moist it borders on dessert bars or a pie. The gooey butter cake recipe has actually been adapted into other forms such as cookies, ice cream flavors and pie. Sugarfire Pie in Olivette Missouri even has different flavor variations of gooey butter cake pie, including red velvet, chocolate and funfetti.
Huckleberries are so beloved in the state of Montana come summertime that they might as well be the unofficial state fruit. Huckleberries closely resemble blueberries but can only be picked in the wild as they’re not commercially cultivated. Montana is famous for its huckleberry pie, and you can enjoy a slice or two of this specialty dessert while traveling down the Central Montana Pie Trail. If you’re lucky enough to pick your own, you can follow this recipe to make huckleberry pie at home.
Runza is a savory bread pocket that Germany immigrants developed in eastern Russia as their own take on the Russian meat-filled pierogi. When groups of these Volga Germans later moved to the American Midwest, they brought this doughy hand pie with them. This dish led to the creation of a Nebraska fast-food chain named Runza, which now has more than 80 locations, including stands inside the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The restaurant’s take on runza is more like a sandwich than a pie.
Nevada is home to the largest concentration of people of Basque heritage, who brought their culinary traditions from western Europe to the American West during the Gold Rush, including the recipe for Basque cake. This tart-like “cake” consists of a flaky pastry crust filled with cherry jam or pastry cream.
New Hampshire is one of four states — the others are Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania — to lay claim to inventing the whoopie pie. These treats consist of cookie-shaped chocolate cakes sandwiched around a vanilla cream filling. Plenty of New Hampshire bakeries are famous for their whoopie pies, which come in a variety of sizes and flavors. To try some interesting combinations, check out Just Like Mom’s Pastries in Weare, New Hampshire, which has over 50 flavors.
If you’re from New Jersey, you know pizza isn’t the same as tomato pie. Also known as Trenton tomato pie because of its city of origin, this dish has the base of a crisp thin-crust pizza except for the tomato sauce, made from seasoned, crushed plum tomatoes, goes on top of the cheese. Two tomato pie shops, including America’s oldest continuously owned, family-owned pizzeria, are tasty enough to be among the 101 best pizzas in America.
Though it was likely invented in a corporate test kitchen, there is fierce debate between Texas and New Mexico over who can rightly lay claim to Frito pie. The Five & Dime General Store in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been serving the dish since the 1960s, about the time the recipe first appeared on a bag of Fritos corn chips. Best eaten directly from the bag of chips, Frito pie is made by simply pouring in a ladleful of your favorite chili recipe and topping it with cheese and onions.
While cheesecake has “cake” in its name, it is definitely more of a pie with its custard-like cream cheese filling and its graham cracker crumb pie crust. While cheesecake comes in many styles and flavors, perhaps the most famous is New York-style cheesecake. This style is characterized by its use of heavy cream, eggs and cream cheese to create a dense filling with a smooth texture. According to the New York Times, Arnold Reuben, the creator of the Reuben sandwich, helped popularize New York-style cheesecake, which can now be found on restaurant menus from coast to coast.
While the scuppernong might not be a household name, it’s revered as the official state fruit of North Carolina. The scuppernong is a variety of white muscadine grape that is rounder and larger than its conventional grocery store cousins. This green or bronze-colored grape was discovered along the Scuppernong River in North Carolina and was even mentioned multiple times in Harper Lee's classic American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” To use it in a pie, follow this recipe.
North Dakota’s official state fruit is the chokecherry, a juicy red fruit that grows across the state. It’s even feted at the annual North Dakota Chokecherry Festival in Williston. This particular cherry earned its name because its bitter, astringent flavor when eaten right off the tree might cause you to cough. As with other sour produce such as rhubarb or cranberries, chokecherries do great in pies because the buttery crust and plenty of sugar in pie recipes help balance its flavor.
Ohio is wild for buckeyes. It’s the state tree, the state nickname, the mascot of Ohio State University and the inspiration for a popular treat. Buckeye candy, peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate, is meant to look like a nut from the buckeye tree. The classic dessert combination of peanut butter and chocolate has also been translated into buckeye pie, which sandwiches peanut butter filling between crust and a topping of chocolate ganache.
Fried hand pies might now be gas station and fast food staples but these tasty, convenient fruit-filled turnovers were staples for feeding ranchers across the South, including Oklahoma. The state’s oldest fried pie company, Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies, started in 1893 and now has a dozen locations across Oklahoma and Kansas. They serve more than 20 varieties from cherry to coconut cream to chicken and broccoli.
Marionberries are a hybrid species of blackberry developed in Oregon and tested in Marion County, earning the new berries their name. They’re almost exclusively grown in Oregon, but they can be found frozen nationwide. Marionberries are juicy with a sweet and tart flavor, meaning they’ll do well in a blackberry pie recipe. They’re unfortunately considered too soft to ship any significant distance, so folks outside Oregon will have to make a trip to enjoy them fresh in a variety of local dishes and products.
Rhode Island’s capital city of Providence has one of the largest Italian-American populations in the country, which might explain why so many Rhode Islanders have a special fondness for ricotta pie. This Italian dish is similar to a cheesecake and is a popular pie to make for Easter celebrations. Sweet ricotta pies can be flavored with citrus, nuts and/ chocolate, while savory versions can include herbs, cheese or meat. This simple recipe is a great place to start.
While North Carolina is technically the top producer of sweet potatoes in the country, South Carolina is absolutely wild about them. The South Carolina Sweet Potato Festival in Darlington attracts more than 25,000 a year. A stellar sweet potato pie recipe includes spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
The name of South Dakota’s state dessert, kuchen, means “cake” in German, but its crust and creamy fruit and custard filling make it more like a tart or fruit pie. The basic recipe for kuchen can be customized with a variety of fillings from peach or rhubarb to pineapple or chocolate chips.
Invented way back in 1917, MoonPies are an iconic Southern snack that are produced by Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga. The bakery produces a million of them a day in flavors such as the classic chocolate, vanilla, banana, strawberry and salted caramel. The town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, has celebrated the classic combination of MoonPies and RC Cola with its annual RC-MoonPie Festival for 25 years.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the state’s devotion to pecans. The pecan tree is Texas’ official state tree, the native pecan is Texas’ official state nut, and pecan pie is the official state pie of Texas. The pecan tree is native to the majority of Texas countries, but the city of San Saba, Texas, is the self-proclaimed “pecan capital of the world,” as its home to 20 commercial pecan growers. Follow this Texas-bred classic pecan pie recipe to ensure your holiday table includes this Southern favorite.
Jell-O is a famous American food that is especially beloved in Utah. Jell-O is the official state snack, and Utah consumes more Jell-O per capita than any other state. The flavored box gelatin makes a great base for a simple, refreshing and creamy summer pie when combined with whipped cream or whipped topping. It also can be combined with fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries or even grapefruit, such as in this easy recipe.
Vermont is synonymous with maple syrup. The Green Mountain State makes the most maple syrup in the country, producing over 2 million gallons of syrup in 2019. It’s second in the world only to Quebec, Canada. On top of being a breakfast staple and natural sweetener, maple syrup also makes the foundation for a tasty pie recipe.
Similar to buttermilk pie, chess pie is a classic pantry pie that’s a staple throughout the South. However, the first written recipe for such a pie appeared in the 1824 cookbook “The Virginia Housewife” under the title “transparent pudding.” That description perhaps matches the dish better than the name chess pie, which has plenty of folklore surrounding its origins. No matter what you call it, it’s a delicious dessert that makes a great base for creative variations like pear, berry or lemon chess pie.
Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but with the addition of sugar or sweet fruits, its tart stalks make for a satisfying pie filling. Washington produces the largest commercial rhubarb crop in the country, and the city of Sumner in Pierce County has crowned itself “the rhubarb pie capital of the world.” This pie recipe lets the flavor of fresh rhubarb shine through.
To be “as American as apple pie” is to be a quintessential part of American culture, making apple pie the de facto ultimate American dessert. And the U.S. capital certainly knows how to do apple pie. The dish is a staple on the White House Thanksgiving menu, meaning White House chefs have to nail this iconic dish. Former Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses served seven years under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Obama called his apple pie "the best pie I've ever tasted."
Though it might look exotic to some Americans, the pawpaw fruit is native to the eastern U.S. from Florida all the way up to Canada. The greenish-blackish fruit has custard-like yellow flesh comparable to a banana mixed with a mango. Pawpaws bruise easily and have a short shelf life but they’re celebrated in West Virginia, where locals use the fruit in jellies, jams, ice cream, beer, moonshine and, of course, pie. Follow this pawpaw pie recipe to experience this regional treat for yourself.
Wisconsin designated the cranberry as its state fruit in 2003 thanks to a class project by fifth-grade students. Leading the nation in cranberry crops, the Badger State produces more than 60% of the nation’s cranberries. To make your cranberry pie recipe really sing, use additional sweetener and orange zest to balance the tartness of fresh cranberries.
Chicken pot pie is a retro recipe that never goes out of style. A descendant of European meat pies that originated during the Roman Empire, chicken pot pies are the ultimate cold-weather comfort food, perfect for whipping up during a Wyoming winter. Follow this classic recipe to make your own batch at home. Or check out the chicken pot pie at Sidewinders Tavern in Jackson, which was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” If you’re a fan of host Guy Fieri, check out these things you didn’t know about your favorite Food Network stars.
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