I Tried Every Frozen Pie Crust I Could Find — This Is the Only One I’ll Buy
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It’s impossible not to be impressed by the delicately delicious artistry of a homemade pie crust, from perfectly scalloped edges to a lattice of buttery dough. Without the tender, flaky contrast of crust cradling creamy custard or spiced fruit fillings, your holiday pie is incomplete. Making a homemade pie crust is something every cook can learn to do well, even if it does take a little practice.
While I advocate for keeping a disk of homemade pie dough in the freezer all year long, there is something to be said for the convenience of a ready-to-bake frozen pie crust. With most grocery stores carrying several brands of frozen pie crusts, it is hard to know which one will complement your quiche or holiday pie best. That’s why I set out to test every frozen pie crust I could buy to find the very best one. After a day of baking and tasting, I’ve found the one frozen crust I’ll keep on hand all year long.
How I Tested the Frozen Pie Crusts
I visited seven different grocery stores to purchase every frozen pie crust I could find. In the end, I filled my freezer with eight different frozen pie crusts. When both regular and deep-dish varieties of the same brands were available, I chose the deep-dish version. Every frozen pie crust came in a two-pack, and all but one were ready-to-bake in its own aluminum pan. One brand was sold with the crusts rolled up, requiring it to be thawed before rolling and fitting into my own metal pie plate. All crusts were baked from frozen, except for the rolled crust which was refrigerated for 30 minutes after placing in the pan to firm the dough. I labeled the bottom of each pan with the brand name so that the crusts could be judged blind.
While I could have simply baked the crusts without filling to gauge flavor and flakiness, unless you’re making pie crust cookies that is not the way most of us are eating pie crust. Instead, I prepared pumpkin pie filling according to the recipe on the back of a national brand of pumpkin purée. I used the same brand of pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, sugar, salt, spices, and eggs for each pie so that the only variable in the tests were the frozen crusts. Some crusts were labeled as deep-dish and others regular or traditional, but every crust tested held the same 3 cups of filling. The pies were baked for the exact same time (15 minutes at 425°F, then 30 minutes at 350°F) so that no crust had the benefit (or deficit) of being in the oven for a longer or shorter amount of time.
Once baked, the pies were cooled completely on a wire rack before taste testing began. The crusts were judged on browning, flavor, texture (shortness and flakiness), and appearance. After the blind side-by-side taste test, a single crust stood out from the rest. Here is our pick for the best frozen pie crust.
Best Frozen Pie Crust: Wholly Wholesome Organic Traditional Pie Shells
Although I had seen this brand in a variety of stores, it was not one that I had tried before this test. None of the crusts in this test had an overtly buttery flavor — not surprising, as most rely on other types of fat. Wholly Wholesome uses Organic Palm Fruit Shortening. While not buttery per se, this crust does have a well-balanced and toasty pastry flavor perfect for both sweet and savory pies. This crust also has a very short ingredient list, with no preservatives, dough conditioners, or color additives. In addition to the shortening, these crusts are made from flour, water, organic cane sugar, and sea salt.
Wholly Wholesome’s Organic Traditional pie crust browned evenly to a golden color both around the edge of the pan and under the filling. Subtle scalloping is visible in the raw crust, but once baked it disappears to a uniform edging with little detail in the dough. The crust is both tender and flaky, yet strong enough to hold its shape when a wedge of pie is cut. The bottom of the crust was crisp, browned, and did not turn soggy even a day after baking. The convenience of a ready-to-bake crust that browns well and lets the filling take center stage is exactly what I hoped to find in a frozen pie crust.
Do you have a favorite frozen pie crust? Let us know your pick in the comments below.