Obviously homemade is best, but store-bought crust is just way easier.
We all love pie, of course. Or at least 76% of us do, according to Mike Kostyo, trendologist at Datassential. And it turns out, most U.S. consumers eat their pie at home rather than a restaurant — 68% of consumers purchased their last pie at a store or made it from scratch. Of those, 22% used purchased crust or filling. The crust is the most important factor for consumers when choosing a pie to make or eat at home, with 71% saying that they look for a flaky, high-quality crust.
Tribune staff decided to help you skip the hassle of choosing that crust by trying 11 brands that you can find in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store. This taste test was a blind tasting, which means that participants did not know what brand of pie crust they were trying. Here are the results, listed from worst to best.
11. Whole Foods Gluten-Free All-Butter Pie Crust
This pie crust received some pretty harsh comments from our tasters, who used words like “nasty,” “artificial,” “sour” and “lifeless.” Even though it was one of the most expensive pie crusts we tried, all the tasters agreed that it was oddly salty with an unpleasant metallic flavor. More like a floppy cracker, this pie crust received criticism for being too dry and looking oddly pale.
10. Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pie Crust
“I hate this pie,” one taster wrote. Another described the Trader Joe’s crust as a sticky, sweet industrial accident, while others complained about a bait-and-switch — looking appetizing but tasting raw and undone despite it being baked according to the package instructions.
9. Wholly Gluten-Free Pie Shell
Tasters complimented the shape of the Wholly Gluten-Free Pie Shell and said it met their textural expectations, but this crust from Whole Foods fell short when it came to taste. It was too dry and broke apart easily. One taster even said it got stuck in their throat when they tried it.
8. Wewalka European Bakery Style Pie Crust
While Wewalka’s crust received compliments for its flakiness and buttery flavor, some tasters said this contender reminded them of pita bread. It had a yeasty flavor and even had pockets like pita bread. One taster said it smelled like sweat.
7. Wholly Wholesome Organic Traditional Pie Shell
This was another pie crust that many described as more cracker than pie crust. One taster said it had a beautiful crimp and held together well, but overall was not memorable. Most said that this was the quintessential store-bought pie crust, so you won’t be fooling anyone if you pick up this one, but at least it would work well with a filling that had a strong flavor.
6. Signature Select Pie Crust
“This smells like your grandmother’s shame,” one taster wrote. But other tasters enjoyed the Signature Select crust, saying it had a flaky and buttery flavor with a salty finish, despite it looking like a “cheap cracker.” Others said it was too brittle and shattered in the pan, but it received compliments for its light browning on the edges.
5. Pillsbury Pie Crusts
Tasters praised Pillsbury’s crust for its pretty golden color, flaky layers, lovely smell and buttery flavor. However, others said it was mostly bland with salty edges, like a baked potato skin. Some tasters said the crust looked the most homemade of the bunch, but wouldn’t add anything to the final pie itself.
4. Bake House Creations Pie Crusts
“This has the short crust, crumbly texture I’m looking for in a pie crust,” wrote one taster. Some criticized the Bake House Creations crust for smelling like bread and tasting like a cracker, but others complimented it for its sturdiness and its homemade appearance. However, one taster said it looked like it was “trying too hard” and another participant was put off by its odd yellow hue.
3. Pillsbury Deep Dish Pie Crusts
Tasters complimented the Pillsbury Deep Dish crust for looking expensive and handmade and smelling buttery, and a slight sweetness that wasn’t offensive. Some tasters had concerns about it breaking apart “like it was put through luggage check at O’Hare” and their concerns proved valid when it came to the final round. Despite being one of the top two contenders, this crust bled into the filling, rendering the overall pie mushy and flaccid with a soggy bottom.
2. Trader Joe’s Pie Crusts
Another top contender, Trader Joe’s regular crust had a rich, brown appearance and a shortbread sugar cookie finish that was polarizing. Some loved the sweetness and others hated it, saying that it was not a pie crust. “It looks like it would crumble under filling but who cares when it’s so tasty?” one taster said. In the final round filled-pie test, we saw that the pie crust required additional rolling out of the box because it would come shattered in pieces, despite following defrosting instructions. The crust itself was also larger than a standard pie tin.
1. Essential Everyday Regular Pie Crusts
Although this one looked like a “frisbee meets pie crust,” this contender received high marks for its butteriness and flakiness. With a slight sweetness, this pie crust resembled more of a cookie to some tasters, some of whom enjoyed the flavor despite its slight gumminess when chewed. This one was the ultimate winner because it was unfussy and had consistent result. Although the pies were smaller than standard pies, one batch of filling would be enough to fill both pie crusts, which we considered a win.