Official Guide to Pumpkin Pie


Official Guide to Pumpkin Pie

I Love Pumpkins: Your Official Guide to Pumpkin Pie

Your official guide to pumpkin pie is here! If you’re planning to purchase a pumpkin pie, we’ll help you find excellent options to save you time and money without sacrificing any pumpkin pleasure. There are even some frozen versions that surprised and delighted us!

Shout-out to the Pumpkin Pie Master Judges: Chris G., Pawel K., Meredyth M., Chudi N., Liddy P., Jamison T., Matt W., Larissa W. and Steve W. Thank you!

The desserts below appear in order of excellence. Read on!

Safeway Wins... And Just $4.99 With Club Card?

Safeway Wins... And Just $4.99 With Club Card?

Safeway (Store-Baked) – Classic Taste, Reliable Quality
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 Pumpkins. The Safeway supermarket chain bakes their pies on-site, so they’re fresh. This pumpkin pie is excellent! The recipe is replicated throughout their stores so you should be able to find similar quality at Safeways, Giants and Vons.
Crust: Crisp, dark and flavorful. It could handle whipped cream as a creamy counterpoint or stand up on its own.
Filling: Well-spiced, firm and robust.
Look: Dark and stormy. Take a peek inside and make sure the crust is intact before you choose one to take home with you!

Surprisingly Good!

Surprisingly Good!

Claim Jumper Pumpkin Pie (Frozen) – Most Flexible!
4 out of 5 Pumpkins. Better and more pumpkinny than Sara Lee’s pie and likely to please your audience with just the right balance of freshness and spice.
Crust: Light and flaky. Tastes very fresh.
Filling: Mellow, light on spice, and more like pumpkin chiffon. Dreamier consistency than a typical pumpkin pie. The taste of pumpkin really comes through and isn’t overwhelmed by spice.
Look: The top is too even and looks a little eerie. However, the crust looks more attractive and less “factory” than the other frozen pies.

Carnage at the tasteoff.

Carnage at the tasteoff.

 Sara Lee (Frozen) – Good for Spice Lovers!
Overall: 3.8 out of 5 Pumpkins. “Really good for store-bought!” Classic look and taste with lots of spice and a slight hint of orange peel. The “deep dish” nomenclature is a myth however because this pie is just as skinny as any average pumpkin pie.
Crust: Flaky, crispy and slightly caramelized. Unfortunately the crust looks very mass-produced. Of course, it IS mass-produced, but Claim Jumper above proved to us that frozen pumpkin pie crust doesn’t have to look like it just came off an assembly line.
Filling: Everyone liked the level of spice in this filling, which was more dense than the others. We suspect this pie may have more egg than its competitors reviewed here, because it tasted a bit like a pumpkin quiche and not quite like a pumpkin chiffon.

Cover me with whipped cream...

Cover me with whipped cream...

Mrs. Smith’s Pumpkin Pie (Frozen) – Tasty and Easy to Find
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 Pumpkins.
Creamy with pumpkin flavor and mild on spice.
Crust: Guilty of looking just as mass-produced like Sara Lee’s, but the crust tastes closer to homemade.
Filling: This pie is a lot creamier than a typical pumpkin pie, and the spices are subtle enough to be enjoyed without overwhelming the pumpkin taste.
Look: In my oven the crust got very dark very quickly, even at the recommended temperature, so use my aluminum technique to protect this pie and keep it from getting burnt. 

Whole Foods (Store-Baked) – Stay Away My Friends!
Overall: 1 out of 5 Pumpkins.
Call an ambulance! This Pumpkin Pie is so anemic I’m sending it to Pumpkin Pie Hospital! Whole Foods makes some great pumpkin desserts, but their Pumpkin Pie is unwell! Stay away my friends! (I generally like Whole Foods so scroll down where I give them an opportunity to save face.)
Crust: I’m disappointed to report that Whole Foods’ pumpkin pie has a soggy crust. It’s pale and wet, neither flaky nor crispy. 
Filling: The filling is just as bad or worse. It has an inconsistent texture that resembles cottage cheese. Spices are not apparent at all. The filling actually left water on my plate!
Look: So pale, it looks like it’s been “baked” in a microwave.

Vegan Pumpkin Pies
Shout-out to vegan chefs everywhere! Ready-made vegan pumpkin pies are pretty hard to find, and the challenge of baking a pumpkin pie without dairy or eggs sounds formidable. But I’ve found a few recipes online and your local health food store might have recommendations if you want to buy one. The photo below from the pie fridge at Rainbow Grocery might give you some ideas about who to look for in San Francisco. I’ve also invited my friends at Vegansaurus to help out with advice and I’ll let you know what they come up with!

Vegan? This might help.

Vegan? This might help.

Whole Foods Pumpkin Cheesecake
Alright, so it’s not a pie, but I’d like to give Whole Foods the chance to save face. They need a strong pumpkin comeback to make up for their Pumpkin Pie debacle. Enter stage right: Whole Foods’ Pumpkin Cheesecake. It’s delicious and lives up to the challenge! A great alternative to pumpkin pie and a real showstopper.

They booted me before I could get a photo of the cheesecake!

I haven't reviewed this one but they booted me before I could get a photo of the cheesecake!

3 Responses to “Official Guide to Pumpkin Pie”

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    “Are pumpkin desserts at Whole Foods the same across the country? Or does each Whole Foods bakery offer different pumpkin desserts? I’d like to help my readers choose their Thanksgiving pumpkin desserts and understand where to find them. I’m particularly interested in knowing if your Pumpkin Cheesecake is available throughout the US, or only in a few locations. Thanks!”

    “The pumpkin desserts offered at Whole Foods Market, like many of our other bakery products, vary from store to store. We will have a selection of pumpkin desserts in all of our stores, though I cannot guarantee that every store will carry every item.

    “We did just feature a fabulous recipe for a classic pumpkin pie with spiced crème anglaise and candied walnuts on our blog that you may be interested in directing your readers to:

    “Many thanks for your inquiry.

    Winnie H.
    Online Community Moderator ”
    Whole Foods bloggers are pretty responsive. Their reply above suggests that their pumpkin cheesecake may not be available everywhere… that would be too bad because it’s delicious.

    However, without having tried it, their recipe above using spice creme anglaise and candied walnuts DOES sound rather promising. I encourage you to take a look. Let me know, dear readers, if you end up trying it.

    Thanks Whole Foods for your reply!

  2. I don’t know if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, but if you do you HAVE to try their pumpkin pie. It’s amazing! And I will definitely be picking up a Safeway pie because Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie season has yet to begin.

  3. Hello Amber! Thanks so much for your input. I’m glad you enjoyed the Official Guide to Pumpkin Pie and that you’re a fan like me. I will look out for Trader Joe’s pie for sure. I also love TJ’s pumpkin ice cream, I think it’s “Double Rainbow” brand, and I will try to review both this year. Enjoy pumpkin season! -ILovePumpkins

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