The 10 best and worst pies that Thanksgiving has to offer

Lemon meringue pie, pictured, Friday, May 1, 2020, at OTR Chili on Elm Street in Cincinnati.Otr Chili
Lemon meringue pie, pictured, Friday, May 1, 2020, at OTR Chili on Elm Street in Cincinnati.Otr Chili /
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Pies are a staple on Thanksgiving tables but some of them are far better than others.

Traditionally, there is no Thanksgiving without turkey but you could say that pies are the Thanksgiving must-have like cookies at Christmas.

The turkey is in the oven, the potatoes are ready to be mashed and your day of slaving in the kitchen started really early. For some of us, the preparation and even the cooking started the night before.

In my home growing up, my mother began the task of making Thanksgiving pies the night before and as it turned out, she always made one extra that she ate while baking the rest. Her pie choice changed from year to year but it was the running joke as to why there was a small empty pie pan in the morning. “Who knows,” she would say, “maybe there is a pie fairy!” Indeed.

My mother loved to bake and pies were not something that was on her list of daily to-do’s unless it was the holiday season and Thanksgiving brought a lot of favorites and some that we kids wish would have been left outside for the feral cats and dogs.

Here is a look at five of the best Thanksgiving pies and five of the worst. Visit for 70 top pie recipes for this holiday season!

Lemon Meringue pie
Lemon meringue pie, pictured, Friday, May 1, 2020, at OTR Chili on Elm Street in Cincinnati.Otr Chili /

Lemon Meringue is the only cold pie that should be served on Thanksgiving. 

It may not sound like a great pie to have at Thanksgiving because when I think of the Thanksgiving holiday, my mind pictures a chilly Thursday with football on the television, warm air blowing through the house, and heat rising off a pie just removed from the oven. I don’t think, cold pie.

That being said, not all pies have to be warm and a great meringue will elevate your table just a notch. The light and airy top over the lemon curd is a smooth finish to a warm dinner. If care is taken, the torched top gives the pie a nice browning.

The best part of a meringue, especially a lemon is that through the three layers, the topping, the curd, and the crispy crust, your palet is cleansed nicely. While it doesn’t always look like a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving, you won’t be disappointed when you are eating it with a nice warm cup of after-dinner coffee, tea, or hot cider.

Cherry pie
A cherry pie awaits the hungry at Northville’s Cady Inn on March 14.Nvlstpattysdaylunchandpieday10 /

Cherry pie works far better as an ’80s hair band song than a Thanksgiving dessert. 

The cherry pie is a wonderful throw together desert, in summer when you really can’t make anything else and the kids are screaming for a pie. This pie is not something that you need to put a lot of effort into and because of that, it’s more likely the pie on Thanksgiving you shovel to the younger kids who don’t have taste buds.

How easy is this pie to make? Well, you can toss it into the oven with the turkey if there is room. You can empty a can of pre-made cherry pie filling into an already made pie crust shell and you don’t really care if the shell is broken or not when you bake it!

The cherry pie is the lazy dessert for Thanksgiving and is better left for a quick summer bite!