The Signature, Iconic Pie for Every State in the US

Food + Drink
by Elisabeth Sherman Nickolaus Hines Nov 21, 2019

The United States is a pie-loving country. We eat it for dessert and the leftovers for breakfast. We argue about how and if to make homemade crust (and usually eat it regardless). We especially love pie around the holidays.

We reached out to pie makers from across the country, dug through government declarations, and drew on our personal experiences to find each state’s signature pie. Some states share a pie style, proving that even though states have their differences, we’re also alike in many ways. In some states there isn’t a clear-cut favorite (and there are surely disagreements among people who live in the state). Sometimes our choice was anything but conventional. And a little disclaimer: If it has pie in the name, it’s fair game. Regardless, we’re all winners when we’re eating pie.

These are the signature pies for every state in the US.

1. Alabama: Sweet potato pie


Photo: Lynne Ann Mitchell/Shutterstock

The South is known for its pies, and Alabama is no exception. It’s a region and state also known for its country music anthems. Few match up to “Song of the South” by the band Alabama, and there’s a shout-out to sweet potato pie right there in the second line and chorus (“sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth”). No, Alabama doesn’t grow the most sweet potatoes in the country and it hasn’t officially designated it as the state pie, but the latter should be seriously considered. Just try listening to the song without craving some warm, homemade sweet potato pie in a sleepy Alabama town. Though, it should be noted, Alabama’s state nut is the pecan, so don’t hesitate to associate pecan pie with the state either.

2. Alaska: Baked Alaska

Alaska has the lowest population density in the country, but its signature pie that holds its name was invented in the city with the country’s highest density: New York City. Baked Alaska, as the story goes, was invented at the restaurant Delmonico’s by French chef Charles Ranhofer. It was inspired by Secretary of State William Seward’s purchase of Alaska in 1867. The original name was Alaska, Florida to call out the temperature difference between the cold ice cream at the bottom and the warm toasted meringue on top. Baked Alaska rolls off the tongue much easier, and what better pie to represent the state than one created to celebrate Alaska’s statehood.

3. Arizona: Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie

Arizona is the third largest producer of citrus in the US after Florida and California, and there are few better ways to beat the desert heat than dessert eaten inside with the air conditioning on. Food writer Jan D’Atri popularized the Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie in 2010, and it’s the antidote to all the actual sunshine raining down from the Arizona skies pretty much year-round. It’s made by throwing an entire lemon (plus peel, minus seeds), egg, vanilla, and sugar into a blender and pouring the mix into a crust before baking. It’s tart, sweet, and a great way to celebrate the bounty of Arizona citrus.

4. Arkansas: Fried pie

Rather than a signature ingredient, Arkansas pie is defined by a signature style, says Kat Robinson, author of a number of books, including Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State and Another Slice of Arkansas Pie.

“I’d have to say if Arkansas has any particular pie, it’d be the fried pie,” Robinson says. “The handy foldover is good hot, but also stands well as a room temperature pie. You’ll find it in baskets near the cash register at diners and convenience stores, or served up with a scoop of ice cream at many restaurants.”

Apple and peach are the most popular fillings, but chocolate and coconut are common along with apricot, cherry, strawberry, pecan, and sweet potato.

5. California: Black bottom pies


Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, more than two-thirds of the fruits and nuts grown in the US come from California. The state’s crop-friendly climate means it has long been the fruit and nut basket of the country. Not necessarily true when it comes to fruit pies, though.

“I think any traditional pie flavors represent more towards east and south states,” says Vince Kim, manager of Republic of Pie in Hollywood. “In my opinion, any hybrid flavor pies represents more of [the] diverse culture of California.”

History is on Kim’s side. In the 1920s and ‘30s, it was decided that for California’s pie industry to move forward, it had to leave the fruit behind. “Pie King” Monroe Boston Strause took over his family’s pie business in Los Angeles in 1919 at the same time people were turning more to cakes. So he pivoted. Strause created a hybrid sweet, fruit-free, and creamy pie made with a meringue topping and a crumbled chocolate crust. The black bottom (meaning chocolate) crust captured pie lovers’ attention. A 1997 story in the Los Angeles Times notes that, thanks to the black bottom pie, “Monroe Boston Strause was a household word — probably the last pie celebrity in our history.”

6. Colorado: Palisade peach pie

Palisade, Colorado, had the first Peach Day festival in 1909, and President William Howard Taft was the headline speaker. So even though Georgia owns the branding as the peach state, peach pie in Colorado deserves some love — especially during harvest season from June through October.

“Palisade peaches are the best in the world,” Frank Bonanno of Bonanno Concepts, which runs Wednesday’s Pie in Denver, says he’ll argue to his grave. “They release sugar to defend themselves from cold mountain nights, so they’re intensely sweet, hearty, and constantly trying to get the rest of the country to recognize their greatness. In short: each pie with a little Stranahan’s straight up. Yeah, that’s Colorado.”

7. Connecticut: Pumpkin pie

Connecticut is the nutmeg state. According to the state library, it got the name because, in the state’s early days, Southern customers would buy nutmegs without knowing they had to grate them and would say the Connecticut Yankees sold them wooden nutmegs. Another theory is that “early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs,” which is a lot less flattering. Regardless, the nutmeg connection makes Connecticut a natural fit for pumpkin pie. According to some, it should get even more specific with maple (another classic New England ingredient), pumpkin, nutmeg, and pecan streusel.

“Pumpkin is Connecticut’s official state pie, and we take that love of pumpkin to a new level with the maple pumpkin with pecan streusel,” says Stephen Jarrett, manager of Michele’s Pies. It’s made with New England maple syrup, Connecticut pumpkins, nutmeg, and pecan streusel, “which captures the flavors and feelings of autumn that Connecticuters know best.”

8. Delaware: Peach pie

On the official website of the First State, you’ll find Delaware’s “miscellaneous symbols.” It gives helpful information such as the state beverage (milk) and the state star (Delaware diamond). Most importantly for this list is the state dessert: peach pie. The designation came on July 30, 2009, with Delaware Code Title 29 Section 321, which recognizes the role of peach farming in Delaware agriculture from Colonial years to now. Delaware actually produced the most peaches in the US in the late 1800s. The industry has been eclipsed by other states (California grows the most peaches in the US today), but it’s hard to argue with history.

9. Florida: Key lime pie

No state has a more obvious signature pie than Florida’s key lime pie. It was made official by the state government in 2006. The pie’s defining characteristic is the sweet key limes grown around Key West, Florida. Despite the connection, 14 state House of Representatives of the 120 who voted disagreed with making key lime pie the official state pie. Key lime pie eaters are happy for the recognition by the other 106.

10. Georgia: Peach pie


Photo: Tammy Venezia/Shutterstock

It’s hard to name a fruit as famous as the Georgia peach, despite the fact that the state has grown more blueberries than peaches over the last decade. Still, branding is branding. The peach is the official state fruit (as of 1995), the state’s nickname (“The Peach State”), and represents Georgia on the state’s quarter. You don’t need an explanation of why Georgia is so peachy about its peaches. All it takes is one bite of a juicy Georgia peach during peak season from a roadside stand.

11. Hawaii: Chocolate haupia pie

Haupia, a coconut pudding that’s a classic in Hawaii, mixes with chocolate (Hawaii is the only US state that grows chocolate) for this classic dessert. The origins of the ingredients make chocolate haupia pie an obvious choice, but pretty much any tropical pie is signature Hawaii, says Jan Hori, co-founder of Hawaiian Pie Company.

“[A pie] that represents Hawaii would be anything with a tropical flair,” Hori says. “People locally are really into the culture of food and sharing the flavors. For example, for us, we do a uala (similar to sweet potato and taro) pie and then we top it with a cream cheese topping — not your standard cream cheese — it’s got a flavor of coconut in it.”

During the holidays, Hori notes that pumpkin custard is a hit, and people stalk the Hawaiian Pie Company’s announcements for when the seasonal pies are released.

12. Idaho: Huckleberry pie

Huckleberries are the state fruit of Idaho, and there are some huckleberry species native to the state. It’s only natural then that huckleberry pie lands as Idaho’s signature pie. A fourth grade class proposed making it the state dessert in 2018, though state representatives were hesitant to vote on an official declaration. Nevertheless, the humble huckleberry has more than made its case for Idaho’s classic pie filling.

13. Illinois: Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie is the officially designated state pie of Illinois. Every state grows at least some pumpkins, according to the US Department of Agriculture, but pumpkins hold a special place in the hearts of people in Illinois. The state grows the most pumpkins in the US, and grows twice as many as the next four top producing states combined.

14. Indiana: Hoosier pie, also known as sugar cream pie

Hoosier pie, or sugar cream pie, has been Indiana’s state pie since 2009. It’s defined by the vanilla custard filling, and Indiana’s tourism board claims the connection goes back to the Amish and Shaker communities in the state in the 1800s.

15. Iowa: Strawberry rhubarb


Photo: Laura Bru

When asked about signature pies, Laura Bru, the Pie Lady of Iowa, took a couple of things into consideration. First, the experiences that she may have taken for granted. Second, all the people she has met and their choice pie and reaction at first bite. From that, she settled on strawberry rhubarb.

“Strawberry rhubarb is a unique flavor that can be found in this area with the rhubarb being Midwest grown,” Bru says. “The tart flavored stalk of the rhubarb being perfectly balanced with a sweet strawberry.” She adds that the style takes “people back to their childhoods as their grandma or mother is pulling out a hot pie from the oven with that unforgettable aroma plus that unmatched flavor.”

16. Kansas: Apple pie

Kansas is the heartland of the Midwest, and is therefore the heartland of things being as American as apple pie. There’s even a documentary on Kansas pies.

“Pie is soooo Midwest, Kansas!” says Elaine Van Buskirk of Upper Crust Pie Bakery. “It’s difficult to pick just one pie. I suppose the first thought that came to mind was apple. Not because we are known as a major apple producing state, but because its most representative of the heart of America.”

17. Kentucky: Derby pie

There are two minutes every year that people think about Kentucky more than any other time of the year. Those two minutes are during the Kentucky Derby. And just like the famous drink of the horse race, there is a famous pie called Derby pie. It’s essentially a pecan pie with chocolate chips and bourbon, and was invented at the Melrose Inn in 1950. Today, the trademark for the pie is owned by Kern’s Kitchen in Park City.

Despite the trademark, there are variations you can find across the state, like the one made by the Pie Queen of Bowling Green, Brie Golliher, who tops it off with a Kentucky crust cutout and skips the corn syrup in the recipe. “I use my grandma Sue’s pecan pie recipe (no corn syrup!), which has been passed down in my family for generations,” Golliher says. “Then I add a fine Kentucky bourbon and chocolate chips — not only does it visually represent the state, but the strong flavors of bourbon and chocolate make it taste quintessentially Kentucky.”

18. Louisiana: Natchitoches meat pie

In 2003, the Louisiana state legislature made a declaration: “There shall be an official state meat pie.” Furthermore, “the official state meat pie shall be the Natchitoches Meat Pie.” This savory food is similar to a hand pie or empanada. It gets its name from the northern Louisiana town of Natchitoches, a historic French settlement that has been shaped, just like the meat pies, by Native American, Spanish, and Southern influences.

19. Maine: Blueberry pie made with Maine blueberries

Maine’s official state pie is not just blueberry pie, but specifically blueberry pie made with Maine blueberries. And why not? It’s the official state fruit and the low-bush Maine blueberry is native to the region.

20. Maryland: The Baltimore Bomb

Created by Baltimore’s Dangerously Delicious Pies, this city and state favorite is a vanilla custard pie with crumbled up Berger cookies inside. Berger cookies are a fudge-covered local favorite that’s been around for about 75 years, says Dangerously Delicious Pies’ Mary Martian Wortman. While the Baltimore Bomb wins out on the street front, Wortman also adds that a crab and cheddar quiche breakfast pie with crab meat and Old Bay seasoning is just as worthy as Maryland’s signature pie.

21. Massachusetts: Boston cream pie

While some argue that Boston cream pie is more cake than pie, the dessert gets the designation here because it’s right there in the name: Boston and pie. While it’s not the official pie of the state, it’s the official dessert and that’s good enough for us.

22. Michigan: Cherry pie

While Michigan doesn’t have an official state pie, cherry pie has a great case to be made. Michigan produces the most cherries in the US by many multiples. When the local Michigan Live news organization asked its state readers what the official state food should be, cherry pie came in at number nine and cherries landed at three.

23. Minnesota: Apple pie made with Honeycrisp apples

Minnesota’s state apple is the Honeycrisp, which was created by the University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program. The variety has taken over supermarkets today, but nowhere has a claim to the Honeycrisp like Minnesota, and no one has a claim on Honeycrisp apple pies like it either. These local, seasonal apples are all the more reason to claim the apple pie as Minnesota’s signature, says Anne Andrus, owner of Honey & Rye Bakehouse in Minneapolis.

24. Mississippi: Mississippi mud pie



Mississippi mud pie was not invented in Mississippi. Credit actually goes to Joanna Droeger, who first put it on the menu at her Long Beach, California, restaurant in the 1950s. Still, like with Alaska, when it’s in the name it’s hard to argue. A classic Mississippi mud pie has chocolate crust, whipped cream, and more chocolate on top. What’s not to love?

25. Missouri: Pawpaw cream pie

Missouri’s most famous dessert (and its official state dessert) is the ice cream cone, as the treat was debuted for the first time at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. When it comes to pie, though, you have to look to the pawpaw, which became the state’s official fruit tree in 2019. The pawpaw is similar to bananas, and the Asimina triloba species is native to Missouri. Is it the most ubiquitous pie ingredient in Missouri? No. It does have lineage, though.

26. Montana: Huckleberry pie

A cousin of the blueberry, huckleberries have a tart flavor. While these small, blue-purple berries grow across the northwestern part of the US (see: Idaho), they’re especially prized under Montana’s big sky. In the summer, the state holds a massive festival celebrating all things huckleberry, including jellies, jams, and, of course, desserts. Montana is also famous for Glacier National Park, a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts. But the Glacier Highland Resort is also one of the best places to find huckleberry pie in this mountainous and rugged state.

27. Nebraska: Runza

Runza, also called bierock, is a hybrid between a sandwich and a savory hand-pie that’s filled with onions, cabbage, and ground beef. Nebraska has somehow managed to largely keep this hearty little pocket of deliciousness a secret from the rest of the country. Believe it or not, Catherine the Great might actually be responsible for the Nebraskan runza. She allowed German settlers into Russia, and they replaced the unleavened dough casing of pierogies with bread. Eventually, the migrant Germans, feeling unwelcome in Russia, immigrated to America’s Great Plains region and brought the runza with them. Fast forward to 1949, when a woman named Sarah Everett opened a small sandwich stand she called Runza, selling Polish sausages and its signature savory hand pies. Her quaint business idea turned out to be a hit, and today there are 78 Runza locations throughout Nebraska, solidifying the runza as the state’s speciality.

“The Runza is a staple in Nebraska…I think you could call it a pie,” Erin Lenz, a public information officer for Nebraska Tourism Commission, says. “I believe some people do refer to it as a Nebraska meat pie. There’s also a bakery in McCook, Nebraska, called Sehnert’s Bakery and Bieroc Café, that creates meat pies called bierocks and they received a James Beard America’s Classics Award for 2019.”

28. Nevada: Onion tart

Pies are a tricky business in Nevada, where the climate is unkind to stone fruits — the most common addition to pies. The state has compensated for its lack of pie-appropriate fruit by adapting one of its most abundant crops.

“There are onion farms in the Yerington and Mason Valley area, which are great for quiche or savory tarts,” says Chris Moran, a public relations specialist at Travel Nevada.

One of Nevada’s largest onion farms, Peri & Sons Farms, offers an elegant recipe for an onion tarte tatin made with eight roasted sweet onions and seasoned with balsamic vinegar and thyme.

29. New Hampshire: Whoopie pie

Whoopie pies reign supreme in New Hampshire, one of the four states to claim it invented this creamy, spongy delight. It’s only a pie by the loosest definition — whipped filling, like vanilla frosting or marshmallow fluff, spread between two discs of chocolate cake. It’s actually closer to a sandwich, if we’re being honest. But if people from New Hampshire call it a pie, we’ll give it a pass. Its name isn’t the only controversial aspect of this dessert. Its origins are also up for debate: While it’s generally believed to have been invented in New England, there’s some evidence that the first whoopie pies were cooked up in Boston or Lewiston, Maine, while Pennsylvanians claim the Amish are the dessert’s true inventors.

30. New Jersey: Tomato pie


Photo: HQuality/Shutterstock

Before you say anything, we know that tomato pie is technically a pizza. In New Jersey, however, pizzas are commonly known as pies. Walk into any neighborhood pizza parlor and you’re going to overhear someone order a “large pie.” So let’s let New Jersey take the lead on this and consider the pizza a tomato pie.

Jersey tomatoes are celebrated for a reason. These juicy, fire-engine red fruits can be as big as an adult fist, with a flavor that’s both sweet and a little tangy. The Garden State is famous for its outstanding produce, but the New Jersey tomato is a beautiful thing to behold. Eat tomato slices with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, or puree them to create nearly universally beloved tomato sauce. Spread it on dough, and you have something not unlike a pie. Pizza pie is so deeply rooted in New Jersey cuisine we would be remiss to not mention it here.

31. New Mexico: Frito pie

Frito pie, though also popular in Texas, is a true Santa Fe speciality. This classic Southwestern dish is a messy and ultra-satisfying combination of Frito chips slathered in pinto beans or chili and shredded cheese. Add chilies, onions, and diced tomatoes if you want to get really fancy. The lowbrow versions you find at summer camps and pit stops is served directly inside a bag of Fritos. Though some people think of the Frito pie as junk food, it’s actually the perfect vessel for the best of New Mexico’s ingredients: beans, chilies, and corn. The state’s tourism board even calls it “New Mexico in a bag.” It’s a relatively new invention, too, probably emerging in the 1960s, when it was first served at Woolworth’s department store from the chip bag. Today, one of the best places to try a slightly elevated Frito pie is at El Parasol restaurant in Española.

32. New York: Concord grape pie

You thought we were going to say cheesecake didn’t you? Goes to show how much you know about this state’s rich agricultural history. If you haven’t heard of grape pie, that’s likely because it’s a relative newcomer to the scene. It originated in the grape-heavy Finger Lakes region of New York state that’s also known for its wine grapes. Irene Bouchard, a resident of Naples, New York, since the 1940s (she passed away in 2015) is generally considered the mother of grape pie. In the early 1960s, Al Hodges, owner of Redwood Restaurant, recruited her to help him make her signature grape pies for his customers. Her recipes proved outrageously popular, and demand was so high she made as many as 17,000 pies every year, earning her the nickname “Grape Pie Queen of Naples. “

Monica Schenk is carrying on the Concord grape pie tradition in Naples at her shop, Monica’s Pies. “Grape pie should be the New York state pie,” she says. “We have so many grapes here and have not heard of any other area making grape pies.”

33. North Carolina: Sweet potato pie

Though sweet potatoes are beloved all over the South, this orange tuber is especially bountiful in North Carolina. Sweet potatoes are so revered in this state that they have their own nonprofit organization: the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission. The state has good reason to be proud of its sweet potatoes; it has been the largest producer of the vegetable in the US since 197. Hence the choice for sweet potato pie. One other notable case to have it as the signature pie: Sweet potato pies might have even helped fuel the state’s fishermen, who folded whole pies in half and ate them like sandwiches, according to the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

34. North Dakota: Chokecherry pie

If the name of North Dakota’s official state fruit doesn’t sound appetizing, it’s for good reason: These juicy, bright-red cherries have a bitter flavor that can make you cough if you eat a handful straight from the tree. These sour cherries make a delightful addition to pie, however. Chokecherries are beloved in North Dakota, and even carry the title of the state’s official fruit. There are plenty of chokecherry pies on hand at the North Dakota Chokecherry Festival, as well as a pit-spitting contest.

35. Ohio: Buckeye pie


Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

This peanut butter and chocolate pie is inspired by a candy beloved by fans of Ohio State University’s football team (the college’s mascot is the buckeye, also known as the horse chestnut). Buckeye candies are simply little balls of peanut and chocolate and therefore easy to translate into pie form. The candies are a staple on game days, but industrious bakers have combined peanut butter and cheese cream for a decadent filling and topped the mixture with a chocolate glaze to create what is essentially one giant buckeye candy cradled in a pie crust. Other variations use chocolate pudding in the filling as well as the chocolate pie crust.

36. Oklahoma: Pecan pie

Folks in Oklahoma are so passionate about good food that the state has an official meal: barbecued pork, chicken-fried steak, and sausage with biscuits and gravy, with a side of fried okra, squash, grits, corn, and black-eyed peas. Oh, and don’t forget the cornbread. The dessert of choice following this decadent feast is pecan pie. One Oklahoma-based pie company, Fields, even claims to bake the “world’s best” pecan pie. The state grows around 17 million pounds of pecans every year, making a nutty destination rivaling even Texas.

37. Oregon: Marionberry pie

The marionberry — a tart and sweet relative of the blackberry that’s much larger in size — is an Oregonian through and through. A biologist named George F. Waldo, working for the Department of Agriculture in Corvallis, Oregon, cultivated the marionberry by crossbreeding two lesser known berries, the chehalem and olallieberry. Waldo named it after the place where first began growing: Marion County. The lab-grown fruit turned out to be a hit, and now 90 percent of marionberries are grown in Oregon. Oregonians agree that the best way to enjoy the marionberry is in pie, and in 2017 the Oregon legislature successfully petitioned to make this purple-hued dessert the state’s official pie.

38. Pennsylvania: Shoofly pie

This Pennsylvania Dutch creation is a favorite among the state’s Amish and Mennonite communities. Shoofly pie is especially popular in Lancaster County, where it first emerged around 1876. Originally, it was served in the morning alongside black coffee. The central ingredient in shoofly pie is molasses, giving it a rich, sweet and slightly bitter flavor and a sticky, gooey texture. There are many rumors as how this dessert acquired its unusual name, one being that bakers once had to swat, or “shoo,” away the flies that were attracted to the molasses. The likelier story is much stranger: A traveling circus act popular in Pennsylvania in the 1880s featured a mule named Shoofly, who gained such a loving following that he appeared on home goods like flour and molasses.

39. Rhode Island: Custard pie

This dessert is so iconic in Rhode Island that the state’s premiere Led Zeppelin cover band is called Custard Pie. At Gregg’s Restaurants, which has locations in Providence and Warwick, the custard pie is especially legendary. Equally as beloved are the custard pies at one of the state’s oldest bakeries, Wayland Bakery, which specializes in coconut custard pie. Custard pies have been a staple of New England cuisine since at least the mid-1800s. One of the first recipes for custard pie appeared in the 1845 edition of the The New England Economical Housekeeper.

40. South Carolina: Coconut cream pie


Photo: Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock

Millers All Day in Charleston is legendary for its browned coconut cream pie. Some fans even claim it’s the best pie in the entire state. Others say Jestine’s Kitchen in Charleston is the home of the best coconut cream pie ever. South Carolina has a long history of whipping up decadent coconut cream pies. Here, coconut cream pie is ideally topped with toasted coconut flakes, while the custard filling sits in a graham cracker crust.

41. South Dakota: Kuchen

The name of this German dessert might translate as cake, but it qualifies as pie: Kuchen’s two central components are a thin crust accompanied by fruit or custard filling. Prune, rhubarb, peach, apple, and strawberry are all classic kuchen flavors. Hardworking immigrants brought kuchen to South Dakota in the 1880s. They settled mostly in McPherson County, which, thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit, became known as the “Wheat Capital of the United States.” In fact, the German community is so deeply rooted in McPherson County that German remained the first language spoken in many families for several generations. Today, the town of Delmont still holds an annual kuchen festival, and in 2000, the state designated kuchen its official dessert.

42. Tennessee: Chess pie

Tennessee culture varies by geography. The west of state is flat, while the east is marked by the Appalachian Mountains.

“We have three stars in our state flag and they represent the three distinct geographical areas of our state,” explains Chad Collier, owner of Papa C Pies, in Brentwood, Tennessee. “It is very conceivable that each portion of our state would give a different answer. That being said, here is what Middle Tennesseans would generally say: Chess pie.”

Chess pie, sometimes also known as jus pie, is so loved because its ingredients are simple, probably already in your pantry, and are easy to throw together. Simply combine butter, sugar, and eggs “with a little cornmeal for texture and a splash of vinegar for twang,” according to Collier.

“It’s akin to a buttermilk pie in that they are both a little sweet and a little sour, but the chess pie is its own entity,” he adds.

Though the exact origin of chess pie is up for debate, Collier cites one popular legend as a possibility: One night, a hungry traveler stopped by an inn called the Cherry Street Boarding House in Nashville. He arrived after the kitchen had stopped serving dinner. He was starving after his long journey, and he begged the proprietress (who in another version of the story is a freed slave working in Alabama) to serve him anything she had available. She brought a pie she had made to the table, and he scarfed it down. When he asked the name of her delicious creation, she simply shrugged and replied “I don’t know, it’s jes’ pie.”

43. Texas: Pecan pie

In 2013, Texas named pecan pie the state’s official pie. The pecan is revered in Texas, and the state has adopted the pecan tree as its official state tree, too. Twenty percent of all the pecans grown in the US come from Texas. Texans have good reason to lay claim to pecan pie (watch out Oklahoma!): Pies featuring pecans as a central ingredient first appeared in Texas-based cookbooks the 1880s. However, the dessert didn’t gain national recognition until the 1930s, when the Karo Syrup company began printing its pecan pie recipe on its labels. To this day, however, Texans think theirs is the best pecan pie in the country — and insist it can be served either warm or cold, with or without ice cream. But it should always be made with Texas pecans and never include chocolate.

44. Utah: Idleberry pie

A visit to Utah must include a stop at Idle Isle Cafe in Brigham City, home of the idleberry pie. An idleberry isn’t a berry itself, but rather a mashup of a few classic favorites: blueberries, blackberries, and boysenberries. Visitors mention that a meal at Idle Isle Cafe, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2021, is worth making a detour in your travel plans. The pie in particular is reason enough.

“Each of our pies are made from scratch,” explains the cafe’s current owner, Travis Porter. “My wife makes the pies. This was something that was passed on from her mother, the cafe’s previous owners.”

Porter calls his cafe a “diamond in the rough.” Though he’s met customers who’ve traveled from all over the country just to try his wife’s pie, he says that Idle Isle has managed to remain off the mainstream radar since it opened. That means it hasn’t become a tourist trap, but Porter does hope the cafe gains more widespread recognition.

“Our idleberry pie captures the care and the dream that has helped the Idle Isle Cafe endure for almost 100 years,” he says. “We create an atmosphere where people can reflect on their past, the memories of their childhood, as well as create new memories with kids and grandkids. It’s a treat worth the trip.”

45. Vermont: Apple pie


Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Vermont is the place to go if you love fall weather, watching the leaves change color, and apples. The apple is the official fruit of Vermont, and, in 1999, the state made apple pie its official state pie, too, usurping Washington as the apple capital of America. Vermonters are highly specific about how their apple pie should be served. Official state legislature dictates that Vermont apple pie should be served with at least one of the following: a glass of milk, a slice of Vermont cheddar cheese (shout out to Vermont’s other most famous food product), or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

46. Virginia: Peanut pie

This salty-sweet pie is best enjoyed in Virginia, where the peanuts are fattier and served saltier than anywhere else in the country. Sometimes unfairly mocked as the “poor man’s pecan pie,” the peanut pie remains beloved in both North Carolina and Virginia, but it’s in the latter that this dessert really thrives. The Virginia Diner in Wakefield, located near the state’s first-ever commercial peanut farm, is especially famous for its peanut pie, which has a caramelized peanut brittle-esque topping made from roasted peanuts. This crunchy topping is reminiscent of another enduring American snack: Cracker Jacks.

“Peanuts and Virginia are synonymous with each other, so it should come as no surprise that our most sought after pie features these perfectly crunchy and salty nuts,” says Andrew Whisler, the president of Virginia Diner. “Peanut pie is the ideal balance of creamy, caramelized sugars combined with the savory crunch and taste of peanuts all in a flaky, buttery crust. Virginia is known as the peanut capital of the world since first introducing peanuts into commercial production in the early 1800s, and to this day our peanuts are the largest, best tasting peanuts you’ll find in the market.”

47. Washington: Loganberry pie

Washington is rightfully praised for its abundance of apples, but it’s the humble loganberry that stands out from the crowd when it comes to pie. This blackberry-raspberry hybrid is delightfully tart, and though it originated in Santa Cruz, California, it once thrived on Whidbey Island. Whidbey’s Greenbank Farm, once home to the largest loganberry farm in the country, is now the site of Whidbey Pies & Cafe. The owner, Joe, grew up baking with his mother Jan, the cafe’s original owner. In the mid-1980s, she served her loganberry pies alongside crab cakes and smoked salmon. In 2016, Joe bought the business from his mother, and now makes around 75,000 pies every year — all handmade.

48. West Virginia: Vinegar pie

Vinegar isn’t typically an ingredient you find accompanying desserts, but this beloved West Virginia pie is one exception. Vinegar pie epitomizes Appalachian cuisine by making use of cheap ingredients and those readily available in a pantry. According to food writer Mike Costello, vinegar pie emerged as one of many “desperation pies,” created to fit the financial constraints of the Great Depression. The vinegar, pressed from apples, and spiced with nutmeg, mimicked the tart sweetness of lemon at a time when the citrus fruit wasn’t widely available. Costello praises the creativity of Appalachian cooks, writing that he prefers to call recipes like the one for vinegar pie “innovation pies.”

49. Wisconsin: Apple pie baked in a bag

This nifty little innovation from the master bakers at The Elegant Farmer has been called one of the best pies in America by the likes of the Food Network and the Wall Street Journal. At this farmhouse and bakery in Mukwonago, bakers bake their pies in a small paper bag. Steam becomes trapped in the bag, creating a crunchy, crispy layer of crust on top while leaving the apples inside tender and juicy. The Elegant Farmer is one of the only bakeries to produce pies en masse using this method, but this recipe isn’t its invention. Turns out this is a traditional method for baking pies, though home bakers prefer to use a brown paper bag from the grocery store. As long as the bag doesn’t touch the top of the oven, it won’t catch on fire.

50. Wyoming: Rhubarb pie


Photo: Monarexx/Shutterstock

Wyoming is better known for its majestic mountain ranges than its pies, but rhubarb grows prolifically in places like Jackson Hole and Sheridan. This tart, magenta plant is used throughout the state in a variety of dishes including jams, cakes, barbecue sauce, and, of course, pies. In Wyoming, rhubarb doesn’t stand alone, however. It’s often combined with strawberries, raspberries, or custard to produce delicious pies in the spring. One type of pie Wyomingites do not entertain? Rhubarb meringue pie, according to Jackson Hole-based writer Doreen Tome. And some of the very best rhubarb pies in Wyoming, such as raspberry rhubarb and rhubarb ginger crunch, come from a small restaurant near a gas station in the tiny town of Dubois — population just over 900 people — called Cowboy Cafe.

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