Those who have ever uttered the expression "easy as pie" have clearly never made one from scratch.
Oh, making a pie isn't terribly difficult if you use pre-made, mass-produced, refrigerated pie dough and canned filling. But to make one from scratch where the crust is flaky and the filling is sweet – but not too sweet – is an art form that only Grandma and a few others can master. And while many a bakery makes cakes, very few actually specialize in pie-making. Fortunately, Seattle is home to some of the best pie-makers in the country.
From classic bakes to unique twists, we've rounded up the best of the best pies in town.
For Chris Porter, his inspiration for making great pies began with his love for those hand-held, store-bought pies that his mother would put in his lunchbox for special occasions. In 2012, he opened his first shop in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. A year later, Sunset Magazine stated that his confection was the "Tastiest Pie in Washington." Since that time, A La Mode Pies has made a great reputation for tasty slices with a unique combination of flavors like Apple & Ginger Pear, Mexican Chocolate Mousse, and Bourbon Butterscotch. Perhaps the most unique (and one that receives a lot of accolades) is the Blue Hawaiian, made with fresh blueberries, crushed pineapple, and toasted coconut.
Tom Douglas has been making his famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie at the Dahlia Bakery for over 30 years now. The recipe is even featured in his The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. What makes this pie so different from other coconut cream pies is the sheer amount of coconut that goes into making it. Flakes of coconut can be found in the crust, the pastry cream, and it is sprinkled on top with flakes of white chocolate. The pastry cream is also made with coconut milk in addition to cow's milk.
"It would be fair to call this a quadruple coconut cream pie, but Triple Coconut Cream rolls off the tongue more easily," says Mr. Douglas. "The funny thing is how many people have told me they love this pie, even though they don't like coconut!"
Deborah learned how to make pies from her mother, and years later, she learned how to make large quantities of baked goods when she worked on a fishing boat. In order to taste Deborah's wares today, you'll either need to be invited to her home or find her at the Edmonds Farmers Market.
"I'm a very small pie company. Pretty much just me," says Deborah. "My crust is really my specialty, it is made in very small batches (very time-consuming), so it is the flakiest!"
As for the most popular pie, the Bumbleberry (a mix of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries) is a favorite. "Sometimes I tell people that a Bumbleberry is a cross between a blackberry and a bumblebee," she teases. "It's funny to watch their expressions change from confusion to ‘Oh, you’re joking!’ "
Once the largest loganberry farm in the world, the Greenbank Farm is now a flourishing tourist attraction with walkable fields, gift shops, restaurants, art galleries, and more. The place is also home to Whidbey Pies, where Jan Gunn once made pies from scratch and served up slices at the Whidbey Pies Cafe. In recent years, the restaurant was turned into the Old Spots Bistro, but they still bake fresh pies provided by the company every day. These slices of pie pair great with a fresh cup of espresso.
In 2013, Pie Bar opened with a unique concept: sweet pies (like Granny Apple Bumble Berry Crumble) and savory pies (like Chicken Pot Pie) served at a cocktail bar. The bar features pie-themed drinks like Pie-tinis and pie-infused dessert cocktails, along with microbrews and wine. The Ballard bar was so popular that a second location in Phinney Ridge was opened in 2020. And today, you might even see a pink Pie Bar truck serving at a local event.
Pie Bar's Banana Cream pie was their first experiment that was actually made with liqueur. That led to the creation of their signature (and best-selling) pie called Monkey Nuts. It is essentially the banana cream pie topped with a chocolate drizzle and peanuts. What pairs best with this pie? Whiskey or rum-forward drinks such as the Clouds of Chai or the Rum Martinez.
Angela Freese began making pies about four years ago and sold them at the Lake Stevens Farmers Market. This year, she opened Pisces Pies in Downtown Everett on March 14, aka "Pi Day." Angela's inspiration for the name came from the fact that she is a Pisces and that she's a big swimmer. "I’m part of the U.S. Masters Snohomish team," she says. "And I love fish." In fact, some of her pies are decorated with fish shapes cut out of the dough. The most popular pie in her coffee bar and pie shop is the Banana Cream Pie. What makes it so popular? It's crammed full of fresh bananas. Her made-from-scratch graham cracker crust is coated with fresh slices of banana and covered with fresh pastry cream. The top is then covered with whipped cream and more sliced bananas. "I didn’t know that banana cream would be such a favorite, but it is," says Angela. Of her fruit pies, blackberry is of the top favorites.
You've probably seen Remlinger Farms' pies in the freezer section of your location grocery store. But what makes them different than the national brands? Well, for starters, each one is made with no less than two pounds of whole berries or thick slices of whole fruit and none of them contain any preservatives, fillers, or corn syrup. Each one is literally made at the farms and quickly frozen to be baked fresh in your kitchen. And it's quite the process, too. Just watch the group effect that goes into making the popular Strawberry Rhubarb.
To find the biggest selection of pies (including gluten-free and no-sugar-added varieties), visit Remlinger Farms in Carnation. You can enjoy a slice at the café or bring a whole pie home from the marketplace. Or both.
Lillian Rambus and Barbara Collins say that their Sweet Potato Pie is still made from their grandmother's recipe which has been handed down from generation to generation. They first started selling these famous pies at local farmers' markets in 2011 and opened Simply Soulful in 2014. They say that their Sweet Potato pies are simple yet delicious, made with just six ingredients.
While many people believe that sweet potato pie is the same thing as pumpkin pie, Rambus and Collins say that in addition to the fact that the base of the pie is made with yams, most sweet potato pies are not made with cinnamon or nutmeg, but they are made all year round.
In 1996, the Snohomish Pie Company put down roots along 1st Street in Snohomish. At that time, it had about eight pies, including the ever-popular Apple Berry Crumb. In 2009, Jenny Brien purchased the bakery and all of the recipes. In 2017, the pie shop won the Best Pie in the PNW Award, and shortly thereafter, a second location opened up in Mountlake Terrace. Today, the bakery rotates nearly 30 pies, including cream pies which she added. Even after all this time, the Apple Berry Crumb is Jenny's most popular pie. It is a sweet pie made with apples and Marionberries. Jenny says that this pie is popular for those who say they are not fans of pie (which is outrageous, of course!). However, her favorite pie is the Strawberry Rhubarb.
For a different approach, try their "Piescream" (which is like a sundae made with ice cream, choice of pie, whipped cream, sauce, and sprinkles), a Pie Shake (a blend of your choice of pie and vanilla ice cream whipped up into a shake) or a bunch of Cream Pie Shots (yes – a cream pie in a shot glass!)
Wilridge Winery's Pie Wine Bar has been described as a creative endeavor with an emphasis on the vineyard to table, complimenting tasting notes of Beveridge's award-winning biodynamic organic wines and spirits with sweet and savory pies. Their Triple Berry Port Pie has been a huge hit. It even won a blue ribbon last summer. The pie is made with Wilridge's 2015 dessert (port style) red wine, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries with a crumble topping. They recommend pairing it with one of their port-style reds, their Syrah – Mourvedre, Grenache, or Zweigelt.
Lauren Ko is both a baker and artist, appreciated by her 413K Instagram followers. While you won’t find Lauren's pies at a spot in your neighborhood, she has written about her craft in her book, Pieometry. Seattle Refined interviewed Lauren in 2020 where she gave instructions on how to create a beautiful Signature Spoke Blueberry Pie.
Jeff Totey is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. Follow more of his work here.