Food Expert Shares Tips for Baking, Topping and Ordering the Perfect Pies for Your Holiday Gatherings

Food expert shares tips for baking, topping and ordering the perfect pies for your holiday gatherings
Pie is the delicious dessert of choice for holiday gatherings.

Pie is the delicious dessert of choice for holiday gatherings. Whether you’re baking one yourself, lining up delectable DIY toppings or going 100 percent store-bought (no judgement here), Lunds & Byerlys has you covered. 

“We love the holidays. We all live for this time of year,” says Lunds & Byerlys FoodE Expert Joan Donatelle. Her teams sells over 18,000 pies at each of the 27 Twin Cities-area stores the week of Thanksgiving. It’s a delicious dance, and Donatelle would have it no other way. “It’s quite a feat, but we love helping to make people happy.” 

Lunds & Byerlys’ Good Taste blog is also bubbling over with delicious pie recipes—from the common to the courageous—and even one that doubles as dinner! Here are a few to try at home.


Chocolate Pecan Pie

If you’re a fan of pecan pie (and who’s not?!), you’re going to love this chocolaty twist on the classic from the original Dayton’s cookbook

-1 rolled 9-inch pie shell

-3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine

-3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

-4 large eggs

-2 cups sugar

-1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

-Pinch of salt

-1 cup chopped pecans

 Set the pie shell in the freezer, and place the rack in the center of the oven, heating to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over gently simmering water, and cool to lukewarm. Whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the chocolate mixture, lemon juice and salt. Fold in pecans. Transfer the whole mixture to the pie shell, and bake until set in the center, about 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well chilled.

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Pot Pie

It’s pie. It’s dinner. And it’s deliciously different from anything else on your menu this week. 


-2 Tbsp. butter

-2 shallots, diced

-1 medium potato, peeled and diced

-3 carrots, diced

-2 stalks celery, diced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 cup frozen peas

-1 can chickpeas

-1 Tbsp. curry powder

-½ tsp. turmeric

-¼ tsp. coriander

-2 Tbsp. tomato paste

-1 can coconut milk

-1 cup pumpkin puree

-2 sheets puff pastry

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet, and add shallots, potatoes, carrots and celery. Cook until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, peas and chickpeas, and cook another two minutes. Add curry powder, turmeric, coriander and tomato paste, and stir. Add coconut milk and pumpkin puree, and stir again. Bring it all to a simmer and cook until thickened. Place one sheet of puff pastry in a pie dish, cutting off any edges that go over the edge. Pour chickpea mixture on top, cover with the additional puff pastry, and pinch closed. Bake for 45 minutes, until puff pastry is golden and mixture is bubbling.

Caramel Apple Pumpkin Pie

What if you didn’t have to decide between apple and pumpkin? This beauty brings together the best of both.

Caramel apple layer

-Pie dough for one 10-inch pie
-5 apples, peeled, cored and cubed in ½-inch chunks
-3 Tbsp. butter
-½ cup brown sugar
-1½ tsp. Lunds & Byerlys Apple Pie Spice
-pinch of salt
-1 Tbsp. cornstarch
-2-4 Tbsp. water

Pumpkin layer

-15 oz. canned pumpkin purée
-1 cup brown sugar
-pinch of salt
-1½ tsp. Lunds & Byerlys Pumpkin Pie Spice
-2 large eggs
-½ cup sour cream
-1 tsp. vanilla

For the crust

-Pie dough (enough for one 10-inch pie)
-1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer one pie crust in the bottom of your pan; parbake by lining it with foil and pie weights for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the crust is set but not browned. In a skillet, heat the apples, butter, brown sugar, apple pie spice and salt until apples are tender. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and two-four tablespoons of water, depending on how juicy the apples are. Add to the skillet. Stir over medium heat until juices thicken and the cornstarch no longer looks cloudy. Let cool. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Put the apples into the parbaked pie shell. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the apples, making sure to pop any large bubbles with a fork. Bake for about an hour, but check after 45 minutes to make sure there’s no cracking. The pie will be done when the pumpkin is set and puffed up slightly. Set the pie on a rack to cool. Once the pie is at room temperature, place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour for easier slicing.

For decorations on top of pie:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie crust and cut with cookie cutters. Beat one egg and brush over the cutouts. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown, and arrange on top of the cooked, cooled pie.

Get Your Order In

Lunds & Byerlys pies come in half and whole pies—regular or extra-large—and classic apple, pecan and pumpkin usually steal the show. This year, the bakery team is also debuting a smaller free-form galette that perfectly serves two diners. That’s available in apple, cherry or blueberry-peach. Order a week out to guarantee availability.

Get Dessert Going the Right Way

Top off pies with traditional and creative extras.

Sometimes low-key is the goal for family gatherings. To cross something off ye olde pre-Thanksgiving to-do list, just pick up a classic Haralson apple pie. Carefully, swap in your heirloom pie plate for the foil one, and nobody will be any the wiser.

Then put together a DIY pie topping bar, so guests can go classic or get a little more daring—all the while upping the ante on a holiday classic. Here are a few ideas from the Lunds & Byerlys Good Taste blog:

Get frosty

Pick up a pint of the store’s house-made Sea Salt Caramel or Tahitian Vanilla artisan gelato.

Get cheesy

“A slice of pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze!” quips Lunds & Byerlys FoodE Expert Joan Donatelle, quoting an old family saying. Cheddar is a traditional favorite, but feeling a little wild? Chat with a Lunds & Byerlys cheese expert for recommendations.

Get saucy

Try one of the store’s delicious dessert sauces, like Lunds & Byerlys Butterscotch Caramel Dessert Topping or Lunds & Byerlys Semisweet Dark Chocolate Dessert Topping. Also delicious: Stonewall Kitchen Bourbon Pecan Caramel Sauce, vanilla bean sauce, maple syrup or fruit syrup.

Get salty

The salty crunch of sea salt pairs perfectly with apple pie. Just sprinkle it on top!

Get nutty

Try topping with walnuts, pecans or almonds. Glazed or not, salted or not … you can’t go wrong.

Get creative

Try pomegranate seeds, figs, sprinkles, yogurt, crème fraiche—the sky’s the limit!

Whip it Good (60)

What’s a pie bar without whipped cream? Joan Donatelle shares what to do—and not do—for the perfect DIY whip.

First of all, the ingredients matter. Look for whipping (30-35% fat) or heavy (36% +) cream, and avoid the ultra-pasteurized kind. Try superfine granulated baker’s sugar, “which looks like it comes in a milk carton,” explains Donatelle. Be sure to chill the mixing bowl, beater and cream.

Beat the cream on high, and slowly add sugar and flavoring to taste. Vanilla or almond extracts work great, but Donatelle suggests crystallized ginger—either in the cream or sprinkled on top—for a nice punch.

“Don’t over-mix! When it starts to get to soft peak, you’re almost done,” she adds. Dr. Oetker’s Whip It!ä packets stabilize whipped cream to make is fridge-stable for up to 24 hours. Add it, stir it, cover and chill.