Have you found yourself craving traditional food recently? If so, you aren’t alone. According to research by Pinterest, many of us are becoming more interested in preparing ancestral eats and embracing foods that have been enjoyed in our country for generations.
If you’re interested in whipping up some ancestral eats of your own, the good news is that there are plenty of options to explore, from savory favorites like mac and cheese to sweet treats like brownies. But one of the most popular and traditional dishes by far in the US is the pie. American pies aren’t just delicious, but we’re completely spoilt for choice with the amount on offer.
And if you’ve ever wondered which pie is the most popular in your state, you’re in luck! Here at Denby we’ve found the ten most popular American pies, and researched which one came top in each state. So read on to discover the history behind the ten most popular pies, and find out which states they’re particularly popular in.
Pies have long been a staple of our country’s culture. Some of the pies in this list use traditional American ingredients which have been native to the country for centuries, like pumpkins and pecans, while others have taken inspiration from recipes across the globe, such as the cream pie. But no matter where in the world the pies have come from, each one has become a true American classic.
And just like every US household has a go-to pie, each state has its own favorite. Pumpkin pie topped our list, coming out as the top pie in an impressive 16 states. While a couple of the pies we researched only came out top in one state, these dishes had deep roots in these states. For example, the key lime pie is Florida’s official state pie, so it’s no surprise that it’s so popular in the region.
Whichever of our top ten pies is your favorite, why not celebrate it by cooking one up? Serve it up with some tasty and traditional American sides. And give the event the respect it deserves by setting the table in style, complete with some beautiful, high-quality ceramics.Christine Jacobsen, Digital Marketing Manager at Denby
10. Peanut pie
While peanut pie was only the most popular pie in one state (West Virginia), there’s no denying the deliciousness of this treat. The history of this dessert can be traced all the way back to the 18th century when peanuts were first brought to the country. They were used to prepare several delicious dishes, one of which was peanut pie.
Farmers began growing the crops commercially in the early 19th century in Virginia. When the nut eventually became popular, peanut pies became staples in Southern states. Our research has found the pie is still relatively popular in some states in the South, such as Arkansas.
But the pie is most popular by far in West Virginia and is also popular in the neighboring state of Kentucky. This is no doubt because a classic peanut pie uses Virginia peanuts, which are considered to be one of the most gourmet variations of peanut.
9. Key lime pie
Just like peanut pie, we discovered in our research that key lime pie was only the most popular in one state. Unsurprisingly, this state is Florida, which many deem to be the home of the delicious key lime pie. However, there is fierce debate surrounding the origins of this dish.
Many believe that the pie came from a mixture of key lime juice and condensed milk concocted by Key West fishermen to prevent sickness, which the fishermen’s wives then began using as a pie filling. However, there was no recipe found for the dish until 1949. The closest recipe before this was for the Magic Lemon Cream Pie made in the 1930s by Borden, a condensed milk producer based in New York.
However, this pie is the most popular in Florida by far, so no matter the history of the dish, Floridians clearly still consider it to be one of their own.
8. Shepherd’s pie
Although this is one of the most popular pies from the US, it has its origins in a classic British recipe. Shepherd’s pie is believed to stem all the way back to the 18th century. In Britain, lamb is used in the dish, while the similar dish cottage pie consists of ground beef instead.
While there’s no clear history behind the dish in the US, we’ve made it our own throughout the years by using ground beef, similar to the British cottage pie. There are many variations of the dish across the country. Some top the pie with hash browns rather than mashed potato, and some family recipes even use cans of vegetable soup. This is a warming and hearty dish, which is likely why it’s the most popular pie in two North Eastern states, Maine and New Hampshire.
7. Lemon meringue pie
The origins of this delicious pie can be traced to Philadelphia, which was one of the three major port cities in the US in the 18th century. While Quakers were the ones to create lemon custard, it was Philadelphia native Elizabeth Goodfellow who used this concoction to create her famous lemon pie recipe in the early 1800s.
Some believe that on one occasion, Elizabeth opted to make a meringue topping for the pie with leftover egg whites, as she used so many yolks from the lemon custard, and this is how the pie was created. However, others claim that the dish was made in Europe in the 16th century, so there is no known origin for the exact recipe to date.
Despite being from Philadelphia, the dish surprisingly isn’t particularly popular in its home state of Pennsylvania. This pie came top in three states: Alaska, Idaho, and Vermont.
6. Chicken pot pie
Pot pies have been popular in Britain for centuries, so when British settlers traveled across the pond, they took their recipes with them. They were made with many different types of meat, including mutton, veal, and pigeon. This is considered to be a classic US dish. In fact, a chicken pie recipe can be found in the first American cookbook, “American Cookery”, written all the way back in 1796. However, a recipe for chicken pot pie specifically wasn’t recorded until the 19th century.
Our research found that this pie is particularly popular during the winter months, which isn’t all too surprising as it’s such a warming and comforting dish. It was the most popular pie in three Northern states: Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. But it is also surprisingly the most popular in the warm South Eastern state of South Carolina.
5. Apple pie
You’ll have no doubt heard, and even used the phrase “as American as apple pie”. However, this is another pie recipe that comes from the Brits. The recipe from across the pond dates all the way back to the 14th century. But when British settlers came over with the recipe for apple pie, it became a hit. In fact, there are not one but two apple pie recipes in “American Cookery”.
The pie was easy to make and had affordable ingredients, so it became a staple dish in homes across the country. And when a New York Times editor penned an article claiming the dish to be a symbol of prosperity in the early 20th century, it soon became a key symbol of American culture. Despite the pie’s cultural status, it only came top in four states: Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, and New York. Despite all four states being in the North East, most of the country’s apples are actually grown in Washington State in the North West.
4. Sweet potato pie
Sweet potato pie is a classic American holiday dish, but it originated in Peru way back in 750 BCE. Yams traveled across the globe in the 14th century, as the Spanish brought the vegetable from South America to Europe. Sweet potato recipes were popular amongst the elite in Europe for years. Wealthy Americans became interested in the vegetable and began enjoying adding it to a number of dishes, including pie.
The recipe holds great significance in many Black American communities and is often enjoyed at Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie. Today, the dish is particularly popular in the East of the country, which may be because most sweet potatoes are grown in North Carolina.
3. Pecan pie
This Southern staple is the most popular pie in six states, including Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana. Pecans are native to the US, having grown in the South for centuries, and were used in several Native American recipes. The first known written recipe for a pecan pie was made by a Texan woman in the late 17th century. However, some claim that pie originated even earlier in the century in New Orleans.
Whatever the origins of the pie, it became popularized across the county in the 1920s, when corn syrup manufacturer Karo printed a recipe for the pie on the side of their cans. This dish is another Thanksgiving staple, with Google Trends data showing that search interest in the pie peaks in the last week of November.
2. Cream pie
There are some variations of this delicious dish, which may be the reason why it’s the most popular pie in an impressive 11 states, including Kentucky and Wyoming. One version is the chocolate cream pie, which was believed to have been created in the Midwest, although there’s no exact date as to when it was made. It is largely considered to be based on the French Tarte au chocolate. There’s also the banana cream pie, which dates back to an American recipe book published in the late 19th century.
Another variation is the famous Boston cream pie, which is believed to be created in the 1850s by Sanzian, a French-Armenian chef living in the city. However, despite being called a pie this dish is much more similar to a cake and is technically classified as one. It may be called a pie because cake pans were known as pie pans during the 19th century. Despite Boston cream pie being the official dessert of Massachusetts, cream pie was surprisingly not the most popular pie in the state.
1. Pumpkin pie
Topping the list by far is the classic American pumpkin pie, which was the most popular in an impressive 16 states. Just like pecans, pumpkins have been native to Northern America for centuries and are believed to date back to 5,500 B.C. When they were exported to Britain during the Tudor period, they began being used as pie filling. The English brought this recipe to the United States, and it has since become an American staple.
But why is the dish so popular at Thanksgiving in particular? While many think that it’s because pumpkin pie was eaten at the feast of 1621, this likely wasn’t the case, as flour and butter wouldn’t have been available for a pie crust (although they likely had pumpkin at the feast in some form). The dish is actually a Thanksgiving staple thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale. Considered to be the “Mother of Thanksgiving”, Hale published a number of recipes for dishes we still use for the holiday today, including turkey and stuffing.
This dish was unsurprisingly the most popular pie in two of the main pumpkin producing states, Illinois and California, as well as many states across the country, including Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.