While ancient Egyptians can take credit for the first pies — carving a recipe for chicken pie onto a tablet more than 4,000 years ago — the U.S. takes the cake when it comes to sweet and savory, crust-based confections. Every state has its official (or unofficial) favorite pie, and fans will vigorously defend their preferred flavor. Some pies, however, are iconic to an individual state. Here are 15 delicious pies you should try when you visit — just in time for the holidays.
Salmon Pie (Alaska)
Although it’s got “Alaska” in its name, baked Alaska was actually invented in New York City in the mid-1850s to celebrate the purchase of the territory of Alaska. The hot-and-cold dessert technically isn’t even a pie, however — it’s a spiced sponge cake with layers of ice cream and meringue. Alaska’s savory salmon pie, on the other hand, takes advantage of the state’s abundant wild salmon population, and is especially popular during long Arctic winters.
An Aleut adaptation of Russian “pirog” pie, this hearty delicacy features cooked salmon, rice, onions, mushrooms, and shredded cabbage. Visitors can enjoy it at the luxurious Winterlake Lodge located on the famed Iditarod National Historic Trail from Seward to Nome. Can’t make it to Alaska? Try making your own salmon pie with this recipe.
Palisade Peach Pie (Colorado)
Sorry, Georgia! According to Coloradans, the Rocky Mountain State’s Western Slope comes out on top when it comes to producing the best peaches. Long, sunny days and cool, crisp nights in the fall nurture the peaches grown near the city of Palisade, the undisputed peach capital of the state.
Sweet and juicy, the luscious fruits are savored in crisps, cobblers, and jams — but especially in pies. Pick up a slice at the Palisade Peach Pie Shop, where the golden fruit comes straight from the owner’s orchard. Want to make your own? The New York Times calls this recipe perfect.
Key Lime Pie (Florida)
The Sunshine State is famous for its superb citrus fruits, but oranges and grapefruits aren’t often found in pie. Luckily, Florida is also home to the delicious, small limes that grow in and around the Keys. They make a tart and tasty pie that’s beloved across the country. Topped with whipped cream and typically served in a graham cracker crust, key lime pie is the perfect ending to a Florida seafood feast. Head to Key West for one of the state’s best slices or make this classic recipe from local restaurant Nellie and Joe’s.
Fried Pie (Arkansas)
Move over, McDonald’s. Arkansas cornered the market on fried pies long before the Golden Arches. Easily mistaken for empanadas, these crisp, pocked-sized confections are found across the state from convenience stores to white-tablecloth restaurants — but residents of the Land of Opportunity swear that the very best fried pies are served fresh from your grandmother’s cast-iron skillet.
Everyone has their favorite filling (fruit, chocolate — anything goes), but the real star of the dessert is its flaky, buttery crust. In the city of Hot Springs, hometown favorites are served at Morrison’s Fried Pies. You can also try your own hand at baking hand pies with this fried apple pie recipe.
Huckleberry Pie (Washington)
Beloved by black bears and enthusiastically hunted by “huckleberry hounds,” huckleberries grow wild in the Pacific Northwest for a brief period in late summer. Ranging from red to blue to black, these small, tart berries are similar in appearance and taste to commercially-grown blueberries, but with fewer seeds. Patti’s Pies in Spokane makes a delicious huckleberry pie, or you can make your own with frozen berries.
Sunshine Lemon Pie (Arizona)
If you have a whole lemon, you have the star ingredient in Arizona’s favorite pie — a ridiculously simple and addictively smooth custard pie that’s as yellow as the sun shining in this southwestern state. Reminiscent of key lime pie, sunshine lemon pie is sweet and tangy, offset with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and baked in a crisp pastry crust.
PIEfection in Mesa boasts perfection when it comes to their Arizona citrus pie, but the pie is easy to make at home — especially if you have your own lemon tree. Grab a lemon and a blender or food processor and bake this recipe from Epicurious.
Chocolate Haupia Pie (Hawaii)
Say “Aloha” to paradise. Hawaii’s signature pie is simply heaven. Ted’s Bakery on Oahu’s North Shore created this divine dessert, which combines a layer of haupia (a popular coconut milk confection) with a layer of creamy, dreamy chocolate coconut custard, baked in an addictively crisp macadamia nut shortbread crust. Grab a slice from the original source or whip up your own with this recipe.
Hoosier Pie (Indiana)
Easy to make using cheap ingredients, this Indiana classic is attributed to the Shakers, the Quakers, and the Amish. This sweet (it uses three kinds of sugar!) and crispy cream (not custard) pie was first featured in an 1816 recipe book and has a devoted following in the pie-loving state of Indiana. There’s even a Hoosier Pie Trail.
Containing white, brown, and confectioners sugar; heavy cream; vanilla; and flour, the already-popular pie became an even bigger hit during the Great Depression when most baking ingredients were scarce. Wick’s Pies in Winchester started baking the pie in 1944 and now sells almost a million pies a year. They ship nationwide, but you can also bake your own Hoosier pie using this classic recipe.
Sour Cherry Pie (Michigan)
Apple pie has its advocates — and Michigan grows plenty of the fruit, too — but sour cherry pie reigns supreme. More than 90,000 tons of these tart, ruby-red fruits are harvested each year in Michigan, and the sour variety is particularly prized by bakers. Whether blanketed with a double crust or peeking through an elaborate lattice, cherry pie filling is beloved across the state. Visit Achatz Handmade Pies to taste an award-winning slice (they’re found in some local grocery stores as well), or create your own with this classic recipe.
Sweet Potato Pie, Georgia
Few states can rival Georgia when it comes to soul food, and sweet potato pie is the epitome of soul. While New England takes pride in its pumpkin pies, bakers down South prefer to use sweet potatoes since they’re easier to grow in the warmer climate.
Puréed to a smooth and creamy consistency, sweetened with brown sugar and/or molasses, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and occasionally spiked with bourbon, sweet potato pie is a must on many Southerners’ holiday tables. Singer Patti Labelle’s recipe is a specialty, and you can also grab a slice from Atlanta’s favorite pastry shop, Beloved’s Sweets.
Shepherd’s Pie (Idaho)
Pie for breakfast is a time-honored treat, but a savory shepherd’s pie is a dinner classic — filled with a well-seasoned stew and blanketed with a piping-hot layer of mashed potatoes. Idaho produces about one-third of the nation’s spuds, and they’re put to good use in these pies. One-tenth of the state’s population has Irish ancestry. The Harp Irish Pub in Meridian is known for baking a fine shepherd’s pie, generously filled with local lamb and beef. Or try making this recipe from the Idaho Potato Council.
Derby Pie (Kentucky)
Chocolate, walnuts, and bourbon? Pie, oh my. This devilishly decadent combination comes courtesy of the Bluegrass State, although the original recipe omitted alcohol. The Kern family created the very first Derby Pie® in 1954, and you can still order one online from Kern’s Kitchen or find a slice in some of Louisville’s finest restaurants. If you want to make (and spike) your own at home, try this recipe from Southern Living.
Boston Cream Pie (Massachusetts)
Massachusetts’ official state dessert was launched in 1856 to celebrate the opening of the iconic Parker House hotel. More of a cake than an actual pie, the dessert is a to-die-for combination of golden sponge, pastry cream, and rich chocolate icing that has been reimagined into doughnuts, cupcakes, and even baked-in-a-shell pie. The original recipe can be found at the Parker House, where it’s still proudly served.
Shoofly Pie (Pennsylvania)
Pie lovers won’t shoo away a second slice of Pennsylvania’s popular shoofly pie. This molasses-laden treat falls into the category of “desperation” pies — created from necessity when pantries ran bare and fresh fruit was in short supply. The Pennsylvania Dutch baked the first shoofly pies, and fans are divided into camps favoring “wet” or “dry-bottom” styles. Regardless, the pies are often a breakfast treat, served with a strong cup of coffee. Miller’s Smorgasbord in Ronks serves a stellar slice, or you can bake your own using this traditional recipe.
Strawberry Chiffon Pie (California)
About 90% of the nation’s fresh strawberries come from sunny California, and the “chiffon” technique was invented here, too, by “Pie King” and early celebrity chef Monroe Boston Strauss, who also introduced the world to graham cracker crust and another state favorite, black bottom pie.
Chiffon’s light and airy texture is created by folding Swiss meringue into gelatin-thickened fruit curd — lemon is another contender for California’s favorite flavor — producing a silky-smooth filling that doesn’t rely on cream. The pie is a best-seller at local grocery chain Ralph’s. You can find their recipe here.