The Best (And Worst) Store-Bought Pie Crusts

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Wonder which prepared, store-bought pie crust you should buy? Here’s our ultimate Simply Recipes guide to the best and the worst of the bunch.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Do you love pie?

I do. I love to make pie. I love to eat pie. I especially love a good homemade pie crust. In fact, I’ve spent years encouraging people to make their own pie crust from scratch (and even have the world’s most fool-proof pie crust recipe with video right here on the site).

That said, I’ve learned over the years that most home cooks will use a store-bought frozen or refrigerated crust to make their pies. I get it. We are busy people. We want pie. We would rather make a pie in one hour than in two.

With that in mind, I set out to review several packaged pie crusts I could find locally, to see if there were any I would personally use and recommend, and if there were any that people should simply avoid.

What follows is my review of 10 different frozen or packaged pie crusts that I found at markets here in Sacramento. Most are name brands that are available nationally. Four of the 10 crusts come from one brand because this brand offered a variety of crust types, including gluten-free and whole wheat, that I wanted to test.

Price

Listed are the prices I paid here in Sacramento, California. The prices range from $2.99 to $10.99 for a package of two. You may find different prices in your area. For comparison sake, the ingredients for my favorite homemade pie crust add up to about $1.80 each, or $3.60 for two.

Types of crusts reviewed

Some crusts are the kind that come frozen in an aluminum tin, some come frozen or refrigerated rolled up in a box, one crust comes frozen, rolled out and flat.

Ingredients and Weight

I’ve listed the crusts’ ingredients, based on the information given on the packages. Several of the name brand packaged crusts have fillers, preservatives, and food dyes.

I’ve included the weight of a single crust for each product. By comparison, one of my homemade crusts weighs about 11.6 to 12 ounces.

Method

The pie doughs that were rolled up in a box or rolled out in a box I formed into 9-inch Pyrex baking dishes.

I pre-baked all of the crusts first, following pre-baking directions on their respective packages, to see how they held up to blind-baking, and to see how they tasted on their own, without pie filling.

My view is that a pie crust should taste great! It shouldn’t just be a carrier for the filling.

Review of Store Bought Pie Crusts

I first judged all of these crusts on taste. Was the crust flaky? Buttery? Did it taste good? Did I want to keep eating it even though I had been eating crusts all day? I made a homemade butter crust to compare with these. How well did they compare?

From these 10 packaged crusts, I chose 3 to do another test by filling with our pumpkin pie recipe filling, and baking into a pumpkin pie. I judged the crusts on structure. Did they hold up well with the pumpkin pie filling?

Conclusion

The results? None of the crusts taste as good as my homemade crust, but there are a few crusts that I would be happy to use and recommend. Some of the crusts are just okay, and there are a few that should be avoided all together.

Here’s the list, ranked from best to worst, click through or keep scrolling for the more detailed notes.

  1. Wholly Wholesome Organic TraditionalBEST OVERALL
  2. Trader Joe’s Pie CrustBEST VALUE
  3. Leadbetter’s All Natural French Picnic Flaky Pastry SheetBEST TASTING
  4. Pillsbury Pie Crusts
  5. Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Dough
  6. Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat
  7. Safeway Brand Signature Kitchens
  8. Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Flaky Pie Crust
  9. Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Shell
  10. Marie Callender’s Pastry Pie Shell

1. Wholly Wholesome Organic Traditional

Wholly Wholesome Traditional Pie Crust

Wholly Wholesome is a natural foods brand available throughout the U.S. at Whole Foods and grocery stores that carry natural food brands.

  • 7 oz each
  • $6.99 for a package of 2 (at Whole Foods)
  • Frozen in aluminum pie tin
  • Flour, palm oil, water, cane sugar, sea salt
Wholly Wholesome pie crust with pumpkin pie filling

Wholly Wholesome traditional pie crust baked into a pumpkin pie

Tasting notes: Good taste, right amount of salt and sugar, tender and flaky, can keep eating

Structure notes: Did not crack or break with pre-baking. When baked with a pumpkin pie filling, it held up well. No soggy crust. Even though it is a deep dish pie crust, it doesn’t hold as much filling as my homemade pie crust, so when I cooked up a pumpkin pie with it, I had about a cup of leftover filling.

Conclusion: RECOMMEND. I would use this pie crust. The taste is good. I kept nibbling on the crusts I blind baked for this test. The crust holds up well for both blind-baking and baking with a pie. Would be good for a sweet pie or a savory pies such as a quiche.

2. Trader Joe’s Pie Crust

Trader Joe's Pie Crust

The Trader Joe’s pie crust was the one most recommended to me by my friends. It has almost as much dough as one of my homemade crusts. It’s one issue is that it is hard to unroll.

  • 11 oz each
  • $3.99 for a package of 2 (at Trader Joe’s)
  • Comes rolled and frozen.
  • Enriched flour, Palm Oil (with citric acid for freshness), water, butter, sugar salt
Trader Joe's pie crust with pumpkin pie filling

Trader Joe’s pie crust baked into a pumpkin pie

Tasting notes: Flaky with notes of butter, close to the taste and texture of homemade crust when tasted on its own after blind baking. Holds up well with pumpkin pie filling.

Structure notes: Followed directions to defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then let stand for 45 minutes at room temperature. Completely broke apart when I tried to unroll, beyond being able to be patched together.

So, I gathered up the dough in my hands and squeezed together until I made a solid disk. Then I rolled out the disk between the two pieces of parchment-ish paper that the pie crust came rolled up in. Refrigerated it for 10 minutes, then placed it in a pie plate and blind baked.

Broken Trader Joe's Pie Crust

What happens when you don’t let the Trader Joe’s crust come completely to room temp before unrolling

When I baked with the second crust from the package, I let it defrost on the counter for 4 hours. Then I unrolled it carefully. There was still cracking, but as I saw the cracking I could use the warmth of my hands to fuse together.

If I were to use again, I would let come to room temperature for a couple of hours first, and microwave for 10 sec after that, in order to make it easier to unroll.

I blind baked, following directions on the package, by pricking the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork. I did not use pie weights. If I were to blind bake this crust again, I would prick the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork AND use pie weights, as the sides of the pie crust slumped.

Conclusion: RECOMMEND WITH CAVEAT. At $3.99 for two 11-ounce pie crusts, the Trader Joe’s Pie crust is clearly the best value for the money. The taste is good and the crust itself closely approximates a homemade crust.

That said, many people have issues with the pie dough not unrolling easily from the package. Recommend that you let defrost completely and come to room temperature completely. Unroll carefully. If the dough breaks up too much, you can always form it into a dough disk and roll out with a rolling pin.

3. Leadbetter’s All Natural French Picnic Flaky Pastry Sheet

Leadbetters French Picnic Pie Crust

Leadbetter’s is San Francisco based company that distributes their products to Whole Foods and other grocers in the Bay Area. Many urban areas have local bakery brands that produce high quality packaged butter crusts.

  • 8 ounces each
  • $10.99 for a package of 2 (at Whole Foods)
  • Frozen rolled out and flat
  • Organic flour, salted butter, water

Tasting notes: Extremely buttery and flaky. Like eating a croissant.

Structure Notes: More of a pastry crust than a pie crust. Very flaky, not very sturdy.

Conclusion: RECOMMEND WITH CAVEAT. The most delicious of all the pie crusts I tested. Best if you need a light and flaky pastry crust. Don’t recommend it if you need a sturdy crust.

This particular crust is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, but is a good example of the excellent packaged crusts that may be available from local bakeries.

4. Pillsbury Pie Crust

Pillsbury Pie Crust

This is one of the most popular packaged pie crusts in the country, you can find it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Because it is refrigerated, not frozen, it needs added preservatives for an extended shelf-life.

  • 7.05 ounces each
  • $3.99 for package of 2 (at Safeway)
  • Comes refrigerated and rolled
  • Enriched flour bleached, lard and hydrogenated lard with BHA and BHT added to protect flavor, wheat starch, water, salt, rice flour, xanthan gum, sodium propionate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), citric acid, yellow dye 5, red dye 40
Pillsbury pie crust with pumpkin pie filling

Pillsbury pie crust baked with pumpkin pie filling

Tasting notes: Definitely flaky crust. No buttery flavor, instead there is the flavor of lard. Slight aftertaste, but not much, and not bad.

Structure notes: Unrolls easily and presses into pie pan easily. Can easily crimp edges. Bakes up well, no cracking. Blind baking looks like a giant Ritz cracker, which is a little unnerving. Holds up well with pumpkin pie filling. Sturdy but not tough. Doesn’t get soggy with filling.

Conclusion: OKAY. I miss the buttery flavor, but if you are used to lard crusts, this would work. It looks pretty, but you can tell it’s artificial. Personally I would rather avoid all of those preservatives and food dyes.

5. Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Dough

Wholly Wholesome Pie Dough

  • 8 ounces each
  • $6.49 for a package of 2 (at Whole Foods)
  • Comes rolled and frozen, have to defrost completely then microwave 10 sec to unroll
  • Flour, palm oil, water, cane syrup, sea salt, cane sugar, guar gum

Tasting notes: Edible, taste is fine, but the crust itself is a little tough

Structure notes: Out of the box (and defrosted and unrolled) the crust dough circle was not large enough to properly cover my pie dish. I placed a piece of plastic wrap over it (one side already was lined with some kind of plastic or parchment), and used my hands to press the dough out a bit. I then lined my pie dish and chilled it for 20 minutes before pre-baking. Even with that, the pie crust slumped with pre-baking.

Conclusion: OKAY. I both prefer the Wholly Wholesome Pie Shell and the Trader Joe’s pie dough to this pie dough. Taste is good, but a little tough and not enough coverage for my pie pan.

6. Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat

Wholly Wholesome Whole Wheat Pie Crust

  • 7 oz each
  • $6.99 for a package of 2 (at Whole Foods)
  • Frozen in aluminum pie tin
  • Whole wheat flour, palm oil, water, cane sugar, sea salt

Tasting notes: Edible, doesn’t taste artificial, definitely tastes “healthy” in a wheat bread vs white bread way, might work with a savory pie

Structure notes: It did crack a little on the side with pre-baking.

Conclusion: OKAY. seems very health-food-ish, wouldn’t use it for a sweet pie. Might use it for a savory cheesy tomato pie.

7. Safeway brand Signature Kitchens

Safeway Signature Kitchen Pie Crust

This is the Safeway grocery store generic version of the Pillsbury Pie Crust. By the way, many national grocery chains make generic versions of national brands. You can tell which brand they are imitating by looking at the ingredient list.

  • 7.5 ounces each
  • $2.99 for a package of 2 (at Safeway)
  • Comes refrigerated and rolled
  • Enriched bleached flour, wheat starch, lard and hydrogenated lard with BHT added to protect flavor, water, sugar, salt, xanthan gum, yellow 5, red 40, citric acid, sodium propionate, potassium sorbate, soy flour

Tasting notes: A little less flavorful than the Pillsbury Pie Crust it is imitating. A little less yellow and a little more red in color. The flavor and consistency reminds me more of a cracker than a pie crust. Edible.

Structure notes: Unrolls easily and presses into the pie pan easily. A little cracking at the very end of the unrolling. Bakes up well without cracking.

Conclusion: OKAY. Similar enough to the Pillsbury brand, not quite as flavorful. Edible, nothing special. Uses preservatives and food dyes.

8. Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Flaky Pie Crust

Mrs. Smith Pie Crust

Mrs. Smith’s is a nationally available brand that I found at almost every grocery store I checked.

  • 8 ounces each
  • $4.69 for a package of 2 (at Raley’s)
  • Frozen in aluminum pie tin
  • Flour, palm oil, water, sugar, soybean oil, dextrose, salt, mono and diglycerides (emulsifiers)

Tasting notes: Leaves slightly unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth, doesn’t taste much of anything, I don’t want to eat it.

Structure notes: Cracks coming out of the package, cracks with pre-baking along the rim, fragile.

Conclusion: Edible, but NOT GOOD

9. Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Shell

Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Crust

  • 7.4 oz each
  • $6.29 for a package of 2 (at Raley’s)
  • Frozen in aluminum pie tin
  • Brown rice flour, water, palm oil, evaporated cane syrup, tapioca starch, potato starch, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, guar gum

Tasting notes: Tastes bad, nothing I would want to eat or serve anyone.

Structure notes: Sides cracked every 2 inches with blind baking according to instructions

Conclusion: AVOID. Wholly Wholesome should go back to the drawing board on this one. There is no reason why a gluten-free crust should not taste as good as a gluten-based crust. I’ve had Kate McDermott’s gluten free pie crust and it tastes better than many regular pie crusts!

10. Marie Callender’s Pastry Pie Shell

Marie Callender Pie Crust

Marie Callender’s is a national restaurant chain famous for its pies. The pie shells however, are a product of Conagra Brands and appear to have nothing to do with the restaurant.

  • 8 ounces each
  • $4.79 for a package of 2 (at Raley’s)
  • Frozen in aluminum pie tin
  • Enriched wheat flour, soybean oil, water, hydrogenated soybean oil, dextrose, salt, sodium metabisulfite

Tasting notes: Completely inedible. I spit it out as soon as I took a bite. I taste tested pie shells from 3 different packages from different stores and they were all terrible.

Structure notes: Of the 3 packages I bought, in each package one shell was cracked or broken in places right out of the package. Every blind baking test resulted in a pie where the rim cracked away from the rest of the pie.

Conclusion: AVOID. By far the worst tasting of all the pie crusts I tested.

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