Holiday baking season is right around the corner, and you know what that means: pies—lots and lots of pies. Especially in my house. I tend to make about five pies for Thanksgiving alone—then there’s Friendsgiving, Christmas and all the baking in between. That’s a lot of pie crust to whip up, which is why I often make mine in advance and freeze it. But sometimes I go into the freezer to grab a crust for a last-minute pumpkin pie…and there’s no crust left after all that baking! That’s when I rely on a shortcut to get me through: store-bought pie crust.
Though after going through a few of these baking emergencies, I started noticing that not all these prepackaged crusts were created equal. Some were great, a few artificial and some even tasted homemade—in good and bad ways. Of course, I never made note of my preferred (and not-so-preferred) brands. That’s when I knew I had to gather up a few of my best bakers and coworkers to try out the most popular store-bought pie crusts and mixes in a blind test. In total we tried 10:
- Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix
- Immaculate Baking Company Ready-to-Bake Pie Crust (refrigerated)
- Jiffy Pie Crust Mix
- Kroger Unroll and Bake Pie Crusts (refrigerated)
- Krusteaz Pie Crust Mix
- Pappy’s Pie Dough (frozen)
- Pillsbury Pet-Ritz Deep Dish Pie Crust (frozen)
- Pillsbury Roll and Bake Pie Crusts (refrigerated)
- ShurFine Pie Crusts (refrigerated)
- Simple Truth Organic Unroll and Bake Pie Crusts (refrigerated)
That’s a lot of crusts, but we dove right in! As bakers with busy holiday schedules, we were desperate to know which we should stock up on.
Honorable Mention: Kroger Unroll and Bake Pie Crust
Proving once again that store brands are not to be underestimated was Kroger’s refrigerated pie crust. This option came with two 9-inch crusts rolled up in a single pack. We sampled this crust solo—no fillings to distract from the flavor or cause the dreaded soggy bottom. What we found was a nice, tender crust. It was slightly fragile, but when broken, we found tons of flaky layers—the trademark of a great crust.
$2.79 for two 9-inch crusts; available at Kroger and other Kroger-owned stores like Pick ‘n Save.
Runner-Up: ShurFine Pie Crusts
ShurFine, another generic, also did well in this test! This refrigerated dough (sold in a two-pack like Kroger’s) also gave us plenty of gorgeous, flaky layers. The flavor was mild, but we found that to be a positive—it would allow your favorite fillings to be in the spotlight. We also loved that this crust baked up nice and golden and had what we considered to be the most homemade look (in a good way!). We bet that you could fool your friends and family with this crust on Thanksgiving.
$2.09 for two 9-inch crusts; available at select grocery stores nationwide.
Best in Show: Pillsbury Pet-Ritz Deep Dish Pie Crust
Coming in at the top with an almost perfect score was Pillsbury Pet-Ritz Deep Dish frozen pie crust. We cannot say enough good things about this premade pie shell! The pie pastry here was flaky and buttery with just a hint of sweetness (so this is not suitable for savory pies). The Pillsbury crust was so good, we kept going back for seconds—even without any sort of filling. We also appreciated that this crust didn’t crumble as we cut it, meaning your pecan pie will slice nicely on Turkey Day.
Our only issue with this option—hence the 9.5 score over a perfect 10—was that it definitely looked store-bought. The pastry here is pressed into a tin with that machine-perfect crimping on the edge. No big deal when it comes to flavor, but if you’re planning on passing off this crust as homemade, you might have a hard time.
$2.69 for two 9-inch pie shells in tins; available nationwide and on Amazon.
Skip the mix
Out of the 10 crusts we tried, not a single dry mix ranked in our top three. We can’t pinpoint why—since many of those brands typically score very well in taste tests—but all the bakers in the tasting agreed: Mixing up the dry part of a pie crust is the easy part! What makes crust time consuming isn’t the ingredients—it’s cutting in the butter, chilling the dough, rolling it out and crimping those edges just right. That’s where our top picks excelled in addition to taste.
Not all refrigerated and frozen doughs are created equal
What surprised us among the refrigerated and frozen doughs was how different they all were! We loved our winners since they gave us great flaky layers and good buttery flavor. Some of the others, though, had a bit of an artificial or processed taste, despite having similar ingredients to our winners. Some had little taste at all. This definitely made us shrug, but now that we know which brands to look out for, we feel confident heading to the store for our backup plan! While we’re there, though, we’ll definitely pick up some butter—did you know it makes the best pie crusts?