Smiling mother and daughter holding a freshly baked pie inside their kitchen.
These pie companies—many starting from family recipes or out of their own kitchens—are made fresh daily and offer a variety of flavors. — Getty Images/Drazen Zigic

There is no dessert more synonymous with Thanksgiving than pie. Odds are, we’ll all have at least one on the kitchen table in the pumpkin, pecan, or apple variety. These five small bakeries specialize in this delectable comfort food and have received both local and national acclaim.

Slice Pie Company

In 1997, Mike Mullins entered an apple pie at the North Carolina State Fair. He won the blue ribbon, which is now framed in Slice Pie Company's headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina. With years of tradition under their belts and an age-old pie crust recipe from generations ago, Mike and his daughter Kristen Cleve went into business together in 2014.

Thanksgiving was what really spurred the conversation around opening a bakery, but the family’s roots in pie-baking dates back to Mullins’ great-grandmother, Nannaw, and the craft has been passed down ever since. Cleve’s six-year-old daughter comes home from school to measure, sift, and knead her own dough in their commercial kitchen.

Furnished with two industrial-grade ovens and a one-of-a-kind pie press, the modest Slice Pie Co. kitchen can fire 32 pies at a time. This crew can bake 150 pies per day, and when a big order comes in, they’ll do a 20-hour relay race to meet the deadline.

Julian Pie Company

Once a sought-after baker in the Julian, California area, Liz Smothers decided to start her own business in the fall of 1986. Three years later, the Smothers family purchased an apple farm to ensure the freshest product possible. And in 1992, the demand was so high for Julian Pie Company that the family had to open a second facility in San Ysabel.

Known for its apple pie, wineries, and apple orchards, Julian is essentially an epicenter for the apple. About 17,000 trees line the Smothers apple orchard, supplying the company with what it needs to make the most popular items — apple pie and cider donuts. Made in a variety of styles such as original apple, Dutch apple, natural apple (no added sugar), and apple mountain blueberry crumb, this flavor is the bakery’s claim to fame.

Liz Smothers passed away last year, but her legacy lives on through her sons Tim and Dave, and her grandchildren who now run the day-to-day operations. In addition to its bakeshop, these pies can be found in grocery stores throughout San Diego and neighboring counties, or shipped anywhere in the U.S.

“I started out of my apartment,” he said. “I used to bake pies and take them around to restaurants,” he recalled. The bakery has always used all natural ingredients and hand crimped its crusts. “If you got a pie from us 35 years ago, that product is still exactly the same.”

Arnold Wilkerson, Founder, Little Pie Company

Little Pie Company

Arnold Wilkerson traded a life of theater for a life of pie when he opened Little Pie Company in 1985. Memories of his grandmother baking pies with fallen apples from her backyard guided Wilkerson’s passion and commitment. Nestled in Manhattan’s theater district, Wilkerson feels right at home in this culinary performance space.

“I started out of my apartment,” he said. “I used to bake pies and take them around to restaurants,” he recalled. The bakery has always used all natural ingredients and hand crimped its crusts. “If you got a pie from us 35 years ago, that product is still exactly the same.”

Pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, and a little pie fall sampler are the autumn season specials. The sampler includes the bakery’s most popular pies: sour cream apple walnut, southern pecan, Mississippi mud, and pumpkin.

Pie Snob

Traci Wilbur started her business by selling pies to her friends. She first worked out of her home kitchen for a year, then her renovated garage for 10 years. In 2017, she had outgrown her humble beginnings and opened her first Pie Snob storefront.

Scattered around the Phoenix valley, Pie Snob now has three shops and kitchens. “We managed to make hundreds of pies out of my first commercial kitchen at my house, but the logistics were a nightmare,” she said. “Having a large kitchen makes a huge difference.” Not only does Pie Snob sell whole pies or by the slice out of its stores, the business also supplies local restaurants and breweries.

Each menu rotates every Tuesday to offer variety and ensure freshness. Aside from the classics — apple, key lime, and chocolate cream — Pie Snob tries to reflect the time of the season in its rotation.

Pie Junkie

Former stay-at-home moms Leslie Coale-Mossman and Darcy Schein began baking together in 2010 and established Pie Junkie a year later. By 2013, the Oklahoma City pie shop had planted roots in a brick-and-mortar location — the same one it occupies today.

The tiny but mighty shop bakes over 20,000 pies per year. Pie Junkie carries a number of flavors, but the signature recipes are the Drunken Turtle (a chocolate turtle pie glazed with salted bourbon caramel) and the Bird Dog Buttermilk (traditional buttermilk pie with Bird Dog blackberry whiskey).

In addition to the extensive dessert menu, Pie Junkie offers Take & Bake meals which consist of TV dinners like turkey pot pie alongside a cranberry apple crumble or beef shepherd’s pie, or poppy seed chicken casserole. Various coffee drinks and cream soda are also available for purchase.

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