Pie is a mandatory element of a proper Thanksgiving spread, and a great pie is the perfect way to punctuate a successful holiday feast — or obliterate the memory of a bad one. But if you're bored by the same old pecan and pumpkin, welcome to the club. From salted honey pies to carrot pies in a wheat crust, we found a slew of L.A. bakeries making creative whole pies that should impress even the most jaded Thanksgiving dessert hound.
Get your orders in now — most deadlines are this weekend, with pickups starting next week. And if you miss an order deadline, don't fret. Some bakeries are stocking extra pies for last-minute walk-in shoppers. Call or stop by your favorite spot to confirm.
Salted Honey Pie, Proof Bakery
Proof is a reliable bakery where you can order anything and know it's going to be good. Its holiday salted honey pie is no different. Honey pie is a rich but soothing variation on the classic Southern chess pie — it consists of a honey custard filling balanced with a buttery crust. Popular Brooklyn pie shop Four & Twenty Blackbirds released a cookbook with a salted honey pie recipe, which many other restaurants seem to be following. The version at Proof (9-inch, $38) features buckwheat honey, a flaky cream cheese crust and a light sprinkling of Maldon salt flakes. Deadline to order is Monday, Nov. 23, by 4 p.m. 3156 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village; (323) 664-8633, proofbakeryla.com.
Apple Cheddar Pie, Cake Monkey
Even if you insist on having an apple, pumpkin or pecan pie this year, that doesn't mean you have to be stuck with just the classics. The apple pie from Cake Monkey (10-inch, $35) does not look like a typical apple pie — the filling is dark, dense and jellied, made from apples pre-roasted in cider jelly before being baked in the pie. The double-cheddar crust tastes a bit like a cheddar scone if you eat it plain, but contributes just a subtle hint of cheddar to mouthfuls of the sweet apple pie. A classier version of the standard apple pie with melted cheddar on top, this pie's sugar-dusted crust is one of its biggest selling points. (Cake Monkey's cherry almond pie topped our best pie in L.A. ranking a few years ago and is also available for Thanksgiving order.) Deadline to order is Monday, Nov. 23, by noon. 7807 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; (323) 932-1142, cakemonkey.com.
Earl Grey Pie, Atticus Creamery & Pies
If you really want to think outside the pie box, try the Earl Grey cream pie at Atticus Creamery & Pies (10-inch, $40). It looks a little like a pumpkin pie but tastes like a fluffy, sweet cup of tea. There are a few other Earl Grey pie options in the city, but this one, our favorite version, is not overly sweet and has a satisfying butter crust. The chocolate ganache layer on the bottom of the pie is a nice touch, but it's the subtle yet distinct Earl Gray tea taste of the cream filling that makes this a real treat. Other popular options here are the strawberry pistachio pie and lemon lavender pie, and if you can't decide on a flavor you can order a variety of mini-pies instead of one large pie. (The seasonal ice cream flavor brown sugar apple pie is also terrific if you want to have your pie in ice cream form.) There is no deadline to order; just give them 24 hours notice before you want to pick it up. 10893 W. Pico Blvd., Westwood; (310) 474-7464; and 6015 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; (323) 934-7890, atticusisawesome.com.
Carrot Pie, Shabazz Bakery
Bakeries that specialize in Nation of Islam dietary restrictions (which is different from halal) usually have bean pie — a pie that tastes a lot like sweet potato pie but is made from mashed navy beans. Shabazz Bakery in Inglewood has great bean pies that are heavy on the custard, and it also offers bright orange carrot pies as another sweet potato alternative (8-inch, $9). Both are made with wheat flour and honey instead of white flour and sugar, and both taste like familiar pumpkin or sweet potato pies but with welcome hints of surprising flavor and texture from the wheat-flour crust and alternative vegetable choices. This tiny bakery turns out lots of fresh whole pies every day that are available for walk-in purchase right up to Thanksgiving, but if you have your heart set on carrot or any other particular flavor, call ahead to make sure it's on the day's menu or to place an order (24 hours in advance). 446 S. Market St., Inglewood; (310) 674-0355, shabazzbakery.com.
Mud Pie, simplethings
For those who love gooey pecan pie, meet the mud pie at simplethings (9-inch, $22). Rich and thick with the taste of molasses complemented by a homemade roasted marshmallow topping, this pie is dark and sticky and addictive. You can try the pie in mini form at one of the cafe's locations before you order a large one for the holidays. (If pumpkin pie is non-negotiable for you but you're looking for a fun variation, you can also order a chipotle pumpkin pie with Oreo crust here.) When you place your simplethings Thanksgiving pie order through dinating.com, the company will help feed a family of four with donations from each pie purchase going to the SOVA Community Food and Resource Program. Deadline to order through Dinating is Monday, Nov. 23, by noon. 4013 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank; (818) 562-9619. Also 8310 W. Third St., Beverly Grove, (323) 592-3390; 808 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 395-4454; and 10874 Kinross Ave, Westwood, (310) 824.2000. simplethingsrestaurant.com.
Purple Sweet Potato Pie, Gjusta
Made with purple sweet potatoes and a whipped maple cream frosting, this gorgeous pie (10-inch, $55) from Gjusta is definitely sweeter than your average Thanksgiving side dish. But the texture is pleasantly thick and satisfying, and the simple filling is made from just a few whole ingredients: roasted sweet potatoes blended with milk, butter and spices. When you slice into this purple pie, expect your guests to gasp and then Instagram like crazy. Deadline to order is Saturday, Nov. 21. 320 Sunset Ave., Venice; (310) 314-0320, gjusta.com.
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Pluot Galette, Valerie Echo Park
At Valerie Echo Park, the fall fruit galette (a flat-form cousin to the pie) is available for Thanksgiving orders. Made with pluots, apples and frangipane, the plum-apricot hybrid and apple slices form petals over a layer of the lightly sweetened almond paste. The rustic hand-folded pie crust makes for an elegant holiday pie variation (12-inch, $35). Pickup also can be be arranged at sister shops Valerie at Grand Central Market downtown or Valerie's Confections in East Hollywood. Deadline to order is Saturday, Nov. 21. 1665 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park; (213) 250-9365, valerieconfections.com.
Gluten Free and Agave-Sweetened Pies
If your idea of a twist on a classic holiday pie is more like a gluten-free one made with alternative sweeteners, try the saints pumpkin pie at Sinners & Saints in Venice — it's gluten-free and sweetened with agave but tastes just like the traditional pumpkin you know and love. For no-sugar-added and gluten-free pies made with local organic fruit, check out Marcie's Pies from Jimenez Family Farms this Sunday at the farmers markets in Atwater, Hollywood, Ojai and Mar Vista, or call to place your holiday order through Sunday. To order whole pies that are gluten-free, organic, raw and vegan, you can turn to a Cafe Gratitude location near you.