Virtually every cuisine around the world has a tradition of enclosing sweet and/or savory ingredients in dough of some kind — Spain and Latin America with their empanadas, China with its dumplings and baos, Turkey with its börek, France with its tourtes and tartes, and so on. And of course, America with its good old-fashioned double-crust or meringue- or custard-topped pies, made with fruit, chocolate, nuts, or whatever else seems appropriate.
The earliest pies in more or less the sense that we know them today were made in England way back in the 1100s, but these were primarily savory, filled with meat, poultry, or wild game (remember those nursery-rhyme blackbirds “baked in a pie?”). The first fruit pies probably date from the 16th century, and English tradition gives credit to Queen Elizabeth I for making (or, more likely, having somebody else make) the first cherry pie — at least according to the American Pie Council’s brief history of pies.
English settlers brought their pie-making skills to our shores, and because apple trees grew well in the original colonies and the fruit was easy to preserve year-round, it was probably they who developed our nation’s most emblematic dessert — “as American as apple pie.”
Over the years, bakers in other parts of the country began making pies from whatever ingredients were common in their regions — peaches in Georgia, Key limes in Florida, blueberries in Maine. The Midwest developed dairy-based cream pies, and in other places, sugary confections like chess pie, shoofly pie, and pecan pie, as well as pies topped with meringue, were created.
Today, pie shops, bakeries, diners, and cafés all over America make delicious pies — sometimes classic, sometimes innovative. In assembling this list, 24/7 Tempo has focused on purveyors who specialize in pies, even though they often produce other sweet treats as well and may also, in some cases, serve full meals. (Even if they’re not on this list, you’ll almost certainly find plenty of good pies at the best diners in every state.)
Some of these places may offer savory as well as sweet pies. Some hew closely to tradition, while others get creative. Whatever the particulars, all the establishments included here make extraordinary pies, and many rank among the 40 best pie shops in America.
In order to determine the best pie shop in every state, 24/7 Tempo compiled a list of pie shops, bakeries, and pastry shops that are rated highest on Yelp. From that selection, we chose the highest-ranked examples at which pies are the specialty or main focus or which are particularly well-known for their pies even though they may also sell other kinds of food. To narrow down the choices, we also consulted reviews and roundups from a wide range of authoritative websites, including those of Zagat, Food & Wine, Eater, Thrillist, and The Daily Meal, making the final choice editorially based on a combination of sources.