Which grocery store makes the best pumpkin pie? Let's find out.
When a colleague suggested a grocery store pumpkin pie taste test — a la our rotisserie chicken taste test from earlier this year — I couldn't resist.
Pumpkin pies are a staple at nearly every grocery store this time of year, and just like the chickens, although you might think they are all alike, they are actually quite different.
I picked up pies from half a dozen grocery stores and baked one using the recipe from the Libby's can, which turned out to be a mistake, but more on that below.
Some had gummy crusts; other had thick, nicely spiced fillings; one tasted more like baby food than what you'd expect at Thanksgiving dinner.
You can watch the livestream for the full results, but here is how my colleagues ranked the pies, from best to worst.
Randalls: Randalls sells half-pies for $4.99 each, and tasters were surprised to find such a well-spiced filling in what tasted like a homemade, buttery crust.
Sprouts: Sprouts sells a slightly smaller pie than the rest of the competition for $4.99, but the 8-inch pie was filled with cinnamon and what tasters noted was a significant amount of allspice.
Central Market: Nutmeg was the predominant flavor in Central Market's pumpkin pie, which retails for $10.99. Tasters also noted a more "pumpkin-y" flavor and good texture.
Whole Foods: The extra thick filling in Whole Foods' pie is what knocked it down in the overall list, but tasters liked the crust and color of the pie, which costs $10.99.
H-E-B: H-E-B's 8-inch pie was the least expensive in the taste test — $3.48 — but not everyone loved the texture of the filling. The crust was also quite thick and dense.
Homemade: The Libby's pumpkin pie recipe calls for 1 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, which wasn't nearly enough to flavor the filling. The directions also specified not par-baking the crust, which left the bottom layer of crust unbaked. You'll need to bake the pie for longer than the instructions call for, too, around an hour at 350 degrees after baking for the first 15 minutes at 425 degrees. I used a pie crust shield to prevent the rim of the crust from burning.
Wheatsville: The 8-inch Wheatsville pie, which cost $9.99, had a bitter taste in the filling that turned off many tasters.
You'll notice that Fiesta isn't on this list. The clear winner in our rotisserie chicken taste test didn't have any pumpkin pies at the 38th Street store when I stopped by this morning. The baker said they hadn't started receiving holiday shipments of the pumpkin pies just yet, but if the pie is anything like the chicken, it likely would have been a contender.