Homemade pie crust is the best option when you are baking pies, and although they can sometimes be intimidating to make, it only takes a little practice to get the technique of making a very flaky pie crust down. That being said, ready made pie crusts are very convenient and can be a time-saving solution for many bakers who want to put together a pie quickly. Ready-made pie crusts aren’t known for being particularly tasty, however, and often lack the flavor and flakiness that you find in a from-scratch pie crust. Since this is pie season, Cook’s Country wanted to give ready-made pie crusts a taste test to see if any would be both convenient and delicious.
They taste tested shells plain, in pumpkin pies and double crust apple pies, looking for flavor, texture, capacity and handling. They wanted the crust to be convenient and easy to work with – since that is the draw of the pre-made crust in the first place – so they did not review any crust mixes, which actually require the same amount of work as a homemade crust.
The test kitchen ended up with one crust earning the “Recommended” designation, the Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Dough. This frozen dough comes in a roll and can be fit ti your own pie plate. The dough had a good flavor and a tender texture, and took the highest marks from the taste-testers.
Many pie crusts came “Recommended with Reservations,” including the Wholly Wholesome Pie Shell, which came fitted to a pie plate, because it had a very low capacity and wouldn’t hold the filling for a standard 9-inch pie recipe. Others in this group included Pillsbury Pie Crusts, which were easy to handle but not very tasty and Marie Callender’s Deep Dish Pie Shells, which had a great texture but little flavor. The Pet-Ritz Pie Crusts by Pillsbury, Mrs Smith’s Deep Dish and Oronoque Orchards Pie Crusts were all a bit bland and turned mushy when filled with pumpkin filling. The lowest ranked pie crust was the Immaculate Baking Co Ready-to-Bake Crust, which received a “Not Recommended” designation, because tasters found that it had an unpleasant sour taste and “deadly aftertaste.”
In short, the ready made pie crusts tend to lack in flavor, although some do will deliver a good texture when baked. Cook’s Country recommends using them only for single crust pies, as the crusts tended not to be large enough to really cover a double crust pie and none of the brands created a tight seal between layers of crust. And since you are tasting a lot of crust in a double crust pie, you will really notice the lack of flavor in those desserts if you don’t take the time to use a from-scratch crust.