Over the weekend, I bought myself a pumpkin spice candle. And even though the temps are still pushing 90 here in Austin, when I’m sitting at the desk in my home office with those warm spicy scents keeping me company, well, I’m fully in a fall state of mind. Which is why it felt like the perfect time to finally share this pie baking party that I had with my mom and Phoebe a few months back (yes, we shot Thanksgiving in May. It was weird.) Since we got an advance peek at Target’s fall kitchen and décor collections, we had no choice but to break it in with some major fall baking. Since my mom happens to be an expert pie baker, I wanted to get all her Thanksgiving pie tips in advance so I’d be ready for baking success this season.

So, our first annual pie party was born! This concept is such a fun get-together with a few family members before the holidays or an excuse to rally your girl gang during the busyness of the season. All you need is a couple of great family recipes (my mom’s famous buttermilk pie is linked below), plus some essential ingredients… and this beautiful pie plate never hurts either. (Also, mulled wine.) Scroll on for a Thanksgiving pie tips for baking success just in time for Thanksgiving, plus all the fall baking supplies my kitchen is loving this season.

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The secret to perfect pie crust

Our secret is… just use store-bought! Haha, after many attempts, we’ve finally realized that store-bought crust is just as good as the one we make homemade. And you know what, it’s totally delicious and so much easier. Just make sure to thaw the crust in the fridge before you’re ready to use it, then keep it chilled. 

Now is a great time to give your pie baking a test run—according to this poll, 94% of Americans end their Thanksgiving meal with a pie! So, we’ve got some baking in our future, and no one in your household will be mad about the scents of fall pies wafting through your kitchen in the weeks leading up to the big day.

Stock up on your baking essentials in advance

Now is the perfect time to grab your flour, sugar, and more butter than you think you’ll need… plus whatever filling (hello 100% pure canned pumpkin) and frozen crust you’re planning to use. Those basic ingredients can suddenly be surprisingly hard to find the day before Thanksgiving, and buying them now ensures you’ll have everything on hand if an impromptu practice session sounds fun one chilly fall day.

Master the blind bake

This is a Thanksgiving pie tip that takes a little extra effort, but it’s worth it. If you’re making a custard-based pie (like a classic pumpkin!), it’s often a good idea to blind bake the crust first. It sounds like an expert move, but “blind baking” really just means to let it bake for awhile before you add the filling. Here are the steps to blind baking a pie crust:

  1. Fit your unbaked pie crust into your pie dish.
  2. Line it with parchment or foil.
  3. Fill it with something that will weigh it down so it doesn’t puff up in the oven, like dried beans.
  4. When the crust is set and the edges start to turn golden, remove it from the oven, set the beans aside, and let it bake for a few more minutes so the bottom can turn a bit golden.
  5. All of this should happen in about 15 minutes, then you’re ready to fill er up.

Freshly grated nutmeg and zest is worth the effort

It’s really just a tiny bit of effort that goes a long way. My mom always keeps a fresh nutmeg on hand, and busts out her microplane grater to add a fine dusting of beautifully spicy nutmeg to the top of this pie. Ditto with a bit of orange zest to top a pumpkin pie, or lemon for tossing with apples before baking. It’s that extra bit of zing and freshness that makes the warm flavors of fall really sing.

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Cut out shapes for a next-level fall pie crust

Use cookie cutters to create seasonal shapes for topping your pie—just brush them with a little egg wash and bake until golden. It’s a great way to use up your dough scraps, and also makes a great little snack. Here are some other tips and ideas for making a beautiful Thanksgiving pie crust.

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Create some fall memories

Memory-making is really the whole point of the pie baking party, after all. Spending an afternoon with my mom and my daughter was one of those multigenerational moments that made me so grateful for family, and also a little in awe of the fact that now it’s up to me to intentionally create holiday memories for my kids. There’s something about being in the kitchen together, making something delicious to share and swapping Thanksgiving pie tips and holiday stories the entire time. Go ahead and bust out the matching aprons, find your grandmother’s old cookbook, lean into all the traditions you can remember, or create some new ones. And don’t forget to take a few photos!

Here are our pie crust cut-outs fresh out of the oven—ready to top a pie, or be eaten out of hand!

Click here for my mom’s buttermilk pie recipe!

It’s so good, it just might become a family tradition for you, too.

Got any Thanksgiving pie tips to share for baking success this season? Drop them in the comments.

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