I’m a diehard pie guy. As executive director of the American Pie Council (yes, really) and spokesperson for Colorado-born National Pie Day, I’ve taught pie making, judged dozens of pie contests, and written about pie for decades. Whoever came up with the phrase “as easy as pie” clearly had never made a pie. Making pie—and especially the crust—is a craft that only gets “easy” when you’ve made dozens and dozens of pies. And even with a lot of practice, many experienced bakers end up serving undercooked soggy bottoms, cardboardlike top crusts, and runny fillings.
So it’s no wonder that so many of us suffer the symptoms of chronic crustophobia. The answer to this flaky anxiety is to leave the pie baking to the experts. Luckily, all along the Front Range, great independently owned bake shops stand ready to supply you with an array of traditional and inventive pies.
Keep in mind: There are some significant challenges to securing that perfect pie this year, including supply and labor shortages and higher demand due to the increase in Thanksgiving gatherings. That’s why it’s best to order your pies well in advance; each bakery has an ordering deadline and some limit the number of pies they bake. Here, some of our favorite ways to get a local pie in time for the holiday.
Bubby Goober’s Baked Goods
Wife-and-wife owners Jennifer Tom and Corrie Sharp have taken Bubby Goober’s from a small cottage foods business to a busy, pickup-only bakery specializing in five-inch personal pies. The couple’s holiday box sampler features six classic flavors: salted caramel apple; butterscotch pumpkin; pear bourbon with chai-spice glaze; cherry amaretto; Black & Bluebarb (blackberry, blueberry, and rhubarb); and winter fruit. Bonus: All of Bubby Goobers offerings can be made gluten-free. Order online by November 19; 2400 Curtis St., 720-837-9461
Devil’s Food Bakery
With a name like Devil’s Food, this Washington Park institution is beloved for chocolate chip cookies, pain au chocolate, chocolate cakes with chocolate frosting, brownies and chocolate mint sandwich cookies. For Thanksgiving, its focus is on feast necessities such as nine-inch pumpkin pies and double-crusted or crumb-topped apple pies. Yeasted dinner rolls (perfect for those roast turkey sandwiches), brunch-ready meat and vegetable quiches, buttermilk biscuits, and croissants are also available. Order by November 18; 1004 S. Gaylord St., 303-777-9555
The Enchanted Oven
Tucked away in a Broomfield strip mall, the Enchanted Oven is a Japanese-inspired bakery dishing everything from elaborately decorated special occasion cakes to bento box meals (available on Wednesdays). For Thanksgiving gatherings, the bakery offers pumpkin and apple pies, apple and banana cream tarts, along with sides dishes like kabocha squash soup, biscuits and dinner rolls. Pick up a few of the bakery’s steamed pork buns to tuck in the freezer for later. Order by November 18; 520 Zang St., Suite M, Broomfield, 303-537-4864
Granny Scott’s Pie Shop
The 27-year-old Lakewood mainstay Granny Scott’s Pie Shop has a menu of over 30 pies, which counts as the largest variety available in the Denver metro area. Choose from classic fillings such as pumpkin, pecan, caramel apple, cherry or banana cream; or try more creative ones like Swiss chocolate mousse or grasshopper. Four varieties of savory quiche are also available. Order by November 19; 3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Ste. C-107, Lakewood, 303-986-6240
This year, owner-baker John Hinman is offering six- and nine-inch toffee pecan and salted maple pies, plus traditional apple, cherry, and pumpkin varieties. For post-Thanksgiving Day meals when nobody feels like cooking, Hinman’s double-crusted chicken pot pie and pork green chile fill the bill. A portion of each pie sale through Thanksgiving benefits CHOW, an organization Hinman co-launched to support mental wellness in the Denver hospitality community. Order by November 22; 5604 Kendall Ct., Arvada, 720-271-4975 (select varieties are also for sale at Leevers Locavore, Tony’s Meats, the Post Brewing Co. in Lafayette, and Your Butcher Frank in Longmont, and via Boulder County Farmers’ Market’s pickup program)
A beloved brunch destination, the Huckleberry is also a trusted Louisville source for fresh pastries, breads, cookies, cakes—and pies. As it has for 27 years, the restaurant will offer six- and nine-inch peach huckleberry, cherry, apple crumble, and pumpkin pies, as well as a scrumptious chocolate bourbon pecan variety. Gluten-free and vegan pies are also available. Order by November 21; 700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020
Katherine’s French Bakery & Café
Since Katherine’s is a French-inspired patisserie, it offers butter-crusted tarts (not pies). Flavors available this Thanksgiving include fruit, pecan, pumpkin with pecan-cinnamon streusel, and Key lime with whipped cream. The bakery’s Thanksgiving menu also has turkey-shaped butter cookies, French-inspired cinnamon rolls, ham- and cheese-filled croissants, and goat cheese and leek quiches. Order by November 21; 728 S. University Blvd., 303-282-5888
Mermaids has gained a following for its over-the-top cookies, moist cupcakes, and chewy, gluten-free coconut macaroons. For the holidays, the downtown bakery’s regulars line up for apple, cherry, peach, pumpkin, and pecan pies. Other nine-inch crusted wonders range from a Key lime silk and lemon silk pie to a decadent Midwestern favorite—Buckeye pie with chocolate cream, peanut butter cups and whipped cream. Order by November 19; 1543 Champa St., Denver, 303-534-0956
Pie in the Sky
Pie in the Sky is an annual fundraiser for Project Angel Heart, the long-serving Denver nonprofit that delivers free meals to Coloradans facing life-threatening diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Each purchase of a cinnamon streusel-topped apple pie or Southern pecan pie enables the organization to deliver three free meals to a Coloradan in need. Order online by November 18; pickup locations in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Greenwood Village, Lakewood, Littleton, and Thornton.
For Thanksgiving, Restaurant Olivia’s chef Ty Leon is baking brown butter pumpkin and chocolate pecan pies and caramel apple crisp. Dinner packages are also available featuring roast turkey and beef bourguignon with the trimmings. Order by November 19; 290 S. Downing St., Denver, 303-999-0395
Safta’s talented pastry chef Liliana Myers is baking four types of pie for November 25 feasts: heirloom pumpkin, bourbon pecan, apple baharat, and chocolate pecan. For holiday morning brunches, add a pumpkin babka loaf. Order ASAP (quantities are limited); 3330 Brighton Blvd., 720-408-2444
Shamane’s Bakery & Cafe
While pastry chef Shamane Simons’ pie menu showcases seasonal favorites like maple pecan, sweet potato, chocolate ginger, and pumpkin—the shop has everything from apple cranberry and sea salt caramel apple crumble pies to lemon meringue tarts and fruit and cheese galettes. Simons also dishes a fine quiche Lorraine with smoked bacon, Gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions. Pair it with chocolate chip banana bread, fruit morning buns, or cheese Danishes. Order online by November 15; 2825 Wilderness Place, Ste. 800, Boulder, 303-417-9338
Sugar Bakeshop and Coffee House
Downtown residents and workers have made Sugar Bakeshop a regular stop to satisfy sweet cravings for Popsters, a beautifully glazed riff on the Pop Tart in flavors like brown sugar maple and red raspberry pistachio. This holiday season, Sugar is also serving full-size Dutch caramel apple, pumpkin, pecan, and pear cranberry pies, as well as a full roster of cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls. Gluten-free, vegan, and keto-friendly goodies are also available. Order by November 19; 277 Broadway, Denver, 720-458-5432
Tip Top Savory Pies
Tip Top chef-owner Christine Carr is baking five-inch, New Zealand–style pies stuffed with roasted buttery pumpkin and a Thanksgiving-inspired combination of roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Sweet apple brown butter and cherry pies—along with varieties stuffed with popular savory fillings like steak and ale and cauliflower tikka—are also available (stock your freezer with a few frozen ones). Do-it-yourselfers can also buy the bakery’s pastry by the sheet. Order by November 18; 105 N. Public Rd., Lafayette, 720-845-2155; 6565 Gunpark Dr., Boulder, 720-379-3670
Wave the Grain
Wave the Grain in Centennial produces exclusively gluten-free breads and pastries, with dairy-free and vegan options thrown in for good measure. We recommend the pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate pecan, coconut cream, Key lime, caramel apple pies. Don’t forget to order gluten-free sourdough rolls, jumbo cupcakes, cheesecakes and cinnamon rolls, too. Order by November 17; 8172 S. Holly St., Centennial, 303-721-7547
John Lehndorff is the former Executive Director of the American Pie Council, Chief Judge at the National Pie Championships and spokesperson for National Pie Day, January 23. He founded the Global Pie Society group: facebook.com/groups/piekind