Pie is a near perfect food. OK, OK -- we’ll just say it: pie is a perfect food. There are savory pies and sweet ones, fruit-filled pies and custard pies. There are pies with heightened domes, as well as pies with intricate lattice. Pies can be hand-held or colossal, delicately crafted by your grandmother or mass-produced by a fast food conglomerate. Yes, pies have made it to just about every fast food chain; the perfect dessert to end a feast of burgers and fried chicken.
In the spirit of the holidays, which is the ultimate season for pie, I decided to set out on a journey to try pies from several major fast food chains to discover which pies are the best. Here’s what I gathered:
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Popeyes Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie
I’ve already written about this pie once in great detail, but I’m willing to do it again because that’s how good it is. To be upfront, I’m not typically a fan of pumpkin pie. I find it to be too sweet, lacking in texture, and too perfumey from nutmeg and cinnamon. The Popeyes version, however, wins out in several ways.
For starters, it’s deep fried -- rather than baked -- and therefore has a wonderful crunch. The pumpkin puree is stuffed alongside tangy cream cheese filling, so there’s a balance of sweet and cheesy that is pleasant and mellows out the overwhelming spiciness from the pumpkin. The entire thing is rolled in cinnamon sugar, which also provides another textural element. This is a solid pie for those, like me, who don’t like pumpkin pie, but are trying to get into the fall spirit.
McDonald’s Baked Apple Pie
How much needs to be said about McDonald’s apple pie that hasn’t already been said? It’s cinnamony, it’s flaky, it’s buttery, and it is an ideal fast food pie. Though McDonald’s has experimented with bringing other types of pie, including a delicious custard pie in the winter and an appealing strawberry and cream pie in the summer, nothing hits the spot quite like McDonald’s classic apple. These days, it’s baked rather than fried, but thankfully, the pastry is still flaky, crunchy, and crusted over with sugar. It’s a delicious apple pie and quite possibly the best in fast food.
Burger King Snickers Pie
Burger King is the only fast food chain that’s experimenting with candy-based pies. Alongside the Snickers pie, it also has a Twix one (though I opted for Snickers because it has peanuts and Snickers in general is the superior candy). Expect a whipped caramel filling topped with clusters of chopped Snickers all on a chocolate cookie pie crust. The downside is that the pie is extremely soft, including the peanuts, which is a little disappointing when it comes to something as texturally layered as a Snickers bar. Also, yes, it’s shockingly sweet, but will satisfy both your pie and candy bar craving in one.
KFC Pot Pie
This is the sleeper hit of this list. I have never gone to a KFC and thought to myself, “Hmm, I’d actually rather have a pot pie than fried chicken.” The smell of KFC itself lures those thirsting for battered chicken, not lusting after gravy and carrots and peas. But wow, after eating this I might reconsider everything I’ve ever thought about KFC in general.
This chicken pot pie shattered any and all expectations I had of it. The crust is buttery, flaky, and genuinely perfect. The shredded chicken, peas, carrots, celery, and potatoes that are crammed in this alarmingly large pie find themselves swimming in a well-seasoned gravy that is just thick enough -- not too runny, not too gluey. I cannot believe I haven’t had it sooner; it might just be one of the best things at KFC, if not the best thing.
Jollibee Peach Mango Pie
I said it once in my Jollibee menu mega ranking, and I’ll repeat it here: this is the ultimate fast food pie. The pastry shell is ribbed with blisters from a bath in hot oil and is so crunchy it shatters upon impact. The filling is sweet and tropical, a balance of peach and mango filling akin to heavenly derived nectar. Everything about this pie is good and no other fast food chain makes anything quite like it. Order it and thank me later.
Popeyes Pecan Pie
I didn’t grow up with pecan pie so my first experience with it was life-changing. I was mesmerized by the nuttiness, the gooey and buttery filling, the crispy topping born of high heat in an oven. Popeyes' version isn’t as good as the slice you’ll get at your diner or local bakery, but it’s not bad for $2.71 at a fast food chain. You’ll still get a buttery and gooey filling, pecans, and an inoffensive pie crust. I do wish there were more nuts and that the filling was a little less sweet, but it’s an otherwise solid pecan pie that no other chain has.
Arby’s Cherry Turnover
Cherry isn’t the fruit pie I would normally select if given options. There’s apple and peach and lemon meringue that are almost always tantalizing, whereas cherry can leave me feeling underwhelmed. Arby’s version, however, is extremely pleasing. Its strength lies in the fact that its gooey cherry filling is both sweet and tart, which is necessary when considering the stripes of vanilla glaze that coat the outside of the turnover. Some improvements could be made: the puff pastry for the pie could be a bit flakier and the frosting glaze could be a little less heavy handed. But even without these minor adjustments, this is a good cherry pie.
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Kat Thompson is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.