pecan pie and pumpkin pie
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Pumpkin pie and pecan pie: Both worthy additions to a Thanksgiving dessert table. But which one wins the top spot?

“Well, I definitely want to make a pecan pie,” my sister-in-law declared.

My mom, my sister-in-law, and I were discussing which desserts to serve after Thanksgiving dinner. My mom and I had been confident in our assumption that pumpkin pie was a given, and so we were taken aback by sister-in-law’s statement.

Outsource DessertThe Best Holiday Treats to Have DeliveredPecan pie? My mom and I looked at each other. “Sure, I mean, we’re a pretty small group this year; I don’t know if we’ll eat two whole pies, but, okay, we can do that…” I reasoned, more to convince myself. Why would we need pecan pie when we would have pumpkin? Why would we serve some other pie alongside the shining star of Thanksgiving pies?

We bought the ingredients for both pies, though I was suspicious of the dark corn syrup; pumpkin pie used familiar ingredients, and now pecan pie was bringing corn syrup into the equation! Both pies were baked, and after dinner I had a small slice of each. Well, it turns out (and it’s probably not a surprise for most people) that pecan pie is incredible! It was so good! It had creamy, it had crunchy; it was sweet, it was a little savory. It was so much better than I expected!

My sister-in-law’s family is from the South, and her family tradition was to always have pecan pie at Thanksgiving. My tradition was to always have pumpkin pie. So which pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie?

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Round 1: Personal Traditions – Tie!

Pecan–Sweet Potato Pie recipe


It’s subjective! We’ll have to call this round a tie—I shouldn’t let my own personal leanings decide which pie wins Thanksgiving. There are all kinds of traditions out there, and so I shouldn’t deem my own to be best, solely because it’s familiar. For example, my friend from Mississippi thinks sweet potato pie is the Thanksgiving pie. Even though that sounds like a crazy bunch of nonsense to me, I respect her tradition, and truly, I wouldn’t turn down a slice of sweet potato pie any other day. If you are so inclined to include a third pie in your own personal Thanksgiving bake-off, try our sweet potato pie recipe.

Related Reading: Cooking Novice? Thanksgiving for Beginners Guide

Round 2: Here First – Pumpkin Pie

make ahead pumpkin pie


Back to our two contenders: pumpkin and pecan. Even if we discount the portions of pumpkin pie history which refer to boiling pumpkin in milk, filling pie crust with pumpkin and apple, or using a hollowed out pumpkin instead of a crust, it looks like pumpkin pie in its closer-to-modern form came about in the 1700s. The history of pecan pie reveals that its existence began later, in the 1800s at earliest. Unless we’re playing by ‘first is the worst’ rules (rules by which I refuse to abide!) pumpkin pie wins this round.

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Round 3: Dessert-ier – Pecan Pie

chocolate pecan pie recipe


It’s good to eat healthfully, and it’s important to be aware of the nutritional value of the foods you consume. It’s just…I don’t think Thanksgiving is about all that. Maybe it should be—more power to you if you create a healthy Thanksgiving dinner menu, or if you exercise even minimal portion control. If so, you’re amazing! But for my ruling of which pie is the dessert-ier option, I’m going to have to go with big, bad pecan pie weighing in at 503 calories and 27 grams of fat per slice. Pumpkin pie comes in at a paltry 316 calories and 14 grams of fat—it’s nearly a vegetable! And if you are going to give into sweet temptation, you might as well try our chocolate pecan pie recipe, which adds irresistible elements of bourbon and chocolate.

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The Tie-Breaker: Charlie Brown – Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Crust recipe


In “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” when that blockhead botched his friends’ Thanksgiving dinner (what else is new?), which pie does Peppermint Patty lament missing? That’s right, pumpkin pie! This is the quintessential Thanksgiving pie, at least according to Charlie Brown’s social circle—not a peep about pecan. And so, pumpkin pie wins this one. Try our perfect pumpkin pie recipe to avoid a misstep like Charlie Brown’s.

Using these standard pie-judging categories, we have come out with pumpkin pie as the winning pie of Thanksgiving. No hard feelings, though, pecan pie—you’re a stellar, stand-up pie, and anybody would be lucky to have a slice of you at the conclusion of their Thanksgiving dinner. And (now hear me out) maybe the best way to reconcile this feud would be to marry these two stars, and bake this pecan streusel pumpkin pie recipe for your guests. That way everybody wins!

Related Reading: 13 Delicious Twists on Traditional Pumpkin Pie | The Best Way to Store Pie

Or, let’s be real, more likely nobody wins, since we can all be pretty stubborn about our favorite traditions. So, I take it back: pumpkin pie it shall be.

Related Video: How to Make an Easy Pumpkin Pie

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Emily, a Chicago native (okay, okay, born and raised in the 'burbs), loves being able to bike to and from her job at a tech company. After hours, you can find her walking her rescue pup (he's a good boy), taking French classes (voulez-vous un macaron?), and thoroughly enjoying her city's excellent restaurants and bars. She lives for the Chopped-style thrill of creating the perfect meal from limited and oddball ingredients.
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