The Marie Callender's brand has come a long way from its humble origins as a home business, which began in 1948. Its first pie and coffee shop opened in 1964 and expanded into a retail empire. While only 27 restaurants remain in the chain, the retail sector of this brand continues to be popular, selling everything from pot pies to dinners. It continues to shine brightest back where it all began, with its arsenal of pre-made frozen pies from scratch.
Nothing can replace a homemade pie, but if you are in a pinch and need a quick, delicious dessert to serve that will not disappoint, these pies are for you. We had the opportunity to sample 12 of Marie Callender's signature staples, including some that needed to be baked and a few ready-to-eat when thawed options.
While we enjoyed most of them, we had some we were more enthusiastic about. Our rankings from least to most favorite were based on how easily they went from the freezer to your table, what they looked like, their texture, and, most importantly, flavor. We will note that our frozen pies arrived partially thawed and were set vertically, which caused some of them to become somewhat disfigured.
Read more: 17 Mistakes To Avoid When Baking Cupcakes
Razzleberry Fruit Pie
The Razzleberry Fruit Pie landed at the bottom of our list for several reasons. This pie combines raspberries and blackberries in a traditional double pie crust. It needs to be thawed and baked for 65 to 70 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Strictly judging based on how well it baked according to packaging directions, this pie succeeded.
Where it had issues was texture and flavor. The crust itself tasted fine but was rather bland. We would have enjoyed at least some cinnamon to help brighten things up. The bottom layer of the crust also got very soggy in the thawing and baking process, which made it more like a pot pie with a berry soup underneath.
The biggest issue we had with this pie was the filling. The flavor was exceedingly tart and lacked seasonings like vanilla or spices. And the texture was a disaster. One bite and our teeth were inundated with seeds. This pie should be served with either toothpicks or dental floss as an accompaniment, and we would probably not purchase or offer it to guests.
Banana Cream Pie
Next to last on our ranking of Marie Callender's was the Banana Cream Pie. This was one that only needed to be thawed and then served. As far as convenience is concerned, this pie is quick and easy to pull out for a last-minute treat. Its execution left a lot to be desired.
First, the crust was somewhat soggy, which may have more to do with the fact that it arrived already partially thawed than anything else. What was more of an issue was how bland the crust was. There was absolutely no flavor. You could have put this pie on cardboard, and it would have tasted virtually the same.
As far as the filling is concerned, this is where the pie failed in our estimation. The ratio of banana to cream was way off, with hardly any banana and too much cream. The banana itself had little banana flavor and was somewhat runny in texture. The cream tasted like synthetic whipped cream and was extremely sweet. Again, we would likely not purchase this or serve it to guests at future gatherings.
Chocolate Satin Pie
Another flavor that lacked nuance for us was the Chocolate Satin Pie. This pie has a chocolate cookie crumb crust, a chocolate cake-like filling, and a whipped topping dotted with little chocolate chips. This was another one of the quick and easy offerings that just needed to be thawed before serving. We noticed this pie appeared quite weepy, and the top was somewhat damaged. This likely resulted from how it was delivered to us, so we will not blame the pie.
The crust of the pie tasted fine, but that's about it. There wasn't anything exciting about it. It was like an Oreo cookie knockoff that had been crushed and turned into a somewhat soggy crust. The filling was something between a chocolate mousse and a pudding. It had a strange texture and lacked a rich chocolate flavor.
And the whipped topping layer is the same synthetic whipped cream we disliked on top of the Banana Cream Pie. It is overly sweet, chemically, and has a pasty mouthfeel. The chocolate chips on top were unnecessary and didn't do anything to improve or enhance this pie.
Lattice Peach Pie
The Lattice Peach Pie is another one of the pies intended to be thawed and baked for approximately an hour until the lattice crust is golden brown. As with the others, this pie was delivered on its side, which caused the filling to ooze a bit. This did not negatively affect the final product once it was baked.
Our impression of the crust was that it had a decent texture but was somewhat bland. We also noticed that the edges began to get quite dark while the center needed more time to bake. We decided to cover the pie with aluminum foil about 20 minutes into baking to prevent it from burning. The bottom layer of the crust also got a touch soggy in the process.
The filling was pleasantly peachy. Its flavor was fine, if not a touch underseasoned. While the peaches themselves were a bit toothsome, we didn't mind this. We liked that the fruit wasn't completely mushy. It made it feel more like fresh fruit rather than a canned filling. While it wasn't our favorite pie, it was perfectly serviceable. Topped with some vanilla ice cream, we could see serving this one again.
Lattice Apple Pie
Like the peach flavor, the Lattice Apple Pie was intended to thaw and bake for approximately an hour. We encountered the same issues with this pie as with the peach in terms of the edges beginning to burn before the center was fully baked through and the oozing filling due to being delivered partially thawed and laying on its side. We remedied this by covering it with aluminum foil halfway through baking the pie.
The crust was similarly bland compared with a homemade pie, but decent. This one was slightly less soggy on the bottom than the peach was. This was also the first pie with any actual seasoning, which we welcomed. The apple filling has cinnamon, which enhances this pie's overall appeal. Again, the apples were a touch al dente, which we did not mind. It made the pie feel more homemade than store-bought. Overall, this was a good pie, but not our favorite.
Southern Pecan Pie
Another of the thaw-and-serve pies was the Southern Pecan Pie flavor. This was the first pie that we felt was quite well executed. Most store-bought pecan pies have hardly any nuts and a filling that is more like a gooey, gelatinous caramel than anything else. This pie was chock full of pecans. The pecan filling was not overly sweet and did not stick to your teeth like taffy. It was relatively creamy but firm enough to hold its shape.
The only issue we had with it was that it lacked seasoning. A good pecan pie should have plenty of brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. This pie is made with corn syrup rather than brown sugar, and if there was any flavoring or spice, you couldn't taste it.
As far as the crust is concerned, it was fine. It was not the most sophisticated, tender, buttery, flaky crust we have ever eaten, but not terrible. This would be a great option if someone wants to complement a Thanksgiving meal with one more pie they didn't have to make from scratch. We'd suggest popping it in the microwave to heat it and serving it with some good vanilla ice cream.
Lattice Cherry Pie
The Lattice Cherry Pie had the same issues with baking as the other two lattice pies. The edges of the pie began to burn before the center, prompting us to cover it with foil halfway through the baking process. This pie also had some oozing issues. We were clairvoyant enough to place these on a baking sheet before putting them in the oven to avoid a fire or mess, which was good, as this pie began overflowing and cherry juice got all over it. This did not adversely impact the final baked product.
Our assessment of the pie crust is consistent with other flavors. It was decent but slightly under-seasoned, and the bottom layer became somewhat soggy. The filling of this pie was a classic tart cherry. While it tasted somewhat like a canned cherry filling, it was still tasty. The addition of cherry juice from concentrate helped to amp up the flavor. Though cherry is not our favorite, this was a well-executed pie and was very popular with a cross-section of the sampling group.
Dutch Apple Pie
It is hard to mess up a Dutch Apple Pie, and this one is no exception. This ready-to-thaw and bake pie comes with a packet of streusel topping, which gets sprinkled on top for about 10 minutes before removing the pie from the oven. The crust of this pie is quite a bit more flavorful than others. It is also not overly soggy on the bottom.
The filling is similar to the lattice apple variety, with the apples being a touch on the al dente side but not overly so. These apples are seasoned with cinnamon and sugar, which help to give the crust a bit more nuance. It is thick without being gummy.
Where this pie shone was the brown sugar and spice streusel topping. This was delightful. It gave the pie a wonderful crunchy texture on top and a far more complex flavor than any of the other pies, with what we could only assess as classic fall spices. The exact spice blend used is not listed on the ingredient label. We would purchase this pie again.
Coconut Cream Pie
We did not expect this pie to rank as highly as it did. Coconut is not our favorite flavor, nor are we overly fond of cream pies. That said, this Coconut Cream Pie was outstanding. This was another of the thaw-and-eat varieties, which is quick and easy. It had a good balance of coconut custard to whipped topping, unlike the banana iteration.
The crust on this pie remained suitably flaky and not soggy, which we attribute to the fact that this pie didn't get as weepy as the others did after thawing. Its flavor was still a bit boring, but that didn't matter. The rest of the pie had plenty of flavor to offset it. As one person put it, the crust is just a vessel for filling.
The coconut custard had a nice texture, not gummy or overly watery. It also had a great coconut flavor that was perfectly sweetened. Although the whipped topping had the same synthetic taste as it did on the other cream pie, there was far less of it, which made it less intrusive. And the toasted shredded coconut on top helped to give it more flavor and a great contrast in texture.
The Turtle Pie was a dilemma. We had a panel of several taste testers, about a third of whom were underwhelmed with this pie, while the remaining group ranked it in first or second place of the pies sampled. For this reason, we put it in third place. There is no denying that it is a decadent chocolate dessert. Those who weren't as impressed with it just felt it was more like a cake or candy bar than pie.
The base is the same pseudo-Oreo cookie crust as the Chocolate Satin Pie but less soggy, which makes it more palatable. The filling was a more dense mousse-like texture made of milk chocolate. It was definitely on the sweeter side. This was one of the bones of contention between the two camps. For some, it was cloying. For others, it was perfection. Perhaps this illustrates how subjective taste can be.
On top of this pie was a layer of caramel, pecans, and dollops of whipped topping dotted with chocolate chips. The caramel and pecans were a nice textural change of pace, and the whipped topping was just a garnish, making it less overwhelming than it was in the cream pies. For chocolate lovers, this pie will hit you in your sweet spot.
Cherry Crunch Pie
Like the Dutch Apple, the thaw-and-bake Cherry Crunch Pie came with a packet of streusel topping to be added in the last ten minutes of baking. And like the Cherry Lattice pie, this one also had an oozing problem in the oven, which we mitigated by placing the pie on a baking sheet to capture any overflow. This is distinct from the cherry pie flavors, as the filling tends to be more loose and juicy.
These minor considerations aside, this pie was near or at the top of every taste tester's list. The crust stayed crisper than most, and the cherry filling was a delightful balance of sweet and tart. As noted with the Dutch Apple Pie, the streusel topping is marvelous and redolent of brown sugar and spices, which gave this pie a satisfying crunch on top that pushed it over the edge. We would absolutely purchase this pie again.
Key Lime Pie
The pie with the most number one rankings, including from taste testers born in Florida, was the Key Lime Pie. Key lime is not an easy pie to execute. Most store-bought or restaurant versions do not use real key limes. They are artificially colored to have an odd green hue and taste overly sugary. Real key lime pie should be pale yellow and not overly sweet, with the tartness of the key limes shining through.
This pie is a thaw-and-bake variety with a graham cracker crust. The crust on this was fabulous. It wasn't soggy, overly sweet, and held together nicely. The lime custard filling was the correct color, and the flavor wasn't cloying. We might have enjoyed a hint of more lime juice, but at least this was the real deal.
Our only minor criticism of the filling was that the custard was more creamy and not firm. Typically, key lime pie has a more flan-like custard. That said, this is being overly nitpicky. The whipped topping rosettes were an accent and did not detract from the overall appeal of this pie. We would purchase this pie again in a heartbeat and recommend it to others.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.