Celebrate National Pi Day with the best store-bought apple pie in Florida
Even though I went to culinary school, I am not a good or even decent baker. You want a perfectly fluffy French omelet? Yes. A labor-intensive bowl of homemade tender pasta? I’m your girl. A simple apple pie? You might try your luck at McDonald’s drive-through before making a stop at my house.
Pretty much anytime I’m asked to bring a dessert to a potluck or family gathering, I head to the local grocery store bakery to pick up a sweet treat. Knowing that some grocery stores are known for having popular items like the much-loved Publix sub sandwich or Costco’s rotisserie chicken, I got to thinking: Where can I find the best store-bought apple pie? Since National Pie Day is Saturday, March 14., this seemed like a good time to start buying some samples.
I spent a few days picking up a few pies from statewide stores like Kroger, Target, Whole Foods, Publix, Sprouts, Walmart and Trader Joe’s.
The judging criteria was simple:
Which pie was so delicious I could pass it off as something I baked myself?
Which pie was the most worth the price?
How convenient was each dessert to purchase?
For the sake of my own health, I limited my sample size to fresh and not frozen pies. In order from worst to run out and get this pie now, here are the best apple pies you can pick up in any grocery store in Florida.
When I waltzed into Target to pick up this pie (and about a dozen other things I didn’t need), I didn’t have high hopes. Sadly, those were confirmed when I got back home and sunk my fork into the strangely apple-less, $5 apple pie. No exaggeration, the entire dessert had maybe 12 pieces of crunchy flavorless apples in it and the actual pie crust had the consistency of mushy Saltine cracker.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for that homemade flavor, this pie isn’t it.
5. Trader Joe’s
There are very few things that Trader Joe’s doesn’t do well, and sadly, their apple pie is one of them. The actual dessert is beautiful and showcases a lovely lattice pie crust design that I could never recreate in my own kitchen. The actual filling, however, is overly salty and weirdly tart, like the combination of artificial lemon juice and Granny Smith apples.
Bottom line: While this wasn’t my favorite pie, it also isn’t the worst, and if you’re short on time, this pie could be doctored up with a few spoonfuls of brown sugar and a couple dashes of baking spice to help counter the overly sour flavor.
The apple pie at Publix put me in a strange position. It was neither good nor bad — just unremarkable. The filling had more baking spice than almost any other I tested, which I did enjoy, but it also wasn’t so good that I wanted to take another bite.
Bottom line: This is a perfectly acceptable pie to bring to those co-workers of yours that you like, well enough. For anyone else, there are better options.
When I first sliced into Kroger’s pie, I freaked out a little. The crust is thick, like cakey thick, which made me afraid that my mouth was going to get turned into a desert on first bite. But, if you’re into the doughy parts of pie, and I am, the consistency here is a good thing. The flavors are well balanced — not too sweet or salty — with just the right amount of brightness from fresh lemon juice, and the apples aren’t so crunchy that you momentarily mistake them for raw slices.
Bottom line: A perfectly good pie.
After my Target experience, I was less than excited to have to eat another slice of joyless apple pie but Walmart blessedly spared me. Right out of the packaging, this dessert is more than passable as being homemade and tastes like it as well. While I would have liked a bit more nutmeg, for less than $5 am I really going to complain? This was one of the few desserts that I went back for a second helping of.
Bottom line: Pop a slice or two in the oven for a few minutes and top with creamy vanilla ice cream and you’ve got yourself a bonafide treat that you can be proud of.
1. Whole Foods
There is something about walking into a Whole Foods that just makes me want to be a better person. The pie in this luxury market looks every bit homemade. The crust glistens with a coat of egg whitewash and is topped with a generous sprinkle of coarse sugar and spice. Beyond just being aesthetically pleasing, my first bite did not disappoint. My mouth was bursting with ripe apple flavor which was coated in just the right amount of butter. The one drawback of this dessert is the price. Purchasing a half portion set me back $8. But, on the other hand, I could pronounce every ingredient listed on the packaging, so I suppose you get what you pay for.
Bottom line: If you’ve got a little extra cash to burn and value ingredients that don’t sound like a science experiment, this pie is perfect.
Hands down, for the money, this is the best store-bought apple pie there is. In fact, as I’m typing this up, there is a warm bowl of it sitting in my lap. The grocer’s double-baked apple pie is truly divine and strikes that delicate balance between sweet crunchy apples, just the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg and the perfect amount of gooey crust. Also the entire pie costs under $6.
Bottom line: Frankly, I plan on keeping one in my kitchen at all times moving forward.