Texans love their pie, especially pecan pie, the sweet dessert which takes advantage of the toasty, buttery flavor of the popular nut of the Pecan Tree, the official State Tree of the Lone Star State.
“If you’ve ever had fresh pecans, it’s not hard to see why Texans love their pecan pie,” wrote Athena Hessong in TexasHillCountry.com. “Though a single person cannot be pinpointed as creating pecan pie, a recipe for this dessert first appeared in a St. Louis cookbook in 1898, and the credit goes to a Texas woman who submitted it.”
While pumpkin pie gives pecan pie a run for its money at Thanksgiving, and apple pie, blueberry pie, key lime pie, and other flavors all have their fans in Texas, pecan pie is the No. 1 pie in the state.
“Pumpkin pie may reign supreme on Thanksgiving, but the true hero of the dessert table is pecan pie. Unlike its gourd-based friend that falls out of favor after the holiday season, pecan pie remains a popular dessert year-round,” says Eater.
Pecan Pie Recipes Become Popular in the 1920s
Eater says that at the start of the 20th century, recipes for pecan pie started appearing and then surged in popularity in the 1920s.
“That’s when the manufacturer of Karo syrup began printing a recipe for pecan pie on cans of the product, as James McWilliams noted in The Pecan: A History of America's Native Nut. The wide distribution of Karo syrup introduced many people to pecan pie, who found it was quite simple to make,” says Eater.
It wasn’t long before “pecan pie” was a frequent mention in Texas newspapers, especially as the pecans were an inexpensive protein alternative to meat, which was rising in price:
- The Comanche Chief on Aug. 8, 1913, reported: “Any family in Texas can purchase a bushel of pecans from some pecan grower in the fall and form these nuts and make many nutrients and delicious dishes. I have a friend who makes a pecan pie that is an epicurean delight.”
- In 1921 the San Saba Pecan Company was advertising in Texas newspapers: “Can you make pecan pies? A postal card from you will bring the recipe for Mrs. Bell’s famous pecan pie. The best pie your hubby or sweetheart ever ate.”
- And in 1926 the Corpus Christi Caller-Times advertised that you could enjoy homemade pecan pie for 10 cents at the local “five-and-dime”.
Texas Declares “Pecan Pie” the Official State Pie
Other pie flavors must take a backseat to pecan pie after the Texas Legislature in 2013 officially declared pecan pie the official state pie of Texas.
The Official State Pie Resolution reads in part:
“Whereas, of all the Lone Star State’s unique culinary dishes, perhaps none say “Texas” more sweetly than pecan pie; and
Whereas, the pecan tree, which was officially designated as the State Tree in 1919, is indigenous to North America and native to 152 counties in Texas, where it grows in river valleys; the State Health Nut, the pecan is the state’s only commercially grown nut, and Texas pecan growers account for more than 20 percent of all the pecans grown in the United States; and
Whereas, though there are many ways to enjoy pecans, it is practically a given among Texans that they belong, first and foremost, in a pie.”
Where to Find Your Slice of Heaven: Best Texas Pie Stops
There is something special about enjoying a warm slice of homemade pie.
“A pie has the ability to transport you to childhood, to nostalgic moments spent in the kitchens of mothers and grandmothers,” says Southern Living.
So, where can you satisfy your craving for pie in Texas? Try one of these 10 places for pie on your next Texas road trip:
- Royers Café (Round Top): Over 35 years of serving famous pies and named by the Tasting Table as “the best pie in Texas.” Besides “Ann’s Pecan Pie”, the café ships other pies nationwide such as “Bud’s Butterscotch Chip Pie”, “Cafés Buttermilk Delight Pie”, and “Texas Trash Pie” which features caramel, chocolate chips, coconut, graham crackers, and pretzels! Royers Pie Haven is the café’s offshoot dedicated just to the heavenly dessert.
- Blue Bonnet Café (Marble Falls): A place to greet a friend and enjoy comfort food including pie since 1929. The café says “Pie makes us happy” and they won’t judge you if you enjoy one of the pies with real whipped cream or meringue for breakfast!
- Koffee Kup Family Restaurant (Hico): Texas landmark at the junction of Highway 6 and Highway 281 has been serving pies since 1968. Everything from Banana Blueberry to Black Forest to Coconut and Peanut Butter with tall Meringue is baked fresh daily in their kitchen.
- Texas Pie Company (Kyle): If the name doesn’t say it then how about their slogan: “Life is Short, Eat More Pie”! Chef Julie Albertson (aka The Texas Pie Queen) uses her grandmother’s cherished recipes that have been handed down through generations of her Texas family to create these scrumptious desserts.
- Texas Café and Pie Shop (Hutto): Serving made-from-scratch-food homestyle food and pies since 1996. The dessert menu includes a whopping 27 different pie flavors including Almond Joy Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Cherry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Elvis Pie, Oreo Cookie Pie, Snickers Pie, and Millionaire Pie.
- Oxbow Bakery (Palestine): This hidden gem located in Old Town Palestine in the Piney Woods region has been named “Best Places for Pie in Texas” by Texas Highways Magazine and “The South’s Best Pies” by Southern Living. Opened in 2009 in an old mule barn turned bakery that offers over a dozen flavors of pie.
- Cast Iron Grill (Lubbock): Talk about pie heave … with 24 hours' notice, you can order from a menu that includes almost 25 pies under headings such as Classic Pies (Jack Daniel’s Pecan, Buttermilk Chess), Fruit Pies (Billionaire strawberry, Millionaire pineapple), Cream Pies (Texas Vanilla Cream, Texas Lemon), Icebox Pies (Butter Pecan), Citrus Pies (Key Lime), and Misc. Pies (Fabulous Fudge).
- Simply Country Cafe (Liberty): This café says that “great food and service can make anyone’s day better.” Locals love to pick up pies to share at events with flavors such as Sweet Potato, Pecan, Buttermilk, and Pumpkin on tap along with fresh fruit flavors such as Apple, Peach, Blueberry, Cherry, and Strawberry.
- Love Creek Orchards/The Apple Store (Medina): Named one of the “Best 40 Small Town Cafes in Texas” by Texas Monthly, and more importantly for pie lovers … voted the “Best Apple Pie in Texas” also by Texas Monthly.
- Lucy’s on the Square Café (Celina): Serving up comfort food and homemade pies in a 100-year-old brick building. Joy Pie Shop is their offshoot that serves mouth-watering pies such as Apple Crumble, Cherry Amaretto, Blueberry Buttermilk, and Jimmy Bourbon Pecan.