27 Types Of Pie, Explained

Defining a pie isn't as straightforward as it seems. It's just a sweet or savory dish wrapped in pastry, right? Well, not quite. For example, are hand-held treats like empanadas and Cornish pasties considered pies? What about rustic British dishes like Shepherd's pie, topped with mashed potatoes rather than a crust? And how do we distinguish between pies and tarts? It may well be more complicated than memorizing the mathematical pi! 

The job of classifying pies is a murky (but delicious) world. Luckily, you don't have to do any of the hard work, because we're here to explain (almost) every variety of international pies for you. You'll never have to question the difference between lemon meringue pie and chiffon pie again. We only have one warning — prepare to get exceptionally hungry, because we'll be delving deep into the world of pies, and all of them are beyond irresistible. From hearty puff pastry pies packed with succulent meat, Mediterranean treats featuring buttery filo dough and vibrant vegetables, some of the most unique savory pies from across the U.S., and tropical creamy coconut delights from the Philippines, we're explaining them all: the ingredients, the techniques, and the classification.

Without further ado, let's see how many delicious pies you're already familiar with, and how many new dishes you'll have to try. It's a great excuse to sample new pies ... in the name of science, of course. 

Pot pie

Picture this: Breaking through the crowning layer of crisp, buttery pastry, you scoop up tender meat cooked in a deep, rich brown gravy or a creamy roux-based sauce. Unlike most savory pies, pot pie only has a pastry top, no bottom or sides — making it easy to prepare at home and eliminating the risk of a dreaded "soggy bottom" à la Great British Bake Off.  

Cheesy chicken pot pie is the most enduring classic, with its traditional and crowd-pleasing flavor. However, there's plenty more choice; the full-bodied taste of steak and kidney pie is beloved across Britain, and vegetarians might enjoy a hearty and herby white bean-based pot pie.

Key lime pie

Undeniably, nothing signifies the arrival of summer more distinctly than a slice of creamy, sweet, and citrusy Key lime pie. The preferred pie crust is usually made from buttery graham crackers, much like cheesecake (although traditional pastry also works), then filled with tart lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and rich egg yolks, producing a gorgeously silky mouthfeel. 

Finally, Key lime pie isn't complete without a garnish of airy whipped cream, grated lime zest, and delicate twists of green citrus. While it's generally a dairy-dominated treat, a lighter version of the summer favorite, vegan Key lime pie, is habitually made with coconut milk, agave syrup, and creamy cashew nuts.

Banana cream pie

Homemade banana cream pie is a classic that never goes out of fashion. While other similar pies jazz up the fruits by turning them into curd or purée, the banana is kept simple; fresh and tropical-scented slices layered between a rich homemade custard, a buttery blind-baked shortcrust pie crust, and generous dollops of whipped cream as a topping. To speed things along, you can use storebought pie crust, custard, and whipped cream (although we always campaign homemade tastes best). 


North African cuisine is overflowing with gems. This filo-based pie known as pastilla is one example of a dish everyone should know — popular in the Maghreb (a region comprising Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, and Tunisia), it's a perfect example of combining sweet and savory flavors to create incredible depth.

The meat used to make traditional pastilla, squab, is beyond reach for most cooks. If you prefer something more accessible, you can whip up a quick chicken pastilla instead. Most crucially, you must braise the meat with a medley of complex spices before encasing it between layers of buttery crisp filo pastry lightly dusted with sugar.

Pork pie

A traditional British picnic staple, pork pies are unique in that they are usually served cold. The sturdy pies contain a sumptuous mixture of finely minced pork shoulder and pork belly flavored with aromatics such as thyme, sage, anise, and nutmeg, tightly packed into a hot water pastry case and baked until golden brown. Because the meat shrinks while cooking, there's one final step needed: pour a mixture of gelatin and stock into the pie (through a hole in the top made for steam) and leave it to set overnight.

Pecan pie

Thanksgiving is incomplete without a slice of pecan pie. It's almost as synonymous with the festival as spiced pumpkin pie, and whether you have an heirloom recipe passed down through the generations, whip our classic pecan pie, or even buy one from the store, there's no denying its scrumptious moreishness. Those toasted pecans on top? Incredible.

Technically, pecan pie is an open-faced variety showcasing sweet, flaky shortcrust pastry cooked with a buttery, nutty, rich filling lightly spiced with vanilla and cinnamon. Sweeteners vary with personal taste and region; some use autumnal maple syrup, toffee-like brown sugar, or basic corn syrup.

Fish pie

In a surprising twist, savory pies swap their traditional pastry crust for a layer of creamy mashed potatoes, sometimes garnished with a sprinkle of cheese or fresh herbs for added flavor. Underneath the fluffy potatoes are flaky, melt-in-the-mouth smoked haddock, cod, salmon, and perhaps Cornish mussels, surrounded by a buttery white wine sauce thickened with a béchamel sauce, fresh cream, and fish stock.

In Britain, this dish is sometimes known as "Fisherman's pie," acting as the seafood equivalent to the widely popular Shepherd's pie. It was likely invented during Lent, when most people abstained from meat.


French cuisine has long been synonymous with gourmet dining, influencing everything from our palates to the very language of gastronomy. It holds a distinguished reputation for its elegant and refined dishes, yet the French galette encapsulates the meaning of "rustic."

Buttery, crumbly, and rich shortcrust pastry dough is folded freeform over a cook's choice of ingredients — either sweet, where stone fruits like summery peach galette are a prime choice, or savory, which often uses fresh green vegetables, like this four cheese asparagus galette. Unlike many other recipes, there's no need for a special pan, just a baking tray.

Lemon meringue pie

Although lemon meringue pie has the moniker "pie," it's an adaptation of the traditional French dessert tarte au citron (lemon tart). But who are we to argue linguistics? Either way, the lemon meringue pie is a springtime staple for a reason: it's zesty, bright, vibrant, and almost ridiculously decadent.

From the bottom up, you have a blind-baked shortcrust pastry base and a filling of smooth lemon curd. To finish is an airy Italian meringue, toasted using either a blowtorch or a broiler. The contrast between the custardy, zingy curd, and the sweet marshmallowy meringue is irresistible.

Homity pie

Some call homity pie "Devon pie" in honor of the region of its origin, a lush green county on the southwest coast of England. The open-faced savory pie boasts a thick, buttery crust filled to the brim with soft potatoes layered with leeks, onions, and plenty of sharp cheese — local cheddar cheese is preferred. The humble dish is hearty, wholesome, and perfect for a filling vegetarian meal alongside a crisp salad. It can be served hot or cold.

Chiffon pie

Have you heard of chiffon pie? Initially, you might confuse this dish for a cream or mousse pie, but the distinction becomes evident once you taste a slice. Notably, the delicate and creamy filling is a mixture of highly flavored fruit curd whisked with fluffy meringue (as opposed to whipped cream). The filling is left to chill in a pre-baked shortcrust pastry case (or graham cracker crust). Lemon curd is the most popular addition, although strawberry, raspberry, and even watermelon or blueberry are refreshing adaptations.

French silk pie

French silk pie is so inviting it made our list of the best slices of pie in the U.S. If you love luxurious chocolate desserts, this is the one for you. The name is a half misnomer: It's an entirely American concoction rather than French, although it does indeed feature a silky chocolatey filling whipped with eggs, cream, and butter. Nestled within a flaky pie crust and adorned with additional whipped cream and dramatic chocolate curls, the silk pie is a sight to behold.

Torta pasqualina

Digging into a slice of cold torta pasqualina is an Easter Sunday tradition across Italy. The vegetarian pie, which translates to "Eastertide cake," is made from greens (traditionally chard and artichokes, although spinach is widespread now) and creamy ricotta. Much like fire-roasted shakshuka, eggs are cooked directly into the pie filling, adding richness to the dish. Wrapped in an incredible 33 layers of thin filo-like pastry — one for every year of Jesus' life — torta pasqualina is a treat to savor.

Shepherd's pie

Lamb minced braised with sweet carrots, tangy and savory Worcestershire sauce, umami-packed tomato paste, plenty of onion, buttery garlic, bay leaves, and a dash of stock — that's the base of a British Shepherd's pie. Like many British savory pie recipes, it's crowned with buttery mashed potatoes baked until golden in color.

It's worth noting that although many unknowingly use beef and lamb interchangeably, as the name indicates, lamb is the conventional meat of choice. Rich and savory, we suggest a side of greens or fresh salad.

Pumpkin pie

Some seasonal foods are so tempting you can't help but look forward to eating them all year. Pumpkin pie, an indispensable American dessert, definitely falls into that category.

For those unacquainted with it (or those eager to tantalize their taste buds), chefs make buttery pumpkin pie from the velvety, golden-orange purée of sweet, roasted pumpkins. This purée is blended with milk, cream, eggs, brown sugar, and myriad aromatic pumpkin spices to create the luscious filling before being baked into a crunchy pie crust and finished with a blob of fresh cream.

Buko pie

If you love the flavors of coconut custard pie, then you must try the tropical Filipino version known as buko pie. While the American version only uses coconut milk, this delicacy from the Philippines highlights the sweet, nutty, and creamy flavors of coconut perfectly by also using coconut water and young coconut flesh. Some recipes keep the pie open, exposing the luscious coconut custard, while most cover the pie with a thin, delicate layer of egg-washed pastry.


Pithivier, named for the French town of its birthplace, is an ideal — and adaptable — appetizer, thanks to its small size and delectable puffy pastry covering. The pithivier boasts an impressive dome shape (often decorated or carved into spirals) and versatile fillings that range from a show-stopping vegetarian mushroom pithivier or sweet almond frangipane to chicken or more unique meats like wood pigeon or ox cheeks.

Stargazy pie

There are many styles of fish pie from diverse cultures worldwide, but Cornish stargazy pie is perhaps the most unique. Named for the whole fish heads, which boldly poke out of the buttery pastry, it gives the impression of "gazing at the stars," the pie is surrounded by myth and legend, with some suggesting it saved a local village from starvation.

The pie recipe varies; some use rough-puff pastry, others shortcrust, and any fish from mackerel to sardines and herring feature. However, everyone agrees on a rich sauce seasoned with English mustard, local crisp cider, shallots, and cream.

Bean pie

Although it falls into the category of custard pies, bean pie is quite unusual in that it uses a pulse — usually navy beans — as the main ingredient. People cook the beans until soft, then blend them with eggs, butter, evaporated milk, and warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. The sweet pie is commonly associated with the African-American Islamic community in the U.S., especially the Nation of Islam, although it's also widespread in the Southern states.


Crispy layers of fragile filo pastry line the bottom of the baking dish, topped by a sumptuous mixture of at least two different meats (sometimes three), hard and salty Greek cheese, nutty and woody spices, and rice to soak up all the flavors — that's the basis of the rustic kreatopita, a Greek village-style pie from the beautiful island of Cephalonia. Crumbled ruffles of olive oil-soaked filo on top, an hour in the oven, and the pie is ready.

Mince pie

Not all pies are enormous sharing dishes. Some, like British mince pies, are tiny, delicate goodies finished in one or two bites. Despite the name, these pies are a sweet dish, with the "mincemeat" referring to a deliciously aromatic mix of dried fruits, ground almonds, orange blossom water, candied citrus peel, fragrant spices, and brandy. It's mixed with tart apple chunks and lemon zest, then stuffed into the pretty shortcrust pastry cases. The smell of the treats baking is quintessentially Christmas.

Quiche Lorraine

Is quiche a type of pie? We'll leave the answer up to you — granted, the beloved French dish does fulfill the requirements of a pie with a buttery shortcrust pastry crust. This versatile dish comes in countless riffs, from the humble vegetarian spinach and asparagus cheesy quiche to the ubiquitous quiche Lorraine, a delightful mixture of bacon, cheese, and shallots. All quiche recipes mix the ingredients with savory eggs and chives, resulting in a soft filling contrasting the crispy, flaky pastry base.

Meat pie

Australian meat pies are not dissimilar from their ancestor, the British version — except the Aussie variant is much smaller, making it convenient to eat at a football stadium, glugging down beer at the local pub, or snacking while on a road trip.

While the golden puff pastry is almost unbelievably moreish (save the flaky top for last), it plays second fiddle to the filling: slow-cooked beef simmered in red wine, flavor-packed stock, and aromatics until it practically melts in the mouth. It's no wonder this made our list of the top savory meat pies worldwide, and it only gets better once it's topped with mushy pies, gravy, or mashed potatoes. 

Fruit pie

When you envision pie, what comes to mind? It's likely a classic fruit pie, a recipe so iconic it's become ingrained in our culture, appearing on holidays, in fast food joints, and even in movies.

Fruit pies vary in ingredients — look out for apple, pear, rhubarb, and stone fruits such as peach, plum, and cherry pie fillings — but share some common characteristics, too. Principally, fruit pies showcase sweet shortcrust pastry, with either decorated tops (braided or latticed are most widespread) or a fully-covered top (double crust pie). Nonetheless, pies that deviate from the standard, such as Dutch apple pie, which boasts a deliciously soft caramel-like brown sugar crust, are undoubtedly worth checking out, too.

Cottage pie

Cottage pie may technically be a casserole, but since it has the word "pie" in its name, it's a welcome addition to our roster of recipes. The time-honored British dish may be less famous worldwide than its lamb-based equivalent, Shepherd's pie, but no less tasty.

Under the mashed potatoes is a thick, dark-brown, rich sauce loaded with natural umami, juices from minced beef, and sweet caramelized diced vegetables. If you prefer something slightly less heavy, replace the potatoes with mashed cauliflower beef cottage pie.

Lancashire butter pie

Pop down to any chip shop in Lancashire, and you'll find the unassuming butter pie in high demand. With shortcrust pastry hiding tender potatoes and mellow onions cooked in heaps of butter, this is a carbohydrate overload — in the best way possible.

Sometimes referred to as "Friday pie" or "Catholic pie", this dish is favored by Catholics observing meatless Fridays. However, if you have a penchant for subtly sweet and buttery tastes, this dish is a must-try despite its simple ingredients and regardless of the day of the week or your religion. 

Berry pie

Lattice-topped, sugar-dusted, and filled with brightly colored plump berries, this classic pie is constantly in demand. It's spurred countless interpretations worldwide, particularly across the U.S. and Europe.

Despite their showstopping appearance, most berry pie recipes are surprisingly simple, comprising two elements: a sweet shortcrust pastry crust and a sweet filling made by simmering berries with sugar and lemon juice until thick and juicy. A medley of mixed berries is a classic option, with blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and honey blackberry pie being the top picks among many. However, don't hesitate to experiment with lesser-known berries like cranberries, gooseberries, or even lingonberries for a unique twist on traditional pies.