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How to Make Vegan Pies That Don't Suck

Because you need something to follow your Tofurky
How to Make Vegan Pie
Photo: Tasting Table

Thanksgiving is around the corner which means it's officially Time to Celebrate. All month long we're bringing you recipes, tips, tricks and stories that are equal parts memorable and delicious.

The best part of the pie is the buttery, flaky crust. Or the creamy pumpkin custard. Or is it the dollop of whipped cream on top? The three-sided debate over dessert will never end, but each side has the same problem: None of these parts of the pie are vegan friendly.

So maybe your cousin went away to a liberal arts college and came back for Thanksgiving break a vegan. It happens. Here's how to make pies that anyone can eat, all the way from the crust to the whipped cream.

Crust

Let us never forget about the wonders of vegetable shortening. Treating it like butter (that is to say, freezing it and cutting it into your flour) is the simplest way to make crust that's still flaky. It won't puff up as much as a butter crust, because shortening contains less water (and thus produces less steam), but you’ll still get that characteristic flaky tenderness.

There are other ways to veganize your crust, like using coconut oil in its solid state. Or for a healthier pie—not an oxymoron—process almonds or other nuts with oats and dates to bind it together. That method works best for a no-bake pie, should you wish to free up oven space for another pan of stuffing.

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Filling

Fruit pies, like apple or cherry, tend to be vegan from birth, but custard pies that rely on milk and eggs (think pumpkin, banana cream) are the problem children. To get the proper texture without the dairy, substitute coconut milk or almond milk, like vegan bloggers Minimalist Baker and Oh She Glows do for their pie recipes.

Stick with us on this one: Another savior ingredient? Silken tofu. If you don't believe us, just ask Alton Brown: He blends it with melted chocolate, coffee liqueur, vanilla and a touch of honey for his chocolate pie.

Chocolate

When all else fails, go with an easily veganized chocolate tart—because let's face it, no one really cares if a pie and a tart are two different things. In this recipe from Salted Plains, fudgy filling and a topping of pecans practically make the tart a chocolate-pecan pie. Classic ganache is a no go, because of the cream, but you can substitute coconut milk to make it vegan.


Whipped Cream

We'd never ask you to suffer through pie without its puffy topping, so, luckily, you have two options here. Make coconut whip simply by whipping coconut milk as if it was heavy cream, which you can do quickly with an immersion blender. Or use aquafaba, that once-strange-but-now-beloved liquid from a can of chickpeas, which turns into whipped cream with the help of cream of tartar and sugar.

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