11 pies to die for at these Wisconsin restaurants, cafes and bakeries
What's your Thanksgiving pie? Something traditional like apple, cherry or pumpkin? Or, maybe you want to add something new to your tradition like a Butterfinger or peanut butter cream pie.
Regardless of your taste, it will be difficult to wait until Thanksgiving Day for a slice of pie from these spots across Wisconsin.
Cinnamon and streusel Dutch apple
You know a pie is good when you're thinking about it while out for an after-dinner walk with your dog. There I was in the dark of night (7 p.m.) contemplating how one bakes apples that hit a delicate balance of soft but not mushy. Add in a thick cinnamon-y sauce enveloping the fruit and a good crunchy bite of the streusel topping, and it's no wonder this is the most frequently ordered pie from Cravings by several Manitowoc County restaurants. Owner Kristy Stahl says she uses an old family recipe, with one tweak. She uses brown sugar in the streusel topping to give it a little extra depth. — Daniel Higgins, food and drink reporter, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Grandma's banana cream
Burt’s Clubhouse at the Westridge Golf Course | 8130 Golf Course Dr., Neenah
You can tell there’s a real grandma behind “Grandma Jeri’s Homemade Pies” at Burt’s Clubhouse, a bar and grill open to the public on the Westridge Golf Course in the town of Clayton.
The crust is flaky, the banana cream has real bananas in it and slices are loaded up with real whipped cream. Pie is served on old-fashioned glass plates.
Grandma Jeri is the owner’s mom. The recipes are from her own mother, so this stuff is authentic.
She bakes pies from scratch on Fridays to serve the fish fry crowd and she even has her own dedicated case in the dining room to keep cream pies cool. — Maureen Wallenfang, Appleton Post-Crescent
Peanut butter cream with homemade pudding
Crystal Cafe | 126 N. Main St., Iola
When the catchphrase of the restaurant is “Pies 2 Die 4,” you know you are in the right place for a slice.
And the Crystal Cafe has plenty of them, all built on a tradition started when Ann Moerke opened the restaurant in downtown Iola back in 1965 and carried on today by her daughter Judy Bolier and granddaughter Jennifer Schustek.
All made with natural ingredients and a hand rolled crust, there’s a full lineup of pies daily at the restaurant ($3.99 per slice). But if you love peanut butter, it’s hard to pass up the peanut butter cream pie. It’s got homemade pudding with a mound of whipped cream and a drizzle of peanut butter sauce over the top. Delicious as it gets. — Nathan Vine, Stevens Point Journal
Blueberry with a drizzle of frosting
Johnston's Bakery | 1227 Superior Ave., Sheboygan
There’s a reason Johnston’s Bakery in Sheboygan has won Best Bakery in the Sheboygan Press reader’s choice awards for four consecutive years. Known as the home of the Sheboygan Hard Roll, the bakery also makes a pretty delicious pie. While the Dutch apple and pumpkin are fall favorites, the blueberry pie is a year-round standout at the Superior Avenue bakery and café. Whether grabbing the personal-size mini pie or the full-size, the dessert is overflowing with sweet blueberry flavor. Home-made and topped with crumble and a drizzle of frosting, the staff at Johnston’s say every piece is “made with love.” — Phillip Bock, Sheboygan Press
Dutch apple pie baked in bread
Misty’s Menu | 9041 State 13 S., Saratoga
Misty’s Menu in Saratoga is known for its pies; owners Misty and Brian Nelson say they bake about 100 to 120 pies each year to fill Thanksgiving orders. But more locally famous even than its pies is its Dutch caramel apple pie bread.
Brian begins by baking a Dutch apple pie, then drops the whole thing into bread dough, folds it in and bakes it. Once the bread is finished, he tops it with streusel frosting. The finished product is soft and sweet, with pieces of crust and apple hidden throughout. It’s a popular item, so the restaurant recommends calling ahead. — Caitlin Shuda, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
Door County cherries everywhere
Pretty much anywhere in Door County
My, oh, my, you want a taste of Door County cherry pie. This is cherry pie country, and local growers attribute a variety of reasons for the popularity of the famous cherries — from soil conditions to ideal temperatures and humidity. Whatever the reasons, pie lovers reap the benefits because there is no lack of cherry pie made from local tart cherries with just enough sugar to cut the bite. Most restaurants serve cherry pie or their accessorized version and local bakeries offer cherry pies with some also featuring pre-made pies you can bake. Cherry pie is best savored where there is a wonderful view to accompany your tasty treat. Whether that is at your favorite Door County eatery, or a bakery pie to enjoy at home, it will be delicious. — Liz Welter, Door County Register
Lemon meringue that melts in your mouth
Nicolet Restaurant | 525 Reid St., De Pere
The lemon is tart. The meringue is creamy. Melding together in your mouth it's perfection, from the team at Nicolet. If you're not a big lemon fan, I think this pie will convert you, but the coconut cream and banana cream pies are also popular choices. That is, if you can resist the gigantic peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. — Daniel Higgins, food and drink reporter, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Pumpkin pie with a flaky crust
La Sure's Cakes and Cafe | 1570 Ripon Lane, Oshkosh
Don't tell your doctor. The key ingredient in each and every La Sure's pie crust is lard. Once upon a time, lard was used in everything from fried chicken to Caesar salad (probably). But sadly, pie crust made with lard became just another casualty of the kale-and-kombucha culture wars years ago.
Here's what we've been missing: The crust is both sturdy and dainty, sweet and savory. The pumpkin filling is made with no less care. Nearly a dozen spices and a pumpkin puree transport you to spot near a living room fireplace, surrounded by family, while a light snow blankets fallen leaves on the lawn outside. — Nate Beck, Oshkosh Northwestern
A heaping slice of coconut cream
Blue Willow Cafe | 1111 N. Fourth Ave., Wausau
If you're looking for a place with enough pies to satisfy the whole family's palate, look no further than Blue Willow. Known for their comfort food and diner breakfasts, you can also grab a slice of pie as dessert. Though there are plenty to choose from, the coconut cream is one of the favorites for customers.
The pie is not for the faint of heart. The heaping slice features perfectly toasted coconut shreds, nestled in a bed of whipped topping. But the good stuff is underneath all that, a truly decadent and rich coconut cream. Try to finish a whole giant slice in one sitting, I dare you. — Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald
Amber’s Colby Café | 100 W. Clark St., Colby
Owner Amber Muehlbauer has been making and expanding her pie offerings for 11 years at Amber’s Colby Café. Some of the top choices include banana fudge, Butterfinger, Snickers, Strawberry Rhubarb and Peanut Butter Cream Cheese. All of her pies are homemade. Cost is $2.95 for a slice, $12 for fruit pies and $14 for cream pies. Muehlbauer says she needs just a day of advance to make a pie for customers. — Mitchell Skurzewski, Marshfield News-Herald
Norske Nook Restaurant & Bakery | Rice Lake, Hayward, DeForest and Osseo locations
Norske Nook Restaurant & Bakery pies have raked in 45 awards over the past 10 years at the National Pie Championship in Florida. Fruit and traditional pies have earned national recognition but so have the more creative pies Kaffe Mocha, a 2013 award winner, is made with an Oreo cookie crust, a hint of flavored coffee whipped marshmallow cream, swirled with Ghirardelli chocolate and topped with a chocolate covered coffee bean. — Mitchell Skurzewski, Marshfield News-Herald