Instead of filling my freezer with pastry dough, I’ve called in some reinforcements: ready-to-use nut crusts. 

By Caroline Schnapp
Updated November 27, 2019

As far as Thanksgiving planning goes, it’s officially the last minute. By now, we sincerely hope that you’ve bought your turkey, read up on spatchcocking, narrowed down your sides, and stocked up on cider and lambrusco. In my house, dessert is most certainly pie, but this year, instead of filling my freezer and fridge with pie crust, I’m calling in reinforcements—my favorite new shortcut: these ready-to-use nut pie crusts.

While I love homemade pastry, I don’t always have the time to prepare it ahead of baking, and as the holidays get more hectic, I frequently lean on pre-made pastry crusts, like the kinds you’ll find in the frozen foods section of every grocery store in America. The problem with these, though, is that they don’t save me the time I so desperately need them to. Without fail, I never remember to move the package of frozen rolled pastry from the freezer to thaw in the fridge, which results in a rushed thaw on my kitchen counter.

Credit: Sarah Crowder

Frozen pastry hates a rushed thaw, so by the time I’m ready to unroll the crust, it’s both hard and crumbly, while somehow also too soft to handle, leaving me with a goopy mess. If my pie crust even makes it into the oven, my carefully-crimped edges shrink, or sag, and I’m left regretting my decision to not make the crust from scratch in the first place.

Credit: Sarah Crowder

This year, nut crusts are my new thing. They’re shelf-stable and ready-made, meaning they're already pre-baked and perfect-looking, and require no fancy crimped edges. They also don’t require any valuable freezer space, thawing, or special treatment, and there’s not change to consistency if I leave them out on my counter for days, or weeks, or even months (though I must admit I haven’t tried for months because who in New York City has that kind of counter space?!)

Above all else, they actually taste great—with both sweet and savory fillings. I’ve used them for quiche, which can now be prepared at the last minute, when your family calls and says they’re on their way over (hours earlier than expected); my favorite apple pie got a slightly sweet, almost caramel-y lift when baked in a pecan shell; and no-bake chocolate cream pie got a rich boost from a buttery, walnut base.

Next up on the agenda: this week’s pumpkin and pecan pies. Now that I’ve simplified my method, the hardest decision I’m going to have to make is how many pies is too many pies for a Thanksgiving gathering?