Elevate your Thanksgiving pie crust with cookie crumbs, nuts, coconut

By Evan Kleiman

For Thanksgiving, try making pumpkin pie with a gingersnap cookie crust. Photo by Shutterstock.

We all love to indulge during the holiday season. Some of us like to make the indulgences. But holiday baking can sometimes get a little stressful, especially pie for Thanksgiving. So let me try to relieve some pie stress for you. If your favorite bakery isn’t taking anymore holiday orders and you want a step up from Costco (though Costco pies are fine), let me give you some tips.

If you want to use bought pie dough for your crusts, do it. Both Pillsbury and Trader Joe’s pie crusts are more than acceptable. If you don’t want to go that route, use cookie crumbs to make the crust. You can make them out of any cookie, not just graham crackers. For example I love using gingersnaps for both my pumpkin and sweet potato pies. I often use Trader Joe’s ginger snaps because I love how they have bits of candied ginger.

Coconut pie crust is easy to make and they are gluten-free. Photo by Evan Kleiman/KCRW

You could also use simply coconut flakes and butter to make a gluten-free crust that is especially good with sweet potato pie. But I’ve used ‘Nilla wafer and Oreos for crusts as well. Since it can be difficult to find chocolate wafer cookies, I gave up and I just throw the whole Oreos along with their filling in the food processor. All you need is to add enough melted butter to allow the crumbs to hold together. It makes a super chocolate crust that pairs well with pecan pie or a lemon curd pie topped with whipped cream or meringue. Here is a link that will take you through the process of making cookie crumb crusts.

If cookie crusts aren’t your thing but you love nuts, try making a nut crust. They are as easy as cookie crumb crusts. Simply chop the nuts until fine, add a bit of sugar and spice if you wish, a whisked egg white to bind, and bake until toasty. Or if you’re not making a nut crust to avoid gluten, the nut company Diamond makes several different nut crusts you can find in the baking section of your grocery store. One is a combo of pecan and walnut with pumpkin spice.

Lastly, there is nothing wrong with making crisps and crumbles instead of pies for Thanksgiving dessert.