Nontraditional pie crusts to dress up your dessert menu

Pie crusts aren't only made of pastry dough. Use this advice to experiment with a variety of other pie crusts that can punch up a number of different recipes.

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November 20, 2018 4 min read


A pie crust is the foundation of a variety of delicious desserts. Whether it’s a traditional fruit pie, one with a cream filling or something more modern – but no less delectable – a great pie crust recipe gives a dependable shell to hold the pie’s contents and contributes significantly to flavor, texture and presentation. For prospective and current Boulder pastry arts school students, adding some additional pie crust recipes to their repertoire can help to create delightful new variants of many different pies. Let’s explore some refreshing options for crusts.

Understanding the traditional pie crust

The classic pie crust starts as a relatively simple pastry dough and can be altered to suit the specific flavors involved in a given pie recipe. Ina Garten’s recipe for a quick pie crust is a good one to have on hand, if you haven’t developed your own or received a reliable recipe from a family member, teacher or fellow chef. With this base in mind, it’s easier to see how other approaches to pie crust can be used in the most effective – and tasty – way possible.

Chocolate cookie crust pie with chocolate cream filling.Nontraditional pie crusts offer plenty of options for new takes on a variety of desserts.

Graham cracker and chocolate wafer crusts are simple yet tasty

If you’re in a rush to prepare a pie for a potluck, or to stock the restaurant walk-in or bakery display case with a pie that won’t take hours to prepare, bake and cool, there are a variety of less time-consuming options to consider. Many pudding pies, cream pies and plenty of others require relatively little time in the oven to be ready to serve, and some of them don’t need to be baked at all. By using a simple crust of crushed graham crackers or chocolate wafers, butter and sugar, you can either quickly bake the pie shell or chill it, then add the required filling, topping and garnish.

Food blog Tastes Better From Scratch offered a quick recipe for a graham cracker crust that is also versatile – it’s your choice whether to cool and solidify the butter in the fridge, or bake it to create a stronger base. Martha Stewart, meanwhile, shared a similarly simple chocolate wafer crust that can be used as is or adapted further to suit your tastes. Finally, baking blog Crazy for Crust offered a recipe for using any flavor of Oreo or similar sandwich cookie, filling included, to make a crust. This approach can help you incorporate more complementary flavors into your pie without any significant additional work.

Oatmeal crust offers a variety of possibilities

An oatmeal crust can add a sweet flavor similar to that of an oatmeal cookie to your pie, along with a crust that can support a variety of fillings. Food blog Tastes of Lizzie T offered an easy recipe using just a few ingredients with a quick baking time. You can use a variety of cream fillings as well as create you own novel approaches for this versatile base. One option is to create a filling similar to the cream found in a handheld oatmeal cream pie and present that classic snack as a sliceable, sharable centerpiece to serve at home or to customers. You can even consider cheesecakes, fruit fillings and many other main ingredients as you ponder all the uses of this oatmeal crust.

Alternative pie crusts are plentiful. In terms of cookie bases alone, you can take the recipes shared from Tastes Better From Scratch and Crazy for Crust and make slight adaptations to include many other types of homemade and mass-produced sweets. You could even consider using a buttery or lightly sweet cracker – the possibilities are nearly endless.

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