Blueberry pie at Betty's Pies in Two Harbors

Save Room for Dessert: Minnesota Pies Can't Be Beat

Scroll to Read
Image Caption
Betty's Pies, Two Harbors / Shannon Kunkle
Food & Drink // List

Save Room for Dessert: Minnesota Pies Can't Be Beat

By James Norton

From the North Shore to Bemidji to Bluff Country, Minnesota is wealthy in pie, boasting some old-school shops that make pies that would please even a French pastry chef, as well as some new-fangled pie makers that are reinventing the art form.

From north to south (more or less), here's a sampling of some of the state's most inviting pie shops.

  1. Rustic Inn Cafe, Two Harbors
    Rustic Inn Cafe, Two Harbors

    The Rustic Inn Cafe, up the road from Two Harbors, is a classic North Shore pie place with a comfy interior and a formidable pie menu. The specialty of the house is an apple caramel pecan pie of surpassing gooeyness, which arrives less as a slice than an explosion of caramel, nuts and fruit. The North Shore berry pie is as fresh and bright as the apple caramel pecan is sugary and dense, and makes a nice chaser if you're a two-slice kind of guy (or gal).

  2. Pasties Plus, Grand Rapids
    Pasties Plus, Grand Rapids

    There's no ordinance stating that pies have to be sweet, and that's a wonderful thing. Pasties Plus in Grand Rapids makes all of its pasties fresh daily, available hot and ready to eat or half-baked for finishing at home.

    So what's a pasty? For the unfamiliar, these savory pastries are characterized by their buttery baked exteriors, filled with varying combinations of meat, potatoes and veggies. They've been known to sell out, so get there early or place your order in advance.

  3. Sara's Tipsy Pies, Stillwater
    Saras Tipsy apple pies Minnesota State Fair

    Sara's Tipsy Pies / Minnesota State Fair

    Sara's Tipsy Pies, Stillwater

    Visitors to Stillwater are advised to make a stop at Sara's Tipsy Pies, which has made a name for itself with its inventive, boozy pies. Sara's offerings include varieties using beer brewed by the local boys over at Lift Bridge Brewing, and the 2 Gingers Irish Apple whiskey pie is one of the brand's cornerstones.

    You can also get a taste in the Food Building at the annual Minnesota State Fair, where Sara's booth has become a Fair favorite.

  4. Keys Cafe, Minneapolis and St. Paul
    Keys Cafe, Minneapolis and St. Paul

    The venerable Keys Cafe (with six locations throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area) is one of the cornerstone bakeries in the Twin Cities, and its pies are a mainstay for good reason—they're affordable but made with care, classic takes on classic flavors that will get you through the summer (or the holidays) without ever needing to turn on an oven.

  5. Turtle Bread Company, Minneapolis
    Raspberry Pie from Turtle Bread Company in Minneapolis

    Turtle Bread has three tasty locations in Minneapolis / Becca Dilley

    Turtle Bread Company, Minneapolis

    With three Minneapolis locations, the Turtle Bread Company turns out stunning lattice-topped pies that promise and deliver gourmet flavor. The shop's fruit pies boast a crispy, sugar top crust and the sort of bright flavor that comes from real fruit (as opposed to canned fillings).

  6. Aroma Pie Shoppe, Whalan
    Fresh strawberry rhubarb pie with a pretty crosshatched crust sitting in fron window of Aroma Pie Shop

    Mouthwatering strawberry rhubarb pie made from scratch at Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan. / Karna Nelson Hudoba

    Aroma Pie Shoppe, Whalan

    Owned by a retired roller girl, these made-from-scratch pies will knock you out in the best way possible!  The Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan, near Lanesboro, sits amid some of the state's most dramatic rural scenery.  And its offerings are, hands down, some of the best pies in the country. Fruit pies taste bright and clean, sweet without being sugary, with real fruit flavor shining through. But the star may be the Minnesota Maple, featuring a gooey base of maple syrup and oatmeal, topped and baked with toasted coconut.

  7. Vikings and Goddesses, Minneapolis
    Vikings and Goddesses, Minneapolis

    Founded in 2013, this woman-owned wholesale bakery utilizes small farms and Minnesota-based businesses to offer the best baked goods. With delicious and unique options like roasted pineapple with tamarind caramel, milk and cookies, lemon lavender meringue, Chambord French silk, Chambord French Silk, butterscotch, and more.

  8. Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit, St. Paul
    Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit, St. Paul

    Whether you’re looking for sweet or savory, Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit is the spot. Offering dine-in or takeout pies, this St. Paul gem offers options like cranberry apple, banana cream, pecan chess, and more. If you can’t decide, try the rainbow pie, a sample offering one of each of their flavors. For something salty, their chicken pot pie is a cozy choice. For a twist, try their rotating flavors like red coconut curry, buffalo chicken, and more. Before you go, grab a frozen pie to enjoy at a later date.

  9. Dave The Pie Guy, Minneapolis
    Dave The Pie Guy, Minneapolis

    This homestyle breakfast spot in south Minneapolis serves breakfast and lunch but save room for the pie. Offering his blue-ribbon winning streusel apple, berry burst, blackberry crunch, and more you have to put this one on your list.

  10. Buttered Tin, St. Paul and Minneapolis
    Buttered Tin, St. Paul and Minneapolis

    Located in Lowertown St. Paul and Northeast Minneapolis, the Buttered Tin offers delicious sandwiches, soups, quiches, loaded hashbrowns and other delicious breakfast items. Save room for a slice of their rotating pies like French apple, banana cream, blueberry crumble, cherry almond, key lime, rum pecan, and more.

  11. Charlie’s Café, Freeport
    Charlie’s Café, Freeport

    If you ever wanted to visit the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, from a Prairie Home Companion, then Charlie’s Café near Interstate 94 in Freeport is about as close as one can get to the classic Minnesota small town experience. You can’t go wrong stopping in and taking the time to try their old-fashioned homemade meringue pie that has been a staple on the Charlie’s menu since 1962. Don’t forget to order some caramel rolls to go when paying, you’ll thank me for that later!

  12. Honey & Rye Bakehouse, St. Louis Park
    Honey & Rye Bakehouse, St. Louis Park

    This neighborhood bakery prides itself on fresh pies. This woman-owned spot in St. Louis Park offers artisan breads and pastries, quiche and breakfast sandwiches, a full espresso bar, and a bustling marketplace with local and house made goods. Don’t miss their chocolate coconut cream pie and other top seasonal flavors.

  13. Ben The Baker, White Bear Lake
    Ben The Baker, White Bear Lake

    When Ben the Baker isn’t MMA fighting, he’s whipping up baked goods that look as beautiful as they taste. Pies are his specialty, and if you can’t decide which flavor to try you can order an array of mini fruit pie flavors. Sweet or savory, you’ll find a knockout pie to satisfy any craving you may have. Ben offers take and bake pies as well as thaw and serve pies, he even has made from scratch ice cream to top his pies.

  14. Betty's Pies, Two Harbors
    Slice of cream pie on plate at Betty's Pies In Two Harbors

    A slice of pie at Betty's Pies in Two Harbors. Credit: Democratic Travelers

    Betty's Pies, Two Harbors

    Betty’s Pies has been a North Shore staple for over 50 years, you don’t have to worry if this stop isn’t on your itinerary, Betty’s Pies are shipped nationwide so this taste of Minnesota is only a few clicks away! Betty’s offers a full menu, but they won’t judge you if you head right to the pie, from their Butterfinger Cream Pie to the classic Pumpkin Pie you can’t go wrong.

James Norton

James Norton is the author of Lake Superior Flavors (University of Minnesota Press), a guide to eating and drinking on the Lake Superior Circle Tour. He is currently the editor and publisher of Heavy Table.