Not all of us have the baking skills necessary to whip up a freshly made pie with a perfectly flaky crust and luscious filling, but that's where the freezer aisle comes in handy. Lucky for us who aren't as baking inclined, there are many store-bought, frozen pies on grocery shelves that can sweetly satisfy that post-dinner sugar craving. But while frozen pie makes a convenient dessert to pick up at the store, unfortunately, it's often loaded with ingredients high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sugar, and is thus generally lacking in nutritional value.
Most store-bought pies are made with palm oil, soybean oil, or hydrogenated oils—ingredients that are high in saturated fat, a nutrient that can be particularly harmful to heart health when consumed in excess. Ingredients like this, combined with lots of added sugar, result in products that contain a significant source of empty calories that have health consequences like an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain when paired with an unbalanced diet.
There are some frozen pies at the grocery store that can fit into a healthy diet, but dietitians and nutrition experts recommend against purchasing some options, and we spoke to them to find out exactly which pies they consider to be the unhealthiest and why.
Here are some factors that we considered when deciding on the unhealthiest pies:
- Empty calories: Most frozen desserts are high in calories and when those calories come from fat and sugar, they're not super filling. Thus, it's easy to consume a significant amount without consuming much nutritional value.
- Saturated fats: Pie crust is typically made with soybean oil or palm oil—which keeps it extra flaky when you bake it!—but it isn't so great for your heart health.
- Added Sugars: Frozen pies are laden with added sugars, mainly in the filling and fruit. While some added sugar is healthy in moderation, exceeding the recommended daily allowance of 10 percent of your total calories for the day from added sugar can be a potential risk factor for your health.
Keep in mind that eating pie from time to time won't make or break your diet. "There is nothing wrong with a sweet ending at a meal and sometimes that can be pie!" says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES, who recommends small, portion-controlled options like Trader Joe's Teeny Tiny Apple Pies. However, it's worth having an understanding of just how unhealthy certain frozen pie options can be.
Let's find out which pies the experts say are the unhealthiest pies on grocery shelves. And for more, don't miss 12 Best & Worst Frozen Waffles on Grocery Shelves, Say Dietitians.
Katz Gluten Free Blueberry Pie
Of all the pies we reviewed this one takes the cake — err, pie? — as the least unhealthy on this list. It's the lowest in calories and sugar, although it's still a source of empty calories and a significant source of added sugar. You'd think that blueberries would bring a higher fiber content to this frozen dessert, but we weren't impressed with less than 1 gram of fiber here.
Marie Callender's Apple Pie
"One of the unhealthiest pies is Marie Callender's Apple Pie," Moushumi Mukherjee, RD tells us. "In addition to delivering 13 grams of fat and 23 grams of sugar in one portion, this pie has a variety of unhealthy ingredients ranging from gums, carrageenan, […] and processed forms of soy which are inflammatory," she adds.
Edwards Chocolate Crème Pie
Chocolate creme pie sounds absolutely delicious, and from time to time, indulging is no big deal! If you're regularly consuming Edwards Chocolate Creme Pie, you'll consume your daily recommendation for added sugar in just one serving.
Edwards Chocolate Crème Pie is considered an unhealthy frozen pie for several reasons; first, it contains 13 grams of saturated fat, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease, Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness tells us.
"It contains shortening and hydrogenated palm kernel oil, which are sources of unhealthy artificial trans fats that can increase the risk of heart disease. Overall, Edwards Chocolate Crème Pie is an unhealthy dessert choice due to its high calorie and saturated fat content, as well as the presence of preservatives, unhealthy trans fats, and processed soy," she adds.
The Village Pie Makers Apple Pie
This apple pie from The Village Pie Makers is lower in saturated fat compared to other frozen pies on grocery shelves. What it approvingly lacks in saturated fat, it makes up for in added sugars. You'll easily meet your daily added sugar targets with a side of empty calories here.
Instead, try serving baked apples with whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream instead for a low-sugar, high-fiber dessert that is still delicious.
Sara Lee Chef Pierre Cherry Pie
Cherry pie is always a fan favorite, however, Sara Lee packs a shocking amount of empty calories and added sugar into their frozen cherry pie. With 370 milligrams of sodium, it also has one of the highest salt contents on our list. Between the sugar-fat-salt combo, you might be in a food coma after this dessert.
Remember, occasional desserts like this in moderation are totally acceptable for your health. You'll want to consider making an adjustment if you're regularly choosing pies like this though.
Edwards Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is so refreshing and summery, you wouldn't even know that one serving packed 450 calories, 17 grams of saturated fat, and 45 grams of sugar. Often made with evaporated, condensed milk, it's too easy to pack the added calories and sugar into this dessert.
Sara Lee Chocolate Crème Pie
With 20 grams of saturated fat and 34 grams of sugar per serving, this pie exceeds your daily added sugar and saturated fat in just one serving.
"Among the frozen pies in the dessert section, one stands out as most deserving of a spot on the 'worst' list, the Chocolate Crème Pie takes the cake—pun intended," claims Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND, Owner of Soccer Mom Nutrition. "Just one-fifth of the pie delivers a staggering 450 calories, making it a calorie bomb that's hard to justify. What's even more concerning is the sky-high 20 grams of saturated fat, exceeding the recommended daily limit by a significant margin. If that's not enough, this pie piles on 33 grams of added sugar, 28 grams of fat, and 340 milligrams of sodium. In terms of nutrition, this pie is best left on the shelf, as there are much healthier dessert options available," she shares.
Sara Lee Chef Pierre Chocolate Cream
The Chocolate Creme pies stand out as some of the highest-calorie frozen pies, and this option from Sara Lee is no exception. With significant sources of empty calories, sugar, and saturated fats, we aren't loving the looks of this nutrition label. A whopping 23 grams of saturated fat is more than double the daily recommendation. If you're regularly eating foods like this, your risk for heart disease could be rising.
If you're looking for a healthier alternative, consider pairing dark chocolate, fruit, and whipped cream at home instead for a balanced and naturally sweet alternative.
Marie Callender's Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is notoriously high in calories and often made with high fructose corn syrup to boot. While this pie is redeemingly lower in saturated fat due to incorporating pecans in the filling, it's not so hot on the added sugar. With 29 grams of added sugar in one slice, you're well over the daily recommendation with this dessert alone.
"Marie Callender's Pecan Pie is one of the least healthy choices for frozen pies. The calories per slice are 510 which is nearly double many other frozen pies available. With 29 grams of added sugar, it is also one of the sweetest options out there," Amanda Lane, MS, RD, CDCES tells us.
Marie Callender's Chocolate Satin Pie
This pie is the winner for the highest calorie, sugar, and fat content of all the pies we reviewed. While we are sure it's delicious, we're not so sure it's good for your health. With a whopping 530 calories per serving, you'll get 21 grams of saturated fat and 33 grams of added sugars—both seriously overdoing your daily recommendations for each.