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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Pie Wars: Pumpkin vs. Apple vs. Pecan

It’s a scene that will play out in dining rooms across America on Thanksgiving. Stuffed with turkey and side dishes, family and friends gathered around the table will offer token groans of exasperation as an assortment of desserts is served.

The perfunctory grumbles will quickly fade to delight as the decadent desserts are distributed.

Here’s a look at how slices of three of the most popular Thanksgiving pies stack up from a health standpoint, along with tips to cut some calories from your meal.

Pumpkin Pie

Slice of Pumpkin Pie

Calories: 350, Total Fat: 20 grams

Pumpkin pie is easily the least caloric of the three choices. Pumpkin itself is an exceptionally healthy vegetable, delivering relatively high quantities of
fiber and Vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in low light.

The high fiber content of pumpkin and the pie’s single-crust construction are two key reasons why pumpkin pie is the least caloric of our three choices. Don’t construe that to mean it’s healthy, though. Each slice in this recipe contains more than five teaspoons (21 grams) of sugar.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie Slice

Calories: 480, Total Fat: 29 g

A staple of Thanksgiving celebrations, apple sits squarely in the middle of the three pies from a caloric standpoint. Apples are a low-calorie, high-fiber fruit rich in important antioxidants. Introducing the double crust, sugar and butter of an apple pie, however, mitigates many of the fruit’s nutritional benefits. A slice of apple pie this turkey day will deliver more calories than two bags of Skittles.

Pecan Pie

Slice of Pecan Pie

Calories: 620, Total Fat: 38 grams

With an astounding 620 calories per slice, pecan pie dominates the contest from a caloric standpoint. Pecans themselves provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and are thought to be healthy for the heart.

But they are also quite caloric. One cup of chopped pecans will deliver 753 calories, the primary reason for pecan’s dubious honor as the “winner” when it comes to calorie count. 

Tips To Cut Some Calories From Your Pies:

  • Use a lattice or crumbled topping instead of a traditional top crust.
  • Cut out some of the sugar or replace it with an alternative such as Truvia or Splenda.
  • Swap whole milk for skim milk or reduced-fat milk.
  • Make your own pie crusts. Store-bought crusts tend to be higher in calories and riddled with all kinds of hard-to-pronounce ingredients.
  • Use nonfat sour cream or Greek yogurt in your pie crust instead of some of the butter or lard. 


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.