Some of my best food memories revolve around chicken pot pie. This is one dish that I grew up eating in both the frozen store bought and homemade forms and they were completely different experiences. My mom would often make one of her delicious homemade pot pies for birthdays, family gatherings or other special occasions. Frozen pot pies, on the other hand, were reserved for more relaxed times like a family movie night or lazy weekend lunch. I know from experience that concocting a piping hot, creamy pot pie with homemade crust is an all day endeavor, especially if you use homemade broth and cook your own chicken. Frozen pies, on the other hand, are ready to pop right in the oven with no preparation at all. Store bought pies vary widely in quality and price so I decided to buy one cheap pie (Banquet’s) and one more expensive variety (Marie Callender’s) and compare them to one of my mom’s homemade pies. Is the extra special taste of homemade pie worth the extra time and effort? To help me answer this question, I brought in a guest chef for this post . . . my mom! Below is her recipe for homemade chicken pot pie. This time she whipped one up for my grandmother’s 80th birthday:
Mom’s Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
My mom made homemade chicken broth for this pie and used the meat from the same chicken but it is much easier to use store bought roast chicken and canned broth and the flavor is nearly as good. The filling is also great with 1 cup of diced, cooked potato stirred in at the end.
store bought or homemade pie crust for a 9-inch double crust pie
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups low sodium chicken broth or homemade
3 cups cooked, shredded or diced chicken
10 oz. package frozen peas and carrots
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth to pan and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove sauce from heat and add chicken and vegetables, stirring to combine. Pour filling into a pastry lined 9-inch pie plate and top with second layer of pie pastry, sealing edges. Cut several steam vents in the top of the pie and cook in preheated oven for 45 minutes, covering edges of crust with foil if it starts to get too brown.
After slaving away all day on this pie (thanks mom!), we all sat down to feast on 3 kinds of chicken pot pie: Homemade, Banquet’s frozen, and Marie Callender’s frozen. All 7 testers agreed that the homemade pie was far superior to either frozen brand, both filling and crust. The vegetables seemed fresher, the chicken more tender and the crust flakier. The homemade filling was less salty than either of the frozen pies, but had a richer chicken flavor. The comparison between the two frozen pies, however, was surprising. Several tasters liked the texture of the Banquet’s crust better than the Marie Callender’s pie, commenting that it was flakier and less gummy tasting. That being said, the vegetables and chicken in the Marie Callender’s pie were much fresher and more tender than those in the Banquet’s. The Marie Callender’s pie was significantly more expensive than the Banquet’s pie, but it also was twice as big and could probably serve 2 people. The homemade pie turned out to be much cheaper than Marie Callender’s with the cost being more comparable to the Banquet pie. The homemade pie is a lot more work than frozen, but which would you rather eat? I know what my answer is, at least for a special occasion . . .
Bottom Line: Homemade chicken pot pie has better flavor in both crust and filling than either brand of frozen pie and is the cheapest option but it takes hours to make from start to finish. Frozen pies are a much faster option but it’s hard to recommend either Banquet or Marie Callender’s brand as they each had some taste drawbacks and Marie Callender’s was much more expensive than either homemade or Banquet pot pie.
|Homemade Chicken Pot Pie||Banquet Frozen Pot Pie||Marie Callender’s Frozen Pot Pie|
|Cost: $1.00 per serving||Cost: $1.00 per serving||Cost: $2.50 per serving|
|Time: 5 hours with homemade broth, 2 hours with store bought||Time: 45 minutes||Time: 1 hour|