The dessert is a seasonal fan favorite among McDonald’s enthusiasts. This cream-filled, sugar-frosted pie made its debut back in 1999 (30 years after the debut of the original Apple Pie), and since its inception people have grown awfully nostalgic for it whenever it’s not around. The sentimentality makes sense, given that the pie is only available through the winter holiday season, when people are likely making memories with family and friends. It’s a lot like Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in that way.
The Holiday Pie is available at McDonald’s right now through late December/early January, while supplies last. As with the Breakfast Bagels, however, it can be a bit of a mystery determining which McDonald’s locations actually serve the pie—because for whatever reason, there isn’t a nationwide rollout each year.
Searching ‘holiday pie’ in the McDonald’s app will bring up instant location information. I found these pies quite easily in Los Angeles, which ought to be great news for residents of Southern California.
Unlike, say, the McRib, the Holiday Pie is something that feels genuinely special, since McDonald’s is famously stingy with its pie flavors. In the fall, you can order a Pumpkin and Creme Pie. Strawberries & Cream usually hits around spring, and Cookies & Cream drops near summertime. The only mainstay is the Apple Pie, with its cinnamon spice, gooey center, and soft lattice crust, sold year-round at all McDonald’s locations.
The Apple Pie has become standard to the point of being even a bit stale, so whenever customers are presented a new option they’re thrilled. Enter the McDonald’s Holiday Pie, which makes the case that the Golden Arches really should start serving new varieties more often.
The Holiday Pie features smooth vanilla flavored custard piped into McDonald’s flaky pie crust, which is glazed with sugar and dotted with rainbow sprinkles. It’s sweet, gooey, and warm, with an awesome texture that dazzles much more than the standard Apple Pie. While the center of the pie is wonderfully creamy, the sprinkles add some fun crunch to each bite. You really get three distinct textures within this dessert: flaky, creamy, and crunchy. It’s delightful.
Though it’s not reinventing the wheel, there’s something deliciously standard about the Holiday Pie that’ll likely have you making some associations. It’s reminiscent of a frosted Pop-Tart, but softer and creamier. It’s also got the flavor of grocery store sheet cake—flatly sweet, but still always able to hit the spot.
In fact, the McDonald’s Holiday Pie succeeds because it’s totally ordinary. This isn’t French custard or some artisan Sister Pie hand pie; this thing is full of cheap sugar and cream, and as a fast food dessert, it’s all the better for it.
My only knocks on it is that the picture on the McDonald’s menu implies more custard than is actually present in the pie (though the difference isn’t too egregious). The crust itself could stand to be flakier, but with mass-produced pastry there are limitations that set the bar pretty low. None of that should stop you from picking one up, however. The McDonald’s Holiday Pie succeeds not as a dessert, but specifically as a fast food dessert. It’s worthy of a purchase just for the refreshing change of pace, and because once it’s gone, there’s no chance of seeing it again until next year.
Now, if only we could convince McDonald’s to deep-fry them.