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Taste test: chicken pot pies

Nothing says comfort food like a pot pie. It's warm and cozy and it's a full meal in one dish. Trouble is, pot pies can be high in fat, calories and sodium, so the pastry-topped dinners have become more of an occasional treat to our panelists. If they are going to indulge in a pot pie, our judges want it to be a good meal. We sampled nine brands of frozen or refrigerated chicken pies and baked each of them in the oven. Several were good and one was nearly perfect.

Serving size One cup One cup One cup
Calories 380 560 360
Fat/Fiber 21g / 4g 38g / 2g 22g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium 4g / 740mg 4g / 620mg 4g / 360mg
Carbs/Protein 38g / 11g 40g / 12g 28g / 13g

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent



(out of 100)
Marie Callender's 97 Boston Market 67 Trader Joe's 54

Marie's chicken pot pie was the first food to make our Hall of Fame list since 2010. Judges loved the beautiful, crimped edges and the golden brown look of the crust. "It has a great ratio of crust-to-sauce-to-chicken and lots of carrots and peas," said one judge. "It's got great flavor and it's nicely seasoned." Another described this pie as "classic." "It's the best. It's got a balanced blend of meat and vegetables and lick-the-plate gravy," he said. Big chunks of white meat chicken made this pie popular. The crust was rumpled and tasty and the pie was filled with good vegetables. Seasoning gave this pie a nice flavor as well. "I like the fluted edges on the crust — it gave this a really good first impression," said one judge. "The white chicken is well-salted." Another said the chicken was the big star, describing the chunks as "plentiful and delightful." We found pot pies in the freezer and the refrigerator at the new Trader Joe's in Sarasota. Judges liked the frozen one best. "The crust cooked up a bit pale, but it was melt-in-your-mouth tasty," said one panelist. "The nice chunks of potatoes, peas, carrots and meat are delicious." Another said the peas were plump and numerous. "I think the gravy is yummy," he added.

they buy?
All four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information $2.99 for a 16-ounce pie from Publix. $3.59 for a 16-ounce pie from Publix. $3.79 for a 16-ounce pie.

Also Sampled: Willow Tree ($6.79 for a 26-ounce pie from Sweetbay, 28 points); Trader Joe's refrigerated ($6.99 for a 25-ounce pie,

51 points); Priscilla's ($8.99 for a 24-ounce refrigerated pie from the Fresh Market, 39 points); Banquet (85 cents for a 7-ounce pie from Publix,

35 points); Stouffer's ($2.50 for a 10-ounce pie from Publix, 46 points); and Swanson (99 cents for a 7-ounce pie from Publix, 30 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste test: chicken pot pies 01/15/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:27am]
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