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Nellie Reed's Chicken Pie

Nellie Reed’s Chicken Pie
10 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (98% score)
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In 1978 we brought you the story of the now late Nellie Reed and her famous chicken pies. For years the people of Owl's Head, Maine, said the best pie crust they'd ever eaten was made by Nellie. And the best filling between two crusts on the entire coast of Maine was Nellie's chicken pie -- with double gravy, of course . . .

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The chicken:


  • "The secrets are the gravy and the pie crust, but you've got to start with a good roasting chicken. I use all of a 3-pound chicken, except for the giblets. And she never used fryers."
    • 3 pound chicken
    • water
    • salt


Boil a 3-pound chicken in salted water (2 teaspoons of salt). When done (about 1-1/2 hours), pick meat off, cut into bite-size chunks, and refrigerate until the following day.

The gravy:


  • "People say they like the gravy most of all. They have to have the pies with double gravy -- the gravy I put into the pie, and the gravy they put on top."
    • 1 can Campbell's onion soup
    • flour
    • water


With the chicken removed, set the chicken broth out overnight. Skim off most of the fat the next day, but leave enough for flavor. Add 1 can Campbell's onion soup, and bring broth to boil. Thicken broth with paste made from flour and water, using as much as necessary to make desired consistency. Strain gravy to remove onions.

The pie:


  • "This is my absolute foolproof pie-crust recipe for four double crusts. You can freeze them, and you'll be surprised how fast they will go."
    • 1 pound lard
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 5-1/4 cups flour
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons butter


Soften lard until it is pliable; put in mixing bowl. Add salt. Add flour. Then put the hands to work. Don't mix with a spoon. Mix the flour and lard until it resembles soft putty. Add water and mix well. Section off dough for four double crusts. Freeze three sections in separate plastic bags. Roll dough for one double crust thin. Place bottom crust in pie plate and fill with chicken. Cover with 1-3/4 cups gravy, then with top crust. Spread butter on top crust. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Serve hot with extra gravy.

Updated Thursday, June 6th, 2002

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12 Responses to Nellie Reed’s Chicken Pie

  1. Michele Corbett September 17, 2003 at 9:30 am #

    This is my family’s favorite all time special dinner recipe. I cook up something special for their birthdays; they always ask for this.

  2. Christine Przybylowicz March 28, 2004 at 2:51 pm #

    Absolutely delicious! This is the best crust I have ever eaten. Reminds me of my grandmother’s crust. Just a few ingredients and the taste is incredible. Will definitely be making this for the rest of my life.

  3. Anonymous July 7, 2004 at 2:33 pm #

    Sometime in the 1970s I found this recipe in Yankee Magazine, thought it sounded good and made it. My family and guests raved. I made sure I copied the recipe from the magazine and put it somewhere I wouldn’t lose it. I lost it. I have thought about that pie with its luscious chicken pies, delicious gravy and the light as air lard crust so many times but just couldn’t remember the exact recipe. Today (July 7, 2004) I found it in the Farmers Almanac e-mail I received at work. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I can cook it again and this time I really won’t lose the recipe.

  4. Helen Brimlow March 17, 2006 at 7:22 pm #

    I also had copied the recipe years ago and misplaced it somewhere or another along the way. In fact, I had written to Nellie Reed to thank her for her pie crust recipe, and received a lovely letter back from that nice lady.

    The chicken pie is delicious, and the pie crust is incredibly good.

  5. Linda Kopisch September 27, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    So happy to see Nellie’s recipe! I’ve been making it for years since I first saw it. It’s a Christmas favorite. Many years ago I had a “colonial supper” for several couples and Nellie’s pie was the main event. The crust is awesome too…the only place I would ever consider still using lard. Thanks for a fun article.

  6. Debi October 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    This is a wonderful chicken pie recipe; in my family, we make it even better by mixing 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup partly cooked, sliced carrots to the chicken meat before adding it to the pie. Nellie Reed’s Seafood casserole is also incredibly delicious! She was truly a Great New England cook!

  7. Rob September 26, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    What if I can’t find Campbell’s Onion Soup? All I see in my Boston grocery stores is Campbell’s French Onion Soup. Any suggestions for an alternative.

  8. Jill January 6, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    This is an absolute wonderful recipe…in fact all of Nellie’s recipes were great. So was the story that went along with them. I made this back in 1978, and again over and over. It’s wonderful that Nellie’s legacy lives on with all of us. I originally clipped out the articles that highlighted the great New England Cooks and still have my originals. I think that for the highest rated recipes, or ones that are still getting comments, Yankee should reprint here on the website the originals with the photos.

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