From Big Events to Local Farmer’s Markets Dale’s Fried Pies Adds Something Sweet

From public television to fried pies, Dale Mackey has been serving the Knoxville community since she made her way south from her hometown of Chicago. Though raised in the north, Dale developed her love for southern food in her godmother’s Kentucky kitchen. After working in public television for several years, Dale took the encouragement of her coworkers and friends to pursue her dream of opening up a food concept.

At the time, she knew she didn’t have the experience to open a full-scale restaurant but wanted to, “choose one thing and do it really well.” She was inspired by a churro and hot chocolate shop she happened upon in Spain and spent several hours brainstorming with her husband on how they could replicate the idea in Knoxville.

Dale looked to her friends and family for guidance as she worked her way through various ideas. She received support and encouragement through a personal blog where she received an outpouring of financial donations after a she posted her idea. The combination of cooking with her godmother and the overwhelming community support she received, ultimately inspired Dale’s Fried Pies.

Once she had settled on the concept, Dale went to work creating the perfect recipe. There were several iterations of the crust but she’s happy to announce, “I’m set on that, now.” The good news is, with the crust in place, Dale is getting the chance to experiment with tons of unique sweet and savory pie fillings. To date, Dale has over 50 pie flavors and she’s still surprising her following with new options.

With just a little over one year of business under her belt, Dale has gone full-time with Dale’s Fried Pies and has retired from her Public Television role. She’s currently serving as the director of marketing, purchasing, baking, frying, and selling as well as the head staffer. For all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much a one-gal show with a few guest helpers for the crazy days.

While visiting, I had the opportunity to taste two amazing pies. The Chicken and Waffles combines the sweet and savory and Cherry is a classic.” The flaky, buttery crust and warm fillings were simply delicious. Best of all, Dale seeks out local and sustainably produced products to create her pies.

When asked what the biggest struggle has been so far, Dale explained that, “Getting started was tough. I had to deal with the health department, applying for licenses, and there were just a lot of things that I was not certain where I needed to go for or what exactly I needed to do. For that, I relied a lot on other people in the business. It’s a great community.”

To that end, Dale wants to pay the generosity of her fellow food vendors forward and is currently working on a start-up kitchen for others in the community to utilize while they’re working on their own concepts. There, she can provide guidance on the start-up process while also allowing others to utilize a communal, commercial kitchen space.

Dale reflected on her first few times utilizing commercial foodservice equipment and described it as, “really weird and a big transition.” She initially struggled with the rapid speed, large batch sizes, and things that are second nature now – like figuring out how to turn the equipment on.

In addition to her incubator kitchen, Dale has also begun “Random Acts of Pies.” This program celebrates others who are making a difference in their community or simply making a positive impact in the lives of those around them. All you have to do is nominate a fellow friend or family member and they will be considered for a surprise, complementary visit complete with a box of Dale’s Fried Pies. Be sure to check out past recipients and their sweet stories.

Where You’ll Find Dale’s Fried Pies

Dale began her business with a single pie stand but with her continued growth has begun work on her mobile pie truck. You’re certain to find her at the Wednesday and Saturday Market Square Farmer’s Markets and as of late, there’s a good chance you’ll see her sporting a cigar-girl, pie-serving getup at the trendiest of weddings and celebrations.

Dale's Fried Pies Stand, Pies, and Menu

Banana Nutella
Blackberry Peach
Blueberry Cream Cheese
Candied Sweet Potato
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Chili Mango with Cardamom Cream
Cranberry Brie
Dark Chocolate Cayenne
Eggnog Cheesecake
Elvis (Peanut Butter, Banana and Benton’s Bacon crumbles)
Gingerbread Chocolate Chip
Ginger Pear
Lemon Cream
Mocha (made with Three Bears Coffee)
Mounds Bar (coconut filling with chocolate)
Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Peppermint Chocolate
Strawberry Cream Cake
Strawberry Nutella
Bacon Mac & Cheese
BLT (Benton’s Bacon with Tomatoes, Basil and Goat Cheese)
Buffalo Chicken
Breakfast Pie with Egg, Cheese and Fennel Sausage
Broccoli Cheese
Chicken and Waffles
Chili Cheese
Chipotle Mac n Cheese
Curried Sweet Potato and Leek (vegan)
Green Chile Chicken
Mac & Three Cheese
Mushroom and Creamy Pesto
Pimento Cheese with Bacon
Pizza (Cheese, Pepperoni or Fennel Sausage)
Savory Pumpkin with Goat Cheese and Bacon Jam
Sausage and Braised Kale
Shitake Eggroll (vegan)
Spinach Artichoke
Taco Pie (Ground Beef, Sherie’s Garden Salsa and Cheese)
Turkey Pot Pie

Dale’s Take on Her Role as a Successful Female Entrepreneur

“A lot of times, people ask if Dale is my husband. They’re surprised that I own and run my own business. They’re shocked that I can move my big stand by myself and they even mistake me for a guy in emails.” While Dale certainly got into the business to support her passion of all things food related, she’s serving as an inspiration to women, both young and old, that they too can pursue their passions. She explains that her stand honors generations of women, with its nostalgic look, who have been operating food stands long before it was trendy. Simply put, Dale summed it up like this, “I love what I do, but it’s not new at all.”

If you would like to visit Dale at her fried pie stand, you can find her at the Wednesday and Saturday Market Square Farmer’s Markets in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you’re interested in having Dale cater an upcoming event, contact her through her website

Photos compliments of Shawn Poynter Photography.

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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