Baking Tips: Pie Crusts and Fillings

Time-Tested, Common Sense Baking Advice

Apple Pie

Pie, brought over with the earliest settlers from England, has become an American institution. Follow these tried and true pie baking tips from our archives to make perfect pie crusts and fillings for the holidays—or any time! 

Pie Baking Tips

Pie Crust

  • For a flaky, tender piecrust, make sure that all the ingredients and utensils are cold.
  • For the best tasting crust, use butter, preferably unsalted.
  • Fill a sugar shaker with flour to shake out when you’re rolling pastry.
  • Make the top piecrust slightly thinner than the bottom crust to help maintain the structure of the pie.
  • To keep an empty pie shell from buckling, place a straight-sided cake pan, just a bit smaller than your pie dish, right down on top of the crust. Bake for about ten minutes, and remove the cake pan. Use a fork to prick any places that still puff up, and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until the crust is a light golden color.
  • Get creative when carving ventilation holes. Try a heart, leaves, stars, or apple-shape.

Pie Filling

  • Try to use fresh fruit whenever possible, but especially when baking with apples. Apples can be mushy and bland after storage. Crisp, fresh apples hold up better, especially if you want to double-bake them.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice to your fruit filling to bring out the taste of the fruit and help it keep its color.
  • To avoid a soggy bottom crust in your fruit pie, get the filling into the piecrust and into the oven quickly. If there is extra juice in the bowl, don’t pour it into the piecrust.

Baking and Enjoying

  • Bake on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil to catch any juices that may run over the edge.
  • Rotate the pie 180 degrees midway through baking. This helps the pie to cook evenly and balances the surface browning.
  • Pay attention to the pie while it’s baking. Efficiency in the kitchen is great. However, try not to do too many things at once when you are baking pies.
  • When cutting a cream or custard pie, wet the knife with hot water to make a clean cut that won’t tear the filling.
  • Tips for freezing (fruit and meat pies): Prepare completely and freeze completely. Do not attempt to thaw before baking, bake in the frozen state, adjusting baking time accordingly.

Pie Recipes

Here are a few of our absolute favorite pie recipes. Try them out and let us know what you think!

See more great pie recipes!

Reader Comments

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Beautiful and wonderful tips

Beautiful and wonderful tips

In 1999 I bought my first

In 1999 I bought my first Farmer's Almanac. In it was a recipe for an apple, pear, cranberry pie with a crumble top. I made it for Thanksgiving for years and after our last move lost the recipe. I've been searching websites but can't find it. Do you think you could find it for me? It had become a family favorite and has been sorely missed the last 3 years. Thanks.

Hi, Larissa, Our cooking

Hi, Larissa, Our cooking editor found the pie recipe you are looking for!  Can you please email us with your mailing information? Email:  (Please do not put personal details here on the Web site to protect your privacy.)  Thanks! The OFA staff