Essential Pie-Making Equipment

The right pie plate, digital thermometer, and all the other pie-making equipment you need to ensure success.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
A wedge of sweet potato pie on a plate, next to the rest of the pie

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Pie-making definitely involves a few special tools of the trade, like mixers to whip meringue, a zester for citrus, and the perfect rolling pin. Bakers in the olden days may not have enjoyed those luxuries, but that doesn't mean we need to restrict ourselves to 19th-century technique.

Virtually all of the pie-making equipment here will prove useful for other baking chores as well, so each piece will be sure to earn its keep. Whether you're just starting out or looking to level up, these are the pie-making essentials I can't go without.

A Digital Scale

OXO 11-Pound Stainless Steel Food Scale

The volume of fresh fruit can vary dramatically depending on how it's cut and whether it's fresh, frozen, or puréed. Meanwhile, powerful dry ingredients, like cornstarch and tapioca flour, can easily be compacted, potentially doubling their weight per cup.

Such extreme variation in the most basic ingredients make volume measurements inherently unreliable when making pie (though we're not averse to using volume for other types of recipes). That's a wild card none of us need to deal with when a digital scale can eliminate all doubt. For small but potent powders, like spices and salt, I also recommend picking up a micro scale, which handles small quantities with more precision.

straining the syrup after reduction

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Digital Thermometer

Polder Digital In-Oven Thermometer

When I'm looking to eliminate cracks by testing a pumpkin pie to ensure it's fully cooked, or taking the temperature of a batch of Swiss meringue to guarantee it whips up as fluffy and light as possible, a digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of every step. Our recommended one works in and out of the oven with equal precision.

ThermoWorks ChefAlarm against a white background

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Microplane

Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater

Whether you're zesting citrus for lemon bars or a lime pie, grating nutmeg, or shaving chocolate, a Microplane will get the job done right. Its sharp, fine edges grate everything into delicate shavings that all but dissolve on the tongue.

pushing the zest from the bottom of a grater in a small prep bowl

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

A Saucier

Stainless Clad Saucier

Thanks to their rounded corners, sauciers make scraping and whisking a breeze, which helps keep stovetop custards (think pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate, and coconut pies) extra creamy and smooth. The thick base of my favorite three-quart stainless steel saucier helps prevent custards from scorching or curdling on the bottom, and the nonreactive metal ensures the filling for my lemon meringue pie will never taste wonky or metallic.

Making pastry cream in a saucier with a hand mid-whisk.

Serious Eats / Tim Chin

A Rolling Pin

J.K. Adams FRP-1 Maple French Rolling Pin

If you've always felt anxious about rolling out a pie dough, it's worth playing the field to find a rolling pin that makes you feel confident in the kitchen. While choosing the best rolling pin is a highly personal process, I love the simplicity of a French pin, which is lighter and more maneuverable than its American cousin (the sort with a rod and ball bearings running through the barrel).

Rolling out dough for cannoli with a rolling pin

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Bench Scraper

oxo bench scraper

After you've rolled out a pie dough, a sturdy bench scraper will make quick work of any mess. It'll scrape up all the flour and stubborn dough scraps left behind, helping you clean up in a few easy swipes. Plus, it's handy for dividing blocks of dough without scratching the counters. In the above picture, I'm using it to divvy up my favorite whole wheat pie dough.

using the oxo bench scraper to cut up pizza dough

Serious Eats / Eric King

A Pie Plate

To bake a pie that's crisp and flaky on the bottom, steer clear of heavy stoneware or thick ceramic plates. They conduct heat too slowly, preventing the dough from puffing up as light as it should. In side-by-side tests, glass and aluminum pans produced superior crusts. I have a stack of ultra-basic Pyrex pie plates at home, but disposable aluminum pans work well, too (especially for picnics and barbecues, when you don't want to lug a dirty pie plate home).

A lattice-topped mixed-fruit pie with a large wedge missing

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Pie Weights

Reynolds Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil

Surprise—this is the one piece of equipment you don't need to buy. To master blind-baking, plain white sugar is the only weight you need. It's heavier than traditional options like rice or beans, and its fine grains mold perfectly to the crust, distributing its heft more evenly than commercial ceramic weights and making air pockets and bubbling a thing of the past. So save your money and skip this so-called "essential." Do be sure to line the pie plate with foil, as parchment is permeable and will allow the sugar to absorb butter from the crust.

Four images showing process of filling pie with sugar.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Pizza Wheel or Fluted Pastry Wheel

OXO-Good-Grips-Large-4-Inch-Pizza-Wheel-and-Cutter

A simple pizza wheel makes it a snap to cut tidy strips of dough for a lattice pie, but a fluted pastry wheel is a fun and easy way to add a bit of flair.

An unbaked pie with a lattice crust

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Pastry Brush

williams-sonoma-walnut-pastry-brush
Matfer Bourgeat Natural Pastry Brush

A pastry brush is the easiest way to apply a thin, even egg wash over pies with a double crust, like a classic apple pie. I prefer those with natural (or thin nylon) bristles, rather than thicker silicone styles, which tend to leave a gloppier trail of egg wash.

A wedge of apple pie on a plate, next to the rest of the pie

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

An Oven Thermometer

Rubbermaid Oven Thermometer

When an oven runs too hot, flaky pie dough turns greasy as the butter weeps out too fast, while Swiss meringue can shrink and char, rather than puff up light and golden brown.

Conversely, when an oven runs too low, it can take eons to bake a blueberry pie, and a blind-baked crust may never turn crisp and brown.

This entire range of problems can be eliminated in one fell swoop with a cheap oven thermometer, so why chance it?

A Stand Mixer

A stand mixer with a whisk attachment whipping egg whites into meringue
KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer

While not key for every pie, a stand mixer makes the fluffiest meringue by far. Hand mixers just don't have the same power needed for aerating egg whites and sugar.

20180624-kitchenaid-stand-mixer-vicky-wasik
Vicky Wasik

Pastry Bags and Tips

DecoPac 18-Inch Disposable Pastry Bags

Though they're not bare-bones essentials, a few disposable pastry bags and a piping tip make it easy to pipe cute dollops of meringue or whipped cream over everything from lime pie to sweet potato pie.

Piping meringue kisses along the edge of a creamy lime pie

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Half-Sheet Pan

Nordic Ware 2-piece sheet set

When your building materials are made out of butter, it's impossible to construct a 100% leakproof container for a boiling liquid. That's why I always recommend baking fruit pies on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment or foil.

Half-sheet pans are ideal for galettes, too, and they make it easy to fetch a chocolate cream pie from the oven without accidentally sticking an oven mitt in the meringue.

baked cookies on a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

A Pie Server

OXO Steel Pie Server

If there's one thing I've learned from making pie after pie for photo shoots in the Serious Eats test kitchen, it's that a simple pie server really does make it easier to lift out the perfect slice. Its tapered design slides right under the crust to support the very tip of each piece so it can be removed without disrupting the slices on either side, while the wide base provides a stable resting place during transfer to a plate.

A Pie Carrier or Box

BRP Box Decorative Pie Box
Tupperware 12-Inch Pie Keeper

You can pop a pie into any ol' box so long as it fits, but a sturdy pie carrier is a lot easier to handle and keeps the pie from sliding around. (I like to sprinkle a layer of baked Epsom salt into the bottom of my pie carrier to manage the humidity in an airtight container.)

And if you're giving pies away to friends and family or the new neighbors across the way, nothing beats a pretty pie box.

Overhead shot of a lattice-topped fruit pie on a layer of Epsom salt in a pie carrier

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A Cherry Pitter

OXO Olive and Cherry Pitter

This unitasker is admittedly good for just one specific chore, but those who love fresh cherry pie know that a good pitter is worth its weight in gold. Plus, you'll be able to plow through all the fruit you need for cherry ice cream and clafoutis in no time flat.

FAQs

Is it better to bake a pie in glass or metal?

Per our baking expert, both glass and metal will do a solid job and result in a flaky crust. Disposable aluminum pie pans also work well. The only pie pans we would avoid are ceramic and stoneware ones; they conduct heat too slowly, preventing the dough from puffing up.

Do I need pie weights?

You don't need pie weights (you can always line the pan with aluminum foil and fill it with dried beans or rice) but if you're frequently baking pies, they might be worth the modest investment. Plus, you can save all those beans and rice and make some New Orleans Red Beans and Rice instead.