Pie vs. Tart: What’s the Difference?

updated Nov 30, 2022
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Our Pie Bakeoff is in full swing (have you entered your best pie yet?) For the next few weeks we are running posts each day with different types of pie recipes, tips and inspiration, and soon we will begin posting entries from the contest.

The question has been posed, May I enter the bakeoff with a tart? The answer is yes. While pies and tarts are two distinct things, they are close enough cousins that we will accept them both. A galette is another cousin who is invited to party. They are all baked desserts, wrapped in crust and filled with sweetness, but pies and tarts differ in their crusts as well as the dishes they’re made in.

Now, for a little lesson on the differences between them.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A pie is a sweet or savory dish with a crust and a filling, like a classic apple pie recipe. The sides of a pie dish or pan are slopedIt can have a just a bottom, just a top, or both a bottom and a top crust. A pie crust is traditionally made of flour, salt, cold water, and lard (or shortening) but many pie crust recipes use a combination of fats such as butter, lard, or vegetable shortening, or just butter. The goal is a crisp, flaky crust. Pies are served straight from the dish in which they were baked.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A tart is a sweet or savory dish with shallow sides and only a bottom crust. Tart crusts are usually made from pastry dough: traditionally flour, unsalted butter, cold water, and sometimes sugar. The goal is a firm, crumbly crust. Tarts are baked in a pan with a removable bottom, or in pastry ring on top of a baking sheet so that it can be unmolded before serving.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A galette is a round pastry wrapped and fruit filled dessert that is baked on a baking sheet. They are very easy to make because they are virtually formless. The apricot galette pictured above is from my cookbook, The Greyston Bakery Cookbook.

Three Recipes for Pie Crust
Classic Recipe (and Video): Martha Stewart’s Pâte Brisée
(images: Strawberry Tart by John Kelly from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook, Pecan Pie via flickr member museinthecity licensed under Creative Commons)