You’re Using Pie Weights All Wrong. Here’s How to Really Do It.

updated Feb 13, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Par baking and blind baking pie crusts are different things — the former is a partial bake and the latter a full bake. But one thing they both have in common is that they feel like magic tricks gone wrong. A tall, perfectly crimped dough goes into the oven, and poof! —out comes a shrunken-down something that barely reaches the top of the pan. What happened?

It’s easy to assume the problem lies with the dough itself — maybe it was rolled too thin, or it didn’t rest for long enough. And while either could be true, the more likely culprit is actually much easier to solve for: You’re just not using enough pie weights!

Expert pie baker and cookbook author Erin McDowell shared this tip during our virtual Thanksgiving Food Fest more than two years ago, and the tip still holds true to this day — especially as we head into spring baking season.

While walking us through her Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie — which she says is already one of the most popular recipes from her book, The Book on Pie— she revealed that what many people assume is a shrunken crust as a result of the dough is actually a slumped crust caused by too few weights.

How To Use Pie Weights For A Better Pie Crust

According to Erin, the job of pie weights is two-fold: to weigh down the bottom of the crust and to provide support to the sides. Don’t be misled by the small containers of pie weights sold in stores — every time you par bake a pie, you should fill the pie plate all the way to the top edge with weights. This rule holds true no matter what type of pie weights you use, from dried beans to sugar to ceramic weights.

When Should You Par Bake and Blind Bake A Pie Crust?

Anytime you’re baking a pie with a wet filling, Erin says to go with par baking to give the pie crust a head-start to crisp up, otherwise it won’t bake sufficiently in the amount of time it takes for the custard to bake. Blind baking is used when the filling is cold set (or never goes into the oven), like lemon curd.

Credit: Brittany Conerly

You’ll know your pie is properly par baked if it looks set, but not doughy, and you can easily rotate it and remove it from the pan. If the dough sticks to the bottom of the pan, that means it’s soggy and needs more time. Erin’s rule of thumb is to par bake the crust at 425°F for 12 to 15 minutes with the weights on top, then another three to four minutes without the weights.

Ready to give it a try? Check out Erin’s recipe for Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie.

And make sure to follow Erin McDowell on Instagram and on the web for even more delicious pie inspiration.