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How to use pie weights

blind baked crustPie weights are used to weight down pie or tart pastry when you are baking. They’re typically used when a crust has to be partially baked – blind baked – before filling to ensure that the crust keeps its shape. If they’re not used, the pastry will often pull away from the sides of your pie plate and shrink or distort its shape.

To use the pie weights, lay your uncooked pie crust in your pie plate. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the crust and gently press it down until it covers the bottom and sides of the crust. Fill foil with pie weights and bake as your recipe directs. The weights are generally removed halfway through baking to give the bottom of the crust a chance to crisp up and cook through.

The exact weight of the pie weights doesn’t matter so long as they are heavy enough to keep the pastry in place. Chains of some kind are a popular design, as are ceramic balls or beads. I prefer to use either dried, uncooked lentils/beans or uncooked rice. Both work just as well as anything specifically labeled a “pie weight” and they’re much cheaper. After baking, I cool them back down and store them in a plastic bag for the next time I’m baking a pie.

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  • Rachel @ Fairycakeheaven
    November 16, 2007

    I use butter beans and they work fantastically, am still coveting a set of ceramic baking beans though!! 🙂

  • LinC
    November 16, 2007

    Cook’s Illustrated magazine recomments using pennies as pie weights (on top of the foil) because the copper conducts the heat very well.

  • Elise
    November 16, 2007

    Recently, enjoying our often made meal of steak, refried pinto beans and salsa….

    Dad: Why are these beans so tough?

    Mom: I don’t know, I don’t understand it. Usually these beans only take 25 minutes in the pressure cooker. These took 35 minutes and they’re still tough. Where did you get them?

    Dad: I don’t remember.

    Mom: They were in a plastic Whole Foods bag. Did you get them from a bin?

    Elise: A Whole Foods bag? MOM, you cooked my PIE WEIGHTS. They’ve been in that Whole Foods bag, marked “pie weights” for 2 YEARS.

    Mom: Well that explains it. They were awfully dry. And dark.

    Dad: Yeah, well they’ve been baked several times already. I feel like a castaway sailor eating the the last of the provisions.

    So there you have it. You can keep pinto beans for 2 years, bake them countless times in pie shells, and still cook them up and eat them.

  • deb
    November 18, 2007

    This is a really helpful entry. I wanted to throw in my two cents, only that I own ceramic pie weights and spent a kind of stupid amount of money on them and don’t think they’re nearly as great to work with as dried beans, which seem to fill out the shape of the shell better. I hope to save others from my mistakes.

    Elise, that story has made me laugh and laugh.

  • jocelyn
    November 19, 2007

    any tips on weighing down the top crust of a fruit pie?

  • Nicole
    November 22, 2007

    Jocelyn – My advice there would be not to even attempt it! It will squash the fruit and, besides, the top of the pie should not need to be weighted down at all.

  • laura
    February 14, 2009

    if you are trying to weigh down the top crust because of the “gap” that forms, than you can let the fruit sit in sugar for 10-15 min before baking. it will soften and release some of the juices before baking instead while baking, which creates that gap that can form under the top crust of an apple pie.

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