If you're a fan of The Great British Bake Off like me, you too are afraid of making a pie with a soggy bottom. Nothing can ruin your day like putting tons of effort into a pie baking project, only to find out that the bottom of your slice is pale and soft instead of golden brown and delicious when you go to serve it.
We tested 9 top-rated whisks to find the best one for light, airy egg whites and thick, creamy puddings.
A well-baked pie should slide right out of the pan, whole. I know it sounds a little crazy if you’ve never tried it before, but if your pie is baked perfectly the bottom crust should be evenly browned enough for you to achieve this feat, and the right pan can help you get there.
I know from years of baking that metal pie dishes are my favorite for fruit pies, which benefit from metal’s excellent conductivity. But, I was curious to revisit glass and ceramic options to see if they were an overall better choice for other types of pie.
A Note About Types of Pie Dishes
There are three main categories of pie dishes on the market today: glass, ceramic, and metal. In this test, I set out to find the best all-purpose dish for all of your pie needs. All three materials have benefits, but versatility was the name of the game here.
Glass’s main draw is that you can easily monitor the bottom and sides of the pie as it is baking. Metal pans conduct heat exceptionally well and are generally thinner than glass and ceramic making them champs in the browning department. Metal pans can also be safely be transferred from the fridge or freezer to the oven with no risk of shattering like some glass and ceramic models, although thin metal dishes can warp. Ceramic dishes are beautiful and well insulated, making them a top choice for custard pies with delicate fillings, and they excel in the presentation department. They also tend to be a bit deeper than standard glass and metal dishes which can be helpful for some recipes, but not so much with others.
To find the best, I gathered eight, 9-inch pie dishes: two metal, three glass, and three ceramic and put them through their paces by baking a blueberry pie and a Key lime pie. Rest assured, there will be no soggy bottoms on my watch.
The Best Pie Plate Overall: Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Pie Dish
This sturdy metal dish performed exceptionally well in both tests. The pies baked evenly to a perfect golden brown color and the slices were easy to remove when cool. This dish especially excelled in the berry pie test, and produced the most evenly baked and crisp crust of the bunch. Williams Sonoma’s site claims that the Goldtouch ceramic based coating is more durable than other non-stick surfaces. However, they do recommend using wooden or silicone tools with the dish. When I used metal tools they scratched the surface of the plate, but in the short-term the scratches didn’t seem to have any negative effect on the utility of the dish. Pies still baked up golden and tasty, and the slices were easy to remove from the pan without leaving any residue behind.
The Best Budget Pie Plate: Pyrex 9-inch Pie Dish
The Pyrex 9-inch Pie Dish has been around for a long time for good reason. It's just the right size for most recipes, it’s sturdy, inexpensive, and it bakes quite evenly. Being able to see through the bottom to check the browning on the crust is also a huge bonus for novice and experienced bakers alike. The dish was slightly harder to clean than my number one pick and had some stickage issues with the graham cracker crust, but it was nothing a little scrub couldn't take care of.
There have been incidents of Pyrex bakeware shattering in recent years which is why this dish ended up in second place. I didn’t have any issues while I was baking and anecdotally haven’t heard of this happening to any of the bakers I know, but make sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions when using these dishes to reduce the small chance of your dish shattering.
To test the pie dishes, I baked a double-crust berry pie in each. Based on their performance in this initial test, I then chose my top five pans and baked a key lime pie with a pat in the pan graham cracker crust to see how they'd handle a custard rather than fruit pie. Each pie was baked on top of an aluminum half sheet pan to catch any possible spillage. All pies were baked in the same oven with the rack in the same position. The pies were all checked and rotated at the same intervals during the bake time.
Does the pan feel like it's made of high-quality materials and like it could last for many blueberry pie-filled summers and pumpkin-pie packed Thanksgivings? Is it easy to wash and care for?
I wanted a pie dish that was easy to transport in and out of the oven, and overall easy to carry.
Does the pan allow for even browning from top to bottom and crisp crusts that are easy to remove?
Does the pan perform equally well for flaky crusted fruit pies and pat in the pan cookie crusts? Does the shape and size of the pan limit the types of recipes that can be made in it?
Does a higher price equal better design or functionality? Pie pans in this test ranged from about $10-$40 with the glass and metal plates on the low end of the price spectrum and the ceramic plates on the high end.
Other Pie Plates I Tested
The USA Pan Aluminized Steel Pie Pan was also a favorite. Pies baked beautifully in this metal plate. It has a ridged bottom meant to facilitate air circulation and add warp resistance and it did a wonderful job browning the bottom crust of the berry pie. The BPA-free silicone coating helped slices slide right out, but scratched after using metal utensils. USA recommends hand washing the pan which could be a turn off for folks who’d prefer to use a dishwasher.
OXO makes a solid borosilicate glass pie dish (the Pyrex is made of soda lime glass) which is thermal shock resistant, meaning that it can go from the freezer to the oven safely, but its 2-inch depth made the crust of the berry pie shrink down into to the pan and I imagine most recipes not specifically written for a deep-dish pie pan would suffer the same fate. The rim was also a bit trickier to hold onto than the Pyrex, which is why this was my second favorite glass dish. However, if you like to take your pies to go, this dish comes with a very handy cover.
The Anchor Hocking 9.5’’ Deep Dish Pie Plate also proved to be a bit too large to handle the recipes I tested it with, and the crust on the blueberry pie slumped down into the dish which made the slices tricky to remove. However, the two little handles on this glass dish made it easy to move in and out of the oven without disturbing the crust and made me wish the Pyrex had that little feature as well.
The ceramic dishes I tested were at the high end of the price range of my test subjects and they were all beautiful, but generally they were a bit too deep for most standard 9-inch pie recipes. I tested the Emile Henry 9’’ Modern Classics Pie Dish, Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Perfect Pie Plate, and Le Creuset’s Heritage Pie Dish and while crusts baked in these ceramic dishes were golden and delicious the pans’ fluted edges limited my options for crimping the edge of the berry pie’s crust. It was also quite tricky to pat a graham cracker crust into these ruffled edged pans which took them out of the running for the top spot in this test due to lack of versatility. Of this batch I liked the Emile Henry and Le Creuset equally.
Any of the top picks in this ranking would be excellent additions to your bakeware collection, but its slick non-stick surface and sturdy design made the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch pie plate my number one choice to take pies of all varieties to the next level. The Pyrex is a great budget option and as long as you treat it as intended, it should serve you well for years to come.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious