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Whenever I make a pie, I have this tiny voice in my head — and it sounds a lot like someone on The Great British Bake Off (ahem, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and nearly every contestant) whispering, “No soggy bottoms.” Because to spend hours making a pie and then ultimately end up with a soft-bottomed crust is just upsetting.
But how do you ensure this doesn’t happen? You par-bake or blind-bake the crust, which entails baking the crust prior to filling it. This ensures your bottom is crisp and will cook through, even after you’ve added your wet filling. However, par-baking or blind-baking are just one part of the no-soggy-bottoms equation. For flakier doughs, you need to use pie weights.
Pie weights do as their name suggests: They weigh down the bottom and sides of the crust to prevent the crust from slumping and bubbling. Not only does a slumped pie crust lose some aesthetic appeal, but it also means there’s less room for the filling. So, yes, pie weights! Get them! What kind, though? That’s what this post is for. Because there are a few different options out there — and just as many DIY options. I performed some tests to find out which ones do the best job, are easiest to handle, and are the most cost-effective.
How I Tested the Pie Weights
To see which pie weights worked the best, I tried four different kinds — ceramic, metal, a pie chain, and a single pie piece — and compared them to sugar, Kitchn’s favorite method (as opposed to beans or rice; read more about that here). I used each tool to blind-bake one all-butter pie crust, following these instructions and using a 9-inch pie plate.
Some pies slumped, seriously, while others stayed perfectly in place. Here’s what I learned, from worst to best method.
The ratings: Each option received a rating. The worst pie weights got a one, and the best got a five. Like the rest of our showdowns, this one considered the final pie crust results, ease, and price. Keep reading — along with the rating, you’ll find more detailed notes.
Pie Weight Option 1: A Pie Chain
A pie chain really lacks the “weight” part of pie weights, which is where it fails. The pie chain I used was a single chain of tiny weights, measuring a — surprising! — 10 feet long and weighing less than half a pound. To use it, you coil the chain inside the base of the pie crust (sans foil or parchment paper, which is typically used to hold pie weights) and put it in the oven. The pie chain lacked the weight or the bulk to prevent the sides of the pie crust from slumping. Pie dough bubbled up between the gaps of the pie chain’s coils and the chain left little ball-shaped impressions in the crust (although this kinda looked pretty?).
Pie Weight Option 2: Single Pie Piece
I bought this single pie piece and had high-ish hopes for it (it has decent ratings on Amazon). And it did fare better than the pie chain. This product weighs about 0.3 pounds and has a perforated metal disk encircled by silicone flaps. To use it, I placed it on the base of the pie crust, with its flaps flaring up against the sides of the crust. Again, though, this pie piece lacked the weight needed to properly blind-bake the crust. So, the pie crust slumped a bit. Cook’s Illustrated notes this pie weight works okay with doughs made from a mix of butter and shortening. However, in my mind, if it doesn’t work with all types of crusts, it’s not a great pie weight. This pie weight also made impressions in the base of the pie crust. And because some parts of the weight were made from metal and others from silicone, the weight itself heated unevenly, causing the crust to bake unevenly, too.
Pie Weight Option 3: Sugar
Instead opting to compare the pie weights against beans or rice (two commonly used pie weight alternatives), I chose granulated sugar. Kitchn has written at length about why sugar makes for a better pie weight, but one of the best parts is that you get toasted sugar out of the deal (which can be used in other deserts!). To use the sugar as a pie weight, I lined my pie crust with parchment and added about a pound of sugar, which was enough to fill the crust right below the rim, making sure to press the sugar into the corners of the pie. The sugar successfully weighed down the bottoms and sides of the crust, ensuring no slumping happened — however, I did notice there was more bubbling at the base of the pie than my two favorite pie weight options (below). I also found the sugar harder to remove than solid pie weights, and a bit of it did breach the rim of the foil and fall into the pie crust. However, it is the most cost-effective option of the bunch.
Pie Weight Option 4: Metal Pie Weights
These pie weights are made from aluminum and come in one (two-pound) package. To use them, I lined the pie crust with parchment and pressed the weights into an even layer to make sure they were flat against the crust. The pie crust turned out nicely blind-baked, with no slumping or major bubbling. I also liked that the container the weights came in was spacious, making it easy to pour the cooled weights back into post-baking. The biggest drawback of these weights was their price: At about $45 they were the most expensive of all the weights I tried.
Pie Weight Option 5: Ceramic Pie Weights
These ceramic pie weights performed just as well as the metal pie weights, but at about half the price. Each package of these pie weights contained 1 cup of weights, or about a half a pound. To fill an entire pie shell with enough weights to properly blind-bake the pie, I needed 2 pounds or 4 packages of these pie weights, which is important to note when you go to buy them. To use these, I lined a pie crust with parchment and filled it with the weights. And, hip hip hooray! The crust didn’t bubble or puff and the sides didn’t slump. The one frustrating thing about these pie weights is that you have to buy them in four separate containers, versus one larger container, and I found it harder to pour the cooled pie weights back into their individual, smaller vessels. However, in the future, I think I’ll just opt to store them in a large reusable container or resealable bag.
What are your go-to pie weights? Let us know in the comments?