Par-baking (also known as blind baking) is an integral step in many pie recipes and a basic technique to have in your back pocket.
Par-baking pie crust sounds pretty intimidating, especially if you’re already nervous about making pie. I’m here to tell you (and show you!) that blind baking pie crust is simple, but there’s a few tips to help guarantee success.
Why would you bake pie crust without a filling? There are a few instances, actually. When you’re making quiche, no-bake pie, custard pie, pumpkin pie, cream pie, pudding pie, or simply want an extra crisp pie crust.
FULL BLIND BAKE / PARTIAL BLIND BAKE
If your pie recipe calls for a baked pie shell, you want to fully bake it. And I teach you how in this blog post. But some recipes require a partially baked pie crust and those recipes will typically include “pre-baking” or “partially baking” the crust in the instructions. I teach you how to do that too. Whether you’re fully blind baking or partially blind baking pie crust, the process is exactly the same; it’s the bake time that differs.
- Fully blind bake a pie crust if you’re making no-bake pie. We obviously don’t want to eat unbaked pie dough.
- Partially blind bake a pie crust if your pie filling requires a shorter bake time than the pie crust. And if you want an extra crisp pie crust for your apple pie— you can partially blind bake the crust before adding the filling.
How to Par-Bake Pie Crust
While the process is quite simple, there’s more to it than just throwing pie dough in a pie dish and baking.
Here’s our problem: As the pie dough bakes, the fat melts. This causes the pie crust to shrink down the sides of the pie dish. And as the fat melts, it creates steam. Steam is both good and bad. It creates DELICIOUS layers and flakes, but also causes the pie dough to puff up when there’s no heavy filling weighing it down.
Here’s our answer: weigh down the pie crust with something so it doesn’t puff up in the center or shrink down the sides. Carefully line the pie dough with parchment paper first, then add some weight. You can purchase special pie weights or you can use dry beans. I’ve also seen the use of granulated sugar and even pennies. I just stick to pie weights. Note: 2 packs of these pie weights is definitely needed!
How to Dock Pie Crust
Since it’s covered with weights, the bottom of the pie crust doesn’t really cook. That’s an easy fix. Once the crust is brown around the edges, carefully remove the parchment paper + weights, then let the crust cook a little longer on its own. I always worry that the bottom of the crust will puff up, so I use a fork to prick holes in it. This allows steam to escape and prevents lots of puff. Pricking holes in pie crust is also called “docking” the pie crust.
Some bakers simply dock the pie crust instead of using pie weights. I never have luck this way! The sides of my pie crust still shrink down. So I always use pie weights, remove them after the edges turn brown, dock the crust with a fork, then return it to the oven so the bottom cooks. The remaining oven time depends on whether you want a partially blind baked pie crust or a fully blind baked pie crust. In some cases, you can pour the filling right in after you remove the pie weights, like we do with pumpkin pie.
How to Prevent Pie Crust from Shrinking
Pie weights prevent the bottom crust from puffing up and help prevent the sides from shrinking down, but up until recently, I still had trouble with the sides losing shape. It was so frustrating. I played around with some techniques and now my pie crusts never shrink. I have a nice thick crust with a beautifully fluted shape around the pie dish. And you can too!
THESE 2 TRICKS SOLVED EVERYTHING
- Make sure you chill your pie shell before par-baking.
- Make sure you have a thick crust on the sides using my “dough strip” technique.
Chilling the pie shell before par-baking doesn’t need much explanation, so let me show you how I create thick edges. You can watch me do this in the video below too!
DOUGH STRIP TECHNIQUE
Roll out your pie dough and fill your pie dish. Grab some extra pie dough, cut into strips, and meld the strips around the edges.
Use your fingers to work the extra strips of dough into the edges.
Now it’s all 1 uniform crust with extra thick and sturdy edges. My dough strip technique uses about 1 and 1/2 pie crusts. No big deal since my pie crust recipe makes 2 crusts. You’ll have 1/2 pie crust leftover for the next time you need dough scraps!
That was a lot of information thrown at you, but I promise it’s manageable.
How to blind bake pie crust.
- Homemade Pie Crust (my recipe makes 2 crusts)
- Make the pie dough: Prepare my pie crust recipe through step 5.
- Watch the video above to see how I work through each of the following steps.
- Roll out the chilled pie dough: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the disks of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is completely smooth.
- Dough strip technique: This step is optional, but will help prevent the sides from shrinking down as well as promise a thick and sturdy crust. Remove the 2nd pie dough disk from the refrigerator. Roll out the same way you rolled out the first one. Using a pizza cutter, slice rounded 1 or 2 inch strips, and arrange around the edges. Use your fingers to meld both crusts together. What you’re basically doing here is adding another layer of crust to just the edges. Flute the edges. They should be nice and thick now! Wrap any leftover pie crust back up to use for next time. Freeze it for up to 3 months.
- Refrigerate or freeze: Chill the pie crust in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months. Cover the pie crust with plastic wrap if chilling for longer than 30 minutes or if you’re freezing it. If you freeze it, let it thaw for a couple hours in the refrigerator before continuing.
- While the crust is chilling, preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Fill with weights: Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper. (Crunch up the parchment paper first so that you can easily shape it into the crust.) Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Make sure the weights are evenly distributed around the pie dish.
- Bake: Bake until the edges of the crust are starting to brown, about 15-16 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and carefully lift the parchment paper (with the weights) out of the pie. Prick holes all around the bottom crust with a fork. Return the pie crust to the oven.
- If you’re making a no-bake pie like banana cream pie and need a fully baked pie crust, bake until the bottom crust is golden brown, about 14-15 minutes longer. For a partially baked pie crust (like if you’re baking the pie crust once it is filled like a quiche) bake until the bottom crust is just beginning to brown, about 7-8 minutes.
- If you’re making a no-bake pie, let the baked crust cool completely before adding the filling. For pies that will go back in the oven, like quiche or pumpkin pie, the crust can still be warm when you add the filling.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can make pie dough and freeze it for up to 3 months. See my pie crust recipe for details. If you want to shape the pie dough ahead of time, see step 5 above.
- Special Tools: Glass Pie Dish | Pie Weights | Pastry Blender | Rolling Pin | Pizza Cutter
- Chill the Crust! The pie crust will shrink if you don’t chill it before blind baking. Chilling in the refrigerator (step 5) is the most important step!