The Haeger Natural Stone Deep Pie Dish ($18 to $25, depending on where you purchase it) is the best pie plate for pies of all kinds. This heavy stoneware plate conducts heat slowly and uniformly, creating perfectly browned, crisp crusts and evenly cooked fillings. In our testing, it baked a variety of pies on par with an industry favorite nearly twice as expensive. It’s also a pretty dish, with ruffled edges that will help even novice bakers make a perfectly fluted edge every time.
If you’re looking for a shallower, less expensive plate, we recommend the Pyrex Bakeware 9 Inch Pie Plate ($8). At first, we thought this would be our first choice, because glass pans are a favorite of many professional and home bakers due to the fact that you can see the crust as it browns. However, Pyrex changed their glass formula from virtually shatterproof borosilicate to tempered soda lime sometime in the past few decades. As a result, a small percentage of this bakeware has been exploding in people’s ovens (and even on countertops), raising concerns about baking in glass. We didn’t encounter any problems in our own testing, yet because of the minor (but real) safety issues, we can’t recommend this pan for everyone.1
I came to these conclusions after 12 hours of research, interviewing three bakers (including two pie making instructors), polling members of the American Pie Council and spending many more hours in my kitchen making blind-baked crusts, apple pies and quiches in four top-rated pans.
Who should buy a pie plate?
Of course, you can always buy those flimsy supermarket tins for the occasional pie, but these pans won’t cook your pies as evenly, they can be a hassle to work with and they’re not as pretty if you’re planning to present them on the table.
Despite the fact that the majority of pie plates probably sit in a cupboard until Thanksgiving, they can come in handy year-round—and for more than just sweets. If the pan is deep enough, you can make things like frittatas and pot pies. You can also make dishes associated with other specialty tart or springform pans, such as quiche and cheesecake.
Maybe you’re already a confirmed pie baker and need no convincing. But if you only have a metal pan in your arsenal, you might want to consider investing in a glass or stoneware one that will cook more evenly.
What makes a kick-ass pie plate?
A pie pan is simply a round baking dish with slightly sloped sides and a rim to make a nice “fluted” edge—that ripply crust we all recognize on a perfect pie. In recent years, manufacturers have introduced new features such as mesh bottoms and special crust protectors. In my research, I’ve found that simpler pie pans usually win out in reviews. But simple things are often difficult to evaluate because there’s only so many points of differentiation.
For a rundown on the basics of pie plates, I reached out to three experts. Kate McDermott is a Seattle-based pie making teacher who’s been featured in the New York Times and makes it a practice to bake a pie a day. Because she works with hundreds of students who bring their own pie plates to class, she knows a lot about what’s available. Sarah Carey, the editor of Everyday Food, has done a lot of pie baking and recipe development both for that magazine and as the former deputy food editor at Martha Stewart Living. Ken Haedrich has written several cookbooks on pie baking and runs the website The Pie Academy.
Measurements matter as well. Although pie pans range in size from 8 inches to about 10 ½ inches, a 9 inch pan seems to be the standard in most cookbook recipes. (That pan measurement should be taken between the inside rims.) A small rim around the edge of the pie plate makes it easier to flute the edge of the pie. Cook’s Country says that rim should be about ½ inch. Some newer plates come with a rippled rim, so you essentially have a blueprint or guide for making a fluted edge with the pastry dough. Kate McDermott thinks this can be helpful. “I think, for a novice baker, if you want to look like a million bucks, get one of those pans with deep fluting on it,” she says.
Whether you prefer a shallow or deep-dish pan may come down to preference. For example, McDermott currently likes her deep-dish Emile Henry for fruit pies because she can cut tall, thin slices packed with fruit, sandwiched with minimal crust. However, if you’re a fan of icebox pies (such as lemon meringue) you might want a shallower pan that allows for a thin layer of filling and heaps of pillowy meringue on top.
We think a pie pan should be a buy-it-for-life item. The beauty of this category, though, is even really nice pie pans aren’t all that expensive. You can get a pie pan that will last a long time for as little as $8. Even “expensive” ones won’t cost more than $40.
More than other kitchen equipment, the aesthetics of a pie pan are important for the home baker. You want a pan that performs well, but you want something that’s also beautiful to present on the table, whether for holiday gatherings or summer potlucks. Many professional bakers (and some home bakers) are perfectly happy with a $8 Pyrex dish, because it will reliably bake great crusts and can last a long time if treated well. However, those who want a ceramic or stoneware pan that has a little more color or personality should expect to spend between $20 and $35.
A wide variety of companies make pie pans. Some of the most popular higher-end pans include ceramic ones made by Le Creuset and Emile Henry. Popular budget-friendly options include metal pans by Chicago Metallics and glass and glass laminate pans by CorningWare and Pyrex.
This leads me to address the Pyrex conundrum. As I mentioned, bakers love making pies in glass pans because they can see the crust browning. These pans are cheap and durable, and they have been a favorite of pie makers for generations. Most professional bakers and avid home bakers seem to have at least one of these in their collection. But that small chance of explosive shattering is significant enough to warrant thinking twice before buying.
In recent years, there have been multiple reports of Pyrex pans exploding in moderately heated ovens, and even out of the oven. In 2011, Consumer Reports published an extensive story on this that raised the alarm for many people. The issue can be traced to Pyrex’s decision to switch from more heat-resistant borosilicate glass to tempered soda lime. It’s still heat resistant, but it’s less so than borosilicate. Again, this isn’t an issue for the vast majority of people, but if it worries you, it’s worth looking into other options.1
How we picked
As a starting point, I consulted the only good reviews I found of pie plates, which came by the way of Cook’s Country and Good Housekeeping. The Cook’s Country review only looked at one ceramic pan (the Rose Levy Beranbaum) and the Good Housekeeping review seemed dated, as many of the plates they featured are currently unavailable or discontinued. Because of this, I looked more closely at user reviews on Amazon and other retailer sites and took the advice of my experts.
I also asked the American Pie Council to query their Facebook members about what they like to use. They overwhelmingly preferred either Pyrex or stoneware (there was a general preference for Emile Henry plates). Kate McDermott posted the same question to her pie-loving Facebook group, Pie Nation. “The vast majority of bakers said they liked their Pyrex pans because they could see the bottom,” said McDermott. “Limeware was not a favorite, though; old Pyrex was. Next were one-off pottery pans that were handcrafted and Le Creuset and Emile Henry.”
Based on this research, we narrowed the pans I wanted to test to four: the Emile Henry 9-inch Pie Plate (about $34); the Rose Levy Beranbaum Perfect Pie Plate ($22), a newer plate developed by the author of books like The Pie and Pastry Bible; a dark horse, the Haeger Natural Stone Deep Pie Dish ($25), which looks almost exactly like the Emile Henry plate, except it has an unglazed interior; and the classic and well-loved Pyrex Bakeware 9-Inch Pie Plate ($8).
How we tested
Similar to Cook’s Country, we wanted a pie plate that was versatile enough to bake a variety of pies. We modeled our testing after theirs, blind-baking pie crusts and making double-crust apple pies and quiches. As a final test, we baked a graham cracker crust in our front-running plate to make sure it didn’t slump, crack or crumble.
We looked to see whether the plates browned the crust of the pies evenly on the bottom and sides. We also wanted to see if the plates cooked the pie filling evenly. For the quiche, we looked to see that the pan cooked the center of the filling without overcooking the edges. If the pans had ruffled rimes, we noted how easy it was to make fluting. We also noted if baked-on fruit juices or egg were difficult to wash from the pan.
Most bakers like to chill their dough, in the pan, before putting it in the oven (this helps reduce shrinkage, and keeping everything cold results in a flakier crust). We tested whether the pans could go from the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes (or the refrigerator for an hour) directly into the preheated oven. Even though this goes against manufacturers’ instructions, it’s a crucial step in successful pie baking. To reduce the risk of the plates cracking or shattering, we placed each chilled pan on a room-temperature sheet pan before placing into the preheated oven.
For consistency, we baked each pie individually on the same rack, to make sure they were all exposed to the same heat. Like Cook’s Country, we tested using pre-made dough. However, we found all the pre-made doughs difficult to make really pretty fluting with and inferior overall, so we eventually switched over to the homemade variety.
In the end I ended up baking 8 pies and 5 more crusts alone.
We found that the Haeger Natural Stone Deep Pie Dish (~$25) did everything we needed it to at nearly half the price of the Emile Henry, without any of the shattering risks of Pyrex, and with more even baking than other competitors, like the Rose Levy Beranbaum plate.
At first, we had reservations about the Haeger’s unglazed stoneware interior. According to the manufacturer, this interior will season over time, absorbing fat and oil, and essentially become nonstick. We were curious whether crusts would stick to the unseasoned surface and if, once seasoned, the finish would be tedious to clean (like cast iron). We didn’t need to worry on either point. In each test, the pie crust released effortlessly from the pan, which also happened to clean up easily. You can wash the pan with soap and even in the dishwasher.
The Haeger doesn’t come with a great warranty—only a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty. However, I found their customer service responsive. I called, anonymously, saying my pan had a crack in it and the company FedEx’d me a replacement in three days. When I called Emile Henry (which has a 3 year warranty) with the same complaint, I was linked to a voicemail, and, as of press time, hadn’t heard back from them.
I did not find other editorial reviews of the Haeger. However, it gets high Amazon user reviews (4.9 stars out of 5). I also read good reviews about this plate on Chefs Catalogue. Many reviewers compare it to Emile Henry pie pans and other French ceramic plates. For the price, this is a great deal. If you needed to snag two plates—say, to make pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving—you could pick up two for almost the same price as one Emile Henry.
For risk takers
As I mentioned before, the actual percentage of Pyrex pans exploding in the oven is actually pretty minimal, particularly if you use your pan according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Except for one instance, the experts I spoke with haven’t had any issues with baking in Pyrex. “I always use glass plates and have never had a problem,” said Sarah Carey. She bakes her pies at 375°F.
We did find the Pyrex a little tougher to clean than the Haeger. Even after just three tours through the oven, I found it hard to scrub of the brown spots that formed on the bottom of the Pyrex.
Because the Haeger Natural Stone Deep Pie Dish bakes just as evenly as the Pyrex without the risk of shattering in the oven, we think it’s a better choice for most people. But if you don’t mind the minimal safety issues, we think the Pyrex makes beautiful pies at a bargain.
Bring on the color!
Emile Henry plates are almost identical in shape and design to the Haeger plate, except they’re a few ounces lighter, are glazed on the interior and come in a wider range of colors. Where the Haeger plates are made in the U.S., Emile Henry makes all of their pottery in France.
What you’re really paying extra for here is a prettier color palette.
Where the Haeger only comes in blue and white (as well as paprika, if you purchase at Macy’s) the Emile Henry can be had in deliciously French sounding hues, like Figue, Citron, and Nougat.
Emile Henry plates also come with a longer, albeit less responsive, warranty—ranging from 3 years to 10 years, depending on where you buy them.
In our testing, we found the Haeger Natural Stone Deep Pie Dish and Emile Henry plates baked almost exactly the same. We liked how the Haeger is a little heavier and feels a little more durable. And, of course, we like the Haeger’s cheaper price tag. But if you want a wider range of colors or a longer warranty, you won’t go wrong with the Emile Henry plate.
The Rose Levy Beranbaum Perfect Pie Plate ($22) was recommended in America’s Test Kitchen’s review and receives good user reviews on Amazon (4 out of 5 stars). We found that it tended to brown the crust a little unevenly. The center of the bottom of the crust remained lightly toasted, when the edges got a deep dark color. America’s Test Kitchen also found that the fluted edges, which are flatter and deeper than those on the Emile Henry and Haeger, browned more quickly than the rest of the crust.
Other plates we looked at
Le Creuset Stoneware Pie Dish: Although this receives decent Amazon reviews and was recommended by Kate McDermott, it wasn’t rated more highly than the other ceramic dishes we chose to test, and we also read bad reviews about other Le Creuset bakeware, which is now made in China (unlike Le Creuset enameled cast-iron, which is still made in France). This isn’t a knock against Chinese produced cookware; it’s just that Le Creuset’s higher prices come with the expectation of French origin.
Pyrex Easy Grab 9½-Inch Pie Plate: Cook’s Country only recommended this plate with reservation.
Hess Pottery Pie Plates: Ken Haedrich, of The Pie Academy, said this is the “Lexus of pie pans.” Made of natural red clay with no glaze, it gets a good review from The Kitchn and is mentioned in this New York Times article. It looks beautiful, yet at $40 for the plate plus $25 for shipping, it was too expensive to consider for this review.
Anchor Hocking Glass Pie Dish: This dish looks identical to the Pyrex dish we tested, and is also made of soda lime glass—so ii’s subject to the same baking risks. This did not have as many user reviews as the Pyrex pan and no editorial reviews, so we opted to only test the Pyrex one.
Paula Deen Stoneware 9” Pie Plate Pate: Good Housekeeping reviewed this, but it appears to be discontinued.
World Kitchen CorningWare French White Pie Plate. Didn’t find reliable reviews of this and not higher than standard Pyrex dish.
Chantal Pure Classic Pie Dish: Did not receive higher reviews than the dishes we tested.
Pfaltzgraff Deep Dish Pie Plate: Good Housekeeping didn’t like this dish, finding it “didn’t deliver as crispy a bottom crust as most and was very difficult to clean up.”
CorningWare SimplyLite 9-Inch Pie Plate: This was only recommended with reservations by Cook’s Country, and doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon or other sites (at least, not under this name).
We also looked at glass pans made by Arc International (makers of European Pyrex). These pans are still made of borosilicate glass and may be safer than the soda-lime pans available in the U.S. We chose not to test these pans because they are not easy to find in the States. Bed Bath & Beyond sells several of their roasting dishes, but not the pie pans.
We also looked at a range of metal plates, but discounted them as they are not as versatile for baking a variety of pies as ceramic, stoneware or glass ones. If you still want one, we read good things about the OvenStuff Non-Stick 9 Inch Pie Pan Two Piece Set ($16), which is an Amazon best-seller and gets good user reviews (4.9 out of 5 stars). Ken Haedrich likes the nonstick Goldtouch ($19) sold by Williams-Sonoma.
“If you take a really cold pie pan, one that you’ve let chill up in the freezer, don’t put it directly into a hot oven,” says Kate McDermott. Instead, she advises letting it warm up slightly before putting in the oven. “I rarely put a pie pan directly from the freezer into a full 425 oven,” she says. She did this once, and her Pyrex pan broke.
In our testing, we chilled our dough in the pans before baking. However, we never placed the cold dish directly on the hot oven rack; instead we placed the dish on a room-temperature cookie sheet, and then placed that in the oven.
Both Haeger and Pyrex also say you should avoid putting their pans under the broiler, placing hot pans on a wet surface or adding water to a hot pan.
A few hot tips
McDermott, who teaches pie-making classes in people’s homes, told me about a nifty trick for testing for cold and hot spots in your oven. She places slices of white bread on the oven racks and notes which ones brown and which ones stay pale—these are your hot and cold pockets.
I tried this in my own oven and was quickly able to map hot and cold spots.
Placing your pie pan on a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper) will make it easy to take the pan in and out of the oven—plus it’ll catch any drips from messing up the bottom of your oven.
If you’ve ever struggled making perfect fluted edges on a double crust, I like the tip I picked up from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. After fitting the bottom layer of dough into the pie pan, trim the overhang with kitchen shears to ½ inch. After placing the top layer of dough over the filling, trim the edges to 1 inch, tuck under the edge of the bottom layer and crimp the two layers together.
Our favorite crust recipe
Although you can purchase ready-made pie dough, we’ve found that the homemade variety tastes far better, it’s generally easier to work with and it comes out much flakier (if you keep all your ingredients cold). Plus, homemade dough isn’t hard to make.
If you have a food processor, we like this recipe from Martha Stewart. If you have a pastry cutter, try this Smitten Kitchen recipe. And if you don’t have any specialty mixing equipment, you can always use a regular old box grater to shave cold butter into your flour mixture and blend everything together with a few forks.
Wrapping it up
To make great pies, you don’t need the fanciest or most expensive pie plate. What you want is a pan that bakes a uniformly brown and crisp crust while evenly cooking a variety of fillings. (It’s also nice if it looks pretty.) For that, we recommend the Haeger Natural Stone Deep Pie Dish ($25). If you want a very basic, shallow pan that you can see through—and if you don’t mind the safety issues of baking in soda lime glass—we recommend the Pyrex Bakeware 9-Inch Pie Plate ($8).