Properly blind baking a pie crust will allow you to achieve the right texture for sweet and savory desserts. It’s a simple culinary technique to prevent sogginess.
Table of Contents
- What is blind baking?
- Why do you par-bake?
- Full vs. partial baking
- Dock for extra vents
- Line the crust
- Pie weights
- Baking temperature
- For partially baked crusts
- brush with egg wash (optional)
- For fully baked crusts
- If the edges brown too fast
- Additional ways to prevent shrinking
- Pies to try
- How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust Recipe
Blind baking, also called par-baking is when you cook a single crust pie or tart dough before adding the filling. Why is it done? The technique helps set the structure for the bottom of the pie crust, either by semi or fully baking the dough. When correctly done, blink baking prevents the crust from tasting raw and yields sturdy slices.
You’ll find that recipes may call for this step, especially when adding a runny custard, like pumpkin pie or lemon meringue. The type of pie will determine the temperature and cook time, which often varies. If you’re an avid baker and like to use a homemade pie crust, you can apply the blind baking technique to achieve stunning results for your creations. Don’t be intimidated! I’ll cover the basics and set you up for success.
What is blind baking?
It’s just a fancy term for partially or fully baking a pie or tart crust without any filling. There are multiple reasons to do this. But it generally helps with shape retention in the pie plate, setting the proteins in the raw dough for better structure and preventing the crust’s bottom from getting soggy.
Why do you par-bake?
Pre-baking the dough is most often used for single-crust recipes. Pie dough is typically a mixture of flour, butter, salt, and water; as it heats, the pockets of fat melt. The void spaces cause the sides of the dough to shrink down in the pan. Over time, the moisture in the butter turns to steam.
The steam creates a flaky texture in the crust. However, without the weight of the filling ingredients to hold the crust down, the pastry puffs up too much. It will stay this way if the proteins in the dough set completely. It’s hard to add filling when the bottom crust has a massive bubble in the center. The solution: blind baking!
Full vs. partial baking
Fully blind baking until the crust is dry to the touch, golden in color, and crisp is a must when the filling does not require further baking. It should be ready to eat once filled. Examples include chocolate or banana cream pie or fresh fruit pies.
Partially blind baking is for runny fillings that risk sogginess or when the filling cooks faster than the crust. Egg custards run this risk and will get rubbery and dry if over-baked. Many quiches and custard-based fillings like coconut pie fall into the partial category.
Dock for extra vents
This step is not required but can help with bubbling. Use the tines of a fork and press them multiple times into the crust, about 1-inch apart. This process creates vents that allow steam to escape, preventing bubbles in the crust. However, I see more shrinking when this is done alone.
I’ve had the best success when still using pie weights plus docking to hold its shape better. You can also dock the dough after the initial par-bake with weights to prevent any pockets of steam from rising, especially since the covered area will still be uncooked. This technique works great for the final phase of fully baking the crust.
Line the crust
Once the pie crust is in the pan and ready to bake, use a piece of parchment paper or foil (greased on the underside) to shield the crust. It should be large enough to completely cover the bottom and some overhang on the edges to make it easy to remove. You’ll add the pie weights on top of this lining.
Pie weights help keep the side of the crust from severely slumping and keep the bottom crust flat, preventing it from lifting from the steam. Options include ceramic pie weights, stainless steel metal beads, dry rice, uncooked beans, granulated sugar, or another pie plate set on top.
I prefer ceramic because it distributes heat evenly and has a high heat resistance of 480ºF (249ºC). I love that I can reuse it over and over too. Add just enough to cover the bottom and sides. I find that ceramic is heavier, so I use a little less, but make sure the sides and the base are evenly covered.
I use 375ºF (191ºC) for baking. It’s hot enough to cook the dough and encourage Maillard browning without being so hot that it burns or is too cool that the crust doesn’t set correctly. The temperature is often reduced to 350ºF (177ºC) to cook the filling over a more extended period gently.
For partially baked crusts
The edges should be lightly golden and just set and not puff up in the center, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crust. Once I take the crust out of the oven, I let the weights sit for 5 minutes to deflate any steam.
You’ll notice that the dough under the weights will be slightly raw. For quiche and custard pies like pecan, bake another 5 minutes to help set the surface, then add the filling.
brush with egg wash (optional)
After the initial baking step to set the crust, remove the weights. The area underneath the weights will be raw and require more baking to dry and brown. One thing you can do is lightly brush the crust with egg wash and bake again until fully cooked. You can do this with just one whisked egg.
The egg wash creates a protective film and moisture barrier, keeping the texture crisp. This step is optional. However, I will do it by docking the dough with holes to prevent any liquid from seeping into the crust.
For fully baked crusts
Bake with pie weights for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove and continue baking until the entire surface is golden brown and dry, about 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness. I like to check halfway and deflate any air pockets with a fork or spoon to tap it down gently. Alternatively, you can dock with holes after the initial 15 minutes to reduce puffing.
If the edges brown too fast
If the edges of the crust start to darken too much, but the center or filling is not done yet, cover it with foil wrapped around the edges or use a silicone pie crust shield.
Additional ways to prevent shrinking
As the butter melts and proteins cook and tighten in the pie dough, it’s normal for the crust to shrink. Beyond using pie weights, there are a few things you can do.
- Chill and rest the dough (about 4-hours) for homemade crust. This duration prevents the gluten network from contracting too tightly and tasting tough.
- Bake the crust when still cool. If needed, let it chill in the refrigerator after rolling and shaping or freeze for about 20 minutes. This process slows down the butter melting rate, so the proteins and starches can form a structure around the pockets of fat in the crust.
- Make the edges thicker than the sides and bottom of the crust. This technique provides more weight to keep the edges from shrinking down too much. I crimp the edges on the rim of the pie plate or a little over if it’s narrow.
Pies to try
Yes! You can bake the crust a few days ahead of time. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days, or even freeze for 3 months. Just defrost, unwrap, and fill.
Only if you prick holes on the bottom and sides of the unbaked crust, this technique is called docking, and it provides vents to prevent bubbling. However, there is a risk that the sides will shrink with no weight to push against it.
With no weight to hold down the dough, the bottom will set up puffy, and the sides will shrink. Short edges and less room for the filling is not a desirable pie shell to use.
Store-bought tends to be thinner than homemade, so less baking time is needed. Keep a close eye on color change and doneness. Defrost frozen pie crust before using.
Why blind-baked pies taste better
If you bake a pie with raw dough and wet filling together, a lot of steam is generated in the oven. The moisture causes the crust to take longer to set and prevents it from browning and developing deeper flavors. More time is needed to evaporate the steam, delaying color change. The Maillard reaction only occurs when the surface temperature of the food reaches 300°F (149°C). Par-bake the crust first, then add the filling to achieve a more delicious pie.
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How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust
- 1 homemade pie crust, makes 2 crusts
- If using my pie crust recipe, prepare the dough up until step 5. It should be formed into a 1” thick round disc, wrapped in plastic wrap, and placed in a resealable bag. Chill for at least 4 hours before using, or up to 2 days.
- Once removed from the refrigerator, allow the crust to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit longer until more pliable.
- Dust the counter and dough with flour. When rolling out, make sure to rotate and dust with flour to prevent sticking and make it easier to transfer to the pie dish. Roll the dough into a 13 to 14-inch circle, slightly less than ¼-inch thick.
- Place the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess leaving a ½-inch overhang. Tuck the excess underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the dough using the pointer and thumb fingers. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Place the oven rack in the center position—Preheat to 375°F (190°C). Place the pie dish on a sheet pan, then place a piece of parchment paper or foil inside the pie dish with some overhang to make it easy to lift out. Add the pie weights to cover the bottom and sides, do not overfill.
- For a partially blind-baked crust: Bake until the sides are just set and light brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the weights to sit in the crust for 5 minutes to press down any puffed-up areas. Carefully lift the parchment paper filled with weights out of the dish and set it aside. It will not be used again. Bake for 5 more minutes. It’s okay to add the filling when the crust is warm. Follow the remaining instructions for your specific recipe for baking with a filling.
- For a fully blind-baked crust: After removing the pie weights, you have the option to dock (lightly poke) around the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork to reduce puffing up. Bake for 15 minutes. Check to see if the bottom and sides have shrunk slightly. If needed, use a spoon to press the bottom and sides, but don’t force it too much. Bake again until golden brown and dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. If needed, cover the edges of the pie crust with foil or a pie shield if it’s browning too quickly. Transfer to a cooling rack and until completely cooled, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Recipe Yield: My pie crust recipe and nutrition information is for two crusts.
- Docking option: To help reduce puffing of the crust, use a fork to carefully dock (poke) the crust’s bottom and sides about 1-inch apart before adding the pie weights.
- Egg wash option: To create a moisture barrier and prevent sogginess if docking the dough, whisk one egg. After baking and removing the pie weights, lightly brush the egg wash over the bottom and sides of the parbaked shell.
- Make in Advance: Fully baked crusts can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for 3 months and defrosted before use.
- Store-bought: This can be used instead of homemade. Follow any special manufacturer’s instructions as crust may be thinner and baking time may be quicker.
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