Make and freeze pie crust: saving time — sooner or later

Warm apple pie à la mode. Super-smooth, luxurious pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream. Classic pecan pie, with its signature salt-sugar crunch in every rich bite. Homemade pie: what’s not to love? Well, maybe the fact that you need the time to put together the crust and get out your rolling pin and flour your counter and gently, GENTLY roll out the crust while hoping the pie gods smile on you… De-stress your life! When the pie urge hits, make and freeze pie crust is a game changer.

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

I won’t skate around the issue: compared to cookies, muffins, and most cakes, making pie crust can be a technical challenge, as well as a potential time sink. Working the fat (often two kinds) into the flour, nailing the right amount of liquid for optimum flakiness (and handle-ability), rolling without tearing or sticking, then oh-so-carefully transporting the resulting crust into its waiting pan — frankly, it can be a painful process, especially for those of us who don’t make pie frequently.

Your family deserves homemade pie, but who has time to make the crust? You do — when you plan ahead. Click To Tweet

Enter make and freeze pie crust. While it doesn’t shorten the overall pie-baking process, it does break it into more manageable steps. Make crust now, freeze it, and do the filling and baking later: when the blueberries are ripe or, say, the day before Thanksgiving.

What’s the best way to make and freeze pie crust?

It depends. When do you need to save the most time: now, or later? Making pie crust does take time, but the cadence of the process is up to you.

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Are you busy right now? Pie crumbs are fast and easy

Give yourself a head-start by making pie crumbs: combine flour, salt, and fat, then bag and refrigerate (or freeze) the crumbly mixture. It’s ready to be turned into pastry with the addition of liquid whenever you want. Especially if you have a stand mixer, this step is extremely quick; and you can easily make enough crumbs for multiple pies.

Plus: Very little up-front time and effort.
Minus: You still have to finish the pastry and roll it out later.

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Less busy? Make pastry, but skip the rolling

Make the pastry for crust, shape it into puck-like disks, wrap, and freeze. It’s ready to thaw, roll out, and fill when the pie urge strikes you.

Plus: No rolling pin, no floured counter, minimal cleanup.
Minus: You still have to leave yourself enough time to thaw the crust, roll it out, line the pan, add the filling, and bake the pie.

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Sufficient time, but not enough pie pans? Roll pastry and freeze

Once your pastry is made, roll it out and freeze it flat (rather than simply shape it into disks). Or fold it in quarters, or roll it into slim pastry tubes.

Plus: Pastry quickly thaws at room temperature, ready to line the pan.
Minus: It’s a bit trickier to find space in the freezer due to the pastry’s awkward shape (compared to space-optimizing disks).

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

For double protection, this bagged crust will go into another bag.

Plenty of time now, NO time later? Go all the way

To save the most time down the road, freeze rolled-out pastry right in its freezer-to-oven pan. When you’re ready for pie, all you need to do is haul that handy crust out of the freezer, add filling, and bake your pie, giving it a bit longer in the oven since the crust was frozen.

Making a custard-based pie (e.g., pumpkin), one whose crust might benefit by some pre-baking? Go ahead and blind-bake the crust, then freeze it in the pan. When the time comes, add filling and bake; no need to thaw the crust first.

Plus: No mixing bowl, no rolling pin, no cleanup — no stress!
Minus: A somewhat bulky space-hog in the freezer, and ties up your pans.

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

For all types of make and freeze pie crust —

  • Use a crust recipe that’s heavy on fat, light on liquid. The fewer the ice crystals from liquid, the more successfully pastry goes through the freeze-and-thaw cycle.
  • Wrap, and wrap again. Wrap dough disks in plastic wrap, then airtight in a plastic bag. Stack rolled-out crusts with waxed paper or plastic in between, and slip into a large plastic bag (or wrap securely in foil). Double-bag crusts in the pie pan. You’re trying to avoid both freezer burn and off flavors from surrounding foods.
  • Store crusts in the back or bottom of the freezer. The more they’re exposed to warm air when the freezer door’s opened, the more ice crystals develop.
  • Store crusts in the freezer no longer than three months (or one month for pre-baked crusts). Even the best-wrapped frozen crust will eventually deteriorate.

Make and freeze pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Are you pie crust-phobic? We can help; discover all kinds of handy tips and techniques in our complete guide to perfect pie crust.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Kitty

    Thanks for the tips. I’m the holiday pie baker. My issue is when making apple pies the bottom crust is always soggy and never seems to be done. I bake them at a higher temp for the recommended time and turn the oven back to finish the process. Any suggestions? Thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kitty, you’re in luck! Making the perfect pie crust and avoiding the dreaded soggy bottom is a complex topic, so we actually have an article about this precise issue. How to Get Pie Crust to Brown on the Bottom is our compete guide to all the variables that go into making a pie crust that’s beautiful and flaky without juices soaking through. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lisa, go ahead and spray your pans before adding the crust for the best results. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

  2. Karen

    Does it matter whether you freeze unbaked rolled crust in metal or glass pie pan? I prefer to bake in pyrex pie plates. THANKS!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Karen, I think glass would be fine so long as you’re careful with it in the freezer; thaw it in the fridge, and make sure it’s come to room temperature outside the fridge before you add your filling and bake. You want to avoid any thermal shock that might break the glass. PJH@KAF

  3. Karen

    Any suggestion for transporting frozen crusts. We go south for the holidays and I am always in charge of pies. My mother-in-law doesn’t have the necessary tools for making pie crusts and I was hoping to make the job easier by making the crust at home and taking them to my in-laws. I thought of a cooler but it is a 7 hour drive and we keep our van pretty warm. Any suggestions that would help? Do you think a cooler with ice packs would work?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Karen, I think a cooler with ice packs would work just fine. If your MIL doesn’t have the tools, that probably means she has neither a rolling pin, nor space for rolling; so I’d roll the crusts and put them right into the pans, nest the pans, wrap in plastic (or bag in a large bag) to keep out moisture from melting cold packs, and put everything into the cooler with the packs. It’s not like the crust will go bad, even if it warms up a bit; you just don’t want it so soft that it gets super-sticky. Good luck! PJH@KAF

  4. Joan ely

    I make my pies up and freezing them.
    I am making them this week for thanksgiving.
    I will move them to the fridge,to defrost on Tuesday.
    I I’ll bake them cold,wednday.
    They are wonderful.
    I only do that with fruit filling.
    I freez the dough,only and make pumpkin on the day I bake.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Croissants, hand pies, and savory appetizers made with puff pastry can all be baked unfrozen (like our Blue Cheese and Cranberry Pastry BitesStovepipe Savory Pastries). You could also free the unbaked shell of pastries like Cranberry and Walnut Butter Tarts. If there is a specific pastry recipe you have your eye on that you’re wondering about baking, feel free to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE (2253) and we can take a look at it with you to see if it’s suitable to freezing. Kindly, Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Pastry sheets can mean different things to different bakers, LaRayne. We’re not quite sure what you might be looking for here but we would suggest giving our free and friendly Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE (2253) so they can help you figure out if we have what you’re looking for. Kindly, Morgan@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We apologize for any confusion, Angela. We put photos above the sections that describe them. Therefore, you’ll see a photo of rolled-out crust on parchment paper above the section, “Sufficient time, but not enough pie pans? Roll pastry and freeze.” Below that, you’ll see a photo of pie crust that’s placed in a pie pan and crimped as it accompanies the section, “Plenty of time now, NO time later? Go all the way.” Below the final section, we included another of our favorite shots from this make-and-freeze process simply to show once again what make ahead pie crust looks like. We hope this helps clarify, and happy pie baking! Kye@KAF

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