Different materials can yield varying results for your pie crust.

By Alexandra Emanuelli
October 22, 2020
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While the spotlight of Thanksgiving dinner is often on the turkey, dessert lovers know that the pie is truly the star of the show. Whether your family fawns over a crumble-topped apple pie or a syrup-drenched pecan one, the right pan can play a crucial role in baking a delicious tart. We rounded up the best pie plates available for purchase and discussed their merits with expert pie baker, Kate McDermott. McDermott is the author of several pie cookbooks. Her most recently published book, Pie Camp, published (Oct 2020), has 150 new recipes.

Materials to Consider

Pies are baked for extended periods, so more resilient materials like ceramic, dark matte metal or cast-iron are ideal for handling the oven's heat. McDermott enthused over ceramics. The material has many benefits, including heat retention and distribution, as well as being beautiful. These are a great choice, especially when presenting at a celebration or holiday table. Since ceramics continue to hold heat after being removed from the oven, be aware that the pie will continue to cook and adjust your baking time accordingly. Ceramic and cast-iron can be heavier than other materials, especially when filled with apples or other dense-fruit filled pies, something worth noting if you're thinking of purchasing for someone with arthritic hands. They can also be more expensive materials to buy, with some of the French ceramic and stoneware pie pans costing nearly $50.

Materials to Approach with Caution

McDermott cautions against using pans with shiny metal, as it can be challenging to get a good bottom crust. Instead, she favors disposable aluminum pans as they are ideal for sharing with others or bringing to an event when the dish may not be returned. She suggested putting a tray or glass pan under the aluminum to provide structure, noting that, "I have seen on more than one occasion someone who has made a big, beautiful apple pie and they pulled it out of the oven and the whole thing collapsed."

Glass can be a good choice, as it is typically light-weight, inexpensive, and a fast and even conductor of heat. Bakers also favor glass as it is easy to check the done-ness of the crust through the plate. That said, can also be a tricky material to use. Glass can also be somewhat temperamental, depending on the type used in the dish. Suppose you haven't bought glass bakeware recently, or are using glass bakeware from several years ago. In that case, you may not know that many manufacturers have swapped from working with borosilicate glass to tempered glass. There was this 2010 Consumer Report investigation that looked into the phenomenon known of exploding glassware. According to the report, the number of incidents is minimal (only 1%). But the issue caused some alarm with consumers when their dishes shattered, prompting a number of articles. Some find the newer formulation requires a more careful hand and thorough reading of the manufacturers' instructions compared with the borosilicate.

The Best Pie Plates You Can Buy

Credit: Amazon

Glass

Oxo Pie Plate with Lid

After some extensive research, we found a well-liked OXO plate. Those who like baking with glass appreciate its see-through nature, which allows bakers to check the crust's done-ness. This OXO pie plate is borosilicate glass, boasting the ability to go from freezer to oven without cracking. Its BPA-lid makes it ideal for transporting, and the 9-inch pan is dishwasher safe. The simple rim and basic design allow for the pie to stand on its own.

One happy buyer raved, "I love this glass bakeware set! One of the first things I bought was this after moving into my apartment and switched from plastic Tupperware and non-stick metal bake ware to a set that is safer, sustainable and nontoxic. I don't have to worry about leaching of chemicals into food when reheating in a microwave and love how there's no Teflon or anything to worry about getting into my brownies, pies and cakes. These are also easily recyclable since they are all glass minus the lids. The lids for the food storage container are airtight which helps our leftovers last longer. I highly recommend this product!"

Credit: Amazon

Ceramic

Emile Henry Modern Classics Pie Dish

The joyful Emile Henry classic pie dish is a superb choice for presenting your pie with a little extra flair. It comes in a range of colors and has a slightly crimped rim and a 2 ½ inch deep interior. As the OXO can go from freezer to oven, so too can the Emile Henry, with the added benefit of being broiler-friendly (ideal for caramelizing tops or meringues). As McDermott noted, ceramic is optimal for heat retention and distribution, providing a beautiful golden pie.

One reviewer commented, "My grandmother was an avid pie maker, and I'd like to continue her tradition. I've been using Pyrex pie plates for years, and read in a book that ceramic, clay or porcelain would yield better results. This plate bakes a beautiful crust that is cooked through and not too dry. Excellent brand and product!"

Credit: Amazon

Metal

G&S Metal Products ProBake Teflon 9"

With a dark, matte exterior, the G&S ProBake Teflon 9" pan is a great inexpensive choice. We love that it's durable, as well as being light-weight, making it as easy to get into the oven as it is to store and keep for years to come without special treatment (despite our best efforts, sometimes things get tossed or jostled around in the cupboard). The plate is PFOA-free, dishwasher safe, and American-made. The non-stick surface provides an easy release, just don't use metal utensils.

One reviewer raved, "I really like my new non-stick pie baking pan. In fact, I wish I had gotten two! I had to toss my old ones which had oxidized and rusted. If I decide that I need two pie pans, I'll definitely re-order this one."