Blackberry Pie

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Yes my friends, it’s time for blackberries! The season is here, the berries are ripe and ready for picking.

Blackberries grow wild here along the American River, and pretty much around all of the creeks and streams in California. Heck, they even grow wild in empty lots and neglected back yards in San Francisco.

Some friends and I went berry picking at the river this week and brought home a couple pounds of fresh, ripe, juicy berries, perfect for a pie.

And a perfect pie it is, or was. It didn’t last long.

Honestly I think it was one of the best pies I’ve ever made, and that’s saying something, because I like to make pie. The filling held together (instant tapioca is a great thickener), the additions of lemon, cinnamon, and almond extract just intensified and enhanced the blackberry flavor.

And the crust? Well, in my opinion, homemade pie is just an excuse to eat homemade butter crust.

Not everyone has access to wild blackberries. If that’s you, you can easily use market berries or frozen berries. Trader Joe’s carries a good quality bag of frozen mixed berries that would work perfectly well with this pie.

Blackberry Pie

If you do have a blackberry bush nearby, pick mostly berries that are all black, or deeply purple. If you pick a few berries that are still a little red, they’re not quite ripe and will be rather tart. But you can include them in the mix. They extra pectin in the unripe berries will help the pie thicken.

A truly ripe berry should be easy to pick. You shouldn’t have to tug on it too much to get it off of the vine.

Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt for picking, the thicker the cloth the better, as you’ll need protection from the berry plant’s many many (ouch) thorns. Put the berries in a bucket or thick plastic bag. The juice from the berries will go through any paper bag.

Blackberry Pie Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 8 servings


  • 1 pie dough recipe for top and bottom crust
  • 5-6 cups blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry (if you use frozen berries, defrost and drain them)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 Tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca (can usually find in the baking aisle of your local supermarket)


1 Toss blackberries with sugar, lemon, cinnamon, almond extract, quick tapioca: Place blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, almond extract, and quick cooking instant tapioca in a large bowl. Gently fold the berries until they are all well coated with sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2 Roll out pie dough, line bottom crust: Preheat oven to 400°F. You should have two balls of pie dough, one for the bottom crust, one for the top crust.

Roll out one of the balls of pie dough on a lightly floured surface to 12-inch diameter if you are using a 9-inch pie pan, or 13-inch diameter if you are using a 10-inch pan.

Line the bottom of your pie pan with the dough. Chill in refrigerator while you roll out the bottom crust.

3 Roll out top crust: Roll out the second ball of pie dough for the top crust. If you would like to do a lattice top, weave the dough strips as described in How to Make a Lattice Top for a Pie Crust.

4 Spoon berry mixture into pie crust, top with second crust: Spoon the berry mixture into the dough-lined pie dish. For a lattice top, weave strips of pie dough over the top of the fruit-filled pie dish.

For a solid top, place the second rolled-out pie dough crust on top of the pie. Press ends of strips into the rim of the bottom crust. Use scissors to trim the edges to 1/2-inch from the outer edge of the pie pan.

Fold the edges back over themselves and use your fingers to crimp to seal the edges. If you are using a solid top crust, score the top with a sharp knife to create air vents for the steam to escape.

5 Bake: Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven. Put a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any juices that might bubble out of the pie while it's cooking.

Bake the pie in two stages. First bake it at 400°F for 30 minutes.

Then place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie to protect the edges and tops from getting too burnt. (A pie protector is quite useful here.) Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until crust has browned and filling is bubbly.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before serving.

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Blackberry Pie

Showing 4 of 26 Comments

  • Susan

    I used your filling recipe along with another one. Yours used less tapioca which I believe was just right. There’s used more lemon juice which I liked. I have to say I did not care for the almond extract. I felt it took the freshness away from the berries. Not sure how else to explain. I think if I was making the pie in the winter I would like the almond. I plan to make this again in a couple days for my friend(minus the almond extract). I can’t wait!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Leslie Vancil

    I made this pie last night, and it was amazing. My blackberry bush has gone haywire this season producing large quantities of blackberries. So far I’ve made jars and jars of preserves, a cobbler and a pie, but now that I’ve made THIS pie, I’ll be freezing whatever more blackberries I can get from the bush to make this pie throughout the winter! I used the pre-made boxed refrigerated pie crusts, but brushed them with melted unsalted butter and sprinkled with sugar. YUM-O!

  • Mark

    After picking lots ans lots of black berries this weekend it is pie time! I hope mine looks a great as yours! Hope you are doing well!

  • Quin

    Had 6 cups of juicy blackberries and I made this great pie. Next time I think I will leave the lemon zest out though, maybe even no lemon at all. It overshadowed the blackberry. It did set up very well though, clean cut peices, not soupy at all.

  • Beverley M

    I’m planning to try this recipe tomorrow. Previous comments of “too dry” and “too soupy” have me wondering — how do you know if you have enough tapioca for your specific berries? Can you tell by how it is looking prior to baking or is it a learned skill to judge your berries versus tapioca requirements?

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