And what’s one thing every pie needs? A pie plate. But what kind? Here’s a quick primer on pie plate materials and a few we love and recommend.
The Best Material for a Pie Plate
The most common materials you find for pie plates are glass, glazed ceramic, aluminum, or aluminized steel. Each material has its pros and cons, and some are better for certain kinds of pies over others.
Glass Pie Plates
Glass has long been a go-to pie plate material.
The pros of glass pie pans are that they’re inexpensive and heat up slowly and evenly, so your crust should bake evenly as well. But arguably their best feature is that they let you see the bottom of your pie to check if your crust has browned!
The cons are that glass breaks, and if your glass pie plate is made from anything other than borosilicate glass (like soda lime glass or tempered glass, as many are), it can break spectacularly if not handled properly.
Glazed Ceramic Pie Plates
Ceramic pie plates are usually the prettiest plates of the bunch, often with ruffled edges that can help with crimping.
The pros of ceramic pie dishes are that they too heat slowly and evenly, but unlike glass, they’re better able to withstand sudden temperature changes. Most ceramic pie dishes can go right from the freezer to oven and be put under the broiler.
The cons? Ceramic pie dishes are thicker and heavier, which means pies often take longer to cook. This can actually be a pro, though, since there’s less risk of overcooking pies like custard or lemon meringue. But … you can’t see the crust bottom like you can with a glass plate, so there is a certain amount of guesswork with a ceramic pie plate. Ceramic can also break, but it’s much less susceptible to shattering than glass.
Aluminum or Aluminized Steel Pie Plates
Metal pie plates, usually made from aluminum or aluminized steel, are great heat conductors.
The pros of metal pans are that they heat up quickly and and are great for blind baking or pre-baking pie crusts, and producing a crisp crust. They’re also relatively inexpensive, unbreakable (although cheaper or disposable options may dent), and freezer-to-oven safe .
But metal pie dishes also have their cons. Since they heat and cook so quickly, it’s best to keep a close eye on your pie in the oven to prevent it from over-browning. Coated metal pie plates can also be scratched, so it’s best to steer clear of metal servers or utensils.
Safety Concerns When Cooking With Glass Bakeware
In recent years there have been reports of glass bakeware shattering, particularly Pyrex glassware, which made us wary of officially recommending Pyrex’s popular 9-inch glass pie plate, even though many of us have used this plate for years without incident.
If you do use a non-borosilicate glass pie dish, or other glass baking dish, Consumer Reports recommends the following:
Always place hot glassware on a dry cloth potholder or towel.
Never use glassware for stovetop cooking or under a broiler.
Always allow the oven to fully preheat before placing the glassware in the oven.
Always cover the bottom of the dish with liquid before cooking meat or vegetables.
Don’t add liquid to hot glassware.
If you’re using the dish in a microwave, do not use browning elements, and avoid overheating oil and butter.
Do not take dishes directly from the freezer to the oven or vice versa.
Never place hot glassware directly on a countertop (or smoothtop), metal surface, on a damp towel, in the sink, or on a cold or wet surface.
Inspect your dishes for chips, cracks, and scratches. Discard dishes with such damage.
To avoid risks associated with glass dishes, consider using metal bakeware for conventional and convection ovens.
Additionally, Cook’s Illustrated recommends placing a glass pie plate on an unheated metal baking sheet before sliding it into the oven. The metal pan will help conduct heat to the bottom of the pie, but since it heats up gradually, it reduces the risk of cracking the Pyrex plate.
Otherwise, go for a borosilicate glass pie plate, like the one we recommend below, or opt out of glass and ceramic altogether and stick with metal.