There’s a moment in the pie-baking process when most bakers hold their breath: the dreaded step of transferring pie dough from the countertop to the pan. At this point, the dough has been carefully rolled out into a delicate sheet of pastry. Now it needs to get into the pan, centered and intact. There’s a risk of the pie dough cracking if you don’t move swiftly or confidently, but it also requires a gentle touch since it’s thin and can tear. So what’s the best way to make this move? 

Our Baking School instructors have the answer, and it’s simpler than you might think.

Folding is key

During the course of making thousands of batches of pie dough, our Baking School instructors have tried many different approaches to getting that dough in the pan. They’ve tried methods like rolling the dough around a rolling pin and unfurling it over the pan (it never ends up centered) or using a giant spatula to slide the dough into the pan (helpful, but only when you have the tool on hand).

Rolled-out pie dough folded in qaurters Mark Weinberg
Folding the dough into quarters makes it less likely to tear when moving it to the pan.

But as they explain in our Baking School cookbook, the most reliable way to transfer pie dough is an easy folding maneuver. Here’s how to do it: 

Once the dough is rolled out to the desired size, lightly dust the top with flour.

  • Gently fold the dough into quarters: First, fold the dough in half to make a semi-circle, and then in half again to make a triangle with a rounded edge.
  • Place the prepared pie pan near the dough so you don’t have to move it far. Then, use lightly floured hands to pick up the folded triangle of dough and place it in the center of the pie pan. This placement is key: Make sure that the tip of the triangle is exactly in the center of the pie pan. 
  • Gently unfold the dough, one section at a time. It should easily open up and be centered in your pie pan — no shimmying it around to ensure even edges. Brush off any excess flour before settling the dough into the edges of the pan and proceeding with your recipe.
Beginning to fold rolled-out pie dough in half Mark Weinberg
This method can be used to transfer pie dough for a bottom crust (as shown above) or a top crust, using the same approach.. 

Watch and learn

To see how easy this method of moving pie dough can be, watch it demonstrated in our video, 4 Tips for Failproof Pie Dough. (The other three tips will help you step up your pie game in additional ways, so be sure to watch those too!)

The next time you reach that intimidating moment when you have to transfer your rolled-out pie dough, let out the breath you’ve been holding. You now know how to move the dough with ease.  

Cover photo by Mark Weinberg.

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Classic Double Pie Crust
Classic Double Pie Crust
4.5 out of 5 stars 157 Reviews
45 mins
2 standard (9" pie) crusts
Recipe in this post
Filed Under: Tips and Techniques
Kye Ameden
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About Kye Ameden

Kye Ameden grew up in Fairlee, Vermont and has always loved food, farms, and family. She spent her teenage years working by her chef/uncle’s side in an industrial kitchen, cracking hundreds of eggs, slicing cheesecakes into 13 perfect slices, and developing her passion for precision and baking.After...
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