Soggy bottoms — they’re the bane of every pie baker. Because who wants to spend hours laboring over a pie, only to discover, upon slicing it, that it has a pale, flabby bottom crust instead of a crispy, golden brown one?
To ensure this never happens to you, we asked our favorite expert pie bakers for their tips on how to prevent soggy bottoms.
But first: Why do pies get a soggy bottom?
A soggy bottom crust happens when the wet filling of your pie soaks into the raw pie dough beneath before it’s had a chance to set, causing it to become sodden and gummy. This is particularly problematic with both fruit pie and custard fillings because they have high moisture content.
To prevent it, you need to either create a barrier between the wet filling and raw pie dough, or ensure the pie dough browns and sets before the filling has a chance to soak it. Or both!
Here are options that bakers swear by:
Bake in a metal pie pan
“I love a metal pie pan,” says Stacey Mei Yan Fong, author of 50 Pies, 50 States. Because of their thin size and excellent heat conduction, “metal pie pans almost always guarantee an evenly baked pie.” (Learn more: From metal to glass to ceramic, how does your pie pan affect your crust?)
Prebake your crust
“Whenever it’s possible, I prebake the crust,” says cookbook author and famed baker Dorie Greenspan. “It’s such a good way to keep the bottom crisp and tasty.” This works best with single-crust pies, like Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and Chess Pie.
Baker Keia Mastrianni of Milk Glass Pie in western North Carolina agrees: “I always advocate for prebaking a single pie crust, especially for custard-based pies. Prebaking provides insurance against soggy bottoms during a low and slow bake, which custard pies demand.”
Bake on a pizza stone
Pastry chef Susan Reid extols the virtues of baking your pies like pizza — in other words, baking them on a preheated baking stone. The blast of concentrated heat the stone delivers to the pie ensures the bottom crust sets before the liquid from the filling soaks in and makes it gummy. Try this technique for prebaked pie crusts and filled pies.
If you don’t have a baking stone, follow Dorie’s advice: “I put my pie plate on a baking sheet — it catches the drips, but it also helps to concentrate the oven’s heat on the base of the pan.”
Add frangipane to the bottom of your pie
Lining the bottom of your pie crust before adding the filling is a go-to tip for many bakers. Keia likes to use a thin layer of frangipane, which “adds a dynamic textural element to pies but also acts as a practical barrier for excess fruit juices.”
Brush the bottom with egg white (or chocolate!)
This tip comes from Dorie, who says: “Brushing the prebaked bottom crust with beaten egg white before filling your pie is helpful, as is brushing it with melted chocolate — both make good raincoats, one more flavorful than the other.” PJ particularly recommends using melted chocolate when making pecan pie for a candy-inspired flavor pairing; brush the melted chocolate over the bottom of the crust (either prebaked or not), let it cool and harden, then add the filling and bake.
The tip everyone agrees on: Sprinkle on crust dust
Every baker I talked to — Stacey, Dorie, Keia, and PJ — recommended this simple tip: using crust dust. “Before you add your pie filling, mix together about a teaspoon of all-purpose flour and a teaspoon of white granulated sugar, then dust the mixture on the bottom of your pie crust,” recommends Stacey. “This mixture, affectionately called ‘crust dust,’ creates a nice moisture barrier between your filling and the crust itself.” Keia uses this most often with apple pies, but it will work with just about any fruit filling.
Variations of crust dust abound, too. In her book, Baking at the 20th Century Café, pastry chef Michelle Polzine suggests using a dusting of fine cookie or cake crumbs as a moisture barrier; she notes that you can use whatever you have that might be harmonious in flavor — gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, shortbread, plain (unseasoned) fine breadcrumbs, graham crackers, etc.
A bonus option for pumpkin pies: Praline spread
PJ likes to add a simple homemade praline spread — ground pecans, butter, brown sugar — to the bottom of her pumpkin pies. Simply press into the bottom of the crust before adding the custard filling. The result is not only a pie without a soggy bottom: The praline adds a nutty, sugary crunch hidden in the bottom of every slice.
To make, simply whirl together 1/3 cup (37g) toasted pecan pieces, 1/3 cup (71g) brown sugar, 2 tablespoons (28g) soft or melted butter, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Spread the resulting paste in the bottom of your crust, then pour in the filling and bake.
If you’re getting ready for pie season, find a collection of go-to recipes in our New Classics: Thanksgiving Pie collection.
And for more tips to nail the perfect pie, see our own Kye Ameden walk through 4 Tips for Failproof Pie Dough:
Cover photo (Fresh Blueberry Pie) by Rick Holbrook.