Baker and cookbook author Erin Jeanne McDowell literally wrote the book on pie. So trust her when she says anything about how to make the best pie, particularly the tools you need to do so. (And if you need convincing, try her brilliant recipes for Concord Grape Pie, Maple Sugar Pie, or Classic Sweet Potato Pie.) Watch the video below, or read on for her essential pie tools:

Scale with bowl of dry ingredients on top Photography by Kristin Teig; food styling by Liz Neily
A scale is the best way to measure your flour — and every other ingredient.


Like the bakers in our Test Kitchen, Erin recommends measuring ingredients by weight rather than volume. “This is especially important with pie dough, which relies so heavily on proper hydration,” she says. “If the flour measurement is even slightly off, it can really change the pastry dough.” She prefers this Essential Digital Scale because “it’s reliable, easy to use, and can be tucked into a drawer when I’m not using it.”

Shop: Scales

Baker using bench knife to divide pie dough Photography and food styling by Liz Neily
Divide pie dough neatly and evenly with a bench knife.

Bench knife

“This is one of my favorite tools for any baking project, but it’s especially handy when working with pie dough,” recommends Erin. She uses it to cut chilled butter into cubes, to keep edges straight and squared off when laminating dough, and perhaps most importantly, to scrape all the flour off her work surface when she’s done baking.

Shop: Bench Knife

Hands using pastry cutter to cut butter into flour
A pastry blender helps keep ingredients cold while working the butter into flour.

Pastry blender

Though she typically mixes her pie dough by hand, Erin recommends a pastry blender for folks who have naturally warm hands or live in a particularly warm place. As she explains, “The pastry cutter does a good job of cutting the cold fat into the flour, leaving irregular-sized pieces distributed throughout the mixture. It also has the bonus benefit of being able to be refrigerated before you use it — when the tool is cold, it’s even easier to keep the ingredients cold while mixing, which is key to flaky pie dough.”

Shop: Dough/Pastry Blender

Baker using a French rolling pin to roll out pie dough Photography by Kristin Teig; food styling by Liz Neily
A French rolling pin has tapered edges, as opposed to handles.

Rolling pin

Erin prefers a French rolling pin, which has tapered edges that she says make it easy to manipulate the dough in all directions while still keeping it round. “That said, I also turn to my heavy-handled rolling pins at times that I am making a lot of pies — they are just easier on my hands,” adds Erin. “I really believe that hand tools like rolling pins are the baker's choice — choose the pin that feels easiest for you to work with.”

Shop: Rolling Pins

Lemon-Ginger Strawberry Pie Photography and food styling by Liz Neily
A piece of parchment paper will catch bubbly fruit fillings so they don't smoke up your oven.

Parchment paper

“I use a good quality, heavy-duty parchment paper to line any pies that I need to prebake, before I fill them with pie weights,” Erin shares. She adds, “King Arthur's parchment is one of the heaviest duty I’ve ever found — and it even stands up to the weight of a deep dish pie plate’s quantity of pie weights.” She also likes to bake pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet for easy cleanup if there's any rogue dripping, bubbling, or overflow.

Shop: Parchment Paper

Cranberry pie in metal pie pan Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Liz Neily
Erin's go-to pie pan.

Nonstick metal pie pan

“My absolute favorite pie pan is this pan,” declares Erin.“I love it for several reasons — it’s lightweight (perfect if you, like me, bake a lot of pies and therefore own a lot of pans), nonstick, and does a great job of ensuring an evenly brown crust all over the base — especially the very bottom.” Erin loves to gift these pie pans because they aren’t as expensive as ceramic. She recommends baking someone a pie in it, and gifting the recipient the pan, too!

Shop: King Arthur Pie Pan

Slice of pie with a piece overturned to show golden brown bottom Photography and food styling by Liz Neily
Ensure a perfectly brown (not soggy!) bottom with a baking steel.

Baking steel

“The baking steel is my favorite way of ensuring even baking for pie,” says Erin. That’s because the steady, consistent heat that comes from baking a pie on a steel helps ensure the bottom crust bakes at the same rate as the top crust. You can bake your pie directly on the baking steel or use a parchment-lined baking sheet to help protect it from drips. Notes Erin: “The baking steel is especially helpful for pies with a long bake time, like double crust pies — or for folks who want to skip par-baking.”

Shop: Baking Steel

Find everything you need for your best pies yet in our Pie Must-Haves Shop Collection.

Cover illustration by Michelle Chen.

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Classic Sweet Potato Pie
Classic Sweet Potato Pie
4.7 out of 5 stars 9 Reviews
3 hrs 2 mins
one 9" pie
Filed Under: Tips and Techniques
Rossi crimping pie crust
The Author

About Rossi Anastopoulo

Rossi Anastopoulo grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, which is how she fell in love with biscuits. She didn’t have any bakers in her household (with the exception of her grandmother’s perfect koulourakia), so she learned at a young age that the best way to satisfy her sweet tooth was to make dess...
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