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This Is The Best Hack For Perfect Pie Filling, Hands Down

best pie filling

Back when she was a judge on The Great British Baking Show, baking queen Mary Berry’s dire warnings against “soggy bottoms” filled the bakers with pie paranoia. Because unfortunately for the bakers, a soggy bottom crust is exceedingly difficult to avoid when baking a moisture-packed fruit pie!

I don’t personally make fruit pies very often, but this time of year I can rarely resist the urge to bake a homemade apple pie. And after binge-watching several seasons The Great British Baking Show over the past year, I wanted to ensure that I could achieve a perfectly crisp pie crust that would make Mary Berry proud!

best pie filling

The Secret To Making Flawless Fruit Pie Filling

In my desire to avoid a “soggy bottom,” I spent hours researching tips and tricks about making pies. Eventually I came across a tip that seemed almost too simple, but I was intrigued enough to give it a try anyway.

It ended up working better than I could have hoped, and now its my secret weapon for making perfect fruit pie filling! The secret, it turns out, is as simple as reducing the fruit juice before adding it back to the filling.

best pie filling

Separating the natural juices from the fruit and reducing it produces a sticky syrup that helps bind the filling together. It also adds a more concentrated fruit flavor to the filling instead of diluting it or changing its texture.

Here’s how I did it while making my apple pie, but you can use this method while making blueberry, strawberry, pear, peach, or cherry pie too!

How To Thicken A Fruit Pie Filling

best pie filling

Step 1 – Draw Out The Liquid

Add the required amount of sugar to your sliced or chopped fruit as stated in your pie filling recipe. Add any lemon juice or other liquids that the filling calls for, then let the ingredients sit in the bowl for about one hour to draw out the liquid from the fruit.

best pie filling

Step 2 – Reduce The Liquid

Separate the fruit from the liquid and set the fruit aside for now. Pour the liquid into a small pot and bring it to a simmer on your stovetop.

best pie filling

Continue simmering the liquid until the amount is reduced by half.

best pie filling

Step 3 – Add It To The Pie

Let the reduced syrup sit on your stovetop while you prepare your pie. Line your pie plate with the bottom crust and add the fruit and any other ingredients your filling recipe calls for.

best pie filling

Just before you add the top crust, pour the reduced syrup over your pie filling. Then add the top crust and bake as usual! :-)

best pie filling

Bonus Tips For Perfect Pies

  • Allow Steam Out. Use a lattice crust on top of your pie, or cut out part of it to create a vent. This will allow steam to escape as the pie bakes, thickening the filling and producing a crispier crust.
  • Cool Pies Completely. Fruit pie fillings thicken and set as they cool. If you want your pie to stay intact while you slice it, cool it at room temperature for several hours before cutting into it.

What’s your favorite kind of fruit pie?

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  • I’m afraid this method will not work. I am known as the town pie baker and everyone requests my pies for every occasion. The simplest way to avoid a soggy crust is much simpler than this: 1) put the crust in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before filling so the dough “sets”; 2) after removing the crust from the fridge, beat an egg and brush the egg onto the crust. You will never have soggy crust again.

  • I like to start my pies on the lowest rack at about 425 for 10-15 minutes and then move to the middle of the oven at 375 to finish. I have a convection oven, and it does bad things to the top crust, Therefore I use plain oven bake I have pottery and glass. With glass, one can see the bottom. I don’t like metal .

  • Great tip I received from an award winning pie maker… make the filling first before putting your very cold crust in the pie pan. Then assemble quickly before the crust has time to warm.

  • I am so glad to see this timely post! When I would make apple pie in the past, I always made it like my mother/grandmother prepared it. Slice the raw apples directly into pie shell, cinnamon, sugar, butter, etc. My apples never got quite done. I recently sliced my apples then cooked them in a skillet for about 10 minutes with butter, cinnamon sugar and lemon juice – this released lot of the liquid, which I discarded. My pie, with lattice top, was delicious – the best ever, according to the hubs. The pie could have been a tad juicier for my liking, SO! Next time, I will surely try reducing the liquid and adding to the pie. Thanks so much this tip! Love your column!

  • I stumbled upon an idea several years ago that has worked for me. In looking through my pantry I found a bag of dried apples. Hating the fact that I’ve always had the “dreaded soggy bottom” I wondered if these would help – and they did! I place a layer of the dried apples before I pouring in my apple filling. My mind figured that the extra juice would “plump” up the dried apples and would soak up any juices. It worked. No more soggy bottom. I don’t have exact measurements, just eyeballed the dried apples.

  • Jillee,
    I think my favorite fruit pie has to be apple. I make apple pies every fall and actually all year long. I also buy bushels of apples in the fall and make homemade applesauce for the freezer, and homemade apple butter. I make a fresh apple cake with walnuts that everyone loves. Love my Apples!!!

    • Just click the green button towards the bottom of the post that says “Print Friendly.” It will pull up a preview, where you can click on the photos (and any text you don’t need) to remove them :-)

  • It also helps to brush some butter across the bottom of your crust before pouring the filling in this helps to seal it off. Or you can use coconut or other oil in a spray can.

  • Great tip, and one that makes perfect sense! I’ve also read that one is supposed to pre-bake the bottom crust before adding the filling, which does bear out for me. However extra care is needed to ensure that the edges don’t burn before the pie is baked.

    Now I just need a tutorial on how to do a lattice top! The pictures always make it look so easy but my crust doesn’t like to cooperate :(.

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