Menu
Search
Menu
Close

Pie Weights

For a perfectly baked pie crust, use the best pie weights.

How We Tested

Many of our pie recipes call for blind baking—baking the crust either partially or completely before adding the filling. But without a filling to hold the raw dough in place, the bottom can puff up or the sides can slump as it bakes, resulting in ugly, misshapen pies. To prevent this, the test kitchen uses pie weights. We do this not just for aesthetics: A slumped pie crust provides less room for filling.

    While bakers can use dried beans, raw rice, and granulated sugar as pie weights, we wanted to find the best product designed specifically for the job. We tested four models of pie weights, priced from about $6 to about $60 per package, in a range of materials and styles, including a set of ceramic balls, a set of aluminum beans, a 6-foot-long stainless-steel chain, and a steel disk ringed with soft silicone flaps. As opposed to the balls and beans, the steel disk model consisted of just one piece, theoretically making it easier to use and store than traditional loose pie weights.

Were They Easy to Use?

We used each model to partially bake 9-inch pie shells (Three-in-One All-Butter Pie Dough) and 9½-inch tart shells (Sweet Tart Pastry). For each test, we evaluated how easy the pie weights were to use, how evenly the crusts browned, and how successfully the weights prevented the doughs from puffing up or slumping down.

    At the start of testing, we had high hopes for the chain and the disk models. It was a breeze to position both of them snugly in the dough-lined plate and extract them with one simple movement once the crust was baked, but those were the only things they excelled at. In every other evaluation, they flopped (more on that later).

    To test the ceramic balls and aluminum beans, we followed our recommended test kitchen procedure. We placed two layers of aluminum foil on the chilled raw dough, loaded in the pie weights, and baked. To remove the weights in a tidy fashion, we pinched together the sides of the foil (holding two corners in our right hand and two corners in our left) and lifted. Placing the weights on top of layers of foil kept them from touching the raw dough, which meant that we didn’t have to wash them afterward. And while using the balls and beans was a little more time-consuming than using the chain and the disk, the balls and beans gave us much better results, so we didn’t mind the extra steps.

Weighing the Results

Next, we turned our attention to performance. Unfortunately, the chain didn’t live up to the promise on its packaging that said it “prevents crusts from bubbling.” We tried arranging it on the dough in a variety of ways, placing it freeform right on top of dough, placing it freeform on top of dough that we’d lined with foil, and coiling it tidily in a circle on top of dough. In each test, the dough puffed up to different degrees between gaps in the chain, leaving behind bumpy, bubbled crusts. In addition, the chain, even at 6 feet, was too short to cover the sides of the dough, resulting in slumped sides and less room for pie filling.  

    The second innovative model, the disk-shaped pie weight, performed a bit better than the chain, but not by much. The disk fit snugly into the bottom of the dough-lined pie plate and gave us bottom crusts that were evenly browned and baked. But the silicone flaps encircling its perimeter barely covered the sides of the dough, leaving them unsupported and resulting in slumped and shrunken sides. We tried the model with a third type of dough, made from butter and shortening, which is less prone to slumping than an all-butter dough, and it worked much better. But overall, its results were too inconsistent for us, and we didn’t want our dough choices to be limited by the pie weights we’re using.

The Best Pie Weights: Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Ceramic Pie Weights

The traditional ceramic and aluminum beans were the best performers overall, but even they weren't perfect: Neither came with enough pieces in a single package to completely fill our pie shells, which is critical to ensure that both the bottom of the dough and its sides remain snugly pressed against the pie plate during baking. One package of ceramic balls contained just 1 cup of weights, while one package of aluminum beans contained 2¾ cups. This is where cost entered the equation. To adequately fill pie shells with these weights, we’d need multiple packages, and two packages of aluminum beans would cost more than $100. So we zeroed in on the less expensive option, Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Ceramic Pie Weights, purchasing four sets (for a total of 4 cups) for about $25. This amount weighed more than 2 pounds and filled the pie plate. With these ceramic balls piled high and pressing firmly against the dough’s bottom and sides, the bottom of the crust turned out crisp, flaky, and golden brown and its sides stood tall. We had a winner.


Methodology

We tested four models of pie weights—one set of ceramic balls, one set of aluminum beans, a stainless-steel chain, and a silicone and steel disk—ranging in price from about $6 to about $60. We rated each model on its ability to deliver evenly browned crusts without bubbles or slumped sides. All models were purchased online. Scores were averaged, and models appear below in order of preference.

Try All-Access Membership
FREE for 14 Days

INCLUDED IN YOUR TRIAL MEMBERSHIP

Every Recipe, Every Rating, Every Video from Every Magazine & Every Episode!

  • 25 years of Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, and America's Test Kitchen foolproof recipes
  • In-depth videos of recipes and cooking techniques
  • SAVE all your Favorites for easy access
  • Up-to-Date reviews and product buying guides

Dear Home Cook,

If we were new to our websites, we might think, “It’s easy to get free recipes on the Internet. What makes your recipes different?” Well, unlike recipes from blogs, message boards, and other recipe sites, our recipes are exhaustively tested by our team of full-time test cooks until they offer consistently great results. That means fried chicken with a crunchy coating and moist meat, a low-fat recipe makeover for macaroni and cheese that’s as creamy and cheesy as the full-fat version, and fork-tender slow cooker pot roast.

We’re obsessive in our quest to find and foolproof the best of American home cooking, from fuss-free weeknight dinners, to updated, simplified versions of regional specialties, to slow cooker and make ahead meals. Our all access membership is the only place you can find every foolproof recipe, TV episode, and objective ratings and test results for cookware and supermarket ingredients from all 25 years of Cook’s Country, America’s Test Kitchen, and Cook’s Illustrated.

Let us make a simple, no-nonsense offer. Try out all three of our websites FREE for a 14-Day, No-Hassle Trial Offer. We’re pretty confident that your All-Access membership will quickly become invaluable resources for everything from a quick Tuesday supper to your next get-together with family and friends.

Thanks for your consideration,

The Editors of Cook’s Country

The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.