Alright! Pie crust dough, check. Pie filling, check. Whipped cream, check. Ice cream, check. Everything seems to be sailing smoothly, now mold the dough onto the… wait a minute, where’s the pie pan?
You don’t have one, and guess what? You can still make your pie. There’s no rule when it comes to baking pies that you need to use a pie pan.
But, what can I use instead of a pie pan? Truth is, many homecooks don’t own one and use other dishes to make perfectly molded pie crust. There are so many alternatives for it, all you have to do is make a choice.
Top 10 Pie Pan Substitutes
To know which alternative works best, you first need to know the purpose of a pie pan. Basically, it’s an oven-safe dish that is used to mold pie dough into, then baked to make pie crust. It’s deep enough to form a “shell” for the pie filling to be put into.
If the replacement can carry out the same purpose, you have a makeshift pie pan. So, let’s take a look through all the possible bakeware you can use in place of a pie pan –
1. Cast Iron Pan
The closest thing you can find in your kitchen that resembles a pie pan is a cast iron pan or skillet. Aside from the handle, the pan is deep enough to perfectly form the pie crust, and it is oven safe.
All you need to do is spray a thin layer of baking spray onto the cast iron pan and layer on the rolled-out pie dough. Then, mold the dough against the inside of the pan as you would with a pie pan. After you’re done, it’s all set to go inside the oven. Simple as that.
2. Oven Safe Glass Dish
You know those dishes that lasagna, casserole, and mac ‘n cheese are served in? Those are also great replacements for a pie pan. Although they might be a bit deeper than average pie pans, you can easily cut the crust short to make a perfectly shaped crust.
Many home cooks use glass pie plates which are identical to oven-safe glass dishes. You can easily use them to set your pie crust, put in the filling, and do up the lattice in one go. After that, it’s safe to go in the oven too.
If you’re worried your oven safe glass dish is too big or too long for a traditional pie, don’t be — it will still work!
You can trim down the pie crust so the pie sits low in the dish and put in the filling as you normally would. Do any lattice as you’d like and apply egg wash, then put it in the oven to bake. Once it’s done baking, cut, plate, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This is called slab pie.
3. Muffin Tin/Tray
If you’re willing to try out nontraditional and fun ways of baking pies, then set your pie dough in a muffin tin.
Aside from cupcakes, muffin tins are also great for danishes, quiches, tarts, and of course, pies. Clearly, they’re going to be much smaller than a regular pie, but that’s the best part.
Instead of making a mess of cutting and serving pie slices, you can easily hand out individual pies that taste just the same.
Prep your muffin tin with baking spray. Roll out your pie dough and cut circles into it that are slightly larger than the holes on your muffin tray.
For this, you can use a bowl or mug. Then, lay out each circle of dough onto the cups and mold it. Add filling and do the lattice as you prefer.
Brush with egg wash and now the tin’s good to go in the oven.
You might have seen these little upside-down chef hats with soufflés, custards, and crème brûlée served in them, but they are also an excellent substitute for pie pans. In fact, they are often used for making shepherd’s pies, chicken pot pies, and other savory pie variations. All of which are mini pies, of course.
Much like with the muffin tin, the pie dough setting process is the same. Just mold the dough into the ramekins, pour in the filling, make the lattice, egg wash, and put it in the oven. Ramekins are completely oven safe, but the temperature setting is different compared to a pie pan.
For instance, baking apple pie would take a 350-degree Fahrenheit preheated oven and at least 35 minutes of baking. Whereas with a pie pan, it could take about an hour at the same temperature.
5. Tart Pan
A tart pan looks a lot like a pie pan and fulfills the same exact purpose. Although the sides of a tart pan are much shorter than those of a pie pan, it still fits a pie just fine.
For traditional pies, we recommend a tart pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom. The fluted sides make the pie crust look more appealing while the removable bottom makes it easier to take out the pie without breaking the crust.
This is probably the closest alternative to a pie pan as it can easily be used for making pies as you would normally, without having to make cuts to the crust or adjust the temperature.
6. Cake Pan
When pie pans are out of the equations, most bakers turn to their trusty cake pans. The shape of the pan is perfect for baking pies and the dimensions are a good fit too.
As cake pans tend to be deeper, you will have to cut the crust shorter and adjust the temperature before you start baking. Or, you can leave the crust longer and try out a thicker pie with added filling.
Another adjustment you will have to make is to add non-stick baking spray or baking paper. Dough usually sticks onto cake pans and causes tearing or even burning, so this step is crucial.
7. Foil Pan
Often called the DIY pie pan, foil pans make an incredible replacement for pie pans. Aluminum is a great heat conductor, which makes foil pans ideal for baking pie crusts thoroughly.
When exchanging a pie pan with a foil pan, remember to set the pie crust and filling in a way that doesn’t damage the aluminum. Since foil pans are a bit flimsier than pie pans, they can break or tear if there’s too much pressure being exerted on it.
Also, pies in foil pans take about 10 to 15 minutes more to fully cook than they do in pie pans. So, remember to increase the baking time before you put the pie in the oven.
The best part about using foil pans to bake pies is the serving process. You don’t need a spatula, knife, or any utensil to help you slide out the pie. Just tear away the sides of the pan and the pie will hold its shape.
8. Springform Pan
For deep dish pies, a springform pan can sometimes work better than a pie pan. On average, it’s about 3 inches deep and 6 to 12 inches in diameter depending on what kind of pan you use. Regardless, it is able to make incredible pies.
Just like with the cake pan, here you will also have to apply a non-stick baking spray before you set the pie dough. Keep the bottom of the pie dough about a third inch thick. This is because the fillings of deep-dish pies are heavy, and the crust will need to be thick in order to support it.
9. 13x9 Pan
Similar to using an oven safe glass dish, a 13x9 pan will also give you a longer and flatter pie. This makes it ideal for making slab pies.
Pie pans will give you more filling than crust, resulting in an uneven distribution of flavors. But with 13x9 pans, the crust is thick and flaky and the filling is equally spread out, allowing you to enjoy the pie thoroughly.
As the pie will be bigger and more spread out than ones baked in a regular pie dish, you will have to let it bake for about 10 minutes longer.
10. Baking Paper
Yes, it’s possible to bake a pie without any bakeware at all. All you need is baking paper.
Roll out the pie dough and cut large circles into it, about 8 inches in diameter. Lay out each circle onto baking sheets. Put the pie filling inside the circle, and fold in the edges of the circle to enclose the filling. Think of this as making a large dumpling. Then apply egg wash and bake in the oven.
You can also use two separate circles if you’re worried the filling might spill out. Simply put the filling atop of one circle, and cover it with another. Seal the edges with a fork and make three short slices at the top. Apply the egg wash again, then let it bake.
How to Bake a Pie Without a Pie Pan?
Now that you’re familiar with all the things you can use instead of a pie pan, let’s go through a thorough rundown of how to actually bake the pie.
For our guide, we’ll be using our top pie pan alternative, the cast iron pan. We’ll also be going for a very basic pie recipe, which is green apple.
So, here’s a step by step on how to bake a pie with a cast iron skillet or pan –
What You Will Need
- 5 green apples (core removed, peeled, cut into quarters, and sliced in thin pieces)
- 3 pre-rolled pie crusts (refrigerated)
- A cup of white sugar
- A cup of brown sugar
- Half cup of butter
- 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
- Quarter cup white sugar
- 1 tbsp butter (in small chunks)
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Before you start, you need to set the oven to preheat. This will ensure the pie bakes properly. So, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Butter the Pan
Add the half cup of butter onto the cast iron pan and melt it over a stove. While the butter softens, move the pan in an infinite symbol motion to spread out the butter evenly. Once it’s fully melted, remove the pan from the stove.
Lightly dust brown sugar into the pan and let it sit on the stove again at low heat.
Step 3: Prepare the Crust
Remove the pan from the stove and place one of the refrigerated pie crusts on top. Make sure the crust fits the pan perfectly. You want about 60 percent of the crust to set at the bottom for support while the remaining 40 percent is molded to the sides. Since cast iron pans are deeper than pie pans, this step is crucial.
Step 4: Add the Filling
Inside the crust, lay out your apple slices in a uniform fashion. Then, sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half cup of sugar on top of the apples. Now place the second refrigerated pie crust over the apples.
Repeat this once more so that you have the bottom pie crust, first layer of apples, second pie crust, second layer of apples, and top pie crust. Make sure you have this in order.
Step 5: Finish
On the top or third crust, sprinkle a quarter cup of sugar and add a dot of butter (one tablespoon) onto the center. Make 3 or 4 small slices on the center of the crust to let steam through.
Now, let the pie bake in the preheated oven for about 45 to 50 minutes. When you see the crust turning golden brown and the apples turning brownish and tender, take out the pie.
Cut, plate, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy.
Can You Make a Pie in a Cake Pan?
To put it simply, yes, you can make a pie in a cake pan. But, there are a few things you need to know before you try out this substitute.
A cake pan that is between 9 to 12 inches in diameter is perfect for baking a pie. It’s round too, which makes the crust molding process much easier to do. However, the most noticeable difference is that a cake pan has straight standing sides while a pie pan has sloped sides.
This may present the problem of the pie crust sides curling into itself while baking.
Moreover, pie pans are usually about 1⅓ of an inch deep whereas most cake pans are up to 3 inches deep. This isn’t much of an issue as deep-dish pies can be made easily. But, if you prefer traditional and thin pies, cake pans may not be the best pie pan switch.
If you do decide to use a cake pan, we recommend using one that is 1½ to 2 inches deep and at least 8 inches in diameter. You will also have to adjust your pie recipe to accommodate the cake pan.
This means using either graham cracker crusts or cookie crumb crusts, rolling out the dough at 12 inches of diameter, and going for a deep-dish pie instead of a standard one. Also, you will have to let the pie bake for 10-15 minutes longer to fully distribute the heat through the crust and filling.
Pie Pan vs Cake Pan: Head-to-Head Comparison
If you’re debating between using a pie pan and a cake pan, you should take the following points into consideration to make a calculated opinion –
While a pie pan is usually 9 inches in diameter, cake pans can range from 8 to 12 inches in diameter (for pies) and go even smaller or bigger. 9 inches in diameter is the ideal size of pan for pies as the crust distribution is easier to do.
But, cake pans of any size work just as fine as pies can even be made in muffin tins or ramekins. So, as long as you’re willing to loosen the rules of traditional pie baking a little, diameter shouldn’t be a big deal.
The depth of the pan will determine how much of the crust is used, what kind of pie can be made, and how long it will bake for.
On average, pie pans are about 1½ inches to 2 inches deep, while cake pans are 3 or more inches deep.
As a general rule of thumb, you need to use 60% of the pie dough on the bottom of a deep dish and 40% to mold onto the sides. More of the pie dough is layered on the bottom to hold the heavy filling and keep the pie's structure from breaking.
With a pie pan, the pie dough can be molded evenly throughout the pan, and it won’t cause a significant change.
Preparation of Crust
Cake pans have sides that are straight standing while pie pans have sloped and fluted sides, this can cause a slight issue — curling.
Trying to mold the dough all the way up to the opening of the cake pan will cause the dough to slouch and curl while baking. This means you will have to resort to cutting the sides shorter to prevent this.
The slanted sides of a pie pan prevents the dough from curling inwards, and the fluted edges hold the crust in place.
Amount of Filling
Since cake pans are much deeper and there’s a possibility of the crust curling, you will have to make a deep-dish pie.
In deep dish pies, there’s a lot of filling compared to traditional pies. The extra filling causes the whole cake pan to fill up, pushing up against the crust sides so that they don’t curl. So, the safest option with a cake pan is to go for a thicker pie.
With pie pans, on the other hand, you’re free to choose whatever pie you want to make.
To ensure the pie is thoroughly cooked, a cake pan pie needs an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven compared to a pie pan pie. This is because the cake pan pie is deeper, has more filling, and has a thick layer of crust at the bottom.
Pie pans don’t require extra time and are fairly quick at baking pies because of their structure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make pie without a pie pan?
Yes, you can. Instead of a pie pan, you can use a cast iron pan, a cake pan, an oven safe glass dish, a springform pan, and more. Check out our Top 10 Pie Pan Substitutes section for more ideas.
Is it better to bake a pie in a glass or metal pan?
Glass may take slightly longer than metal to heat up, but it cooks the pie crust into a richer color at a faster rate. So, we suggest going for a glass dish.
Are aluminum pie pans safe?
Yes, foil or aluminum pie pans are completely safe to go in the oven as well as after baking. The aluminum does not pass chemicals into the pie or cause any health hazards.
Should I bake pumpkin pie on a cookie sheet?
If you don’t have a pumpkin pie pan, you can use regular baking paper to make it. This will be much different than a traditional pie and will look more like a big dumpling. Check out solution 10 of our Top 10 Pie Pan Substitutes for more details.
What is the best material for pie pans?
Glass and aluminum are the best material for pie pans because they cook the pie crust more thoroughly in comparison to other materials.
To wrap it all up, the best deep dish pie pan substitute, compared to all the ones we’ve tested, is the cast iron pan. It is an excellent conductor of heat, it beautifully cooks the crust, and requires the least adjustments while preparing.
Take a look through our green apple pie recipe with a cast iron pan to know how to use this pie pan alternative.
However, all the other bakeware and cookware we’ve mentioned in our list also do a brilliant job of taking the place of a pie pan. Sure, most of them might not be traditional, but they are innovative and fun to try out.