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How to freeze pie and pie crust

To freeze a whole or baked pie, place it on a sheet pan and freeze it solid before wrapping it up. (Photos by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Making pie from scratch is no easy feat. It can be a time-consuming, messy affair, leaving both the kitchen and the cook dusted with flour. It’s an especially tough task if you’re also preparing the rest of the meal. And for those who find themselves with leftover dessert after a dinner party, the danger of food waste creeps in. Thankfully, I have good news: Many pies — baked or unbaked — freeze beautifully.

Whether you’re looking to get a head start on baking or want to save leftover dessert for later, here’s what you need to know about freezing baked pies whole or sliced, unbaked pies, and pie dough.

7 pie crust tips for tender, flaky results every time

Freezing pie crust

If you’re going to put in the effort to make your own pie crust, then you might as well make extra. Once you’ve formed the dough into disks and wrapped it in plastic, instead of putting the pie dough in the refrigerator to rest, add another layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil or drop the whole thing inside a zip-top bag or airtight container before storing in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw the disks of dough in the refrigerator, then roll out as desired.

If you want to take it a step further, you can put the dough in a pie plate, crimp as desired, then wrap and freeze it that way to make your life that much easier when the mood for pie strikes. When that time does come, let the pie crust thaw in the fridge and use as if it were fresh, or fill and bake without thawing at all with a few extra minutes of bake time added to account for the crust being frozen.

Step-by-step pie crust guide

The types of pie can you freeze

Fruit pies, such as apple, cherry, peach or blueberry, freeze magnificently, as do pecan pies. They can be frozen baked or unbaked, the latter of which can be a great way to get ahead when hosting a dinner party or big holiday meal. “Fruit pies that have been frozen have a denser, jammier texture than those baked right out of the gate, but they still have the same thickness and consistency overall,” cookbook author Stella Parks wrote in Serious Eats. On the flip side, already-baked pies that are then frozen won’t have the same crispy, flaky crust as pre-freeze, but in my experience they are still delicious, especially when reheated in the oven and/or served a la mode.

Most cream, custard and meringue pies do not hold up well to freezing. People are on both sides of the fence when it comes to whether you can freeze pumpkin pie. The issue is that such pies tend to texturally degrade when frozen because of the high water content found in most recipes. (As such, denser sweet potato pies typically freeze pretty well.)

Pumpkin pie or pecan pie? With these recipes, you don’t have to choose.

The best way to freeze pies

Be they baked or not, whole or in slices, first place the uncovered pie on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, about two hours, before wrapping in a layer or two of plastic wrap. You can then put the pie in a layer of foil, a resealable bag or an airtight container for extra insurance from freezer burn if you want. (The same method works for freezing cake.) For optimal freshness, you’ll want to consume them within a couple of months.

Thaw already-baked pies in the refrigerator before enjoying. For unbaked pies, bake them directly from frozen at the recipe’s specified temperature. They will take longer than the recipe states, but exactly how much longer — typically anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes — will depend on the recipe, so it is best to use visual cues to determine doneness, such as a bubbling filling for fruit pies. Remember, if any part of the pie starts to darken too quickly, tent it with foil.

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