Cutting perfect slices of pie can be tricky. Crusts can crumble, bottoms can buckle and fillings can spill over, but there are a lot of tricks for a good slice. Learning how to cut pie with style is as much about having the right tools as it is learning the right method.
You’re going to need a pie to practice on! Try one of these decadent recipes.
What Tools Do I Need to Cut a Pie?
You don’t need to go out and buy that special four-in-one pie-slicing gadget in order to get perfect pieces. You likely already have all the tools you need in your kitchen.
A Serrated Knife
Your bread knife can cut through dense fillings like nobody’s business, whether you’re working with a curd or cobbler. The jagged edges catch on denser fillings and produce that first deep cut. Score the top with the serrated knife, then cut your slices deeply. And while you’re using your serrated knife, make sure you’re not committing one of these cardinal knife sins.
A Paring Knife
After you’ve sliced with your serrated knife, use a short, sharp paring knife to really dig into the crust. Make sure you’ve cut clear, defined lines that are separated from each other. Using a sharp and powerful knife is the best way to ensure the pieces are clean cut, preventing you from taking a chunk of the next piece while removing the first. Keep your paring knife sharp with our Test Kitchen’s favorite knife sharpener.
An Offset Spatula
There’s a reason offset spatulas made the list of our best-loved kitchen gadgets. You can use them for just about any baking-related task. They can do wonders for cake decorating, but they’re ideal for removing pie slices from tins. The thin, sleek spatula can get under just about any surface with ease, while the flat edge is ideal for supporting pieces while they’re being removed.
How Can I Get that Perfect Slice?
You’ve got your knives ready, but before you dig in, adjust your method. Achieving that perfect cut will take patience and practice, so don’t get upset with yourself if your first slice doesn’t go as planned. Keep trying!
Adjust to Your Pan
Not all pie dishes are made equal. If you’re making a deep-dish pie, like our favorite farm apple pan pie, you’ll need to prepare for cutting way more slices—and far messier sides on center pieces. Fatter spatulas will be better than offset, but the serrated and paring knives will still be important. More conventional pie plates, like the ones in this collection, will benefit from the use of skinnier spatulas.
Keep the Pie Cool
Regardless of the pie’s filling, tin or topping, you’ll have a much easier time slicing it when it has cooled down. Cutting a pie fresh out of the oven is a huge no-no; your filling will melt over the sides while your favorite buttery crust will collapse. If you can refrigerate or freeze the pie, you’ll have the most success while cutting. But even letting the pie come down to room temperature will make a significant improvement in your cutting method.
Clean Your Knife
Between slices, wipe down both your serrated and paring knives with a clean dish towel. This will keep the pie looking fresh, as it prevents the crust from making its way to the filling.
How Many Slices in a Pie?
If you’re slicing a pie in a conventional 9-inch pie pan, you should aim to cut between 6-8 slices. When you make your first cut with the serrated knife, slice the entire pie in half. Cut the remaining pieces at one time—this ensures all your pieces remain the same size, while also making slice-removal much easier. If the pie is heftier or filled with dense filling, you may want to go for eight pieces. Otherwise, six slices is standard for most 9-inch pies.
For pan pies, like our favorite sweet and savory slab pies, you can get 12 pieces per dish. These are great pies for potlucks and parties, as you can get a lot of pieces from a single baking tray.