Go beyond basics with your pies. We'll show you how to make decorative pie crusts that will make these desserts really stand out.
Once you have the proper pie baking tools and your pastry crust recipe mastered, there are plenty of ways to gussy up plain pie. From twists and braids to cut-outs and layered looks, these pie decorating techniques will make your dessert the star of the show.
The fluted edge is one of the most common finishes for pies, and it’s simple to do. You can use this on single- and double-crusted pies.
To create a fluted edge, trim the pie pastry to about a half-inch beyond the rim of your pie plate (an entire inch if you’re working with a double-crusted pie). This overhang is then turned under to form the edge.
Flute the crust by positioning your index finger on the edge pointing outward. Then place your thumb and index finger of your other hand on the outside of the edge and pinch the pastry around your finger to form a V (the photos illustrate the point a bit better!). Continue around the entire edge of the pie.
Roped edges are just a step up from the basic fluted edge. Like fluting, you can use this technique on single- and double-crust pies. Also like fluting, you trim pastry about a half-inch from the edge of the pie plate for single-crust pies and leave an inch of extra for double-crust pies.
To create the rope, make a fist with one hand and press your thumb at an angle into the pastry. Pinch some of the pastry between your thumb and index finger. Repeat at about half-inch intervals around the crust. For a looser-looking rope, position your thumb at a wider angle and repeat at one-inch intervals.
If you’re making a single-crusted pie, you can get a bit more creative with your edges (since you don’t need to seal anything in). To make a braided edge, double your crust recipe—you’ll need the extras for the plait.
Start by lining your pie plate with the bottom pastry and trimming it so it’s even with the edge of the pan. Roll the remaining pastry dough into a 10×8″ rectangle. Using a ruler, cut 12 quarter-inch-wide strips. You can cut with a sharp knife or even a pizza cutter. Then carefully braid together the strips.
Brush edge of crust with water; place braid on edge and press lightly to secure. Repeat with remaining strips, attaching additional braids until the entire edge is covered. To protect the edges during baking and prevent over-browning, be sure to cover with foil.
Reverse Scalloped Edge
This reverse scalloped edge is a simple finish for single-crust pies. Line your pie dish with the pastry and trim it until it’s even with the plate.
Then use a measuring spoon to cut scallops around the outside. Remove and discard the cut pieces. If you want more defined scallops, use a larger measuring spoon.
You can also use small cookie cutters to form a super cute decorative edge on your pies. You can use any shape you want, but be sure to use smaller cookie cutters—ideally between one and two inches in size. Like the braided crust, you’ll want to make extra pie pastry for this technique.
Roll your extra dough out thinly and cut out shapes with your cutters. If you find they’re sticking, give them a quick dusting with flowers. If you want to add extra detail, like veins in leaves or definition in shapes like pumpkins, use a sharp knife to add indentations.
To attach the shapes to the pie crust, brush the bottom of each with water and press to the edge of the crust. Overlap your shapes slightly. If you like, bake up a few extras to scatter on top of your pie as decoration. Just be mindful to keep an eye on the crust to make sure it isn’t browning too quickly. Again, that foil pie guard is a good idea here.
Taste of Home
You can also use the same cookie cutter method to cover the entire top crust of your pie. Since you’re covering a larger area, you can use almost any size cookie cutters you like.
To layer onto the pie, brush the bottom of each shape with water and arrange over the top of the pie. Press lightly to secure shapes to the edge and one another. Then bake as normal! This is an easy way to get a wonderfully decorative top without a lot of fuss (no offense to lattice pies).
Taste of Home
You can also do the reverse of this method for double-crusted pies. For this technique, roll out your top pastry as normal, then using a medium or small cookie cutter, cut out select parts of the crust. Be sure not to place these cutouts too close together.
Then lay the crust on top and crimp and finish as you see fit.
The Finishing Touches (Combine with Any Decorative Method)
You don’t need to stop decorating your pie with just the crust. You can add a few more finishing touches to give your pie a professional look.
Taste of Home
Pros know that the secret to a glossy pie crust is an egg wash. Lightly brush your crust before you bake with an egg (or just the white or yolk—depending on the recipe) whisked with a teaspoon of water. This will give your pie a beautiful shine.
Taste of Home
Who doesn’t love sweetness with a little crunch? Try these sugar toppings on your next pie crust. Simply brush the crust with water before sprinkling the sugar. You can use coarse sanding sugar or turbinado sugar for a more distinct crunch, or traditional granulated sugar for a pretty finish.
I like to serve colorful desserts for gatherings with family and friends. These beautiful tarts are filled with cranberry and citrus flavor, and they’re easy to make and serve. —Holly Bauer, West Bend, Wisconsin
I got the idea for this delicious fall dessert from a lovely Italian woman who’s also a fabulous cook. It’s so simple to make—and cleanup is just as easy! I often make two and freeze one. —Stacie Blemings, Heath, Texas
I remember my Grandmother Voltie and Great-Aunt Ophelia making this southern-style pie for Thanksgiving. It was always one of the many cakes and pies lined up for dessert. —Angie Price, Bradford, Tennessee
I love cheese and fruit, so this pie is a natural pairing for me. Sweet and spicy wine-poached pears and a flaky, buttery cheese crust make for a winning dessert you’ll want to make again and again. If you’re serving this for Thanksgiving, bake leaf-shaped pie pastry on top for a festive look. —Alexandra Penfold, Brooklyn, New York
My grandma taught me to make this pie when I was 4. Over the years, I've kept it about the same with just a few changes. Flip it out the second it stops bubbling. The glaze makes it look especially delicious. —Francine Bryson, Pickens, South Carolina
After tasting a fantastic green chile apple pie in a local restaurant, I knew I would have to try it with peaches. The result was fantastic! The combination of flavors in this unusual pie tells you what every New Mexican knows: Green chile goes well with everything! —Rd Stendel-Freels, Albuquerque, New Mexico
As a teenage foreign exchange student in the south of France, I was horribly homesick. Then my host family's Grandmother Miette arrived and asked if I'd like to help her bake this nutty tart from scratch. It turned my trip around and inspired my lifelong passion for baking. Weighing ingredients, roasting nuts, kneading dough—the art of baking transcends language. —Lexi McKeown, Los Angeles, California
Nothing says Thanksgiving like a slice of pie. And you can relish every luscious bite of this pumpkin pie recipe since the tender crust is made with canola oil and a mere hint of butter. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
I fell for the Bakewell tart, a British dessert, while stationed in Dubai with the Navy. Jam with almond filling is traditional, but red velvet makes this a holiday dazzler. —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
Even though we've lived in Florida for three years, I still feel like a Vermonter. My parents send us a bushel of Vermont apples each fall, and we try to visit in the spring to do some sugaring. —Patricia Putnam, Lakeland, Florida
The first time I made this was for Christmas a couple of years ago. The following year, I received a gift with all the ingredients for the pie in it and a note asking me to make it again as soon as possible. Make extra pastry if you want to decorate the top.—Rod Dombek, Mazeppa, Minnesota
I was lucky enough to spend the holidays with my husband's family in Montana. I loved the rustic simplicity of each dish we tasted, especially this rustic pear tart my mother-in-law made. —Leah Waldo, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
My mother made this pie so often, she could do it with her eyes closed! We picked the berries ourselves, and the apples came from the trees in our orchard. I can still taste the delicious combination of fruits encased in Mother's flaky pie crust. —Fran Stanfield, Wilmington , Ohio
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.