How to Use a Pie Bird (and Why You Should)

Pie birds aren't as common as they used to be, but it's time to bring them back.

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Picture it: You’re making Grandma’s legendary apple pie. Let’s say you blind baked your crust—even remembered your pie weights—and properly vented your top layer of pastry, but somehow your pie still ends up a soggy mess. Does that sound familiar?

We love our modern kitchen tools, but it turns out your grandma probably had the perfect solution for preventing this mess all along: a pie bird.

What is a pie bird? Why do I need one?

A pie bird is a hollow ceramic tool that bakers place in the center of pies to prevent bubbling over. They can also be called pie vents, because that hollow core allows steam to escape during baking.

These cute critters have been around for hundreds of years, but grew more popular in the 1940s as manufacturers started producing them in varying shapes and colors. Over the years, we’ve let them fall back into obscurity.

But if you’re an avid pie baker, it’s a trend worth bringing back. This tiny (and frankly adorable) pie friend can help you achieve an enviable outer shell, a crispy crust, and—you’re welcome, Mary Berry—a dry bottom. (Find more of Mary’s best baking tips here.) They’re inexpensive, they’re fun, and they work.

Pie birdKate Tully for Taste of Home

How do you use a pie bird?

Thankfully, using a pie bird just adds a few quick steps to your pie-baking process. Try it with a pie that has a top crust, like apple pear pie.

Step 1: Prepare your pie

Follow your recipe of choice to prep all the ingredients as noted.

Step 2: Place bottom layer of dough

Lay out your dough as normal. If you parbake your crust, do not place the pie bird yet.

Step 3: Place the pie bird

Place your bird right in the middle of the dough. Spoon your filling evenly around the bird.

Step 4: Add the top layer of dough

Cut an X in your top layer of pastry dough.You can also cut a small circle out of your dough if you feel confident in knowing how wide the bird is, but the X will do just fine. Carefully cover the pie, allowing the pie bird to poke through the X.

Step 5: Bake!

Follow your recipe and bake as you normally would. Don’t remove the bird, though! You can cut and serve around him.

Pie birdKate Tully for Taste of Home

Where can I find a pie bird?

  • Amazon: There is a fun selection of pie birds on Amazon—the Le Creuset Stoneware Pie Bird (that’s the one shown here) has solid reviews and comes in a variety of colors.
  • eBay: Since pie birds are pretty vintage, eBay is a great spot to shop for the more unique shapes and collectors’ items.
  • Antique Stores: If you have a favorite local antique store or flea market, keep your eye out for an old-school pie bird.
  • Your Grandmother: Call your grandmother (or any relative with an enviable collection of kitchen tools, both past and present) and ask if she has one. You know Grandma always has the best advice, anyway. (Especially when it comes to baking apple pie!)
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Kate Ellsworth
Kate is an avid baker, knitter and writer. Her passions include Star Wars, stress baking and—of course—chocolate. When she's not chasing her partner around the house asking him to try her latest recipe, Kate is probably knitting (another) sweater.