When you want that flaky crispy golden crust for your pie, the key is blind baking. Blind baking is a technique that involves partially or completely baking the crust before you add the filling. This is especially useful when baking something like custard pie or a pie whose fillings should be unbaked. Pie weights are objects placed on the pie crust while blind baking to prevent the crust from puffing or bubbling due to air pockets.
Store-bought pie weights are generally small, oven-safe ceramic balls that weigh down the crust and help you achieve the perfect blind bake. But, you can still bake that perfect pie crust even if you don’t have the pie weights with these 9 pie weight substitutes.
#1. Dried Beans
Dry beans are kitchen essentials that almost everyone has stocked in their pantries. You can use any type of beans — chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and even lentils — as substitutes for pie weights, the type doesn’t matter.
Dried beans are of the right size and shape to weigh down the pie crust and prevent it from shrinking or puffing. Just line the crust with foil/parchment paper, fill it with dried beans, and bake as usual. The only drawback is that you can’t use these beans for cooking later as they’ll become too dry, but you can reuse them as pie weights the next time you are baking the pie.
Rice is another great substitute for pie weights and works just as well as dry beans. The best part? You can reuse the rice to cook after using it once as a pie weight. Just pile the rice in the center of the pie dough and add some weight on top.
Rice grains are small in size, so they’ll pack tightly over the crust and distribute the pressure evenly. Using rice as pie weights will give you an evenly baked crust that is perfectly crispy and it will also infuse the crust with some flavor.
#3. Granulated Sugar
If you’re an avid baker, you must already have extra packets of granulated sugar lying around in one of the cabinets. It’s time to grab it and use it as an interesting pie weight substitute.
The fine particles of granulated sugar can be evenly spread over the surface of the crust, and since the sugar is dense, it weighs down the crust as it bakes and ensures a perfectly baked crust. Also, after a few rounds of baking, the sugar will turn golden brown and you’ll have perfectly toasted sugar to use for your next desserts.
#4. Popcorn Kernels
You might be surprised to know that popcorn kernels can be used as pie weights, too. They are of a similar size as that beans and are also pretty economical. You only have to line the pie dough with parchment paper and then add popcorn kernels on top.
But, if you do have other alternative pie weights available, we’d suggest you use those. There’s always a fear of the kernels popping in the oven and messing up the pie crust. Plus, you can’t reuse the unpopped kernels to make popcorn again, so that’s a big loss.
#5. Another Pie Dish
The pie weight substitute that works best is a second pie dish. If you have a smaller pie dish of the exact same shape, use it to weigh down your pie crust. Place parchment paper over your pie crust and place the second pie dish on top. The top dish will prevent the crust from puffing up and will help hold a good shape.
Using a pie dish can also help bake your crust upside down. This will prevent the shrinkage of the crust. Use a metal dish to give the crust a good crisp and a nice golden brown color. You can get a similar crisp if you use aluminum foil with a non-heat conducting plate.
#6. Steel Balls
Steel balls work similar to ceramic balls, but in our opinion, they are better. They can conduct heat and spread it evenly, which helps the crust to be baked evenly inside and out and turn perfectly crispy.
Make sure that the materials you use are oven safe, clean, and sanitized. Don’t forget to line the crust with parchment paper to prevent the balls from touching the crust.
#7. Metal Chain
Metal chains are also a good substitute for pie weights. They will prevent your crust from puffing without weighing it down too much. It will also help distribute the heat evenly and give the crust a crispy golden brown color.
Similar to steel balls, line the dough with parchment paper and then add the metal chains. Remember to add them on the sides too to give form to the pie crust and prevent shrinkage.
#8. Loose Change
If you have a bowl for change in the house that keeps collecting pennies that are rarely used, it’s time to put them to work by using them as pie weight substitutes. Pennies are made up of metal and are good conductors of heat. They will evenly spread the heat and help bake the crust to perfection.
Just wash the pennies with soap and water and line the crust with multiple layers of parchment paper before you place them. You don’t want them touching your pie no matter how clean they are. You should also know that pennies are not evenly shaped and can cause indentations on the inner surface of the crust. So, lining the pan with multiple layers of parchment paper will act like a cushion and prevent indentations.
#9. Rocks and Marbles
If you have any rocks or marbles lying around the house as decoration, you can turn them into pie weights. You can use both decoration marbles and river stones. Just remember that if you use glass marbles, they can break due to the heat.
Make sure you choose stones that are similar in size to the ceramic balls or beans to ensure even baking. It’s a good idea to place the marbles/stones in a muslin cloth, knot it, and place this bundle on the parchment-lined pie dough. Both stones and marbles absorb heat and conduct it so your crust will be nicely baked.