How to Make an Ugly Christmas Sweater Pie

Learn how to "knit" dough, and you'll never want to decorate pie another away.

By: Helen Nugent

The Kitschier the Better

A traditional "ugly" Christmas sweater might not look so becoming when you actually wear it — but when it inspires a pie, the trend turns downright adorable. And the "knitted" detailing on the pie crust makes this the coziest dessert around — it's a technique you'll be excited to master (especially if you've never quite gotten the hang of those knitting needles). Here's how to whip up your own.

Get the Recipe: Ugly Christmas Sweater Pie

Roll Out the Bottom Layer of Crust

To make a pie that looks like a cheery sweater nicely folded in a box, you'll need a rectangular pan — ours is 10-by-15-by-1-inch. Roll out pie dough (find out how to make it in the full recipe instructions) into a 14-by-19-inch rectangle. Gently roll the dough up around your rolling pin and then unroll it over the baking pan. Fit the pastry into the pan and up the sides. Don't worry if it rips or tears — you can simply patch it back together with your fingers, and you won't see it in the end. Tuck the edges under the side of the pan and trim. Place in the refrigerator while you create your other decorations.

Start the Knit Design

To create the purl stitch effect, roll 1-to 2-inch balls of dough into logs that are 4 inches long and about 1/4-inch wide. (Or feel free to experiement with the size of the pieces — you can "knit" your pie in a fine or chunky pattern, depending on the length and thickness of the dough stitches.)

Get Knitting

Form one of the dough logs into a horseshoe shape. Then lay another log across the bottom of the horseshoe, leaving about 1/4 inch of the horseshoe ends visible. Tuck the two ends of the horseshoe up and over the straight piece, keeping the ends turned in slightly. Then, curve the straight piece downward into the next horseshoe shape. (Watch the recipe video to see this in action.) Continue to build your column of purl stitches until you have 10-inch long columns that will fit across (and completely cover) your pie — flip the columns over before you place them on the pie for a neater look. Once you have assembled all your purl stitch columns, place them in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Make the Trim

Roll out your remaining dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle.

For the strip of dough that will sit behind the sweater's buttons, use a ruler and knife to cut a 12-by-1-inch piece. Press the tines of a fork gently into the dough, moving down the length of the panel to create a ribbed effect.

To create the sweater's collar, use a 4-inch round cutter to create a circle from a piece of dough. Position a 2-inch round cutter approximately 1 inch inside the outer circle and press down to create a donut shape. Cut the donut shape in half to create a u-shaped band. The remaining half can be added back to your batch to make other decorations. Press the tines of a fork gently into the dough, moving around the edge of the collar to create a ribbed effect.

Prep Your Colorful Decor

The rest of your pie's decorative elements will be small, festive pieces that you'll "paint" with a clean, small paint brush, and a little food coloring mixed with a small amount of water. To add sparkle to your pie after painting (and while your dough is still slightly damp) sprinkle with colored sanding sugar.

Cut Out Holiday Shapes

The sky's truly the limit when it comes to decorating this pie — it is an ugly Christmas sweater, after all, so don't be afraid to go overboard! Use 1- and 2-inch cookie cutters with a holiday theme to create a variety of shapes.

Build the Decorations

For our decor, the leaf and petal shapes were painted red, sprinkled with sanding sugar and placed in a poinsettia shape on top of the pie.

Get Creative

We also rolled two more strips of pie dough, painted one red, added color-coordinated sanding sugar and then twisted the pieces into a candy cane.

Fill the Pie and Finish Decorating

To assemble the pie, remove the pie shell from the fridge. Transfer your filling (this one is cranberry-apple; get the full recipe here) to the pan and evenly distribute so you have a flat surface. Remove your purl stitch columns from the fridge and assemble across the top of your pie. Add your decorations on top of the pie.

Bake the Pie

In an oven preheated to 425 degrees F, bake the pie for 12 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until the pie is golden and the filling bubbles thickly through the knit pattern, another 60 to 70 minutes.

Ready for Our Close-up!

Here's a closer look at some of our decorations — aren't they cute? We added a heart-shaped tag at the top (to really drive the sweater theme home), a string of lights, a candy cane, a Christmas tree, reindeer and a poinsettia to our pie.

Cool and Serve

Let the pie cool for at least two hours before serving. And get ready to make your guests bubble over with holiday cheer when they see this dessert.