10 Ways to Crimp Pie Crust
A step-by-step guide to rolling out, shaping and crimping pie dough.
By Jessie Sheehan for Food Network Kitchen
Jessie Sheehan is a baker and cookbook author.
Making a pie look pretty is no easy task – I mean, we get it: pie dough making in general can be tricky, and then you have to worry about decoratively crimping its edges and praying said crimps stay put post-bake. But we’ve got you. We promise. We’ll walk you through seven ways to beautifully crimp your pie (starting with the easiest technique and working our way up to more challenging ones) plus give you tips on how to ensure they survive a hot oven.
And here’s a tasty little secret, although complicated crimps can be fabulous, even the simplest crimp – made with nothing more than the tines of a fork - can be impressive. And you know what? They all deliciously taste the same. We love how rustic the edge of a crust can look when you use nothing but a homely old fork – truly: like we choose to do that even though we’re pretty good (if we do say so ourselves) at some of the more complex crimps. Yet it's also fun to pull out all the stops and do a little braiding or to grab our mini cookie cutters and go to town. Honestly, if you keep your dough cold and work carefully, chilling it if it warms up, you’ll be crimping like a champ in no time.
How to Roll Pie Dough
Step 1: Prep the Work Surface
So you've made your dough and want to convert it into pie. You'll need a clean surface (large cutting board is great). Tickle your dough a few minutes before you want to use it and flour your surface.
Step 2: Soften the Dough
Pound down the dough with a rolling pin to soften it. Any kind of rolling pin will do. You'll want the dough about the same thickness all over.
Step 3: Roll the Dough
Roll the dough from the center out. To keep the dough moving, toss a little flour underneath so it doesn't stick to the surface. Adjust the pressure as you roll until you have a circle rolled out that's 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick.
Step 4: Place the Rolled Dough Over the Pin and Transfer
Roll the dough carefully over the rolling pin and ease it into the pie plate. Tip: Don't stretch the dough during this process or it might shrink when baked.
Step 5: Trim the Dough
Trim any excess dough with cooking shears, leaving approximately 1-1/2 inch for the crimped edge. Chill the shell as the recipe indicates.
Step 6: Fill and Top the Pie
Fill the pie and roll the top layer of dough. For a double-crust pie you want the bottom to be approximately 12 inches in diameter and the top about 10 inches. Once the top layer has been rolled and is ready, carefully place it on top of the filled pie and trim any excess like you did before with the bottom layer. Fold the excess under the edge and seal together. Even out the thickness around the edge and shape the dough so it sits on the rim of the pie plate. There are a few ways to crimp.
Step 7: Make Sure the Pie Crust Is the Right Temperature
In order to properly “prep” your dough for crimping, make sure it is cold. Not so cold that it can’t be manipulated: if it’s too cold, it will tear when you try to crimp it. It should be cold enough that once you have transferred it to your pie plate, you can squeeze its edges, creating a look you want that stays put.
Ways to Crimp Pie Dough
1) Fork Crimp
This is the easiest of all the crimps: press the tines of a fork into the edge of the dough creating small indented lines that face the filling. Rotate the pie plate as you do this, until you have created the pattern all the way around your pie.
2) Cross Hatch Crimp
Here, another very easy crimp, that is essentially a riff on the fork crimp: after you have pressed the tines of your fork into the edge of your dough all the way around your pie plate, change the position of the fork and press the tines along the edge so that they are now perpendicular to the filling (as opposed to facing the filling) and to the lines you just made – you are basically making lots of little tick-tac-toe patterns all along the edge of the dough.
3) Citrus Reamer Crimp
This is a fun one: roll the reemer around the edge of the dough, leaving an impression of thick lines.
4) Basic or Classic Crimp
This might be the most popular crimp. It requires both of your index fingers and one of your thumbs. In short, you make a v-shaped crimp all around the edge of the dough, by gently pressing the dough with the thumb and forefinger of one hand from the outside, almost squeezing the dough into a “v,” with the pointy end of the “v” pointing away from the filling, as it were; while you simultaneously press the center of the “v” (the inside of the point) with the forefinger of the other hand from the inside.
5) Cookie Cutter Crimp
1. Grab your favorite tiny cutters and after rolling out a little extra dough – or making extra, depending on how industrious you’re feeling, if you don’t have any leftover – cut out tiny flowers or hearts or circles.
2. Brush the edge of the dough with egg wash, as well as the shapes, and place the shapes all around the edge, overlapping them as you go.
6) Pleated Crimp
1. Slightly flatten the thickened dough around the edge of your pie plate and makes small diagonal snips in the dough.
2. Gently fold the flaps down, towards the filling, one after another, following the angle of the cuts you just made, and keep folding until you’ve come all the way around.
7) Braided Crimp
1. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter or sharp paring knife, cut 9 thin strips of dough, long enough to go around 1/3 of your pie.
2. Make three braids of three strips each, straightening and flattening as you go.
3. Brush the edge of the pie dough with an egg wash to help the braids adhere to the edge and lay the three braids along the edge, pressing gently.
How to Cut Pie Crust Designs 7 Photos
Put fun new crusts from Food Network Magazine on apple and pumpkin pies. Photographs by Johnny Miller
8) Chess Crimp
1. Snip wide, straight tabs around the pie-dough edge.
2. Bend every other tab in toward the center.
3. Chill the dough if the tabs get too floppy, as they appear here.
4. Fill this pie with something bold and rustic. If blind baking, prop up the edges with a ring of foil.
9) Letterpress Crimp
1. Use clean letter stamps to press a message into your pie’s edge.
2. Press firmly enough to make an indent. Chilling the dough before baking helps retain the indents.
10) Ribbon Crimp
1. Make this ribbon edge by folding a strip of dough over itself in big loops.
2. Trim the overhang close to the rim; you won’t need a double thickness here. Attach the ribbon in three sections to an edge brushed with beaten egg.
3. This thick, rustic design cooks for a bit longer, and makes for a substantial slice.
How to Ensure Your Crimp Holds Its Shape In the Oven
Once you have finished your crimp, brush it with an egg wash so that it bakes up beautifully bronzed and place your pie plate in the freezer for an hour to set the design. This should help the crimp hold its shape once baked. You can also egg wash the edge after the pie spends its hour in the freezer.
How to Keep Pie Crust from Burning
Because your crimp is delicate, it may take on too much color before the rest of the pie is fully baked. To avoid this, either cover the entire pie with aluminum foil, or just the edges. Or, consider investing in a heat-safe, silicone pie crust shield, which fits easily around the perimeter of your pie, and can be made large or small, depending on the size of your pie.
Pie Crimping Recipes
To see different pie crimping techniques in action, check out these recipes.
Here is a great example of just how easy and gorgeous the fork crimp can be – particularly when matched up with a crumb topping.
This pie is a great example of how pretty cookie cutter cut-outs can be. In this pie they are not around the edge of the pie, but also all over the top.
This recipe just instructs you to “crimp the edges decoratively,” but the image is a great example of a classic crimp.
Head over to this page for a nice example of a combo of crimps – the classic around the edge and the cookie cutter both around the edge and in the center.