Dishing on the best pie plate: aluminum vs. paper
Thanksgiving and holiday pie season deserves the very best pie plate. From glass to paper to aluminum pie plates, we are dishing on the very best disposable pie plate.
Which Is the Best Disposable Pie Plate?
Thanksgiving is pie season. And for people looking to bring a pie to a neighbor or loved one, it bears asking: Which is the best disposable pie plate? Here are the answers.
I always thought there were generally two options for pie pans: 1) glass, or 2) aluminum. Then last year, I noticed something else: Unbleached Kraft disposable paper pie plates. A third pie pan option!
Why Glass Is the Best Type of Pie Plate
Let us establish first that glass is superior for several reasons. Though less “disposable” than aluminum or Kraft paper pie plates, they are relatively inexpensive if you leave it at your host’s house.
- Glass is the most stable; it won’t bend or dent or lose its shape.
- Glass pie plates also conduct heat well, meaning a nice brown bottom pie crust instead of a pale, underdone one.
- Third, glass pie plates are indefinitely reusable — and if it breaks, 100% recyclable — making it the most eco-friendly choice of all.
- Finally, glass pie plates just looks nice, and gives your seasonal pie a “homemade” look.
You’ll also like: Caramel Apple Pie With Butter Crust and How to Make Perfect Pie Dough
Testing the Best Disposable Pie Pan
But what about disposable pie pans? Sometimes you need a disposable pie plate. (Bake sales come to mind.) But which one? In the battle of the disposable pie plates, which one stacks up best?
The best challenge for a pie plate is pumpkin pie. Technically a custard pie, it is more prone to sogginess, cracking, and instability (like sloshing out of the pan on its way to the oven) than other pies. Also, I needed to bring them to Thanksgiving dinners. So pumpkin pie it was.
1. Pie Plate Cost
The winner here is aluminum. No question. As of this writing, a 50-pack of 9″ aluminum pie tins sells on Amazon for $14.99, or 30 cents each. The If You Care paper pans cost $6.59 for four. That’s $1.64 each, a difference of $1.34 per pie. In other words, 50 of those guys would total $82.
2. Aesthetics of the Disposable Pie Plate
The winner: paper. I suppose that on some level, aluminum pie tins have an unpretentious, vaguely retro charm. But that is not enough to best the natural, minimalist chic look of the paper option. It just looks more sophisticated.
3. Which disposable pie pan works best in action?
Now we get into some heavy analysis. Not to pan them (so to speak), but both had cons. Both also had good qualities.
To test how well each baked, I blind baked each pie dough shell (unfilled) until about halfway done, to start the browning and inhibit sogginess. Then, I filled each one with pumpkin pie filling decorated the edges, and baked the pies.
The paper holds a lot more pie filling. I got 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin pie filling in the aluminum pan, but a full 2 cups in the paper. The extra half cup made for a significantly thicker-looking and more luxurious filling. Win for paper.
Paper was flimsier. When I lifted the pie to place it in the oven, the bottom sagged like a wet pumpkin diaper. The aluminum, on the other hand, was more firm. Also, the aluminum has a nice lip on the edge, making it easier for me to make a nice border crust. The paper has no lip. I thought about doubling the paper tin, but at $1.34 each, that does not seem economical.
The Result: The Best Disposable Pie Plate Is…
The result: Mixed.
The aluminum pie plate baked a more stable-to-handle pie, and saved baking time due to the thinner filling. The paper pan’s extra baking time, however, allowed the bottom crust to get nice and brown. Plus, the extra filling made a thicker, more satisfying slice of pie.
I did not like how the paper pan’s flimsiness made the crust separate from the filling when I handled it. It made the pie crack. The aluminum pie did not do this — but also had a less dramatic appearance overall.
Can I wiggle out of my own test and just say glass? Seriously. This one is tough.
In the end, despite its drawbacks (price, thickness), I am giving the win to paper because of the nice browning, thicker filling quantity, and aesthetics. It isn’t an A+ win, but it is the better non-glass option. Just be sure to stabilize the bottom.
What do you think is the best disposable pie pan? Share below!
Homemade Carmel Apple Pie
- 1 recipe Perfect Pie Dough (link in instructions, below)
- 8 to 10 crisp, tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cold butter
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, whisked with a few drops of water
- Prepare one recipe Perfect Pie Dough through Step 4. This will include dividing the dough into two halves, and chilling.TIP: The pie dough can be made up to two days in advance and chilled, wrapped, in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. While the pie dough is chilling, peel the apples. Cut each apple into thick wedges, about 8 wedges or so per apple, and place the wedges in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the lemon juice, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, pinch of salt, and all-purpose flour to the apples and mix well to combine. Let stand for about 15 minutes, until juices form.
- While the apples are resting, roll each chilled pie dough to 1/8" thick, using a little extra flour to dust the dough and countertop.
- Place the first pie dough into a 9" deep-dish pie shell, and lightly press into place. There will be overlap. Add the apples. Gently press the apples down to settle them into a compact mound. Add the tablespoon piece of butter on top.
- Drape the second pie dough over the apples. Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut the excess dough from the pie, leaving about a 1" drape on all sides.
- Tuck the draped dough lopping off the edge of the pie upward, folding it down onto the rim of the pie. Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges and seal the two doughs. Lightly brush the egg wash over the pie. Do not do too thick of an egg wash or you will get little omelets on your dough.
- Bake 50 minutes to one hour, until the crust is golden brown and the apple juices are bubbling. PRO TIP: Put the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet or some tin foil to catch any apple juices that may spill out of the pie during baking.
- Serve warm.