The key to making a flawless (and stress-free) holiday feast is all in the planning. Essentially, if you can make something ahead of time, you should. And that might mean baking pie crusts for your pumpkin pie a few days in advance.
The pie dough recipe you decide to bake doesn’t matter — it’s all about how far in advance you prep. If you’ll be baking your pie within the next 2-3 days, simply flatten the dough into discs, wrap each in plastic and store in the fridge. The dough will be ready to roll when you are.
But if you’re prepping more than a few days ahead, you’ll need to freeze your pie dough. There are a bunch of different ways to approach this, but these three simple methods are our go-tos.
1. Freeze in Discs
This is very similar to storing your pie dough in the fridge. All you do is press it down into discs, wrap it in plastic and place in the freezer. The day before you want to bake your pie, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then you can roll and shape the dough like normal.
2. Freeze in a Pie Plate
This method requires a bit more work in advance, but that just means you’ll spend less time on your pie on the day you need it. After making your dough, roll it out and press it into a pie plate. Go ahead and crimp the edges, too. You’re getting the dough to the point where it’s ready to bake, but instead of putting it in the oven, cover it in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
Once it’s time to bake, put your filling right into the shell (no thawing necessary — another time saver!) and bake your pie. It may take a few extra minutes to bake beyond what the recipe calls for, so keep an eye on it and repeatedly check for doneness.
Pro Tip: If you opt for this method, it’s important to use a pie plate that’ll be able to move from the freezer straight to the oven, like a high-quality ceramic or glass pan. Avoid aluminum pie tins, as these can explode in the oven if transferred right from the freezer.
3. Blind-Bake Before Freezing
If you know you’re going to make a pie that requires par-baking (partially baking a pie crust) or fully baking before filling it, you can bake it in advance. This method, called blind baking, is particularly handy for pies with cooked fillings that are poured into a finished shell, such as chocolate cream pie.
Roll your dough, press it into your pie pan, dock the pie (prick the bottom of the crust) and bake according to your recipe. When it’s done baking, let your crust cool completely, wrap it in plastic and store it immediately in the freezer.
Pro Tip: Before you fill the pie, let the crust thaw overnight — fillings poured in a still-frozen pre-baked crust can turn a little gummy.
In some cases, you may need to use a combination of these methods to get the best results. For example, say you’re making a pie with a double crust or a lattice top. You may want to press the bottom crust into a pie plate and freeze it, but you can also freeze a portion of the dough in a disc. Then you would just need to thaw the unrolled portion of dough before pressing it on top of the pie, and let the bottom crust thaw for even baking.