The Pie (Dough) Chart

Or, How to make the right amount of pie dough regardless of your pie pan size.

If you’ve ever wound up with a bowl full of extra pie dough cut off the edge or had to roll your pie dough real­ly thin to get it to fill the entire pan, this arti­cle is for you. 

Pie dough recipes don’t always tell you exact­ly how much pie dough to make for your pie. I just looked at one recipe that makes about 492 grams of pie dough, it says it will work as a dou­ble crust for either an 8 inch or a 9 inch pie. 

Log­i­cal­ly, that does­n’t make much sense, The top of a 9 inch pie pan is over 25% larg­er by area than an 8 inch pie pan. So, you could wind up with pie dough that’s a lit­tle too thick or a lit­tle too thin, or a lot of left over pie dough. (There will be more on the ‘right’ pie dough thick­ness lat­er on.)

P. J. Hamel at King Arthur Flour wrote a blog post (see https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2014/09/14/an-ah-ha-moment) touch­ing on this sub­ject in 2014, deal­ing with the ratio of the amount of dough for the bot­tom crust and the top crust. Her rec­om­men­da­tion was to use 23 of the dough by weight for the bot­tom crust. 

This arti­cle expands upon her idea, refin­ing the math a lit­tle and pro­vid­ing a chart so you can deter­mine how much pie dough to make for any size pie pan from 3 inch­es to 15 inch­es in diam­e­ter. (You may need to use bak­er’s math to adjust the recipe, but that’s a sub­ject for anoth­er arti­cle.) It also cov­ers what to do for deep dish pie pans and dif­fer­ent types of upper pie crusts (lat­tice or high-domed.)

Pie pans come in all sorts of sizes, dif­fer­ent diam­e­ters, dif­fer­ent depths, and dif­fer­ent slopes for the angled edge of the pie. If you have pie pans from two dif­fer­ent mak­ers or bought in dif­fer­ent years, they may not be iden­ti­cal in size. 

Here’s a fair­ly typ­i­cal pie pan. 

The Pie (Dough) Chart 1
9 inch pie pan

This is a 9 inch pie pan, mean­ing the inside diam­e­ter at the top of the pan is 9 inch­es. The diam­e­ter of the inside bot­tom of this pan is about 6.6 inch­es. The pan is about 1.4 inch­es deep and the angled side is about 1.9 inches. 

For a bot­tom crust, you have to go down the side, across the bot­tom and back up the oth­er side. If you add the diam­e­ter of the bot­tom of the pan to the length of the two sides, you get 6.6 + 1.9 + 1.9 inch­es, or 10.4 inch­es. That’s how big a cir­cle you’d get if you smashed the pie pan flat. I like to have 14 inch of pie dough around the edge of the pan to make a nice look­ing bor­der for the pie crust (adding it in twice, of course), so now we’re up to 10.9 inch­es, or near­ly 11 inches. 

So as a gen­er­al rule, add 2 inch­es to the diam­e­ter of your pie pan to get the min­i­mum amount of dough you need for a bot­tom crust, includ­ing dough for the edge. 

Now, maybe you’re one of those peo­ple who can roll a per­fect cir­cle of pie dough with uni­form thick­ness. I’m not. My pie dough ‘cir­cles’ used to look like some­thing Picas­so or Dali would have dis­card­ed, though I’ve got­ten a lit­tle bet­ter at it over the years. So I often add in anoth­er 12 inch (1/4 times 2) to give me a mar­gin of error that I’ll trim off. (And if you like big thick pie crust edges, you might add in anoth­er 14 inch on both sides, for anoth­er 12 inch. I find that a lot of that edge crust winds up left on the plate, so I’ve been cut­ting back on both the amount and com­plex­i­ty of edges I do.)

So to recap, your 9 inch pie pan needs any­where from an 11 inch (no mar­gin of error or extra dough for the edge) to a 12 inch (a mar­gin of error and lots of extra dough for the edge) cir­cle of pie dough for the bot­tom crust. Fol­low­ing the same rules for mar­gin of error and dough for the edge, the top crust should be 9 12 to 10 12 inch­es in diam­e­ter. Why so much less? Because you don’t have to go down and back up the sides of the pan. 

For the remain­der of this arti­cle, we will add 2 12 inch­es to the diam­e­ter of the pie pan for the bot­tom crust, and 12 inch for the top crust, before deal­ing with the exceptions.

To recap, for an 8 inch pie, you should make enough dough for a 10 12 inch cir­cle for the bot­tom crust, and an 8 12 inch cir­cle for the top crust. For a 9 inch pie, it would be 11 12 and 9 12. Quick quiz: What would it be for a 7 inch pie pan? (Answer: 9 12 and 7 12.)

Before we can dis­cuss how much pie dough you need to make, we need to dis­cuss pie dough thick­ness. There’s no best answer to the ques­tion of how thick your pie dough should be after you roll it out, but a num­ber of authors rec­om­mend 18 of an inch. (Pre-rolled pie doughs from the refrig­er­a­tor case at the gro­cery store are some­what thin­ner than that.) 

Let’s assume that the amount of dough need­ed for a 9 inch bot­tom crust (a cir­cle 11 12 inch­es in diam­e­ter) is 9 ounces. In tests with a but­ter-based pie crust rolled out to about 18 inch thick, that weight seems to be pret­ty close.

You might like your pie dough thick­er, or thin­ner, and some types of pie dough are heav­ier than oth­ers, but those are easy to com­pen­sate for. 

In a pre­vi­ous blog arti­cle, https://mynebraskakitchen.com/wordpress/measuring-pie-dough-thickness/, I test­ed some pie dough rolling strips that are 18 thick. They’re made from a flex­i­ble sil­i­cone mate­r­i­al, and if you press fair­ly hard on them with a rolling pin, the pie dough actu­al­ly comes out clos­er to 332″ thick, so I’ve includ­ed both 18″ and 332″ columns, though the exam­ples below all assume your pie dough is 18″ thick.

Now we can build the pie dough chart telling us how much pie dough to make for either a bot­tom or top crust at two dif­fer­ent thicknesses.

Diam­e­ter
(inch­es)
Area18″ thick
Ounces
18″ thick
Grams
332thick
Ounces
332thick
Grams
3.07.10.6170.513
3.59.60.8240.618
4.012.61.1310.823
4.515.91.4391.029
5.019.61.7481.336
5.523.82.1581.544
6.028.32.4691.852
6.533.22.9822.261
7.038.53.3952.571
7.544.23.81092.981
8.050.34.41233.393
8.556.74.91393.7105
9.063.65.51564.1117
9.570.96.11744.6131
10.078.56.81935.1145
10.586.67.52135.6160
11.095.08.22336.2175
11.5103.99.02556.8191
12.0113.19.82787.3208
12.5122.710.63018.0226
13.0132.711.53268.6245
13.5143.112.43529.3264
14.0153.913.337810.0284
14.5165.114.340610.7304
15.0176.715.343411.5326
15.5188.716.346412.3348
16.0201.117.449413.1370
16.5213.818.552513.9394
17.0227.019.755814.8418
17.5240.520.859115.6443
18.0254.52262516.5469

As you can see, an 11 12 inch diam­e­ter cir­cle has an area of 103.9 square inch­es and is our stan­dard weight for pie dough that is 18″ thick–9.0 ounces or 255 grams.

A stan­dard 18″ thick top crust for a 9 inch pie pan would be a 9 12 inch cir­cle, which has a weight of 6.1 ounces or 174 grams. 

So the total amount of pie dough you need for a 9 inch pie shell bot­tom and top crust is 15.1 ounces or 429 grams. (And that means the bot­tom crust uses 59.4% of the total weight, not 23, but it was still a major improve­ment over a 50–50 split.) 

While writ­ing this arti­cle, I dis­cov­ered that one of my favorite glass pie pans is actu­al­ly a 9 12 inch pie pan, not the 9 inch pan I had assumed. That explains why it always seemed like I ran out of pie dough before I got it ful­ly rolled out, since from the pie dough chart we can see that I need 9.8 ounces (278 grams) for the bot­tom crust rather than 9.0 (255 grams) and 6.8 ounces (193 grams) for the top crust, or a total of 16.6 ounces or 471 grams. So I’ve been mak­ing pies with near­ly 10% less pie dough than I should have been making. 

The pie dough chart is in half-inch incre­ments, but what do you do with a pie pan size that’s not list­ed? If it is a quar­ter inch off, add half the dif­fer­ence between the two near­est entries. (The math­e­mat­i­cal term for this is interpolation.) 

For exam­ple, I have some dis­pos­able alu­minum pie pans that are 8 34 inch­es in diam­e­ter and not quite as deep as the 9 inch pan pic­tured above, either, though I con­sid­er the lat­ter neg­li­gi­ble. The dif­fer­ence between a 11 inch cir­cle and an 11 12 inch cir­cle is 0.8 ounces or 22 grams, so add half of that to the 11 inch num­ber to get 8.6 ounces or 244 grams. (That’s with­in a gram of what the entry for 11.25 inch­es would be.) 

The chart can be used in reverse, too. Recent­ly I made a cher­ry pie and had about 130 grams of pie dough left over after trim­ming the edges. Not enough for anoth­er 9″ pie, but I have some 4″ tart pans that take about 60 grams of dough each (6″ on the chart, since they’re about an inch deep, and using the 332″ col­umn.) So I made two small tarts, blind baked them, and used them for two small pecan pies.

The Excep­tions

There are some types of pies that are excep­tions to the recommendations:

For a deep dish pie, mea­sure the depth of the pan and com­pare that with the depth of a typ­i­cal pie pan (usu­al­ly around 1.5 inch­es) Dou­ble the dif­fer­ence, so for a 2.5 inch deep pan you would add anoth­er 2 inch­es to the size of the bot­tom crust. (That’s prob­a­bly slight­ly more than what you need but close enough.)

For a round­ed top pie, add either 12 inch or 1 inch to the size of the upper crust, depend­ing on just how much you heap up the filling. 

Lat­tice-top pies present a unique chal­lenge. There are areas on a lat­tice-top pie crust that have two lay­ers of dough and areas that have no dough. An adjust­ment depends on how open your lat­tice is. A lat­tice with a lot of open space should use the same amount of dough as a stan­dard top crust, as the amount of over­lap and the open space more or less can­cel each oth­er out; for a tighter lat­tice-top, one with less open space, you should add 12 inch. 

Inci­den­tal­ly, the pie dough chart will work for mak­ing dif­fer­ent sized piz­zas as well, just use it to deter­mine the dif­fer­ence in size and mul­ti­ply that by your usu­al dough weight. For exam­ple, if you nor­mal­ly use 12 ounces of dough for a 12 inch piz­za, you would use 21.3 ounces of dough for a 16 inch piz­za. (17.4 / 9.8 * 12)

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Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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  • #26954
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    Or, How to make the right amount of pie dough regardless of your pie pan size If you've ever wound up with a bowl full of extra pie dough cut off the edge or had to roll your pie dough really thin to
    [See the full post at: The Pie (Dough) Chart]

    Spread the word
    #26961
    CindyLeigh
    Participant

    This is helpful, thank you!
    Hope you are well- it’s been a while!

    #26964
    navlys
    Participant

    This is worth saving.

    #26966
    BakerAunt
    Participant

    It's great to hear from you, again, Cindy. 🙂

    Mike--does the weight of the dough depend on it being a butter and/or shortening crust? I have been making oil crusts. (I think that I posted my recipe here.) I usually use a deep dish Emile Henry pie plate, but I have had to guestimate for small tarts and for larger tart pans. So far that has been successful.

    #26967
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    This chart was developed primarily with a butter-based recipe, but a shortening-based crust should have roughly the same weight. I've not tried an oil-based crust, I don't know if it has more or less oil relative to the amount of flour.

    A cream cheese crust, like Rose Levy Beranbaum's crust, is heavier than a butter-based crust. And some people like their pie crust thicker or thinner than others, 1/8" seems to be the thickness most authors recommend. When I make a hot water crust for a pot pie, I think it is thicker than my regular pie crust, so it is heavier as well.

    If you know how much pie dough you use for one size pie pan, you can weigh it and compare it to the weight in the chart for the appropriate size, and that'll give you your own standard weight that you can scale up and down.

    Let's say you make a 9 inch bottom crust for a normal depth pan with 1/2 inch added for fluting, which becomes a chart entry of 11 1/2 inches. I used that as the standard because I found a lot of recipes for 9 inch bottom crusts. The chart sets that at 9 ounces. Weight the empty pan and then weigh it again with the finished bottom crust. If the trimmed weight of your crust come out at, say, 10 ounces, then you know you need to increase everything by 11%.

    #26971
    S_Wirth
    Participant

    CindyLeigh...it is so nice to hear from you! Hoping you are enjoying your work and that you and family are all doing well.

    #26981
    cwcdesign
    Participant

    Popping back in myself after the last couple of months. I appreciate your sending an email, Mike - this is great for a pie-phobic like me, but I probably won't be making pies for Thanksgiving this year unless there is an outdoor gathering - it's just down to Will and me.

    Great to hear from you, Cindy Leigh!

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by cwcdesign.
    #26990
    S_Wirth
    Participant

    So glad to see your post here, Carol! I'd been womdering if you were OK as I'd not seen a post from you since Aug. 9 here. Hope things are simmering down a bit for you.

    #26991
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    Yeah, I suspect it'll just be the two of us for Thanksgiving as well, the original plans were to go to a family gathering up in Omaha, and I would have planned on making at least one apple pie for that, possibly two pies.

    Hopefully our son and his family will come visit at Christmas. Kind of depends on how locked down things are by then.

    #26996
    cwcdesign
    Participant

    Thank you swirth and Mike. I did go into what’s been going on on the COVID the next 6 months thread so I didn’t highjack one of the cooking threads

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