This One Step Will Give A 'Perfect Golden-Brown' To Your Thanksgiving Pies

There's an old saying that things can be "as American as apple pie" (per HuffPost), but not only is the origin of apple pie not what you think (it's not American, for starters), for a dish so ubiquitous as to inspire idioms, there sure are a lot of different ways to encrust, bake, and fill it. Some people cook their fillings before adding them in, some after; there are bakers who opt for a crumble topping, and those who prefer a lattice or woven crust. Some make their pie dough from butter, and some with shortening, oil, or lard.

Thanksgiving is coming, and whether you opt for that classic apple pie (the most popular flavor in the country, according to Instacart) over pumpkin, cherry, or cranberry, there's one thing every baker wants: a picture-perfect pie. Something the family will want to put on Instagram. The filling should bubble, and the crust should be golden-brown. But it can be surprisingly hard to get that last step right. Sometimes, even when your pie is cooked all the way, it just doesn't take on that lovely golden color that makes it look like something from the pages of a magazine. Luckily, Martha Stewart has a simple tip to help any baker achieve that signature golden-brown pie crust.

Martha Stewart's pie tip involves sugar

Martha Stewart shared her best tip for getting a golden-brown pie crust with Food & Wine, but first, you need to have the basics of cooking the pie down. Stewart says that pies "should be baked until they're really a good color golden-brown," and that might be even longer than the recipe calls for. As long as nothing is burning and your pie filling isn't exploding from the crust or spilling from the pan, you can risk leaving your pie in the oven a little longer.

But to assist with that browning, Stewart shared this clever tip: top your pie crust with sugar before it goes in the oven. "Sugar on the crust not only helps make it pretty, but it gives it a nice crunch." That's because, according to Imperial Sugar, at around 347 degrees sugar caramelizes, which will give your pie crust both color and texture. Sugar also helps the crust get crispy by drawing moisture from the dough while it bakes, then recrystallizing and browning once the moisture is evaporated from the surface of the pie. As long as you use the simple tip of adding sugar to the top of your pie before slipping it in the oven (an egg wash will help the sugar stick and also encourage browning), and leave your pie to cook for long enough, you should have picture-perfect Thanksgiving pies.