How To Prevent Pie Crust From Sticking To A Pan, According To Ina Garten

Do even a little bit of baking in your life and chances are you'll experience the utter disappointment of working away on a pie, then taking your beautiful creation out of the oven, only to realize that it won't come out of the pan. Or, some of it will and some of it won't, which almost seems worse, since it destroys the pie's whole structure. 

Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, makes such beautiful dishes that it's a bummer to try to execute one and not have it come out quite so, well, beautifully. Take the TV personality and author's frozen key lime pie. On the "Ask Ina" section of Garten's website, Janet from Maryland said she made the pie, but then the crust stuck "badly" in the glass pan. Any home baker knows Janet's pain. 

The frozen key lime pie recipe says it's at an "intermediate" level, meaning it might be a tough go for beginner bakers. Reading through the steps, it seems like a simple enough process of making a graham cracker, sugar, and butter crust; an egg yolk, sugar, condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice filling; and a heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla topping. So, perhaps here, having a little bit of experience under your belt in order to achieve picture-perfect results like Garten's means intuitively knowing certain baking tips, like how to get a crust that doesn't stick to the pan. Luckily for all of us, Garten is willing to answer these kinds of questions so we have better results next time.

Gentle packing and patience are the keys to an un-stuck crust

"That's happened to me, too," Garten said in response to Janet's question on "Ask Ina," at least comforting us mere mortals with the fact that even a pro has also experienced a stuck pie crust. "I've found it's important not to press too hard when you're packing the crust. I also let the pie defrost for 15–20 minutes before serving, and that seems to do the trick!"

So, the two main takeaways for a pie crust that lifts right out of the pan seem to be a gentle touch when packing the crumb mixture into the pan, and a little patience after you take the pie out of the freezer before enjoying. These are simple enough steps, thankfully, but neither are things anyone would automatically know without a little experience. So, really, maybe the other takeaways are to keep practicing when it comes to baking and to look for answers whenever you've got a question, just like how Janet was able to get this pie-improving advice from the Barefoot Contessa, herself. 

Practicing and experimenting, indeed, are the only way you'll figure out other solutions to other pie problems, as well as what your preferences are, like what kind of fat you like to use in your crust. Practice also just leads to more pie, and who could complain about that?