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Pie Plates

Published October 2017

How we tested

It’s difficult to make a great pie without a great pie plate. Pie plates come in a variety of styles, and the differences aren’t just aesthetic—a pie plate’s material, thickness, and color all affect the final product.

The Pyrex Basics 9” Pie Plate won our last testing of pie plates; we liked its overall solid performance, its see-through bottom (for monitoring the bottom crust), and the good (if not great) browning of crusts baked in it. Since then, new and different pie plates have become available, including one made of gold-colored aluminized steel, a material that’s won several of our recent bakeware testings (13 by 9-inch baking pans, springform pans, loaf pans, square cake pans, and muffin tins) with its optimal browning capability and easy release.

It was time to retest. We selected seven widely available pie plates priced from $7.59 to $39.95: two metal, two ceramic, and three glass models, including our former winner. All were close to the standard 9 inches in diameter. To make sure they were truly versatile, we baked three pies per plate, each with a different type of crust: chocolate pudding pie with a graham cracker crust, blueberry pie with a homemade double pastry crust, and a single-crust quiche using a store-bought pastry crust.

Several days and many pies later, we concluded that while all the pie plates produced nicely cooked fillings, the quality of the crusts varied wildly. We encountered two big problems: poor crust release and pale bottom crusts.

All three glass pie plates struggled with the chocolate pudding pie’s graham cracker crust. This crust stuck to the glass, requiring extra muscle to slice and remove pie pieces. Our previous winner was especially egregious here. We had to pry the blueberry pie’s pastry crust from its glass surface, too. None of the metal or ceramic plates had release issues—all crusts released effortlessly.

Crust color was an important factor. All the double-crust pies had golden-brown top crusts, but the real challenge was getting the bottom crusts similarly browned and crisp. While the metal and ceramic plates produced nicely browned bottom crusts, the glass plates again disappointed, as their pies had softer, paler bottom crusts. And we learned that the see-through bottom wasn’t a huge advantage, as monitoring the top crust and adhering to a recipe’s stated baking times was enough to ensure success in an opaque plate.

Why did metal and ceramic plates brown better than glass plates? First, metal (both metal plates we tested were steel) is generally a better conductor of heat than ceramic or especially glass, which heats slowly. Second, since steel is so strong, the metal plates can be made thinner than plates of other materials, which helps them heat faster. The main advantage of ceramic plates was their color: Both ceramic models we tested have dark-colored exteriors, and dark colors absorb more heat than light colors (think of wearing a black shirt on a hot, sunny day). Overall, the gold-colored metal plate did the best job of browning—crusts emerged beautifully golden and crisp.

Versatility was also important. Most of the plates had flat rims, but our two ceramic contenders had fluted edges. We were impressed by these plates’ overall performance, but they just weren’t as versatile; while a wavy edge is a helpful fluting guide for some bakers, it can be a hindrance to those who prefer a certain crimping style or want the flexibility to change the crust depending on the pie.

In the end, the Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Pie Dish ($18.95) outshone the rest. It made evenly baked pies with beautifully browned crusts on both top and bottom, and its slices were easy to cut and remove. The plate is also dishwasher-safe and cools down quickly for easy handling. One minor drawback: We noticed scratches on its surface after using metal utensils on it, but the issue was merely cosmetic and didn’t affect its performance. In this case, the gold-colored plate again takes the cake—or rather, the pie.

Methodology

We tested seven pie plates priced from $7.59 to $39.95, including glass, metal, and ceramic options. We baked three pies in each: chocolate pudding pie with a pat-in-the-pan graham cracker crust, blueberry pie with a homemade double pastry crust, and single-crust quiche Lorraine using a store-bought crust. We baked each pie in the same oven, positioning it in the same spot on the rack. We also heated each empty pie plate, one at a time, in the same oven, timing how long it took to reach 350 degrees. Finally, we measured each plate’s thickness and diameter. Prices listed were paid online. Scores were averaged, and pie plates appear in order of preference.

Browning: How well pie crusts browned on both top and bottom. The best pie plates produced flaky, golden-brown top crusts and nicely browned, crisp bottom crusts.

Release: How easy it was to remove slices from each pie plate. Pie plates that easily released intact slices without leaving any crust stuck on the pie plate scored highest.

Durability: How well pie plates handled normal wear and tear, including repeated contact with pie servers and knives and repeated washings; pie plates should withstand contact with utensils with minimal scratching that does not impact performance and should hold up well to repeated washings.

Versatility: Whether the pie plate’s design allows for multiple crust options and whether its size accommodates standard pie recipes.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*
Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB