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Cooking Tips

Why You Should Rest Your Fruit Pie for at Least 4 Hours

We sacrificed an apple pie to prove it.
By Published Nov. 16, 2022

Pies are not for the impatient. You can’t rush them (though we’ve streamlined the methods in our book The Perfect Pie). One of the steps is hands-off, but it requires the most restraint: waiting for the pie to cool before slicing it.

I learned this step early on. Growing up, my grandmother would often bake pies the night before serving them. My cousins and I would have to go to sleep with the smell of a just-baked pie in the house. It was torturous at the time, but I like to think it taught us patience. 

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So just how long does a pie take to cool? For most pies, the magic number is 4 hours. 

I know what you’re thinking: A slice of Fresh Plum-Ginger Pie or Mulled Wine Quince Pie sounds delicious warm. Do you really need to wait that long?

Yes. Cooling is crucial for thickeners like flour, cornstarch, and even the natural pectin found in the fruit to work their magic. The thickeners were activated in the oven, but the pie filling gels further with cooling. 

If you cut into a pie before it’s set, the filling will pour out of the pie rather than slicing cleanly. 

You don’t have to take my word for it. We sacrificed an apple pie to demonstrate the difference.

A deep dish apple pie with a slice cut out of it with liquid at the bottom. A deep dish apple pie with a slice cut out of it with no liquid at the bottom.

The Deep-Dish Apple Pie on the left was cut after only 1 hour of resting. The Deep-Dish Apple Pie on the right was sliced after a 4-hour rest.

So while the wait may seem punishingly long, you can see that you’ll be sorry if you slice in too early! If you want warm pie, as my Gram would tell me when I was younger, go heat up a slice.

Watch our test cooks prepare a perfect cherry pie here.

photo credit: spxChrome - E+ Collection/via Getty Images