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.
Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter
Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!
So just how long does a pie take to cool? For most pies, the magic number is 4 hours.
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.
The Perfect PieYour ultimate guide to baking beautiful, foolproof versions of the corner bakery classics and French patisserie favorites—plus a host of whimsical, modern pies and tarts of all kinds.
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.
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.
photo credit: spxChrome - E+ Collection/via Getty Images