3 Easy Ways to Make Prettier Pies

These simple embellishments will make pie crust look more attractive and professional. 

Published May 3, 2022.

Good pie pastry is kind of like Play-Doh: a malleable blank slate that can be rolled, crimped, cut, stamped, etched, and woven into a zillion different designs. If you have the skills and the time, you can really go to town with an ambitious arts-and-crafts project. 

But most of us don’t, and that’s fine. Because there are plenty of quick and easy ways to up your pie pastry game that don’t require pro-caliber skills or hours of intricate sculpting. All you need is a great dough recipe, common kitchen tools (even basic flatware works), a sharp knife, and some sugar. 

Read on to learn how easy it is to make pie even prettier and more appealing.

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1. Design an Edgier Edge

Embellishing the edges of the crust—single or double—is a surprisingly simple way to upgrade the appearance of your pie. Chill the dough for 15 minutes before edging to make neater marks. 

hand pies on the counter

FOR A FLUTED EDGE: Cut edges of dough with fluted pastry wheel.

pie with slice taken out of it


  1. Line tip of inverted spoon up with inside edge of lip of plate, with spoon handle facing out.
  2. Press spoon firmly into dough to leave behind indentation. 
  3. Shift spoon so tip is halfway between inside and outside edge of plate’s lip, and press firmly into dough to leave second indentation. Repeat evenly around edge of pie.
overhead shot of pie with crimped edges

FOR A CRIMPED EDGE: Use tines of fork or serrated knife (hold blade parallel to counter and press scalloped edges into dough) to fringe border. 

close shot of pie with roped edge pie crust


  1. Holding body of 1/4-inch-wide round chopstick at 45-degree angle to edge of plate, firmly press chopstick into dough. 
  2. Repeat pressing chopstick into dough evenly around the edge of pie, leaving ½ inch between each mark.

2. Make the Crust Shine and Sparkle

Brushing the top crust with egg wash (or water) and sprinkling it with sugar gives the pastry lustrous browning and shimmer—and the effect can be really impressive when you liberally apply both. Thoroughly moistening the dough enables it to grasp lots of sugar, which transforms into a candy-like layer with brilliant sheen, crackly crunch, and notable sweetness that pairs particularly well with tart fruit fillings such as rhubarb, apricot, plum, and sour cherry.

You can use any kind of sugar, but the effect will differ. 

  • Granulated: Finer, more delicate crispness and uniform sheen 
  • Demerara or Turbinado: Coarser crunch and more sequin-like sparkle 

How to Add Sparkle to a 9-Inch Pie

  1. WASH CRUST: Beat 1 egg with pinch of salt. (Salt will loosen the egg proteins and make the wash more fluid and easier to brush evenly over the dough.) Using pastry brush, thoroughly paint surface with 1 to 2 tablespoons wash. (Alternatively, use 2 tablespoons water instead of egg wash.)
  2. SPRINKLE SUGAR: Before cutting vents, sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar (depending on the sweetness of the filling) evenly over surface.

3. Cut Distinctive Vents 

Venting the top crust allows moisture to evaporate so that juicy fillings, such as blueberry or peach, thicken. Here are a couple simple ways to do it. Chill the dough for 15 minutes before making cuts. 


  1. Using a sharp paring knife, make a slash (or a series of them in a simple pattern) on the top of the dough. If making multiple pies, use a different design for each flavor to help tell them apart. 
  2. For more visual appeal, insert the knife into the vent and wiggle it side to side to widen the vent slightly.

Decorative Cuts:

  1. Use a small decorative cutter, biscuit cutter, or spice jar lid to punch out small shapes from the dough.
  2. For more visual appeal, save a few cutouts to decorate intact areas of crust, brushing their undersides with water and pressing gently but firmly to adhere. 

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