Informational Articles, Pies & Tarts

5 Impressive & Easy Pie Design Techniques

Pie decorating doesn't have to be hard with my 5 Impressive & Easy Pie Design Techniques — get that professional pie look with no fuss!
5 different pie designs, unbaked.

Hi Bold Bakers!

You know I am not one for finicky desserts, and you also know that I love to do little work and still yield an impressive, professional-looking creation! Work smarter, not harder, you know? And that is exactly what I have done this Holiday season. I have created 5 simple pie decorating techniques to transform your holiday pies into show-stopping desserts.

By the end of this article, you’ll take my years of culinary and professional baking experience, and you will no longer be intimidated by beautiful pie designs! Below are five designs that you (yes, YOU!) can do easily!

Pie Design & Decorating Tips To Get You Started 

  • These designs are made with my perfect flaky pie crust, which is very forgiving and easy to handle.
  • When making the dough, I always say to add a minimal amount of liquid and handle the dough as little as possible for the most tender dough – but in the case of these more intricate crusts, go ahead and add the full 3 tablespoons of ice water and give the dough extra few kneads (don’t over-do it – just 3 or 4 extra kneads) just to keep things pliable before chilling the dough.
  • Make sure to remove your chilled dough from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you want to roll it (it should still be cool – too warm and it will be difficult to handle and too cold and it is more likely to crack).
  • When you are rolling out your top crust – if it is very firm and starts to crack, knead the dough together again and let it sit for 5 minutes to allow it to warm up a bit before rolling out again.
  • Keep your surface well-floured! And if you have a marble slab for rolling pastry or pastry cloth, definitely use it! It will make lifting your designs much easier!

How To Begin Your Pie Decorating

All of the pies below require two pie crusts. For each design, begin by rolling out the bottom crust and lining a 9-inch (23cm) pie pan with it. Trim the edges of the crust so that there is a ½ inch (1½ cm) overhang past the edge of the pie pan. Then fill the pie with your desired filling and brush the edges with an egg wash. Now choose your top crust design and proceed as directed! 

Thick Lattice Pie Design

The before and after of a lattice pie.

This is as classic as pie decorating gets! If you’ve ever seen a cartoon where a pie was cooling on a window sill, this is the pie you remember. Here’s how to do it!

  1. On a floured surface, roll out the top crust, including any trimmed scraps from the bottom crust into a 10×14 inch (25x35cm) rectangle. 
  2. Position the rectangle so that a 14-inch (35cm) edge is closest to you and cut the dough into 11 strips (each strip will be about 1 ¼ inch (3 ½ cm) wide and 10 inches (25cm) long). 
  3. Evenly lay 6 strips of dough across your filled pie. 
  4. Take another strip of pie dough and weave it in the opposite direction across the center of the pie. 
  5. Weave the remaining 4 strips of pie dough across the pie, two on either side of the center strip. 
  6. Trim the lattice to be even with the bottom crust, press the top and bottom crusts together, and tuck the overhanging pie dough under the bottom crust. 
  7. Brush all over with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar if desired, and bake according to the directions in your recipe.

Cutout Top Pie Design

An unbaked and baked pie featuring cutouts.

After cutting out the holes on the top pie crust (this also works well for venting!), place them around the edge for a gorgeous look.

  1. On a floured surface, roll out the top crust into an 11-inch (28cm) circle. 
  2. Take a small cookie cutter of your choice and cut out shapes randomly or in a pattern – whichever you like and as many as you wish. 
  3. Set the cut-out shapes aside and carefully lift the pie crust and drape it over the filled pie. 
  4. Trim the top crust to be even with the bottom crust, press the edges together to seal, and tuck the excess under the bottom crust. 
  5. You can now crimp the edges of the pie with your fingers or a fork, or simply press the edges of the dough flat, brush with egg wash and use the cut-out pieces to decorate the edges, pressing gently to seal the shapes onto the top edge of the pie. You can re-roll any scraps and cut more shapes for the edge if you wish. 
  6. Once you are done, brush the top crust all over with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake according to the directions in your recipe.

Star Cut Out Pie Design

Before and after baking a pie with star cutouts.

Somewhat like the previous design, this pie crust decoration uses cutouts — but completely, instead of using negative space!

  1. On a floured surface, roll out the top crust into an 11-inch (28cm) circle. 
  2. Take a small cookie cutter of your choice (I chose a star) and cut out as many shapes as you can – re-roll and keep cutting until the pastry is all used up. 
  3. Working in a circle from the rim to the center of the pie, place the stars overlapping slightly on top of your pie all around the edge and then make your way to the center of the pie.
  4. Once you are done, brush the top crust all over with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake according to the directions in your recipe.

Cutout (Letters or Shapes) Pie Design

Before and after baking a pie with cutout letters.

One of the most fun of all these designs is cutting out letters and arranging them in multiple and loose versions of the type of pie!

  1. Tuck the overhanging pie crust from your bottom crust under the pie and crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. 
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the top crust into an 11-inch (28cm) circle.  
  3. Using large fondant letter cutters (to spell out the pie filling) or small cookie cutters of your choice, cut out as many words or shapes as you can. You can gather and reroll scraps to get more cutouts. 
  4. Place the cutout works or shapes all over your filling, brush the cutouts and the edge of the pie with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar if desired, and bake according to the directions in your recipe.

Geometric Strips Pie Design

Before and after baking a pie with geometric designs.

Using geometry can make things beautiful? Yes! Math, shapes, and geometry — all of them can lend itself to gorgeous pie designs.

  1. On a floured surface, roll out the top crust, including any trimmed scraps from the bottom crust into a 10×14 inch (25x35cm) rectangle. 
  2. Position the rectangle so that a 14-inch edge is closest to you and cut the dough into 3/8-inch (1cm) thick strips. Place a 2-inch (5cm) round biscuit cutter on the filling right in the center of the pie. 
  3. Place a strip of dough across the pie (the biscuit cutter in the center will offset the center of the strip. 
  4. Place the second strip of dough across the pie, leaving about 3/8-inch (1 cm) of space between the strips. 
  5. Keep going with the remaining strips of dough until you have covered the pie and used up all of your dough. 
  6. Trim the edges to be even with the bottom crust, tuck the crusts under the bottom crust and crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork to seal. 

Brush all over with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar if desired, and bake according to the directions in the recipe.

Make More Pies!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

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Shambalee
Shambalee
14 days ago

Loved the video Gemma! Question: is lattice design a good one for short crust pineapple pie? I plan on making one with my son for his assignment but not sure of the top design. Awaiting response.

Michelle Mc Callion
Michelle Mc Callion
15 days ago

Thank you for sharing Gemma. Is very much appreciated 👍

J Stoutamire
13 hours ago

Thanks for the helpful hints. Most of my cookie cutters were too big to use but the heart one worked. I put the design on my mock mincemeat pie and loved the way it turned out (nevermind the burnt edge of the crust.)

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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