7 Hacks For Cutting Perfect Slices Of Pie Every Time

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Nothing elicits warm holiday memories quite like a slice of pie. According to Premise Research, 87% of all pie consumed by Americans is done so during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and the end of the year (via The Sentinel-Record). By the American Pie Council's records, Americans buy 186 million pies from the grocery store, creating a $700 million annual pie market (via KDSK). That is a lot of pie. Yet, for all the pies we consume, many of us still struggle with this delicious dessert. Whether making one from scratch or buying one from the store, tragedy can happen.

One of the biggest problems facing those hankering for pie is getting that perfect slice. Crusts can crumble, filings can ooze and seep out, and the pieces can fall apart before your eyes. A broken piece of pie is still pie, but a perfect piece tastes so much better. We have seven hacks to achieve this perfectly formed Instagram-worthy slice of pie. The best method of pie cutting can vary based on the type of pie, so be sure to read through and choose the best one for your situation.

1. Chill out

The first hack to cut the perfect slice happens before you even take out the first knife. Let the pie cool completely before cutting it. We know that the smell of a warm pie fresh from the oven is alluring. But do not be tempted into the warm embrace of hot pie; it will only fall to pieces.

As restaurant owner and expert pie cutter Gerri Grady notes, a warm pie will be runny and mushy and will not give you that picture-perfect slice (via The New York Times). However, letting the pie cool allows the filling to set and will have the additional benefit of preventing any ice cream served with it from melting. In addition, Taste Cooking goes so far as to suggest that cutting a hot pie won't just ruin the slice but can cause the whole top of a pie to collapse, destroying the rest of the pie as well.

To avoid the mess and heartache of runny pie, pie company Tippin's Original Pies recommends that cream pies be stored in the refrigerator and fruit and nut pies be frozen for 30 min and an hour, respectively. This will help chill, but not freeze, the pies and allow for clean slices.

2. Use multiple knives

When you are ready to cut the pie, it is important to have the right tool for the job, which sometimes means multiple tools. When it comes to pie, using the right knife can make or break your pie slice.

For double-crust pies, food stylist Spencer Richards recommends starting with a serrated paring knife or even a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the top layer of the pie (via Martha Stewart). From there, he uses a large, sharp knife to cut through the whole pie and then finally uses an offset spatula to remove the selected slice. That is a total of three implements. While that may seem like overkill, it is necessary if you want your pie slicing to succeed. MasterClass and Tippin's Pies back this up and recommend the same selection of tools for a double-crust fruit pie.

However, for custard pies, Gerri Grady recommends using a long flat knife, not a serrated one. This will help to avoid leaving unsightly patterns on the tops and sides of the pie slice, per The New York Times.

3. Use a clean, hot knife

Once you have the right knives for the job, it is important to keep them at optimal performance levels. A cold, dirty knife isn't going to give you the crisp, clean lines you are looking for in a pie. Gerri Grady notes that a dirty knife can leave unattractive streaking, especially in custard pies (via The New York Times). Instead, she recommends keeping a towel with you so you can wipe off any excess pie bits before the next slice.

For an extra layer of protection, you can keep a bowl of hot water nearby and rinse off the knife before the next slice. Not only does this ensure clean cutlery, but the addition of hot water warms up the blade, allowing it to slice more easily through the pie. You could also use a tall glass of hot water for the same purpose. This technique is particularly helpful when getting through sticky pies such as meringue pies.

4. Precut the pie before serving

Sometimes it isn't a question of how you make the slice; it is a question of how many slices you make. When cutting a pie, it is tempting to do it one piece at a time, but food stylist Spencer Richards explains that this could ruin your first slice of pie. Richards says you want to cut at least two pieces, for three total cuts, to allow for some extra wiggle room to get the pie out cleanly.

American's Test Kitchen put this method to the test and found that it is indeed true. Cutting the extra slice first allows for easier removal from the pie tin. So even if you are only planning to have one piece, it is worth cutting more. And let us be honest, when do we only want one piece of pie? 

It is also worth knowing how many slices you want out of the pie. This will help you plan out your portions appropriately. Depending on your needs, it may be worth cutting up and dividing the whole pie before removing that tricky first slice.

5. The sacrislice

The first slice of a pie is notoriously tricky to get out, and sometimes it just isn't worth the struggle. For cases like this, we recommend using what cookbook author Erin Jeanne McDowell calls the "sacrifice slice" or the "sacrislice" (via Rachael Ray). McDowell is the author of "The Book on Pie" and is an expert in pie making and serving. McDowell has an easy and approachable method for cutting the pie, which is simply giving up on that first slice. 

McDowell recommends cutting a small first slice. In this first slice, you will fully expect to be misshapen and ugly, but that is okay. Cutting out the small piece first frees up space for easier removal of beautiful slices after it. By only cutting a small piece, you are also mitigating the amount of ugly pie served. You can either keep this small sacrislice for yourself or, as McDowell notes, find the person at the party who only wants a small slice and give it to them.

6. Use a disposable tin

Now, you have the right equipment and the method down, but sometimes you still need a little extra help. In that case, you may want to try the viral TikTok hack for cutting a pie. The method, as shown by the user cooklikeamother starts by baking the pie in a disposable pie tin. These can be easily purchased from grocery stores or purchased online. 

Once the pie is baked, cooled, and sliced, it is time to remove the pie. For this hack, instead of trying to wiggle a spatula under it and possibly breaking it in the process, scissors are used to cut the tin across the same lines as where the pie is cut. The server then pushes the tin flat, allowing them to go in right at the bottom and slide the slice out easily. This method is ideal for those who have trouble lifting the slices of pie out from the bottom or those who may not have an offset spatula.

7. Invest in a pie slicer

If all else fails and you still have trouble getting that perfect slice of pie, invest in a pie slicer. While celebrity chef Alton Brown famously rails against what he calls "unitaskers," or kitchen appliances that only serve one use, we feel there is a time and a place for such items (via YouTube).

There are a variety of pie slicers out there to make all your pie dreams come true. Amazon sells this Winco 8-cut Stainless Steel Pie Cutter that will cut any pie into eight equally sized pieces. The device has high ratings, and one commenter on Amazon noted that it works wonders. When she freehand cuts a piece of pie, it ultimately falls apart. But when she uses this pie cutter, she ends up with perfectly even slices.

If you are not looking to cut the whole pie in one go, there are also individual pie slicers such as this Bakedger Stainless Steel Cake Knife. The knife looks like a reversed set of tongs, with two sharp blades that form a triangle and have handles on the ends. To cut a piece of pie, you simply take the triangle, place it on the pie where you would like a piece, and cut it down. One commenter on Amazon noted that they liked it because it removed the need for multiple implements when cutting a pie.