Don’t you wish pies were easier to make?
There’s nothing quite like the crispy crust and tender filling coming together in harmony to make a sweet, delightful treat.
Unfortunately, pies are challenging to make! Even seasoned kitchen veterans can easily screw up a pie, most commonly by making its filling too runny.
The exterior of your pie could look great, but then you cut into it and find the filling running out in a watery, juicy mess.
Luckily for you, I’ll tell you here how to fix a runny pie, and I’ll also tell you how to identify the problem to prevent it from reoccurring.
Why Your Pie Isn’t Right
There are two common mistakes for a too-runny pie filling.
The first is not giving your pie enough time to cool down. When you serve a pie, it should be just above room temperature. If your filling is too hot, it won’t have time to set, so it’ll seep out of the pie.
When you pull your pie out of the oven, put it on the window sill and let it cool down for a few hours. Keep in mind that if you’re using a ceramic pan, it’ll take longer to cool down than a standard metal tin.
The second mistake is not giving your pie enough time in the oven to properly boil.
When the pie filling bubbles, this is what activates the natural gelatin in fruits and thickeners. If your pie doesn’t reach the bubbling point, the thickener will likely not work, so the filling will stay runny.
The goal here is to see thick, syrupy bubbles before you take the pie out of the oven for good. If you don’t see those bubbles, give it a few more minutes to let your pie properly heat up.
How to Fix Your Runny Pie
Nobody wants to serve a runny pie for obvious reasons, and it’d be a bummer to throw it out.
You have nothing to worry about; there are plenty of fixes for a runny pie. They may not get the filling to the thickness you want, but they’ll be enough to serve the pie without a soggy crust.
1 – Cornstarch
To thicken your filling, add a teaspoon of cornstarch for every cup of filling in your pie.
Generally speaking, a 9-inch pie should be able to hold around six cups of filling or so, which means that you would need six teaspoons of cornstarch.
Cornstarch is a natural thickening agent, so it’ll give your filling a thick consistency without changing its taste.
2 – Flour
Most people don’t like adding flour to their pie filling because it creates a cloudy appearance. However, if you have no other option, flour is your best bet.
For every cup of filling in your pie, you’ll need two teaspoons of flour. All you have to do is sprinkle the flour into the mix and stir. If you pour it all in at once, it can clump up and change your filling’s texture, so you’ll want to do it with caution.
You’ll also want to be accurate with your measurements. If you add too much flour to your filling, you’ll wind up with a goopy, clumpy filling.
3 – Instant Pudding
Instant pudding is a favorite among veteran pie makers. It doesn’t only fix the overall texture of your pie filling, but it also improves the flavor of your pie. It gives the pie a bit more complexity and activates the gelatin in the pudding to allow the filling to set.
I recommend going for lemon instant pudding because lemon’s taste goes well with most fruit fillings. It’ll alter the taste slightly, but it’ll thicken your filling enough for serving.
4 – Tapioca
No, I’m not talking about tapioca pudding, but rather tapioca flour. Instead of using the granules to thicken up your pie filling – which can take a long time to fully hydrate and can make your pie filling still runny – try using tapioca flour instead.
Depending on what kind of tapioca flour you get, the directions can differ, so make sure to read the package carefully before adding it to your pie filling.
After mixing in your tapioca flour and stirring it thoroughly, let it sit for 15 minutes or so to give it enough time to dissolve.
5 – Draining the Juices
If you don’t want to add any more ingredients to your filling, you can attempt to drain the juices, but that’s easier said than done.
The best way to do it is to take the filling from the pie and mix it in a bowl with a pinch of salt and lemon, mashing the fruit a bit to get the juice out.
When you’re done mashing, pour the mixture into a colander so that the sugary juice can pass through.
Afterward, let it drain naturally, giving it 30 to 60 minutes to do so. Simmer the juice until it turns into a syrup and then mix it back with the filling. Put it back in the pie and you should be good to go!
6 – Bake the Pie Longer
Another good solution if you don’t want to add ingredients is letting your pie bake for longer. If you take it out and find the filling to be too runny, put it back in the oven on the lowest rack and crank up the temperature.
Keep an eye on the pie until the filling bubbles up and the crust becomes brown. If you’re worried that the high temperature will burn the crust, you can always use a pie shield. It’ll keep the crust fresh while letting the filling bake properly.
Only take the pie out of the oven when the filling bubbles up, which should happen after ten minutes or slightly longer. Then, leave it to cool overnight for the best results and serve it on the next day.
7 – Freeze the Pie
If you’re in no hurry to serve the pie, you can always freeze it to thicken the filling. It’s obviously not the best option, but it should be enough to serve the pie without having a runny mess on your table.
All you have to do is store the pie in the freezer for a couple of days and then serve it. When you take it out of the freezer, let it defrost naturally instead of warming it up, or else the filling will get juicier.
However, make sure to cover the pie properly using aluminum foil and plastic wrap before storing it. Otherwise, the different odors in the freezer may get to it and alter its taste.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.