Tiny Tarts: How to make Pie in a Jar

I love giving thoughtful homemade gifts to friends and family. I especially love it when the gift is fun to make and frugal to buy. So when I discovered the delicious and super cute world of goodies in a jar, I decided to put a lid on it and bake up a batch of pie in a jar.

I’ve written about jarred gifts before in 8 Homemade Gifts in a Jar — so check it out if you’re less into pastry and more into mixes in a jar.

gifts in a jar

Pie in a jar is just that — it’s a small single serving of fruit pie made and baked in a tiny mason jar. These pies are frugal to make, awesome to gift, tasty to serve, and fun to sell at bake sales where there’s more than enough standard cakes and tarts to go around. Yes, every local bake sale has a tart or two. But I digress.

Anytartytarts, I’ve even given a few jarred pies to friends in need of a little cheer after a bad day. We’ve all had those days, and sharing a belly laugh over a tiny pie in a jar is far cheaper than visiting a shrink. But if you do need a shrink then please don’t drop by looking for tiny pie. It’s only pie, after all.

pie in a jar

Not only are pies in a jar fun to make, but they are a flexible food to serve too. Bake up a fresh batch today or freeze a bunch for later when unexpected company arrives. These little marvels don’t take up your freezer space like traditional baking since they stack up nicely.

So to get you in the mood for some summer sweet and frugal pie, let’s get some mason jars, turn on the oven, and get baking. If you’ve got some kiddlets looking for a fun project, get them into the frugal fun too by teaching them to bake. Watching little ones eat tiny pies is kinda cute too.

pie in a jar recipes

Oh, and don’t forget to add these pies as gifts using the Budget Series Gift Giving Worksheet — where tracking even small gifts is as easy as pie.

Step One: Get the right ‘wide mouth jars’

Making pie in a jar is simple with the right canning jars. If you don’t want to have pie on your face, then skip the super cutie narrow-necked jelly jars and get the still super cute 1/2 pint wide mouth canning jars. You’ll thank me when it’s time to line the jar with dough and when it’s time to plate your pie. Besides, the wide mouth jars make it easier to label for a gift, or eat out of with a fork.

cute pie in a jar

The 1/2 pint wide mouth jars yield a pie around 2.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

apple pie in a jar

Don’t forget to wash or sterilize your jars before making pie.

canning jars mason jars

Sterilizing is important if you plan to freeze your jarred pies for baking at a later date.

Step Two: Press in your pie dough

I will not lie to you. Filling these little mason jars with pie dough is not easy. When I had the patience I rolled out a little doily-shaped crust, fit it into the bottom of the jar, and then pressed it in to form the perfect (cough) crust. I also found that taking dough pieces and pressing them into the jar worked well too.

homemade gifts in a jar

Jarring Revelations:

  • Greasing the jar with butter before lining it with dough helps to remove the pie (in one piece) after baking.
  • Swearing at either the jar or the pastry doesn’t help. You may scare your spouse. Besides, being a dough-head isn’t cool.
  • Leave 1/2 inch of pie crust above the edge of the mason jar. This extra dough lets you roll and crimp the bottom of the pie crust to the pie top.

Now don’t give me the stink eye over my next admission — I used store bought dough for my pie in a jar. [Enter Stink Eye Here]. Making pastry is not my talent. If pastry is your passion then check out the Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Crust 101 tutorial and recipe. For everyone else, just buy three or four pie crusts from the refrigerator section at your grocery store. You’ll need around three pie crusts to fill six mason jars, but chances are you’ll make a mistake or two, or three. If you prefer thinner crust, then just roll out your dough and use two pie crusts. Easy.

As an alternative to pastry or for those on a gluten-free diet, swap out the dough and try my Homemade Granola Recipe as a pie crust. It’s tasty.

Step Three: Add some pie filling

Are you hankering for some apple pie or do you crave a nice sweet cherry pie? The choice is yours. I have a simple pie filling recipe (below), but I must be honest with you again — I used canned cherry pie filling for the pies in this post. Don’t hate me because I felt lazy today. Love me ’cause I’m honest. Smile.

mason jar recipes

Simple Pie Filling Recipe:

  • 4 1/2 cups cherries, berries, or diced fruit
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divide between the pies
  • spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, or to taste

Or better yet, hop on over to my Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Apples and try that filling since I’m stuck in a can today. It’s tasty and healthy.

Jarring Revelations:

  • Only fill the jars to the 3/4 mark. Filling to the brim will make it tricky to top and crimp your pie. Also, the pie might bubble and boil over if over-filled. It happens.
  • Add a little flour to the mixture if your fruit is super juicy.
  • Top your filling with a little pat of butter. Yum.

Now on to the fun part.

Step Four: Create a pretty pie top

I hope you kept your mason jar lids handy because the inner ring makes the perfect pie top cutter. Just use a knife to trace the inner ring circle and voila — instant pie top.

mixes in a jar

Now personalize your pie top by using a small cookie cutter to create a little vent. Once you’ve placed the pie top into the pie jar (it’s tricky I know), go ahead and carefully crimp the pie crust bottom over the top. Put the lids and rings on each jar until you’re ready to bake.

Step Five: Freeze your pies (optional)

If you have cold feet or you’re not ready to bake your pies today, then go ahead and freeze them until needed. I keep a few jarred pies in deep freeze in case I need a quick gift, or for when company comes over. Ok, Ok, sometimes I just like a little tiny tart treat too.

frozen cherry pie

An unforeseen bonus to making pie in a jar is the mason jars protect the pies in the freezer. No more dented pies! Also, the jars make it super simple to stack many pies without ruining the tender crusts — so you can optimize your freezer space and save the room for stocking up on grocery sale items.

frozen pies in a jar

One little trick for dealing with slippery mason jars is to wrap each pie jar with a little tin foil to get a better grip. I dropped one the other day and made a little mess. My dog was happy though.

Step Six: Get Baked

It’s time to get bubbly, tarty, flaky, and tasty. Start by removing the lids and rings from each jar. If you own a Silpat Nonstick Silicon Baking Mat, then place each jarred pie on your Silpat (on a cookie sheet) to prevent slipping. Sliding hot jars filled with boiling pie are not safe. Just a safety warning. I’m a safety girl.

silpat

  • To bake from refrigerated: Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. The bonus with glass jars is you can easily see if the crust is getting too brown.
  • To bake from frozen: Follow the same instructions from above but preheat oven to 350-375 degrees and bake for around 60-70 minutes.

Oh, and don’t worry about baking in jars. Canning jars are very resilient when it comes to heat — they are meant to be boiled — so baking pies straight from the freezer is fine.

Step Seven: Serve or Decorate

Removing the pie from it’s jar can be a tricky situation. I’ve had some good luck by sliding a knife around the inside of the jar and using gravity to remove the treat inside. Eating the pie while it’s still inside the jar is easier, and lots of fun at picnics and when company drops by. For some reason my guests have loved being treated to a single serving pie. It’s a novelty. It’s fun.

cherry pie

pie in a jar gift

If you’re gifting the pie, decorate the lids with pretty paper, jar labels, or add a little bit of ribbon for style. A decorated pie in a jar goes over very well at bake sales and fund raisers — so putting in a little creative decorative effort can make you some money too.

Get Squawky: Ever bake a treat in a jar?

Your two cents:

  1. youngandthrifty June 24th, 2010

    These are SO CUTE as a gift (and not to mention delicious looking!). You always take such amazing pictures. =)

  2. K00kyKelly June 25th, 2010

    This is AWESOME! I will have to figure out where to get these jars and try this!

  3. SilverEggplant June 26th, 2010

    So creative, yet simple to make! You always have the coolest ideas!

  4. ATL Cook June 26th, 2010

    I use Can or Freeze jars for things like this; right now, I have 3 batches of freezer jam waiting for winter. The best time to buy canning jars is at Walmart and Target at the end of summer. I bought a dozen for half price a few years ago. Last week, Kroger had BALL plastic freezer jars on sale for $2.63 for a set of 4 8oz ones–purple tops.

    This recipe is perfect for one person to have pie. I have crusts and fresh blueberries now.

  5. Ashley July 6th, 2010

    This is adorable! I’ve been looking for an alternative to wedding cake (fondit makes me insane) for my autumn wedding. Tiny apple pies might be the solution, plus– I’ll save a bunch of money by doing it myself! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Nicole July 21st, 2010

    Awesome! Never thought of pie, but I did make cake in these very same jars for my christmas presents last year. Joy the Baker’s Lemony Lemon Cake and Smitten’s Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread Cake.. omg, they were so good, but the presentation wasn’t the best. They turned into cakey-pudding awesomeness but looked kind of sad. Thanks to you I definitely think I’m doing pie this year :)

  7. Barbie August 7th, 2010

    That is awesome. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Naseerah August 7th, 2010

    I am really bad at making pie crusts, but I’m Muslim, and do not eat lard. Does anyone know where I can find pre-made pie crust w/o lard? (FYI most of the ones in the store have it :(. )

  9. Omaha Movers November 16th, 2010

    What a great idea! Wonder if you can put the lid on and back upside down in order to make removal easier?

  10. Diana November 27th, 2010

    Love!! These are adorable and don’t seem any harder to assemble than the overdone decorated sugar cookie. Thanks for sharing the idea, definitely going to try this!!

  11. Simone December 9th, 2010

    Love this idea!! So cute! I think I’m going to have to pass this along on my blog today.

  12. Karen December 14th, 2010

    When giving as gifts do you give them already baked or
    raw? If raw, would you need to make them the day before or
    refrigerate for, how long, until time to be given?

  13. Karen December 14th, 2010

    Got another question. If I give it already baked and then it is frozen, how long should you bake or microwave it to thaw it for eating?

    I’m so excited about making these for gifts. I wanted something a little different and being yummy is even better. Thanks a lot!

  14. Sara December 16th, 2010

    I am making these to hand out to my family for Christmas this year, but I all I could find were regular mouth 8oz (1/2 pint) jars. Any tips, or should I follow the recipe pretty much as-is? Will the regular mouth jars work just as well? Thanks!

  15. akajb December 20th, 2010

    Do you think they would bake fine with just the piece of pastry on top? It seems like it might be a lot of pastry with not much filling. I was thinking of filling the bottom 2/3 with filling and then placing a round of pastry on top. I know it’ll probably move a bit since it won’t be “anchored” with the side crust.

  16. Miranda December 20th, 2010

    I am making these as Christmas gifts for friends and family. I’ve made 5 out of the 12 so far and while it’s pretty tedious, the preparation is pretty fun, and the results are awesome (I used wrapping paper and red, green and white ribbon to top and line the mason jar.

    I found the mason jars at my local grocery store and instead of using pie tins, there are jiffy pie mixes available and all you need is water to prepare the pie crust! A pizza cutter is great to cut out a perfect rectangle when lining the jar with pie dough.

    I can’t wait to give these out! Inexpensive, thoughtful, and above all yummy!

  17. Looks so beautiful and yummy!!! Will try it for sure! Thanks for posting!

  18. Jessie -- The Messie Kitchen January 23rd, 2011

    I think I am going to try this for valentines day — what a marvelous idea!!!

  19. Allison April 3rd, 2011

    I want to make one of these for my Mom’s birthday. The only jars I could find were wide mouth pints. Will that make much of a difference?

  20. ATL Cook April 3rd, 2011

    It works much better with wide mouth jars. Directions show that–so much easier to line the jar with the pie crust.

    Be sure and post how they turn out. Easy to make half dozen at a time and freeze the extras right in the jar. Be on the lookout for wide mouth pint or half pint jars at Goodwill, etc. They are so cute and perfect for a one person household to have dessert when they wish.

  21. Allison April 12th, 2011

    Made a cherry tart in a pint wide mouth jar ( but not the same used in directions) came out fine. However, you cannot take it out of the jar! It was a nice treat for my mom’s birthday and she didn’t mind eating it out of the jar. Need to find the right jars though so they can be taken out!

  22. Lucy May 7th, 2011

    I am wondering if making a small pot pie this very same way might be another idea? I look to give the pies a try, and will try pot pies too (made in the jars; chicken, beef, tuna..) Can’t wait! Thank you for posting this recipe/idea.

  23. ATL Cook May 7th, 2011

    You give them unbaked–RAW. Bake in the jar while frozen. Eat from the jar–don’t take it out! You can make any kind of pie; sweet or savory.

    Make sure you can freeze the ingredients. Maybe make a pot pie. Freeze for a week or so and bake. Did it work? If so, make it in the wide mouth can or freeze jar. Follow the directions if you want it to turn out.

  24. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate May 19th, 2011

    How cool is this-Wow. I think my husband will be getting his own Pies in a Jar for our anniversary this week. He always complains that there isn’t anything sweet in the house, and cherry pie is his favorite dessert. . .

  25. LaNoelle May 19th, 2011

    Hi !

    Just a question. I would like to send a care package to some friends per post. How longthose pies are keepable outside of the fridge ? Thanks.

  26. undone June 11th, 2011

    i am thinking instead of fussing with the crust i will make berry and peach crumbles in stead maybe with a cookie or graham cracker bottoms… i love the idea of pot pies like this! fantastic!
    i am also thinking for LaNoelle to ship them you can ship with dry ice, i used to get it from party rental shops

  27. ATL Cook June 11th, 2011

    You can buy dry ice at some grocery stores or Farmer’s Markets. The pies need to be kept frozen. If thawed–need to bake and refrig right away. Don’t risk getting sick from unsafe food practices.

  28. NancyO August 26th, 2011

    I just made these. For about 50 pies, it cost my $1.50/per pie. The jars can be found at Ace Hardware (use a coupon) in a pack of 12 for $10. The pie filling I got at a restaurant supply store (2 x 116oz jars) for $18 total. I use about 15 pie crust containers that were about $0.80 from my local grocery. I spent a couple extra dollars on the tags & used old yard I had laying around. It’s super cute and was well received … but it did take a while to put together

  29. Lisa September 20th, 2011

    Say I want to take these baked to a thanksgiving dinner, they will be eaten hours later..are they okay to leave on the counter? or do they need to go in the fridge and reheated? and how do you reheat?

  30. Sarah October 10th, 2011

    Hi there! My sister lives in a different province than me, and packages usually take about a week to get to her. Is it safe to send something like this to her? Thanks!

  31. Angela October 14th, 2011

    Problem! I found “1/2 Pint Wide Mouth” canning jars, but they look nothing like the ones in the pictures. They ARE Mason Ball jars, but they have the cute, jelly-jar look. Meanwhile, the ones that are labeled “Regular mouth” look EXACTLY like the pictures posted here…. ????

  32. Mary Jane Newlon November 26th, 2011

    I have pint jars and was wondering if they would work. They are not wide mouthed either. Canning season is over here, and finding jars is sort of difficult. I want so much to make these for my friends at work. I thought they would make a good fundraiser idea.

    Thank you.

  33. Joe November 27th, 2011

    Excellent Idea, and since I currently have 3 boxes of these exact jars (use them for storing my spices), will be trying this out the weekend.

  34. Mary December 16th, 2011

    I make Apple Pies for my Uncle who is in a Life Care facility. He keeps them in the freezer and cooks them one at a time when he wants a treat.

  35. Louise December 21st, 2011

    These are so damn cute they’re almost too good to eat! I’m thinking of making some filled with mincemeat for our Boxing Day party and serving with hot homemade custard…I’ll let you know how they turn out!

  36. jasmin January 16th, 2012

    Is it safe to bake in a jelly jar? Mine is 8 ounces with regular mouth size.

  37. ATL Cook January 16th, 2012

    No, you must use CAN or FREEZE Ball jars. If you don’t you risk having the glass shatter when you put a frozen item in a preheated oven.

    Follow the directions! Food safety; you don’t leave perishable foods out on the counter all day; do you. Since when does the Post Office accept frozen items (dry ice)! UPS and FexEx? I was told no. Commercial businesses are different than personal.

    Follow the directions if you expect the same results.

    Yes, you can take them out of the jar after being baked; and cooler. IF you use wide mouth jars. Can or freeze will tolerate the temperature extremes. Other glass jars Do Not. Treat these just like you would if you used Corning Ware or Pyrex. I do not put mine in a preheated oven either. Why risk it breaking?

  38. Jeannie Rhodes March 8th, 2012

    Nancy O,

    What kind of “pie crust containers” did you purchase for your pies? The crust that’s found in the freezer dept is very expensive. I bought two boxes for $7 and it was on sale. This amount was enough for 6 pies. Next time I plan on making my own crust.

  39. Stephen April 4th, 2012

    I made these for Christmas. Everyone loved them. I’m just getting told they tried them. I made apple.

  40. sherry gardner April 6th, 2012

    I love your post and it was adorable to read…you have a gift…..I am now a follower and look forward to reading more…you made me smile and chuckle…thank you for that….:)

  41. Bonnie April 15th, 2012

    Hello. This is a great idea. I am going to make these for the upcoming summer picnics. My family loves pies and this single serving idea is perfect. Memorial day blueberry and cherry pie-ettes with vanilla icecream… Thank you!

  42. Kim Bee June 28th, 2012

    Kerry I just wanted to say how much I loved this post. Adore your sense of humor. And thank you for your kind words as well. So glad I found your site. It’s just one of the coolest ones out there. I’m going to try some of your gardening tips too.

  43. Suz July 8th, 2012

    Step 1 – Get the jars; I am soooooo looking forward to making these

  44. Caryn July 12th, 2012

    ABSOLUTELY DARLING!

    I’m going to try some of these…and as I’m relatively newly Gluten Free (but not making my family wander down this same path)…I’m also going to see if I can come up with a decent GF pie crust. SO, SO cute!

    Thanks!

  45. caryl August 23rd, 2012

    I bake cake in a mason jar using bright food dyes – looks like tie-dye gone mad and my kid loved it for her Dr. Seuss-themed birthday party. And, it was easy peasy.

    Thanks for another great idea involving a mason jar.

    Cheers,
    Caryl

  46. Amy August 30th, 2012

    So, in theory, could one make up a bunch of individual shepherd’s pies, or parse out a casserole (I’m thinking taco pie) into Mason Jars and freeze those as well? Then you could bake your dinner and dessert at the same time!

  47. Emily September 24th, 2012

    What about a pecan pie in a jar? or pumpkin? would these custard-like pies bake just as easily in a jar?

  48. Christmas Lover September 27th, 2012

    These are so cute! I will be giving these as favors when everyone leaves our christmas party :)

  49. Hautetamale October 10th, 2012

    Great idea – but really, REALLY could have done without your cutsie, nauseating narrative… sorry.

  50. Donna October 16th, 2012

    Just wondering if the dough could be formed around the bottom half of a small plastic glass, then slip the glass into the jar, remove the glass, leaving the dough. Then you could shape it to the jar.

  51. Jolie November 28th, 2012

    So cute! Do you bake these straight from the freezer – the jars don’t shatter because of the great temp difference? This idea is wonderful!

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