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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. Suz July 8th, 2012

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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!

  7. 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?

  8. Christmas Lover September 27th, 2012

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

  9. Hautetamale October 10th, 2012

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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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