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Updated November 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best pie carriers

Pie making is something of an art. There's a lot to master when making a perfect crust, achieving the most delectable filling, and decorating the most appealing top. Add in swirls of whipped cream or toasted meringue, and you’re talking about a lot of effort and skill. Then you pack it up to take to a friend’s or relative’s house, and what do you get? Crushed crusts? Mushed meringue? Squished chiffon? Cracked custard? How do you get blueberry filling out of car cushions, anyway?

Don’t risk ruining your pies, your clothes, or your upholstery. Take a step up from plastic wrap that won’t cling or foil that leaks and makes the filling taste funny. Get a pie carrier.

a box to carry cake or pie
Cake carriers can double as pie carriers, especially if the pies are tall.

Types of pie carriers

Pie baskets

Pie baskets are woven carriers designed for carrying one or more pies. They resemble wicker picnic baskets but have completely removable lids where you can insert and take out whole pies. They have sturdy bottoms and may come with a wooden stool or shelf to keep a hot pie off the bottom or to separate multiple pies.

Hard-sided pie carriers

Hard-sided pie carriers are typically made of hard, see-through plastic with integrated handles and sturdy clips. A hard-sided pie carrier may come with its own base, or it may fit onto a standard-size pie pan.

A “pie keeper” is a similar product. It may not have handles, however, and its primary function is to store a pie rather than to transport it. Vintage hard-sided pie carriers were often made of aluminum, enamel, or stainless steel.

Soft-sided pie carriers

Adhering to the same general concept as insulated fabric lunch boxes and casserole carriers, these pie carriers are flexible containers made of durable fabric that hold one or more pies. They often feature padding or insulation to keep contents secure and maintain their temperature. Many of them zip closed.

Pastry boxes

Pastry boxes are the boxes you find in bakeries and grocery stores. These boxes are usually made of cardboard or cardstock with windows of cellophane or other clear plastic. Although not rigid or padded, they are a presentable and affordable option for transporting pies. These are handy if you don’t need a permanent reusable carrier for your baking.

Several popular pie carriers come with inserts that can also hold cupcakes and deviled eggs.

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Features of pie carriers

Handles

For convenience, pie carriers should have handles attached to the lid or body. Pie carrier handles may be made of plastic, metal, fabric, or even leather.

Lid

The lid of a pie carrier protects the surface of the pie. It’s helpful if it’s tall or somewhat domed to fit taller pies and pies with toppings, like whipped cream or meringue. Pie carrier lids should open fully to allow full access to the pie without damage, either by lifting off the lid or flipping the carrier open from a hinge or flap. Some lids are transparent so you can see the pie without lifting the lid.

Space

A pie carrier should have enough space to fit a pie that is 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Some fit pies as large as 12 inches in diameter. However, a pie carrier should not have a lot of extra space because it could then slide around and sustain damage.

Sturdy base

Look for a base with non-slip or grippy properties that can hold onto a pie plate or pie pan, minimizing movement during transport. Soft-sided pie carriers should have bases strong and rigid enough to support the weight of one or more pies.

Latches, closures, and zippers

Pie carriers with lids should have secure latches or clips that attach to a base or directly to a pie pan. Large latches that are easy to snap and unsnap are highly convenient. If you’re considering a soft-sided carrier, see if you can unzip it from the base as well as the top. Transferring a pie is much easier if the carrier has zippers on both ends.

Ventilation

Pie carriers should offer some form of ventilation. This is especially important for warm pies to prevent curdling and condensation. A seal that’s too tight could allow moisture to gather on the surface or edges of the pie, sogging the top and crust.

Insulation

Most soft-sided pie carriers have heat-reflective linings or an insulating layer of padding to keep cold pies cool and warm pies warm.

Collapsible or stackable

Soft-sided pie carriers may be collapsible, folding flat or near-flat to save shelf space when not in use. Some vintage pie carriers stack neatly like metal lunch pails. However, hard-sided pie carriers with domed plastic lids may not stack well.

Fits multiple pies

A pie carrier that can hold two or more pies can be quite handy when entertaining or taking food to and from a large gathering. Pie carriers designed for more than one pie usually have a shelf or stand to keep the pies separate.

a box to carry cake or pie
DID YOU KNOW?
If you don’t have a pie carrier or box handy, you can use a dinner plate to protect the top of a pie to give it some protection and rigidity. Then, wrap the plate and pie together in foil or plastic.
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How much do pie carriers cost?

Inexpensive

Simple pie boxes and pie containers can be bought for under $25. This includes cardboard pastry boxes that cost as little as $0.73 per unit in sets of 20 or more. Single plastic pie carriers also cost between $16 and $25, including some with built-in handles.

Mid-range

Between $20 and $40 you can find most soft-sided fabric pie carriers with padding, insulation, and carry handles. These can hold one to two pies as well as branded pie carriers and pie keepers in plastic or glass.

Expensive

Above $40, you will find padded and insulated soft-sided pie carriers, sometimes with heating elements, and hard-sided plastic pie carriers that can hold four or more whole pies. Pie baskets, often handmade and locally manufactured, are also found near or above this price range.

Fruit pies without dairy or egg can remain at room temperature for up to two days. Custard-based pies and pies with dairy or egg ingredients should not be left out for more than two hours.

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Tips for pie carriers

  • If you’re considering a fabric pie carrier, see if it’s machine washable. Cleaning up spills and grease can be tedious if a fabric pie carrier’s lining or body is hand-wash only or spot-clean only.
  • If you’re considering a plastic or other hard-sided pie carrier, see if it’s dishwasher safe. Some plastics are dishwasher safe only on the top rack.
  • When transporting pies by car, place your pie carrier on the floor, not on the seat. The floor of a car is flat and more stable than a seat. If placing the pie in the trunk, make sure there’s nothing loose that could bump or jostle your pastries.
a pizza box that can be used as a pie carrier
Pizza boxes are usually around 2 inches tall and can work as pie boxes. Clean pizza boxes may be found at restaurant supply stores, or you can ask for an extra at your local pizza parlor.

FAQ

Q. How do you transport fresh pies?

A. A vented pie carrier is the best way to transport a freshly baked pie that’s still warm and needs ventilation to cool off and set. If you don’t have a vented pie carrier, consider a pastry box or a clean pizza box.

Q. How do you transport a refrigerated pie?

A. Refrigerated or cold pies are a little easier to transport than hot pies, as they’re not only colder, but they’re often more stable. You could wrap a cold pie in aluminum foil, but consider also placing it on a baking sheet for stability and rigidity.

Q. Should pie be covered in the fridge?

A. Pies should be covered for storage, whether in the refrigerator or on the counter. Covering a pie helps prevent it from drying out too quickly and helps keep the filling and crust fresh. This is especially important if the crust was made with butter or lard as opposed to shortening.

Some pies, including custard pies (like pumpkin pie), should be allowed to cool completely before refrigeration to avoid “weeping” and condensation.

 

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