Learning how to bake a pie in a dutch oven may sound daunting but it is much easier than you may think! For a number of years we enjoyed cooking our Thanksgiving meal off-grid at hunting camp up in the mountains where I perfected my dutch oven pie baking. Last year we decided to host Thanksgiving at our new homestead instead of going up to hunting camp. Even though we weren’t up in the mountains, we thought it would be fun to continue our tradition and cook our meal off grid. We cooked every part of our Thanksgiving meal off grid, including two pies baked in dutch ovens. Today we’re going to show you how to bake a pie in a dutch oven so you can bake your own for Thanksgiving this year!
To bake a pie off grid in a dutch oven you will need a few basics:
- 10″ or 12″ diameter cast iron dutch oven with a lid and legs (These are the ones we use)
- parchment paper (optional but makes clean up much easier! You can find it here)
- 30-40 charcoal briquettes
- metal tongs (for lifting and placing the briquettes for baking)
- Your favorite pie recipe
Start out by making the pie crust. I have an easy , buttery pie crust recipe that always turns out delicious and not crumbly. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it (this makes one crust, double it if you want to make two):
- 1 1/2 cups of unrefined flour
- 1TBS unrefined sugar
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 1/4 cup milk
- dash of salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until you have a ball of soft dough. Once the pie crust mixed, roll it out to the proper size. If you are using parchment paper to line your dutch oven during baking, tear off a sheet of paper bigger than your dutch oven. Push the parchment paper down inside your dutch oven and trim down the sides so there is no excess sticking up above the top of the dutch oven.
Remove the parchment paper from the dutch oven and roll the pie dough out to cover the majority of your parchment paper. I don’t take the time to make fancy edges on my dutch oven pie crusts but I do like to make the edges look somewhat even by forming the edges with my hands.
When we baked our pies off grid up in the mountains, I would make the pie crusts at home and at this step would roll them up in the parchment paper to be carefully transported in the cooler up to hunting camp. When it was time to start baking, I would simply unroll it and move on to the next step.
Carefully pick up the pie crust on the parchment paper and place it in the dutch oven. Gently push it down in the pan.
At this point you should take a short break to start the charcoal briquettes so you will have hot coals to bake your pie once you put the filling in it. In the past we used coals from our wood fire to bake the dutch ovens but have found that the coals do not stay heated as long as charcoal briquettes. This leads to longer baking times and uneven baking so anymore we just stick with using the charcoal briquettes.
Now you are ready to fill the pie crust with your favorite pie recipe! For Thanksgiving last year we made a pumpkin pie with a pumpkin we grew in our garden.
We also made a Dutch Apple Pie with some apples our neighbor down the road gifted us from their orchard.
Once the filling is poured in the pie crust, place the cast iron lid on top of the dutch oven. Now they are ready to bake!
The key to baking off grid in a dutch oven is creating and maintaining the desired temperature you need. If you’re new to baking off grid in a dutch oven, here’s our post on how to bake in a dutch oven. Here are a few tips we’ve learned over the years:
- 10 degrees for every charcoal briquette, so if you need to achieve 350 degrees you should use 35 briquettes.
- If using only one dutch oven and not stacking them, place 1/3 of the briquettes on the ground and 2/3 on the top of lid to help prevent burning the food on the bottom of the pan
- If you are stacking dutch ovens, what we like to call a “double stack” or “triple stack” just spread an even amount of briquettes underneath and on top of each pan.
- Rotate the dutch oven every 10-15 minutes to ensure even baking (we use this handy gadget to easily lift the handle and the lid of the dutch oven)
- If at all possible do not open the dutch oven during baking since it will let out hot air and impact the desired baking temperature.
Here are our pies in a dutch oven triple stack with our homemade rolls in the top dutch oven.
Our pies turned out perfect with golden brown crust and no burnt edges. I was able to capture a picture of the yummy apple pie before it was eaten but unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky with the pumpkin pie!
If you opted to use parchment paper to line the dutch oven, clean up is unbelievably easy when the pie is all gone. Simply remove the parchment paper and do a quick wipe out of the dutch oven to remove any stray crumbs. No scrubbing necessary!
What are your favorite dutch oven recipes?