The Finishing Touch: Pie Crust Wash

This simple technique helps you get a perfect, golden brown pastry crust every time.

strips of dough egg wash cream wash and brush
Photo: Steven Karl Metzer

The process of making a pie from scratch is certainly a rewarding one. And as with anything you bake, the preparation and process is so important to the outcome. You've spent time and effort putting the pastry together, so don't sell yourself short by skipping the final step—the wash! A wash is typically made from either a beaten egg or heavy cream, which are brushed on the dough right before baking. Below, we explain which type of pie crust wash to use based on your recipe and how to apply it for a beautiful, golden top.

Pies with a top crust or lattice top will typically call for an egg or cream wash to be brushed on to the dough just before baking. The type of wash you use is what will give the baked pie a polished finish (it's also the perfect "glue" for holding sugar that's sprinkled on the crust).

applying egg wash to left dough strip with brush
Steven Karl Metzer

An egg wash will give your pie crust a glossy finish, while a cream wash will give your pie crust more of a semi-golden, matte-like finish. Skipping a wash altogether can leave your crust looking stark. The general rule of thumb for egg wash is one well-beaten egg plus one to two tablespoons of water. (Note: More water will lighten the golden color, or for a shinier pie, you can substitute the water with cream or milk)

applying cream wash to right dough strip with brush
Steven Karl Metzer

For a cream wash, use heavy cream or half-and-half. No matter which you chose, a wash should always be applied just before the pie goes into the oven.

three strips of final pie crust dough
Steven Karl Metzer

The finished versions for comparison: from left to right, egg wash, wash, and cream wash after baking.

The variety of pie wash combinations will give your crust a different finish. Whatever look you are going for, do yourself a favor and don't skip this final preparation step.

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