Perfect Strawberry Pie Recipe - Viet World Kitchen (2024)

By Andrea Nguyen

It started when my husband spotted the strawberry sale: a kilo container of organic Driscoll’s strawberries. Driscoll’s is a large, national concern that happens to farm strawberries in our locality. “You normally pay $4 for one basket of berries at the farmer’s market,” Rory said. “Why not give these a try. The price is the same.”

Friends were coming for dinner on Saturday night and my first inclination was to make strawberry shortcake. But on Saturday morning, I tasted the berries in my breakfast muesli and they had great aroma but meh flavor. Shortcake was not going use up 2 pounds of berries. It would have to be a pie, but I’d not baked a pie in at least 20 years. I used to make them often when I was a teenager, then switched to tarts and free-form galettes.

Most of the strawberry pies I'd eaten were like the ones from Marie Calendars, with berries glazed shiny and whipped cream. Not the best expression of strawberry goodness. I was looking for big strawberry-jam like flavor contained in a delicate, well baked crust. That was my vision of a perfect strawberry pie.

But I wan't completely sure how I was going to achieve pie perfection by the time guests arrived. I needed to very quickly brush up on pie-making skills. Pie seems simple but to get a tasty crust that’s properly cooked (not gummy and soft) with a filling that held together – requires a certain level of know-how. Pies are strangely tricky and I was obviously rusty.

My solution was to turn to Craftsy, where there are two pie-making classes taught by solid pie masters. I’m affiliated with Craftsy (an on-demand source for lifelong learning) via teaching classes on Asian dumplings and Viet classics (pho, etc.). Many of the cooking instructors are people I personally know and respect.

The pie ladies are among the best. Evan Kleiman has not only baked lots of pies and taught pie classes, she has organized and judged pie contests in Los Angeles. Evan hosts ”Good Food”, an excellent and popular program that airs on KCRW, an NPR affiliate station in Santa Monica. Nancie McDermott has not only written books on Thai cooking, but also works on classic American desserts. I needed a strawberry pie recipe and Nancie had a strawberry rhubarb pie tutorial in her class. Before breakfast was over, I’d enrolled in Evan’s Perfecting the Pie Crust and Nancie’s Classic Pies Made Easy.

After studying their online classes and recipes, I settled on Evan’s all-butter pie dough. People say lard and shortening is best, but I love the flavor of butter and used Plugra, a European-style butter. I measured everything to the gram, per Evan's recipe.

Rolling out the dough to be big enough to line the pan takes practice and finesse but Evan guides you through it so it seems more than doable. She shares lots of tricks and tips that come from lots of experience. Evan teaches several master pie pastry crusts in her class, and the one I used is available as a free recipe,courtesy of Craftsy.

How to measure your pie pan size.

Wash and pat berries dry to remove excess moisture.

For the filling, I tweaked Nancie’s strawberry rhubarb filling because I had no rhubarb. I also wanted to make the strawberry flavor intense by using less sugar and thickening the filling with pectin, which Evan gives pointers on in her class. Pomona Universal Pectin is my favorite brand because it’s all natural and allows you to lower the amount of sugar substantially. Use flour, if you like.

After squeezing the Meyer lemon juice for the filling, I decided grate the zest into the filling for citrusy aroma. Strawberries are a wet fruit with low pectin. To ensure that the pie had plenty of opportunities for venting and concentrating in flavor, I opted for a lattice top. It was fun to weave, though Nancie says in class that a simple tic-tac-toe presentation makes a wonderful pie too; she’s a good teacher and coach.

Do 4, 5 or 6 lattice pieces and patch at the rim, if needed.

Why a pie should be baked on a baking sheet.

I use an offset spatula to get the wedges out.

The pie cooled for hours to set and solidify before I served it late Saturday night. It had been decades since I baked a pie but according to Rory and our dinner guests, I aced it.

Well, I had a little expert help from Evan and Nancie. Over time, I plan to watch the remaining lessons try the remaining recipes in their classes. I don’t know if I got lucky with this strawberry pie or it was their teaching. Maybe a little of both.


Perfect Strawberry Pie

Yields: 8 to 10 servings


  • 1 batch Evan Kleiman’s All-Butter Pie Dough (get the recipe at
  • Scant 1 ½ teaspoons calcium water (if using Pomona Universal Pectin)
  • 2 pounds (950 g) strawberries, hulled and cut into pieces the size of cherries (6 cups / 1.4 l total)
  • 1 cup (7 oz / 210 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Pomona Universal Pectin or ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Brimming ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon brown sugar


  1. Make Evan’s pie dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or even overnight.
  2. When ready to assemble and bake the pie, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425F (220 C / gas mark 7). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. If using Pomona pectin to gel, make the calcium water. While that settles, prep the strawberries and set aside.
  4. Roll out one of the hockey pucks of Evan’s dough and line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) pie pan, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) overhang. Roll out the other hockey puck of dough for the top of the pie. Set aside briefly.
  5. In a bowl, stir together the sugar, pectin (or flour), cinnamon, salt, and grated zest. Add the strawberries, citrus juice and calcium water (if using). Gently combine. Taste and add extra sugar or lemon juice to create bright strawberry flavor. Pour into the prepared pie pan.
  6. Brush the rim of dough with milk, then top with the other sheet of pie crust; seal and crimp the edge, then cut come vents. Or, use a knife to cut the dough into 6 strips and make a lattice top like I did, sealing and crimping the edge.
  7. Brush the pie lightly with milk and sprinkle with brown sugar. Put the pie atop the baking sheet and slide into the oven. After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 350 (175 C / gas mark 4) and bake for 50 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling and pastry golden brown. Turn off the oven and let the pie settle down for 10 minutes before pulling it from the oven. Cool on a rack (keep the pie on the baking sheet) for at least 1 hour, better yet 4 or 5 hours to solidify, before cutting and serving. An offset spatula is great for effortlessly removing wedges of pie.

What's your favorite pie? Any tips and tricks to share?

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