Okay, there’s something I haven’t told you about Louisiana. It’s not about the best jazz at Preservation Hall or the sazeracs at The Roosevelt. The secret is that Louisiana not only grows the best strawberries I’ve ever had, but Louisiana harvests those berries TWICE a year. It’s an embarrassment of riches, honestly. That’s probably why I’ve kept it to myself.
I’m currently trying to grow my own strawberries in the backyard which… will be more like an embarrassment in gardening rather than embarrassment of riches. The consolation is I can pop down to the farmer’s market for a flat of sun-kissed, never refrigerated, juicy red strawberries.
Every April for the past few years I’ve stacked the weekends with strawberry pie baking classes at The Bakehouse. Consider this my opened-armed strawberry pie class for you and yours. I’m sharing my VERY BEST Fresh Strawberry Pie recipe – a buttery crust filled with a sweet and juicy (but not runny!) strawberry filling topped with a crisp oat crumble. We’ve made strawberry pie in the past. See: Strawberry Lattice Pie. But this version is superior. Living and learning – as we do around here.
This is my ideal pie and I have a feeling you’ll love it too!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make my perfect Strawberry Pie:
• one all-butter pie crust round
• the juiciest fresh strawberries you can get your hands on
• brown sugar and granulated sugar
• instant tapioca (sometimes known as minute tapioca)
• kosher salt
• dried ground ginger and nutmeg
• lemon juice
• all-purpose flour, oats, and cold, unsalted butter for the crumble topping
For this strawberry pie recipe, pie crust comes first. I’m partial to this all-butter pie crust my Dad taught me how to make but please use any pie crust recipe you’re comfortable with. My life’s work is to encourage you to make pie crust from scratch but if a store-bought pie crust is what it will take for you to bake this pie, you have my full support.
If you’re making a pie crust from scratch, we’ll use one pie dough disk for this recipe (thank you, crumble top) but make two crusts anyway. It’s just as easy to make two pie crusts if you’re making one and the second pie dough disk can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a zip lock bag in the freezer for a month. If you’re counting – that’s another pie in your future.
Should I blind bake the pie crust?
Short answer: You can but honestly, you don’t have to.
Long answer: If you prefer a very crisp crust you’ll want to grab the beans or pie weights and pre-bake this crust before adding the strawberry filling. Chill the rolled out and crimped pie crust in its pie pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while the oven preheats. Line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill to the absolute brim with beans or pie weights. Bake for 12 minutes. Carefully remove the hot beans (with a wish and a prayer), prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and bake for another 10 minutes.
Now let’s talk about the strawberry pie filling. Find the freshest, juiciest, most red strawberries you can get your hands on for this pie. The sweeter the berry, the more delicious the pie!
Depending on the size of your hulled berries, halve or quarter them and place them in a medium bowl. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, instant tapioca, salt, lemon juice, and a few pinch of warming spices like ginger and nutmeg. You won’t be able to pinpoint the ginger or nutmeg, they just add a nice depth and hint of spice to the sweetness of this pie.
As you stir the berry mixture together you’ll notice the sugar all but dissolves and disappears but the instant tapioca is still sandy and opaque white. Not to worry those little granules will soften and disappear as the pie bakes.
Can I use cornstarch instead of instant tapioca?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: You really should use instant tapioca if you can. Instant tapioca and cornstarch thicken in different ways. Instant tapioca will actually absorb the liquid from the strawberry mixture creating a semi-solid gel. Cornstarch will thicken the juices of the strawberry mixture once it reaches the boiling point in the oven. The rub about cornstarch though – it can be broken down my acid (remember the lemon juice we put in our filling) and can be over boiled. It’s just not as reliable a thickener so I prefer and recommend quick cooking tapioca.
Here’s King Arthur Flour’s Pie Thickener Guide to find your ideal pie thickener and measurements.
Next, let’s make the crumble pie topping – MY FAVORITE. I love a buttery, brown sugared, oat topping. It adds a nice crisp crunch to the soft cooked berries.
In a bowl toss together oats, sugar, flour, salt, and cold butter chunks. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to blend all of the ingredients together into a crumbly mixture – nothing too cohesive.
Alright let’s have some fun with this filling. Pour a handful of the crumble topping into the macerating berries. Stir the mixture until well combined. Adding crumble to the filling will make the flavors cohesive, help thicken the strawberry filling even further, and add a bit of fat (thanks butter!) to the strawberry mixture.
Topple the strawberry filling into the crust set within the pie pan. Fold the edges of the crust under and crimp the edges with either tines of a fork or pinching with your fingers.
Sprinkle the crumble topping over the strawberry pie. Spread to the edges of the dough. Chill the entire pie in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.
Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet covered in parchment paper or foil to catch any juice from hitting the bottom of the oven and bake until bubbly around the edges and golden brown.
The hardest part is allowing the pie to cool to just warm before slices are taken out. Sure you can slice this fresh strawberry pie while it’s still bubbling hot, bit you’ll lose a majority of the juices to the bottom of the pie plate and what fun is that?
Serve this glorious pie as dessert with whipped cream. The flavor is springtime in Louisiana!
Other strawberry recipes that might suit you:
• If pie crust intimidates you, the double action press-in crust of these Strawberry Pie Bars will do ya right.
• A gluten-free alternative to all the strawberry goodness :Almond Flour Whipped Ricotta Fresh Strawberry Bars.
• If you’d like to make this pie but need a GF pie crust option: Gluten-Free Pie Crust.
• Thickened with cornstarch and baked with a lattice top, here’s an earlier version of my Strawberry Pie.
• Easily one of the most popular recipes on the site: Peanut Butter Cookie Strawberry Cobbler.
• Strawberry jam instead of fresh strawberries make this Almond Flour Strawberry Crumble Bars a breeze!Print
A perfect spring and summer pie made with fresh strawberries and a buttery crumble topping!
For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon cold buttermilk
For the Strawberry Filling:
- 6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup instant tapioca
- large pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 large egg, beaten and granulated sugar for topping the unbaked pie if making double crusted pie
For the Topping:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- large pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, grated or cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes (some the size of peas if you cut your butter into chunks rather than grating).
- Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add more water if necessary. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. If you find the dough needs more moisture, add a bit more. Press and knead the dough into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- To roll our the crust, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.
- Try not to get any rips in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough. When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore. Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Place in the fridge.
- To make the strawberry pie filling, in a medium bowl toss together strawberries, sugars, tapioca, salt, lemon juice, ground ginger and nutmeg. Toss until all of the tapioca is dispersed throughout the strawberries and let rest for at least 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice and the tapioca will begin to soften slightly.
- To make the oat crumble, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the mixture until well incorporated. Some butter bits will be the size of peas, and smaller.
- Toss 1/4 cup of oat filling into the strawberry filling and stir to combine. Spoon strawberry filling and its juice into the pie dish. Spread the remaining topping over the strawberry filling in an even layer. Trim the pie crust to about 1-inch larger than the pie dish, fold the crust under (tucking it inside the pie dish a bit) and crimp with your fingers.
- To finish, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Allow the pie to rest in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.
- Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for 30-35 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the strawberry filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving – 4 hours or so will help the pie cool and set.
- Store pie in the refrigerator and enjoy as soon as possible!