The Perfect Small Gift: Pie in a Jar

Over the years I’ve written about dozens of ideas and instructions for how to make every kind of “Gift in a Jar” imaginable (collected into one place here). I thought we’d exhausted the topic. Well, I was wrong. Look what I made.

pumpkin pie in jar_3

These are single-serving Mini Pumpkin Pies in a Jar. I got this great idea from our friends at Our Best Bites. And yes, I’m talking about making, baking, serving and even gifting homemade pies in half-pint (8-oz) canning jars.

I’ve experimented with all kinds of pies and so far, every variety has turned out great. Traditional pie recipes translate easily to these little cuties. I’ve made double-crust jar pies with crumb topping, even cream pies. I’ve frozen them unbaked and baked them weeks later. I’ve baked them, then applied the lids and frozen them for later. I’ve given them for hostess gifts, birthday gifts and Christmas gifts, too. These pies are just as adorably cute as they are delicious and practical!

Making Mini Pies in a Jar is easy as pie! You will need clean, sterile oven-proof jars (like Kerr or Mason), crust and filling. Half-pint jars come in various shapes. For these pies, you will want the short, squat, straight side, wide-mouth variety, like these available on Amazon

Once baked, cooled jar pies are ready to have their little lids and rings applied, then embellished for gift-giving. Or get your pies ready for the oven, then apply the lids and rings and freeze them instead. Then you can bake one at a time or as many as fresh pies as you need.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Fool-Proof Pie Dough

Makes one double-crust 9-inch pie

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disks.
  2. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  3. Wash and dry as many half-pint wide-mouth tempered glass canning jars with lids as needed.
  4. Use the dough to line the ungreased jars. Begin at the bottom, pressing pieces together and inching your way up and around the sides, sealing any gaps. Make sure it’s pressed all the way up and over the top of the jar, so as to have enough to make a “rim.” Don’t make the dough too thick, but similar in thickness to a traditional pie.
  5. To make the top crust for Mini Pumpkin Pies, roll out dough. Cut out tiny cookie size leaves or stars to embellish your Mini Pumpkin Pies. Set aside. Bake these separately then place on top of the pies while still warm, like a sweet garnish.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. Add the sugar gradually to the pumpkin puree. Beat well and stir in the flour, salt and spices. Stir in the corn syrup and beat well. Stir in the slightly beaten egg, then slowly add the evaporated milk, mixing until well blended. Pour the batter into the unbaked pie dough-lined jars. Leave about one inch head room as the pumpkin will expand as it bakes.
  2. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 F and continue baking for an additional 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the mixture comes out clean. Watch carefully as these will bake faster than an entire pie.
  3. To bake directly from freezer, preheat oven to 375 F. Remove lids and place jars on a baking sheet. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the fillings are bubbly. Cool. These can be eaten directly from the jar or popped out of the jar and onto a serving plate.

Many thanks to Our Best Bites blog for this great idea. You’ll find more details, photos, recipes plus a tutorial HERE

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9 replies
  1. ABC says:

    I don’t understand how you could make a “rim” over the top of the jar, as recommended in #4 of crust recipe) and still be able to put the lid on for freezing or gift-giving.

    • Chris says:

      I think the dough lid actually fits inside the top of the jar, leaving the rim free of any crust so you can put the metal lid on. At least that’s how it looked in pictures on the link given

    • Stephanie Flagg Hanley says:

      You can just use all water instead of vodka. There’s an article here that talks a bit about it: “The theory is that vodka, being alcohol rather than water, will develop flour’s gluten less than plain water, thus creating a more tender crust.” Their tests showed there wasn’t any discernible taste/texture difference, but the vodka crust was easier to work with… though I question the amount of liquid in the pie crust recipe – 1/2 cup is a lot.

      • ABC says:

        America’s Test Kitchen does their pie crusts this way. IIRC, they said another advantage the vodka brings is that the wetter dough is easier to roll out without it “snapping back” like it otherwise would. The vodka then evaporates quickly, being alcohol, so the wetter dough is ok. That’s just what I remember. I personally would not want to go buy a bottle of vodka either, Sheryl, (what if my pastor saw me buying it? LOL) so I will probably never try this. But then again, I will probably never try homemade pie crust at all….why should I, with the availability of buying them already made? They’re good enough for me!

    • Maggie says:

      I think they would be a great little custard. I do that all the time (although not in these cute little jars). For those of us who cannot have or prefer not to eat a traditional pie crust, it’s a great option.


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