What Are Bitters?

Bitters are neutral, high-proof alcohol infused with botanicals such as spices, barks, fruits, roots, flowers, leaves, and herbs. Depending on their ingredients and alcohol percentages, bitters serve as digestive aids or flavoring agents. Cocktail bitters are an essential item on bar checklists. Because of their popularity and versatility, aspiring bartenders must understand how to use bitters, what types of bitters exist, and the benefits of adding bitters to their drinks.

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What Are Bitters Made Of?

Old Fashioned cocktail with cherries and bitters

While their ingredient ratios vary, bitters are made of water, alcoholic spirits, and botanicals. High-proof alcoholic spirits are ideal for making bitters, and carminative herbs, which aid digestion, are the most traditional botanicals. However, many modern bitters makers choose their botanicals for flavor alone.

What Are Bitters Used For?

There are two major categories of bitters: digestive bitters and cocktail bitters. As their names suggest, digestive bitters help people digest food and cocktail bitters are an ingredient in mixed beverages, and they enhance cocktail mixes. Dive into the details of digestive and cocktail bitters below.

What Are Digestive Bitters?

Digestive bitters, also known as digestifs, help patrons digest their meals. Digestifs are popular in Europe but lack prominence in North America. Digestive bitters are sipped straight or on the rocks and are usually served as an after-dinner drink. Aperitifs are another variety of digestives, but they’re served before meals.

Best Brand of Digestive Bitters

Some of the most famous digestive bitters brands include:

  • Amaro
  • Campari
  • Aperol
  • Jagermeister
  • Unicum

What Are Cocktail Bitters?

Bottle of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Cocktail bitters are a liquid flavoring agent used in alcoholic drinks. They are an essential ingredient in many staple bar drinks. Cocktail bitters are more concentrated than digestive bitters and have extraordinarily strong flavors. Subsequently, bartenders add cocktail bitters in small amounts to their drink recipes and never serve them to customers straight. They are the type of bitters most North American consumers are familiar with.

Best Cocktail Bitters

Discover some of the most popular cocktail bitters and their uses.

  • Angostura Bitters Cocktails - Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Whisky Sour, Trinidad Especial, Brooklyn’s Finest
  • Peychaud’s Bitters Cocktails - Sazerac, Vieux Carre, Seelback, Cocktail A La Louisiane, Queens Park Swizzle
  • Orange Bitters Cocktails - Negroni, Adonis, The Opera Cocktail, The Revolver, Apple Cider Cocktails

Benefits of Bitters

Bitters are a versatile ingredient found behind the counter of most bars and nightclubs. But why are bitters so popular, and what are the benefits of bitters? We explain the top three benefits of using bitters in your cocktails.

  1. Bitters give your drinks complexity and depth of flavor.
  2. Bitters are a required ingredient for many popular cocktails.
  3. Just like digestive bitters, cocktail bitters are wonderful for the stomach and can aid with digestion.

Types of Bitters

Bitters being poured into a drink

There are many types of cocktail bitters to choose from, and mixologists are constantly creating new and interesting options. We explain the main types of bitters below.

  • Aromatic Bitters - Aromatic bitters are the largest and most well-known type of cocktail bitters. Companies flavor their aromatic bitters with herbs, spices, and barks, which give them powerful aromas. This is one of the oldest bitters varieties, and it’s required for many traditional cocktail recipes.
  • Citrus Bitters - Citrus bitters are high-proof alcohols infused with the peels of citrus fruits. Orange bitters are the most popular type of citrus bitters. Other types of citrus bitters include lemon, grapefruit, and lime. Bartenders rely on them to make a variety of cocktail recipes.
  • Herbal Bitters - Herbal bitters are one of the most varied categories of bitters in terms of flavor and aroma. Tarragon, thyme, and lavender are some of the most popular types of herbal bitters.
  • Bean and Nut Bitters - Bean and nut bitters are relatively new inventions, but they are growing in popularity among adventurous bartenders and mixologists. Chocolate bitters and coffee bitters are the two most popular bean bitters varieties. Walnut, macadamia, and pecan are some of the most popular nut bitters.

Making Your Own Bitters

Buying bitters may be convenient or even necessary to make certain cocktails, but you also have the option to make your own bitters. You probably already have the tools you need to make your own bitters at your bar, so you just need to choose a base alcohol and purchase your desired botanicals. Making your own bitters allows you to fine tune ingredient ratios and create the perfect complement to your cocktail menu.

If you make your own bitters, you can serve them in attractive bitters bottles. Using glass bottles for serving bitters helps give them an upscale aesthetic, which is ideal for modern bars and tasting rooms that want to take their drink service to the next level with professional-looking bartending supplies.

Bitters FAQs

Manhattan cocktail with cherries on a pick

Bitters’s diverse ingredients, uses, and terminology raise questions when bartenders incorporate them into their cocktails. We answer a few of the most popular bitters questions below.

How Much Is a Dash of Bitters?

Cocktail recipes call for bitters in “dashes”. A typical dash of bitters is 6-8 drops or 1/8th of a teaspoon. However, multiple factors affect how much liquid comes out with each dash, such as the size of the hole in the bottle, the angle of the bottle, the force of the shake, and how much liquid is in the bottle. If you want a precise method of adding bitters to your cocktails, use a glass bottle with a dropper.

Bitters Substitute

While you can substitute one brand of bitters for another to reimagine classic cocktails, you cannot achieve the distinct flavor complexity bitters offer with any other ingredient type. If you run out of bitters mid shipment cycle and need a bitters substitute, you can consider using citrus peels to mimic bitters. However, your customers will probably notice a loss of flavor quality. It’s advisable to forgo making drinks that require bitters until your next shipment arrives.

Do Bitters Go Bad?

Whether opened or unopened, bitters won’t perish for many years. Bitters’s high alcohol contents act as preservatives and give them shelf lives comparable with other spirits. Most opened bitters bottles are viable for a decade before their flavor altars. An unopened bottle of bitters will last indefinitely.

What Is Angostura Bitters?

Angostura bitters are the original aromatic bitters. They are the namesake product of the oldest bitters brand, Angostura, which shaped the emerging cocktail industry when it launched in the early 1800s. Angostura bitters are a necessary ingredient for creating cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. You may wonder what Angostura bitters taste like on their own. Angostura bitters have a spicy flavor with hints of clove and cinnamon.

Bitters Brands

While the bitters market covers emerging brands and exotic flavors, there are three major bitters brands you should have stocked in your bar to make classic cocktails.

  1. Angostura Bitters
  2. Peychaud’s Bitters
  3. Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

How Much Alcohol Is in Bitters?

On average, a bottle of cocktail bitters is 35-45% alcohol. However, most companies market bitters as non-alcoholic because cocktail recipes call for dashes of bitters that don’t produce a traceable ABV.

What Do Bitters Taste Like?

Just like bourbon and rye are both types of whiskey but have vastly different flavor profiles, what bitters taste like depends on their ingredients and how they’re made. It’s important to note that not every cocktail with bitters has a strong bitter flavor. For example, Peychaud’s bitters taste slightly sweet with fruity notes. Bitters will enhance other flavors such as sourness or sweetness.

History of Bitters

People have been adding bitter ingredients and flavors to alcoholic beverages since the time of the ancient Egyptians, but our modern concept of bitters emerged in the early 1800s as medicine for relieving stomach pain. Many bitters companies closed during the American Prohibition era, threatening the ingredient’s permanent loss. Thankfully, mixologists and craft cocktail makers have brought bitters back to prominence in recent years.

Because of their growing popularity in contemporary mixology, it’s important that bartenders and restaurant owners understand how to use bitters, what types of bitters exist, and the benefits of adding bitters to their drinks because of their growing popularity in contemporary mixology

Posted in: Foodservice Trends | Bars & Breweries | By Richard Traylor

Off Premise Dining

As essential workers, foodservice professionals remained on the front lines of the pandemic. They sanitized and set to work, pioneering ways to care for customers from afar. As restaurants prepare to reopen, they can use the tactics that helped them survive to thrive in a post-pandemic world. From alternative delivery methods to creative business models, off premise dining innovations are here to stay.

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What Is Off Premise Dining?

group of friends sitting on a striped blanket having a picnic

Off premise dining, affectionately abbreviated to "off prem", is an umbrella term categorizing every dining experience that occurs beyond a permanent, physical building or its patio. Restaurants are serving customers off premise through innovative takeout and delivery methods. They're also adding off prem services such as video cook-alongs, meal subscriptions, and grocery outlets to boost their business. A brick and mortar isn't a prerequisite to foodservice operation anymore. There are off premise only concepts such as ghost kitchens, drive-in eateries, and pop-up restaurants.

Jump to the sections that most interest you by clicking the links below:

Getting Off Premise: Emerging Trends

As we emerge from the pandemic, we enter an industry landscape where off premise dining is both a way to expand and conduct business. We’ve created a map of this new world, revealing how restaurants have and will operate beyond the confines of a physical location.

1. Food Delivery

uber eats driver carrying an insulated food carrier getting on a motorcycle

Delivery became essential during the pandemic, and customers now expect restaurants to offer it. Creating an in-house delivery service has high startup fees, but thanks to third-party delivery services, any restaurant can offer delivery. A third-party delivery business cultivates a marketplace for customers to browse and order from partnered restaurants. Once the customer places their order, the third-party delivery service picks up the meal and takes it to them. Using a third-party delivery service markets your business and allows you to save on delivery service tools.

Setting up your own in-house delivery system is a good long-term investment that provides quality and profit control. According to Statista, four in five people blame the restaurant rather than the delivery service when their order goes wrong. Even worse, using third-party delivery services will cost you approximately 30% of your commissions. According to an Upserve study, 70% of third-party delivery service users would rather place their orders directly. Consumers want the restaurant to receive their full payment.

2. Takeout Food

Both takeout and delivery sales soared during the pandemic, but takeout orders exceeded delivery. Many patrons would rather drive to your business to pick up their order than pay a delivery service fee. In exchange, they expect a fast and efficient takeout system. Whether you’re using it for social distancing or speed, contactless carryout expedites pickup processes.

Create a designated curbside pickup area so customers can pick up their orders without exiting their vehicles. It’s helpful to have an app where customers can “check in” upon arrival and share their vehicle make, model, and color. Customers can also use the app to specify where they want their order placed. Alternately, you can set up a pickup station inside your restaurant where customers can grab their prepaid order without waiting in line. Investing in a heated, organized pickup station will maintain ideal serving temperatures.

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3. Ghost Kitchens

Ghost kitchens are restaurants that have no dining space or customer-facing storefront. They operate by selling food online and delivering patrons’ orders. As a relatively new concept, the rules of operating a ghost kitchen, and the terms used to define them, aren’t set in stone. Ghost kitchens are also known as virtual restaurants, dark kitchens, and delivery-only restaurants.

According to Technomic, ghost restaurant sales will rise by 25% each year. This will lead to an estimated $300 million in annual sales. Restaurateurs can integrate a ghost kitchen franchise into their brick and mortar. Adding a ghost kitchen franchise requires less work than developing your own takeout-friendly menu. It can also diversify your delivery options, reach new clientele, and increase your profits.

4. Commissary Kitchen

A commissary kitchen, also known as an incubator kitchen, is an established commercial kitchen space that foodservice providers pay to use. Commissary kitchens first emerged to meet the needs of the growing mobile vending market. The trend towards off prem dining has since spurned their growth. They are an ideal resource for ghost kitchens, pop-up kitchens, and can serve as a restaurant’s digital makeline space. In the Food Corridors 2020 follow-up study to their 2015 report, they saw a 40% increase in the number of shared kitchens.

There are multiple ways to use a commissary kitchen. If you can prepare your food at a set time each day, leasing a shared commissary kitchen space will save you money. If you plan to run a virtual restaurant out of your commissary kitchen, then leasing a private space is going to be the ideal choice for your needs. Small batch businesses would do well to rent a restaurant’s kitchen space during their off hours. Alternately, restaurant owners can rent their kitchen to earn extra cash. This is particularly advantageous for breakfast or dinner only establishments.

5. Drive-in Restaurant

tray with a burger in a red plastic basket hooked on the side of an antique car window

A drive-in restaurant has a parking area where guests order, receive service, and dine inside their vehicle. Drive-in restaurants were a nearly extinct piece of Americana history, but social distancing orders revived the tradition. The last national drive-in chain, Sonic, is currently America’s favorite fast-food restaurant. According to a TopData report, Sonic's sales soured above venerable chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nostalgia and novelty are on your side for marketing, but you should modernize how your drive-in operates. Bygone drive-ins sold diner food, but modern drive-in restaurants can offer any cuisine. Unlike takeout, drive-in meals don't have to travel, so you can create a broad menu. If you allow customers to order online in advance, drive-ins are as convenient as curbside pickup.

6. Mobile Kitchen

The mobile kitchen sector encompasses food trucks, food trailers, and food carts. Each type of mobile kitchen provides unique opportunities and challenges. Adding a mobile kitchen concept is a great way to take your restaurant’s menu off prem. A mobile kitchen will help you cater private events, vend community events, and become a fixture at local sporting arenas.

Now is the time to get into the food truck business. Food trucks are the fastest growing sector of the foodservice industry, and IBISWorld report expects the food truck market will reach $1.1 billion in 2022. However, if you want a low startup cost mobile kitchen to build clientele and test out a few specialty items, a food cart is the ideal place to start. Alternately, a food trailer is a great off premise alternative to a brick and mortar. They allow you to provide a full menu and multiple course meals without having to rely on a commissary kitchen.

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7. Online Ordering for Restaurants

No matter the type of off prem dining experience you provide, people want to order their meals online. Toast revealed that online ordering systems earned a staggering $107.44 billion in 2019 worldwide. They predict that online ordering sales will reach $154.34 billion by 2023. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a technology expert to set up an online ordering system. There are multiple apps, forums, and third-party services that help restaurants set them up.

Your business will be more successful if you optimize your online ordering system for mobile. NPD Group research revealed consumers place 60% of all digital restaurant orders on mobile devices, and consumers would be more likely to become repeat online customers if you offer mobile ordering. Encourage potential customers to complete their order by condensing your menu to fit on the face of a phone.

8. Meal Subscription Services

Setting up meal subscription services at your restaurant is a fantastic way to establish consistent revenue. From 2017 to 2018 and long before the pandemic, the meal kit delivery services market grew 300% in a single year. While there are companies whose primary focus is meal subscriptions, restaurants can take advantage of the growing public interest as well. Rather than purchasing each meal a la carte and on a whim, patrons pay a monthly fee to have regular, full meals from your restaurant.

You’ll need to learn what your customers are looking for from their meal subscription. If they’re seeking total convenience, selling pre-made refrigerated and/or frozen meals portioned for either individuals or families is the ideal strategy. For customers who want an interactive meal subscription, you can sell meal kits loaded with your restaurant’s signature sauces and spices, helping them create chef-quality pizza, lettuce wraps, or tacos. However your customers want their meals, build loyalty by creating a signature unboxing experience and branded packaging for your meal subscription service.

9. Video Kitchen

videographer holds a ronin camera pointed at a stainless steel pot with chef in background

Turn your restaurant’s back of house into a video kitchen and shoot live cooking classes or record video cook-alongs. This is a wonderful way to interact with off-site guests and increase your profits when selling meal kits. Appeal to the trend towards healthy, local, and organic meals by curating ingredients from local farms and gourmet grocers and then include the farmers and artisans in the video tutorial.

Depending on how many people take part, restaurants can earn between $800 and several thousand dollars per video session. Set the base participation price by evaluating your target audience and the type of food you’re preparing. An effortless way to increase that base price is by selling optional cocktail kits, bottles of wine, or desserts that complement the meal.

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10. Restaurant Drive Thru Reimagined

Drive thru lanes and fast food used to be exclusive, but the growing popularity of fast casual dining and the blurred lines between types of dining services has broadened drive thru applications. Drive thru only restaurants became a successful business model during the pandemic. Certain fast-food chains may choose to remain drive thru only.

Businesses with drive thru are updating their service to meet speed demands. Studies show people aren't willing to wait over four minutes in a drive thru line. Drive thru of the future will use online ordering so customers can order, pay, and schedule their pickup in advance. Online drive thru ordering moves faster and requires less labor than curbside pickup.

11. Pop-Up Kitchen

food festival with assorted grilled items

A pop-up kitchen, also known as a pop-up restaurant, is a food event that takes place at a temporary location for a limited amount of time. They allow chefs to test menu items and stoke the embers of public interest. Some pop-up kitchens set up and tear down in a single day, others are open for a few months. Pop-up kitchen events allow you to interact with your community without investing in a permanent location.

Prior to the pandemic, an Eventbrite study revealed pop-up kitchens were the fastest growing event type in the food and beverage category. As we look forward to regathering, pop-up kitchens will see a resurgence. You can partner with local bars and breweries and set up your pop-up kitchen on their premises. Another strategy is to set up your pop kitchen at a farmer’s market and create a menu with the ingredients sold by its vendors.

12. The Grocery Restaurant

Turn your restaurant into a mini mart. The grocery restaurant model allows customers to bring your gourmet ingredients home. This appeals to creative home chefs who want the freedom to reinvent your kitchen essentials for themselves. WiseGuyReports.com predicts the global specialty foods market will have a compound annual growth rate of 12.98% and reach $209.47 billion by 2023. By adding a specialty food market to your restaurant’s existing list of services, you can increase your profits and reach a new customer base.

Package and sell your specialty homemade sauces, spice blends, marinades, and dips. Fresh bread, pasta, and dessert are other popular choices. You can even sell gourmet pantry items like bottles of wine, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Prepare marinated steaks and seafood for patrons to grill at home, or ready to consume smoked meats, charcuterie snack boards, and artisanal cheeses.

13. Digital Makeline

A digital makeline is a second area for preparing online food orders. Dedicating kitchen space to digital business helps staff get delivery and takeout orders out in a timely manner. Since Chipotle implemented digital makelines, each unit has produced an average of $1 million in annual sales. Increasing your restaurant’s production capacity without adding dining space is a cost-effective way to expand your business. An efficient digital makeline frees your chefs and staff to create a one-of-a-kind in-house dining experience.

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On Premise vs. Off Premise

To help you determine whether on premise or off premise focused business is right for you, we've broken down the advantages and disadvantages of each dining style below.

On-Premises Dining: Pros and Cons

  • Menu Variety - Serving guests meals straight from your kitchen allows you to create a diverse menu without having to pair down on ingredients and focus on items that travel well.
  • Alcohol Profits - Patrons ordering individually priced alcoholic drinks over the course of an evening earn on-premises dining establishments high profits.
  • Customer Connection - On-premise dining allows you to connect with your patrons, get their feedback, and build a loyal base of repeat customers.
  • Startup Costs - On average, restaurants spend between $150-$750 per square foot to build out their on-premises establishment.
  • Labor Costs - For most on-premises restaurants, labor fees are the most expensive portion of running their business.
  • Smaller Checks - Studies show customers spend more on off premise orders.

Off Premise Dining: Pros and Cons

  • Low Operational Cost - Depending on your off premise business model, you can reduce or eliminate front-of-house labor costs. To put this into perspective, labor and food make up approximately 65% of operational fees for most on-premises restaurants.
  • Higher Profits - 68% of restaurant operators see larger average check sizes on their off premise orders.
  • Broadened Customer Base - Delivery and a strong online presence extend your reach beyond your immediate area.
  • Menu Limits - Some food items do not travel well and should only be served to customers fresh from the kitchen.
  • Loss of Control - If you use third-party delivery, you lose control of your patrons’ wait time and customer service experience. Additionally, you won't have a way to contact or retain those customers if you change delivery services.
  • Reduced Alcohol Sales - Many states amended their alcohol delivery and takeaway rules during the pandemic, but most still impose limitations.

The pandemic permanently linked off premise dining and foodservice. What began as a union of necessity has developed into an off premise industry ripe with opportunity. Whether your restaurant updates its methods for serving customers beyond its four walls or embarks on an entirely off premise business model, each expansion broadens your customer base.

Posted in: Management & Operation | By Corrinn McCauley

May 2021 WebstaurantStore Coupon Code

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Use Coupon Code: MAYDEALS

Every month we offer a WebstaurantStore coupon to help you save on the products you love most. From kitchen staples to heavy equipment, using this Webstaurant coupon is a simple way to stay on budget. To get the most out of your coupon, we recommend buying in bulk to increase your savings!

When it comes to buying your restaurant equipment online, Webstaurant offers the best prices and the most reasonable shipping costs. To save even more on shipping, sign up for our Plus program. Click below to learn how you can get free shipping on many of our items!

Posted in: Product Spotlights | By Michale Ferguson

What Are Pie Weights?

Pie weights are small, weighted, and oven-safe objects that are baked on a pie crust bottom to achieve a perfect blind bake. Pie weights prevent air pockets, crust shrinkage, and underbaked dough, issues that are especially common when blind baking. Blind baking a crust prevents a soggy pie bottom, which does not provide those picture-perfect layers of pie crust, filling, and topping in a perfectly triangular pie slice. Pie weights are the one saving grace to this soggy bottom fiasco and especially come in handy for pie fillings that cannot be baked at all. Pie weights are easy to use, come in different varieties, and above all, help blind-bake your bottom pie crust to perfection. After all, your customers are expecting the best from your bakery display case.

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Why Use Pie Weights?

spooning lemon custard into baked pie crust

The use of pie weights provides many benefits when trying to bake the perfect pie. Here are a few reasons why pie weights are worth the investment:

  • Aids in baking a perfectly blind-baked or par-baked crust
  • Keeps the bottom of the pie crust flat by reducing air bubbles
  • Prevents the pie crust from shrinking
  • Simple and easy to work with
  • Can be used again and again

How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

To use pie weights properly, follow the below steps to ensure a perfectly blind-baked crust:

  1. Prepare your crust according to your recipe’s instructions.
  2. Place your pie crust in a pie pan and crimp the edges to your desire.
  3. Line your pie crust with a square or circle of parchment paper. It should have a good enough overhang to gather all of your pie weights.
  4. Place pie weights on top of the parchment-lined pie crust, filling the shell entirely.
  5. Place the prepared pie crust in a pre-set oven and bake according to your recipe’s time and temperature.
  6. When finished baking, take the pie crust out of the oven. Grab the parchment paper overhang, and lift all of the pie crust’s weights out of the pie crust and into a heat-proof bowl to cool down.
  7. Return the pie crust to the oven. If filling the pie crust with a filling that needs to be baked again, bake the pie crust for an additional 5-7 minutes. If the pie crust needs to be fully baked, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  8. Let the pie crust cool down to room temperature - about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. You can now fill the pie crust with the other components of your recipe.

Types of Pie Weights

There are many different products to use for pie weights to achieve a level and perfectly blind-baked crust. These pie weights are reusable and provide an environmentally and long-lasting solution in your kitchen:

Ceramic Pie Weights

ceramic pie weights in pie crust

Ceramic pie weights ensure a superior blind-baked pie crust as they store heat and provide even heat transfer throughout the pie crust while baking. These pie crust weights are usually oven-safe up to 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 Celsius), and the ceramic pie weight’s material is strong enough to hold down the pie crust to prevent bubbling or shrinking.

Pie Chain

A pie chain is a long string of connected stainless steel beads that acts as a pie weight when blind-baking a pie crust. The benefit of a pie chain is that when the pie crust is done baking, you can easily remove the pie beads because they are all connected to each other on a chain. Pie chains have the same benefits as other pie weights: the heavy stainless steel weight holds down the pie crust to create a flat crust, and the material emits heat because the heat transfers throughout the stainless steel beads.

Aluminum Pie Weights

aluminum pie weights in pie crust

Aluminum pie weights are small baking beads that are made out of aluminum. Just like other pie weights, aluminum pie weights hold down the crust to prevent bubbling while it bakes. The aluminum is a natural heat conductor that evenly bakes the pie crust for a tender, dry, and flaky result. The aluminum pie weights are small in size, making aluminum pie weights ideal for smaller pie molds and tart shells. The aluminum beads will fill in the cracks that other pie crust weights would make when fitted into a small mold.

Pie Weights Substitute

rice in pie crust ready for blind baking with apple and checkered cloth in background

If you do not have pie weights on you and need a substitute for pie weights in a pinch, you can use the products below as pie weight substitutes:

  • Dried beans - Although you won't be able to cook with them after using dried beans as pie weights, you can save the beans and use them as pie weights again! Dried beans act in the same way as pie weights where they will weigh down your pie crust to prevent misshaping during blind baking.
  • Dried rice - Dried rice is also a popular staple pantry ingredient used as a pie weights substitute. They are especially great as a substitute for aluminum pie weights as their small shape can easily fit into smaller pie crust or tart shell molds.
  • Steel ball bearings - If you have easier access to a hardware store then steel ball bearings as a pie weights substitute might be perfect for you! Their steel material creates excellent heat transfer for the ultimate dry and brown pie crust, while their weight holds down the crust to prevent bubbling, air pockets, and a shrinking pie crust.

Pie Making Tools for the Perfect Pie

pastry chef taking pie crust shield off of baked pie

Now that you know what pie weights to use to blind-bake a perfect pie crust, it’s time to upgrade the other components of your pie by obtaining these other pie-making tools:

  • Dough cutting ring - A dough cutting ring allows you to take your large batch of pie dough and portion them into perfect circles or a consistent size and even bake time.
  • Pie crust crimper - Perfect for quickly decorating a pie, a pie crust crimper will give your pie beautifully crimped edges that are consistent and quick to impart.
  • Pie crust cutter - Double-crust pies need to be vented to let the steam escape as it bakes, and a pie crust cutter is the perfect pie making tool to let that happen while also imparting beautiful shapes, designs, and cutouts.
  • Lattice dough cutter - Lattice pie crusts are notoriously tricky to maneuver on a crust, but this pie crust cutter cuts the top dough of your pie into a perfect lattice pie crust instantly.
  • Pie crust shield - Oftentimes while baking a pie, the pie crust will go under the Maillard reaction process a lot more quickly than the rest of the pie. A pie crust shield protects the entire rim of the pie crust to stop it from burning before the rest of the pie is fully finished baking.

There are a lot of ways to mess up a pie: using warm butter in the pie dough, forgetting the cornstarch in the fruit filling, and burning the outer crust. However, there is a pie mistake that is far too sacrilegious to encounter: an underbaked bottom crust. Now that you’re aware of the pie weight’s existence in this world, you’ll never have to deal with an under-baked, bubbly, and shrunken bottom pie crust ever again. Going forward, you can confidently serve every pie or pie slice to your customers knowing that it’s picture-perfect for their camera, and especially, their memory of your bakery.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips | Bakeries | By Val Goodrich