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Perfect Blueberry Pie

Perfect Blueberry pie has a lightly sweet filling that is not runny or pasty. For an extra special treat, try baking the berries in a tasty cornmeal crust.

top view of a blueberry pie with a lattice crust

The number one complaint I hear about homemade blueberry pie is that the filling is either runny and soupy or gloppy and pasty. We can do better.

What it comes down to is how much and which starch you use in the filling. We use starch to thicken the berry juices so a slice will hold onto the berries as you lift it out of the pan.

Before we move on…If you’re a baking geek like me and want to learn all about the science of starches I highly recommend this interesting and informative article from Fine Cooking Magazine.

But I digress.

I use cornstarch in my pie filling because it is readily available in US grocery stores and many folks keep a box in the pantry.

I think the biggest advantage of cornstarch, besides it’s easy availability, is that it can be cooked to a fairly high temperature without breaking down.

Cornstarch has a “gelatinization” temperature (the temp at which the starch thickens the liquid) of 144°-180°F. That’s the magic temp if the starch is just mixed with water.

But sugar will raise the temperature at which the starch is activated. Lucky for us, this pie filling has natural sugar from the blueberries and a little added sugar to sweeten the juice.

With the added sugar, we need to get the juices up to the boiling point for the filling to gelatinize. That’s really convenient because that means we have an easy visual cue as to when our pie filling is ready.

The other question is how much starch to use. You want just enough so a slice will hold on to the berries. Too much starch and the juice becomes a thick paste that mars the beautiful berry flavor.

How to make Perfect Blueberry Pie without a runny filling:

  • How much is the right amount of corn starch? I baked this pie 3 times with gradually more starch until I got just enough thickening power to hold the berries together. But there is still a nice juiciness to the filling.
  • You want to use enough sugar to sweeten the berries, but not so much that it overpowers the fresh flavor
  • Add just a hint of lemon juice and lemon zest to bring a bright freshness to the filling.
  • I think cornmeal and blueberries are natural flavor partners. I highly recommend my Cornmeal Crust for this pie, but you can use any flaky Pie Crust. If you keep a sourdough starter, try making blueberry pie with Sourdough Pie crust.
  • You must bake the pie until the juice at the very center of the pie is fully bubbling. Not just a little shimmer, look for actual bubbles in the center. The starch needs to come to a boil to activate and thicken the juice.
  • Wait a good 3-4 hours before slicing the pie. I know this is the hardest step, but the filling needs to cool down enough for the filling to gel. If you cut the pie too soon the berries will spill out of the crust.
a closeup shot of blueberry pie filling bubbling hot from the oven
See that bubble? Bake until the juice in the very center of the pie is bubbling to make sure the starch is activated.
a slice of blueberry pie on a white plate

Can’t get enough pie? Me neither. Maybe my favorite all time pie is Sour Cherry Pie. If you need to feed a crowd, try making Blackberry Slab Pie or Peach Hand Pies.

If you still want more blueberries you can make a super easy Blueberry Cornbread Cobbler. Blueberry Cheesecake Tart is a slightly more sophisticated take on dessert and everyone will swoon over these Lemon Blueberry Macarons.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

an overheat view of a slice of blueberry pie on a white plate

Perfect Blueberry Pie

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours

yummy

Ingredients

  • 1 Recipe Cornmeal Pie Crust or your favorite pie crust
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (1.4 oz, 40g) corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 cups (32 oz, 896g) fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • granulated sugar for topping

Instructions

  1. Roll half the dough to line a 9" deep dish pie pan.
  2. Roll the other half of the dough to a 12" circle. Sprinkle a little flour over the circle and fold it in half. Sprinkle with flour again and fold in half again. Wrap the folded dough and set it into the lined pie pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour before filling. The dough can be rolled up to a day ahead and refrigerated. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the blueberries and toss to evenly distribute the sugar and starch. Pour the blueberries into the pie shell.
  4. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with egg wash. Lay the top crust over the filling. Pinch the two crusts together to seal. Trim the excess dough and use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges. Use the tip of a small paring knife to cut a 2" "x" in the middle of the top crust. Peel back the pieces of dough to make a vent hole.
  5. Brush the entire top crust of the pie with egg wash and generously sprinkle the pie with granulated sugar.
  6. Place the pie a sheet tray and bake until the juices in the middle of the pie are bubbling. Make sure the juice all the way in the middle are bubbling. The juice needs to boil to activate the starch. Otherwise the filling will be runny. This takes about 1 hour.
  7. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool for at least 3 -4 hours before cutting.

Did you make this recipe?

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a slice of blueberry pie in a white plate
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Frieda

Sunday 29th of November 2020

Hi. My son's favorite pie is blueberry. He is allergic to cornstarch so I have experimented with many different thickeners in my pies. Some pies come out too runny and others a solid mass. After reading your post and understanding that the thickener needs to come to the correct temp., it makes much more sense. Can you tell me what would be the closest substitute to corn starch or how to adjust the time/oven temp. for a different thickening agent? Thank You!

Eileen Gray

Sunday 29th of November 2020

Hi Frieda, did you click on the link in the post for the article from Fine Cooking? It's a great article all about starch thickeners. You can use tapioca, potato starch or arrow root. When you read through the article, you'll see that for most of the starches it is recommended to cook until the juices are bubbling.

Alaya

Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Hi Eileen, thanks for the great recipes and tips I've just found you and just made the sourdough crust--it's in the fridge. I've been looking for a sourdough pie crust--yipee. Went to pull out blueberries and Whoops! I have a ton of raspberries but only 1 pk of blueberries. I also have a mixed berry pkg. I can run to the store but with covid I try to make do with what I have on hand. All to ask--do you have a raspberry pie filling recipe or can I convert this one? I'm wondering if it would need more sugar and maybe not be as juicy. ? I'm a novice baker, enjoying new things. This will be my first ever pie!

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 28th of July 2020

I don't specifically have a raspberry pie filling. Honestly, I think if you use the blueberries you have with some of the mixed berries you'll get a pretty good result. Assuming the mixed berry pack doesn't have lots of strawberries in it. Are these frozen berries? If so, I would try to eliminate the strawberries since they have so much water in them.

Jonidee

Monday 27th of July 2020

Hi! I got your email about the blueberry pie, went out & got all the ingredients yesterday. Made the crust last nite and refrigerated it. Finished filling, put it all together ready to bake. Time to preheat oven- uh, to what temp? Did I miss it somewhere? Had to look at several other recipes (all different temps) & guessed at 375. Which is it?

Eileen Gray

Monday 27th of July 2020

Ooops, that was quite a mistake. Thanks for the heads up. I've fixed it. I bake the pie at 350 but 375 will work ok.