How to Thicken Up Runny Pie Filling

Your pie may look great until you cut into it and all the delicious filling runs out like juice. Now you have pie soup. This is pretty common with fruit pies. There are a couple of things that could have gone wrong and a number of ways to fix a recipe that is always runny and still have a great tasting pie.

Make Sure Your Recipe is Baking Correctly

Your pie may not have cooled enough. Pie should be served just above room temperature. If it is too hot the filling may not have had time to set up. So put your pie in the window sill and let it cool it takes at least 3 hours. Also note Pyrex or ceramic pans take longer than metal ones.

Your pie may not have gotten hot enough in the oven or had enough time to boil. The bubbling of the filling is what activates the natural gelatin in fruit and the thickeners you may have added. You want to see big syrupy thick bubbles before you pull the pie out of the oven.

Fix a Pie Recipe that is Always Runny

Instant Pudding – Add a package of instant pudding. This will actually improve the flavor of your pie by giving complexity and the gelatin in the pudding will help the filling set up. A good combination is lemon with fruit fillings.

Tapioca – Use tapioca flour, not granules to thicken things up. The granules take a while to fully hydrate and you could wind up with weird grit in your pie and have the filling still be runny. Instead use tapioca flour or use a blender to pulverize tapioca granules. Read the back of the package to find out how much you should add per cup of fruit. Mix the tapioca with the other filling ingredients. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes to dissolve the tapioca.

Corn Starch - You can add corn starch to your pie filling. About 1 teaspoon of cornstarch per cup of fruit. 9 inch pies should hold 6 cups of filling.

Flour – I dislike adding flour because it makes the filling cloudy and does nothing for the flavor. However sometimes it is all you have on hand. Use 2 teaspoons per cup of fruit to thicken up your pie. Make sure you use a sieve to sprinkle the flour into the fruit filling or when you mix it you will get clumps of flour. Dumplings don’t belong in pie.

Macerate then mix boil down your fruit in its juices - Mix the fruit, sugar, lemon and a pinch of salt in a bowl, if it is a watery fruit like strawberries or blueberries you may want mash it a bit with your hands to help get the juice out. Pour the fruit mixture into a colander and let the sugary juice pass through. Do not press the juice through, let it set for 30 – 60 minutes to let gravity do the work. In a small sauce pan on medium low heat simmer the juice down until you have a 1/3 cup. The juice should now be a syrup. Be careful not to let things get too hot and burn the sugar. Now mix the syrup back in with the fruit. And you are ready to put your filling in the pie crust. If you’re still having problems, add in corn starch to the drained fruit. About 1 teaspoon per cup of fruit. Put your now thickened fruit mixture into the pie shell and pop it in the oven.


  1. That's exactly how my pie would look. I can book, but if I try to bake anything other than like cornbread or muffins, it's Houston we have a problem. Baking just seems so HARD.

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  3. Thanks for the tips!