What are Baking Beans?

So you’re baking a pie and the recipe asks you to blind-bake with baking beans. What even are baking beans? Can you eat them? Where do you even get them? So many questions.

Baking beans can be one of two things – Either dried beans or small spherical pie weights. Both used for the same purpose, which is to weigh down pie pastry during blind-baking so it keeps its shape while it bakes. 

I’m Angie, I’m a self-taught baker who’s been baking for over 10 years. People love my pies and quiches almost as much as I love making them. In this article, I’ll explain to you what baking beans are and offer some alternatives if you don’t have them on hand. 

Let’s get (blind) baking!

Blind Baking

Blind baking, also known as par-baking, is to bake a pie pastry or crust on its own, without any filling. Doing so prevents your pie pastry from getting soggy when a wet filling is added to it and it also ensures that the whole pie is evenly cooked throughout.

Beans

When a recipe calls for baking beans, it could mean either actual beans or pie weights. If you’ve decided to use beans, make sure that they are completely uncooked and dry or it would defeat the purpose of blind baking. Kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas are the most common beans used for blind baking. 

An optional step before par-baking is to chill your pie crust in the fridge for half an hour. This will make sure that your pie crust holds its shape when it’s baked. 

To use beans for blind baking, simply lay a sheet of parchment paper over your pie pastry and put enough dry beans on top to completely cover the insides of your pie. Try your best not to miss any spots to prevent the formation of any bumps and unevenness. 

Bake your pie crust for about 15 minutes or until the edges start to brown. 

Pie Weights

Pie weights are ceramic or metal weights, spherical, and made specifically for blind baking. They can be purchased from baking supply stores and online. Because of the way pie weights are shaped, they’re often called baking beans as well. 

The process is the same. You will need to cover your pie pastry with a sheet of parchment paper and place your pie weights on it. This will prevent your weights from clinging onto your pastry and make removing the weights much easier once you’ve finished par-baking. 

Same as before, simply bake your pie crust for roughly 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. The amount of time you bake your pie crust varies depending on the recipe so definitely check that before you put it in the oven!

Popular Alternatives

Don’t have baking beans? Don’t worry, you can still blind bake. Some popular alternatives to baking beans are rice, sugar, and popcorn kernels. 

I secretly prefer these over baking beans because the granules are smaller and they will easily reach all the cracks and crevices on the pie crust. Plus, you can use the toasted sugar in a later recipe for a more complex, caramelized flavor.

Toasted rice can also be used to make Khao Khua, which is a Thai toasted rice powder used as a thickening agent or to add texture and a nutty flavor to different dishes. 

FAQs

Still got some questions about baking beans? Check below for answers. 

Where to buy baking beans?

You can buy dry beans at any nearby grocery store. Pie weights can be found at a baking supply store or online

What can I use if I don’t have baking beans?

On top of the popular alternatives I have mentioned above, you can also try using lentils, a smaller pie pan, or coins. I know putting coins on your pie sounds a little suspicious, but trust me, they give you great results. 

Obviously, don’t put coins directly on top of your pastry. Instead, lay on a sheet of parchment and another sheet of foil for some extra protection. 

Do you always have to blind bake pastry?

You don’t always have to blind bake pastries. Blind baking is only necessary if you’re making a pie with wet fillings or when the filling takes little time to cook through. 

Can you use marbles as baking beans?

Some marbles can be used as baking beans, you just have to make sure that they are heat resistant and won’t explode at the temperature you are baking at. Generally speaking, glass marbles can withstand a higher temperature than what’s generally set for pie baking. 

Final Thoughts

So the answer is really quite simple. Baking beans are either dry uncooked beans or ceramic/metal beads used to keep your pie shape during blind baking. 

I hope this article has helped. Good luck on your pie adventures and show us the results below! And if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask 😉

About Angie
I am a self-taught baker. I’ve been baking for over 10 years and started my own home baking business as a side hustle. I was born in Hong Kong and spent a pretty big chunk of my life in Canada. If you’re ever looking for me, I am probably there whisking vigorously away in the kitchen.

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