Shipping a Homemade Pie

A commercial on television shows a package being loaded into an airplane before it is to take off. It portrays a gorilla dragging the medium-sized box across the tarmac, he then jumps on it, tosses it in the air, and finally the brute flings it into the cargo compartment and saunters off, mission accomplished.  Now consider this same gorilla handling the box which encases a delicate, homemade pie – do we see a problem?

The problem is not necessarily how to ship a pie, but how to ship the pie to ensure that it’s whole when it’s delivered.

During the holidays and at different times in life it may become necessary to ship a pie to someone far away.  Maybe there is a child in college that is longing for Mom’s homemade pie; packing up a fragile pie to ship any distance can easily and successfully be done.

There are several things to consider when contemplating the shipment of a pie any distance or by any means other than your own two feet.

-Do not ship custard or cream pies; they are too fragile and prone to spoiling to be shipped.

-Do consider shipping the pies frozen and overnight, using only a carrier that offers this kind of shipping method for food.

Consider the type of pie to be shipped:

When deciding which kind of pie to ship its best to consider the filling.  It would be a disaster to ship a juicy pie through the mail, the filling will no-doubt leak and make a mess of the whole thing. 

– Think about making more solid pies like apple, peach, or pecan to avoid spilling and disappointment on the receiving end.

-When the pie is being made, use extra thickening agents like tapioca, cornstarch, or flour; these will help create a more solid filling.

-Make sure the pie is totally cooled before wrapping and packaging; any heat left in the pie will create moisture and moisture can invite mold and spoilage.

-It is probably best to call the chosen carrier and ask questions before beginning the shipping process.

How to pack (the shake test)

To clarify the question of the “will the pie be in one piece if I ship it? There is a test.  Place a pie in the bottom of a box that is at least two inches larger and taller than the pie, poke some newspaper around the edges of the pie to secure it in the box.  Close the lid and shake the box.

Now open the box and look inside.  If the pie is still in one piece and not spilled, this is a good pie to ship.

Full size or tarts

-It might be easier to ship smaller sized pies or tarts than whole, large 10 inch pies, consider going smaller or make individual-sized pies for easy shipping.


-The very best way to send a pie to someone, no matter how far away is to send it frozen and in packaging that will keep it frozen for the entire trip; go the extra mile (so-to-speak) and pay the extra price for overnight delivery. This will guarantee good results and a happy recipient.

Packing a frozen pie

-Wrap the cold pie in two layers of cling-wrap.  Wrap around one way, then turn the pie and wrap around the open edges.  Place the wrapped pie into the freezer to freeze solid. 

Once frozen wrap it in two thickness of aluminum foil, label and date the pie and return to the freezer. When ready to package, put this frozen pie into a seal-able, heavy-plastic bag.

The equipment needed to keep shipped items frozen

-Gel coolants that are made to hold items at 32oF or dry ice

-Anything that is liquid or semi-liquid must be sealed into a 2-mil, watertight plastic bag.

-Light weight packing materials such as Styrofoam peanuts under, around and on top of the wrapped item

-Use sturdy, lidded, insulated foam coolers with no less that 1 ½ inch thick walls.

Shipping the cooler

-Place the closed cooler (with the frozen pie in it) inside a slightly larger sturdy cardboard box, add styrofoam peanuts all around to secure the cooler in position. Also make sure the name, address of the recipient, and the return address is included in this box. Seal the box with moisture proof packing tape.

-Print out a shipping label with both addresses visible, attach this to the outside top of the shipping box.

-Ship via any “Priority Overnight” or “Standard Overnight” delivery service

If the best pies are made without thin juices and the right packaging is used, there is no reason not to ship one or more homemade pies anywhere the carriers can go.

Experience is the best teacher for successfully shipping a pie. So (precisely) follow the directions of one of the more popular and experienced shipping companies such as UPS, Fed-Ex, and the USPS; they know what they are doing and do it well.