More than a method to toast sandwiches over hot coals, a cast iron pie iron has transcended from utilitarian to esteemed. Outdoor cooks around the globe use them to create cooking traditions and to connect with the spirit of outdoor cookery so try cooking with pie irons if you’re looking to add a little spice to a patio bbq, a tailgate party, or a family camping trip.
What Is A Pie Iron?
A pie iron is a mini-cast-iron griddle on sticks for cooking food over a campfire or gas grill.
Basic pie irons are round or square, but they come in a multitude of shapes.
- Square (the most popular shape)
- Round (Australian Style Jaffle Iron)
- Double Square (Cook two sandwiches at once)
- Double Burger (grill two patties at once)
- Bread Baker (Cooks baguette-shaped bread)
- Waffle Iron (used to cook waffles)
- Panini Press
- Hotdog and Brat Cooker
- Cornbread Iron
If you are just getting one pie iron, go for the basic square model. They waste less bread than the round jaffle irons, and you get more food.
Where Can I Get Them?
You can get Pie Irons at Cabela’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon, and many other places. This list isn’t exclusive; if you have a favorite outdoor brand, check there to see if they sell pie irons.
The most common brand in the U.S. is Rome Industries. They have consistent quality and offer many size and shape options.
Other Companies in the U.S. that Manufacture Cast Iron Pie Irons:
- Camp Chef
- Field and Stream
What Do You Make In A Pie Iron?
The most interesting food made with pie irons is what Wisconsinites call Pudgie Pies or Pudgy Pies—made at tail-gate parties and backyard BBQs. Cheese-heads push the creative limits of iron cookery with recipes like the Green Bay tailgater’s Packer Backer Pudgie, which includes a brat bun, butter, beer-boiled-bratwurst, sauerkraut, green peppers, onions, Wisconsin cheese, and yellow mustard. Yeah, this all goes in one sandwich.
If the Packer Backer Pudgie Pie sounds tasty, check out the recipe book, “The Pudgie Revolution,” for some unique recipe ideas.
The ingredients cooked in a pudgy pie are limited only by your imagination.
Before cooking, irons are commonly stuffed with combinations of meat, bread, dough, waffle batter, and delicious fillings, or to make toasted breakfast sandwiches with eggs, ham, and bread. Also, try wrapping fruit or pie filling in Pillsbury croissant dough to make a fruit turnover or stuff homemade dough with meat, cheese, and veggies. And don’t forget the Smores!
19 Foods cooked in Irons
I’m trying to think of the food you can’t cook in a pie iron. I can’t think of any. Following is a list to get your creative juices flowing.
- Pudgy Pies
- Single or Double Hamburgers
- Baguette Bread
- Pizza Bread
- Breakfast Tacos
- Panini Press Sandwiches
- Fruit Pies (pie dough, fresh fruit or canned pie filling, and cream cheese)
- French Toast
- Toasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
- Grilled Cheese
- Campfire Sandwiches with meat and cheese
- Breakfast sandwiches with egg, bacon, and bread
Pillsbury premade doughs cook exceptionally well in a pie iron, and you don’t have to mix the dough at your campsite.
To enjoy cooking with your irons, you need to season them. Seasoning cast iron keeps it from rusting and provides a non-stick surface that makes cleaning up a snap.
If you don’t season your irons, you will scrub off burnt or stuck-on food, which won’t be an enjoyable experience. Unseasoned irons are especially tough to clean if they are waffle-style irons or irons with a bunch of crevices.
How to season (10 Steps)
Heat iron outdoors with your charcoal or gas grill.
When new, pie irons come with a layer of paraffin wax. (If your model of pie irons allows for it, you can unscrew the handles from the irons to make seasoning easier to season, but it’s not necessary.)
Grill irons for 10 minutes to melt paraffin wax.
After heating the irons for ten minutes, remove them from the grill and let them cool down.
Clean irons in warm soapy water to remove the wax completely. This is the only time you will use soap on your pie iron.
After cleaning and rinsing the iron, hand dry them with a towel.
Now that the iron is dry, grease it by applying a liberal amount of Crisco or another vegetable shortening or vegetable oil all over the pans. Make sure to hit the cracks and crevices with the shortening.
Once greased, place the pie iron(s) over the campfire fire or hot grill.
You’ve placed the iron on a campfire or hot grill. Let the iron(s) cook for 15 minutes, flipping them halfway through to get an even cook.
Repeat steps 6,7, and 8 four times for a total of four 15-minute seasoning intervals.
The total seasoning time is 60 minutes when complete
When fully seasoned, the pans will be black. Unless already seasoned, iron will go from a shade of grey to brown to black. Black pans are fully seasoned.
Seasoning Tip: Use high smoke-point oils to season your irons, like vegetable oil. Don’t use low-smoke-point oils like olive oil. Low smoke point oils will burn instead of polymerizing. Polymerizing gives you a non-stick surface.
How Do I Cook With Pie Irons: 5 Easy Steps
Spray the inside of the pie irons with a non-stick spray like Pam (don’t use olive oil, it will burn)
Place ingredients like dough, bread, meat, or fillings on one side of the iron (also called a clamshell)
Close the clamshell and trim off any food that’s sticking out around the edges
Cooking time depends on the heat of the fire and the food you are cooking. Experiment with cooking times of 2 to 2 ½ minutes per side, as this seems to be the sweet spot.
Cooking on hot coals or a propane grill works best for cooking with pie irons.
CAUTION! These babies get branding iron hot, so use caution when cooking with them.
How Do You Clean An Pie Iron
Wait for the iron to cool down, and use a rag or a paper towel to scrub clean.
Scrub with water until the water runs clear
Use coarse salt and water to clean tough spots
If you use a good amount of non-stick spray before cooking, your cleanup will be much easier.
Don’t use soap to clean a seasoned pie iron because it removes the flavor and seasoning from the pan. Also, soap will get mixed in with the seasoning and can taint the taste of your food. I know this happens for a fact because I’ve made the mistake of using dish soap when cleaning cast iron griddles and a dutch oven. Getting rid of all the soap is almost impossible and imparts the soap flavor to the next dish.
TIP: For burnt-on food, concentrate on the burnt area with more coarse salt and water. If you use a scratch pad, you will take off some of the seasonings.
What Is The Difference Between Cast Iron And Aluminum Pie Irons?
Aluminum irons aren’t nearly as sturdy as cast iron, but they are lightweight. If you are concerned with weight, aluminum is a better choice.
Aluminum irons don’t need to be seasoned; cast iron pans do.
The aluminum non-stick coating doesn’t last; you can’t do anything to season or recoat aluminum.
Aluminum pans will melt if left in a fire, and Cast iron will not.
Aluminum pie irons were originally for stove-top use, and Cast Iron is meant for cooking directly on fire or hot coals.
Cast iron is my personal choice. Yes, cast iron takes more maintenance, but the pay-off is a lifetime of use and the ability to re-season the irons. Aluminum is, in my mind, a throw-away substitute for cast iron.Scott, Ready Squirrel
What Is Another Name For A Pudgie Pie?
Pudgie Pies are cooked in a pie iron and have different names worldwide. In the United States, Pudgie Pies even have different names by region. At first, this was confusing, but I’m getting the hang of it. Following are the various aliases for Pudgie Pies. Drop me a message if you call them something other than what is listed.
- Hobo Pies (Michigan)
- Pudgie (Pudgy) Pies (Wisconsin, UP Michigan)
- Bush Pies (Canadian Prairies)
- Mountain Pies (Pennsylvania)
- Campfire Pie (Girl Scout/Boy Scout)
- Camper Pie
- Fire Pie
- Jaffles (Australia)
- Toasties or Bevilles (Ireland)
- Pie Shams (Australia)
- Panini Grill
- Sandwich Cookers
- Cubano (Cuba and South Florida)