More than a method to toast sandwiches over hot coals, Pie Irons, have 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. If you’re looking to add a little spice to a patio bbq, a tailgate party, or a family camping trip, try cooking with pie irons.
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.
The basic pie irons are round or square but they come in a multitude of shapes.
Shapes Of A Pie Iron:
- Square Pie Iron (the most popular shape)
- Round (Australian Style Jaffle Iron)
- Double Square Pie Iron (Cook two sandwiches at once)
- Double burger grilled (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 a Pie Iron?
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 of Pie Irons 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 back-yard BBQs. Cheese-heads push the creative limits of pie 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 the pie irons.
If the Packer Backer Pudgie Pie sounds tasty check out the recipe book, “The Pudgie Revolution” for some unique recipe ideas
The ingredients in a pudgy pie are limited only by your imagination.
Irons are commonly stuffed with combinations of meat, bread, dough, waffle-batter, and delicious fillings. Make toasted breakfast sandwiches with eggs, ham, and bread. Wrap 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!
List of foods commonly cooked in Pie Irons:
- 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. Pie dough makes a mean fruit-filled pie.
Is There Anything I Have To Do With Cast Iron Pie Irons before I Cook With Them?
Yes, if you want to enjoy cooking with your pie irons you need to season them. Seasoning cast iron before cooking 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 be scrubbing off burnt or stuck-on food. It won’t be an enjoyable experience. Unseasoned irons are especially tough to clean if they are the waffle style irons or irons with a bunch of crevices.
How do you season a pie iron?
- Remove the wax by heating it up 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 makes seasoning easier to season, but it’s not necessary.)
- Grill irons for 10 minutes to melt paraffin wax
- Let the pie irons cool down to “warm”
- Clean irons in warm soapy water (This is the only time you will use soap on your pie iron.)
- Dry the pie irons
- Grease the irons 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.)
- Place the pie irons over the fire or grill
- Let irons cook for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through
- Repeat steps 6,7 and 8, four times (For a total of four, 15-minute, baking intervals.)
- The total seasoning time is 60 minutes when complete
Pie irons will go from a shade of grey to brown. When fully seasoned, the pans will be black. (Black cast iron is seasoned cast iron.)
*Use high smoke-point oils to season your irons, something like vegetable oil. Don’t use low smoke-point oils like olive oil. These will burn instead of polymerizing. Polymerizing gives you the non-stick surface.
How Do I Cook With A Seasoned Pie Iron?
- 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 clam-shell)
- Close the clam-shell and trim off any food that’s sticking out around the edges
- Experiment with cooking times, 2 to 2 ½ minutes per side seems to be the sweet spot. Cooking time depends on the heat of the fire and the food you are cooking.
- Cooking on hot coals or on 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 A Pie Iron After You Cook With It?
- Use a rag, or a paper towel, and scrub to 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
- Depending on what you cook you may be able to just wipe down your iron to clean it.
Don’t use soap to clean a seasoned pie iron. It removes the flavor from the pan. Also, soap will get mixed in with the seasoning and can taint the taste of your food.
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 seasoning.
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 just concerned with weight, then aluminum is a better choice.
- Aluminum irons don’t need to be seasoned cast iron does
- 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 hot fire. Cast iron will not melt.
- Aluminum pie irons were originally for stove-top use. Cast Iron is 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.
What Is Another Name For A Pudgie Pie?
Pudgie Pies have different names all over the world. In the United States, Pudgie Pies even have different names by region. At first, this was kind of 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)