14 Hacks To Make Store-Bought Pot Pies Even Better

Homemade pot pies aren't all that complicated to make, but sometimes it's just easier to buy one from the store, especially if you want a personal-size portion. While many brands make decent frozen pot pies, there are several ways to improve the flavor and texture overall. From better baking results to more delicious crust to remedying dry filling, there's a lot that can be done to make store-bought pot pies taste better. Whether you prefer a chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie, veggie pot pie, or a hearty meat pie, you may never view them the same after discovering our easy-to-execute tips.

I love a good pie, homemade or store-bought, so many of the tricks in this article come from my personal experience making and heating them at home. To come up with a list of the best, most valuable tips, I also considered chef recommendations and forums where fellow pot pie lovers shared their expertise. Keep reading to learn some hacks to make store-bought pot pies even better so you never have to settle for ordinary again.

1. Brush an egg wash on the top for the crispiest golden brown crust

Homemade pies of all kinds use an egg wash on the upper crust to ensure a beautifully shiny, golden brown color. While it is by no means necessary, this finishing touch makes the crust look beyond appetizing. There are several ways to adjust an egg wash to achieve the ideal color based on what you are baking, but pot pies are pretty straightforward, and any kind of egg wash will work. You can beat a whole egg, just the egg white, or add a spoon of water or milk to the egg; all options taste and look delicious on a pot pie when cooked. Regardless of the type of wash you choose, brush it on the upper crust of your store-bought pot pie before baking, and it will look almost homemade by the time it is done.

If you don't have any eggs in your fridge at the moment, you can reach for the mayo instead. It makes an excellent substitute for egg wash. Not only does it have the same ingredients in it that are used to create an egg wash, but it saves you a bit of time since it is ready to use straight out of the jar. Simply brush a thin layer onto the upper crust of your pot pie and proceed like normal. When it is done cooking, it will look just like you used a professionally-made egg wash.

2. Sprinkle with extra herbs and spices

Without herbs and spices, all of our food would be bland and, some might even say, relatively flavorless. However, with the simple addition of a few seasonings, you can turn virtually any dish into a drool-worthy delight, pot pies included. Store-bought pies definitely hit the spot under the right circumstances, but they are not really known for overflowing with flavor. Fortunately, that's an easy fix, though. All that is needed is a dash or sprinkle of some of your favorite herbs and spices, and your store-bought pot pie transforms into a rich, tasty dish packed with yummy goodness.

Aside from it being incredibly easy to add herbs and spices to the top of store-bought pies, their savory ingredients make this tip extremely versatile. You can add a broad range of flavors based on your preferences and are unlikely to mess it up. For most pot pies, savory spices like rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, onion powder, and garlic make phenomenal choices. Even so, if the mood strikes, you can add more creative seasonings like curry powder, chili flakes, cumin, or coriander. Of course, a little bit of extra salt and pepper never hurts, either.

3. Top your pot pie with shredded cheese

This isn't breaking news by any means, but cheese makes everything better, and pot pies are no exception to the rule. Who doesn't love cheese, right? So why not add it to your store-bought pot pie to enhance flavor and add a gooey layer of melted deliciousness? If you're lucky, the store-bought pot pie you are heating up might already have a little bit of cheese or cream in the filling, so more will only turn up the yummy flavors. If it doesn't, adding cheese to the mix will pay off in spades; just wait and see.

Okay, depending on the type of pot pie you bought from the store, some cheeses may taste better than others when melted on top. Even so, for the most part, you can't go wrong. Swiss, Colby jack, Monterey jack, cheddar, provolone, muenster, havarti, and pepper jack are our favorite picks but feel free to experiment with your favorites. Also, you don't necessarily need to stick to shredded cheese exclusively. Whether you slice it yourself or not, thinly sliced cheese also makes an excellent choice. It makes creating an even layer across the upper crust practically effortless. Sliced cheese also makes portion control much simpler, and it stays in place without spreading out and potentially falling off the crust, as shredded cheese often does.

4. Flip over and cook upside down to eliminate dry upper crust

Frozen pot pies aren't always proportioned the way you want. Often, the upper crust is much thicker than the bottom crust. Additionally, they don't necessarily have enough filling to ensure a gooey texture with every bite. Fortunately, there's an easy way to remedy these issues. Instead of cooking your pot pie like normal in the tin pan it comes in, flip it out of the pan and cook it upside down. While baking, the filling will sink into the thicker upper crust, resulting in a more consistent texture throughout. Since the lower crust is thinner and the filling has been soaking in from the start, you won't have to worry about it being too dry.

Cooking your store-bought pot pie upside down also ensures the bottom crust gets extra crispy. When you cook a frozen pot pie the regular way, the lower crust doesn't always crisp up the way you want because of condensation from freezing combined with the tin pan it comes in. If you flip it over, your crust has a better chance of achieving the desired crunch you seek. You don't have to put it in another pan, either. It should hold its shape as is. It might even cook faster due to the inverted shape, so make sure to keep an eye on it while it is baking to prevent burning.

5. Make dry pot pies moist with creamed soups

There are lots of delicious ways to use canned soups, and pot pies just so happen to be one of them. You may have heard of people using creamed soups inside a pot pie to create a rich, creamy filling, and you may have even tried it before. Either way, it's unlikely you've considered smothering a pie with it, but we are here to tell you it makes a phenomenal ingredient addition. Sure, it might look a little messy, but it easily makes up for it in flavor and creaminess.

Many different canned creamed soups are available, and lucky us, almost all of them complement pot pies. Depending on the type of pot pie you're working with, some may make more sense than others, but creamed vegetable options are almost always a winner. From cream of potato to cream of broccoli to cream of asparagus, they all taste phenomenal when mixed with traditional pot pie flavors. Cream of celery is our favorite because most pot pies start with a helping of celery to create the base flavor. Lastly, cream of chicken makes a fantastic choice when cooking a chicken pot pie. Whatever flavor you select, heat it up and smother your pie with it right before eating, and the dry crust will be a thing of the past.

6. Brush with melted butter or spray with oil for crispy crust all around

Another way to ensure a perfectly crispy crust all around is to brush melted butter across the top or spray it with cooking oil. Just like when you are frying foods, the added fat helps the crust develop a good amount of crunch. You don't need much, either. A thin layer of melted butter or a fine spray of oil will more than suffice. If you add too much, it may actually have the opposite effect. So, avoid saturating the frozen crust to get the desired results.

We strongly recommend removing your store-bought pot pie from its tin and spraying or brushing butter on the bottom side as well. While achieving a crispy bottom layer isn't always that easy with frozen pies, a touch of added oil or butter goes a long way. After applying, simply put it back in the foil pan and proceed according to the directions on the box. In addition to an extra crispy finish, this trick also leads to a more golden-colored finish that many find appealing.

7. Add extra veggies or meat on the top

While frozen store-bought pot pies are generally pretty well constructed, they aren't always stuffed with lots of filling. If you find a particular type of pot pie that you enjoy tends to lack in the filling department, we recommend beefing it up with some extra veggies or meats. You can easily cook some additional ingredients and top your pie with them. Or, you can remove the upper crust and put them inside, but only if you think it will separate without being too much of a hassle. Either way, you'll wind up with a heartier, more filling meal overall.

Thanks to the versatility of savory pot pies, just about any vegetable or meat you have in your fridge or pantry should make a tasty addition. Crumbled bacon is a fan favorite. If you're feeling creative, you can also make a bacon lattice and lay it over the top of your pot pie. Of course, other meats like beef, chicken, and turkey taste good with a pot pie, too. If you want to keep your pie vegetarian or add a ton of nutrition, sauteed or roasted veggies make solid choices. Some of our favorites include caramelized onions, peas, and broccoli with cheese.

8. Top with mashed potatoes for a twist on shepherd's pie

Technically, shepherd's pie and pot pie are not the same thing, but they're pretty darn close. They are both savory, typically meat-filled pies with a few veggies. One of the main differences between the two is the crust, or in shepherd's pie's case, lack thereof. Either way, you can easily take one of the best elements of shepherd's pies, mashed potato topping, and bring it to your store-bought pot pie. Whether it's a chicken pot pie, a vegetarian pot pie with tofu, or something totally different, mashed potatoes come in for the win. They add a creamy, buttery taste and perfectly complement the crunchy crust below.

For the most straightforward application, you can simply spoon a few dollops of mashed potatoes right on top of your store-bought pot pie after it cooks and before you serve it. Or, if you're feeling fancy, take it a step further and put your mashed potatoes in a frosting bag and pipe them on the top the same way you would with an elaborate shepherd's pie. Mix some savory herbs and spices into your mashed potatoes before topping your pot pie with it for an even more flavorful punch.

9. Remove the pot pie's filling and make your own crust

Admittedly, the crust is often the worst part of a frozen, store-bought pot pie. You can typically look at a savory or sweet pie and tell right away whether the crust is homemade or not. In addition to the appearance, the crust is never quite the same after being frozen. It still gets the job done, and with the addition of an egg wash, oil, or butter, it can crisp up nicely, but nothing beats homemade crust in the flavor or texture department. Scratch-made crusts are flaky, buttery, and delicious, whereas frozen crusts often lack taste and crunch. So, if you want to really turn a store-bought pie into a scrumptious dish, deconstruct your pie, extract the filling, and put it inside a crust of your own.

A basic flaky, buttery pie crust won't let you down when it comes to achieving pot pie perfection. They have all the right elements to complement savory pie fillings. Besides, they're traditional for a pot pie, so there's no need to mess with a classic. However, if you feel like playing around, try using biscuits in place of crust. You can smash canned biscuits to make the base layer and place them on top to make the upper crust. When cooked, they puff up to create a fluffy, flavorful top layer perfect for soaking up creamy fillings. Crescent rolls, puff pastry, and phyllo dough also make outstanding options.

10. Smother your pot pie with gravy after baking

Similar to cheese or creamed soup, smothering store-bought pot pies with gravy is another fantastic way to make them taste even better. Gravies are essentially rich, buttery sauces packed with savory flavors, so you can see why they are perfect for pot pies. They share many of the same flavors and spices, so it won't change the taste a ton. However, gravy adds a moist, creamy element that ensures the crust isn't too dry. It also seeps into the filling, leading to enhanced flavor throughout.

The type of gravy you smother a pot pie with must pair well with its filling. Otherwise, you may wind up with contrasting flavors that don't blend together super well. You're unlikely to ruin a store-bought pot pie if you make the wrong gravy choice, but we want to set the bar higher than simply not destroying it, right? So, if you are heating up a chicken pot pie, chicken gravy is the obvious choice. Along these same lines, turkey pot pies go best with turkey gravy, and beef pot pies go best with brown gravy. Veggie pot pies are excellent with vegetable or mushroom gravy. Many pot pies also taste yummy with a sausage gravy. Paired with the right crust, it'll remind you of biscuits and gravy, just with way more ingredients and flavor.

11. Make it zesty with hot sauce or spicy peppers

Sometimes, it seems like there's nothing hot sauce can't fix. It makes even the most boring foods taste zesty while adding a wide array of complex flavors those of us who can stand the heat have come to love. If you fall into this group of people, you've probably experimented with hot sauce on all kinds of dishes, so putting it on your pot pie probably sounds like a drool-worthy addition. Even if you are not a hot sauce fanatic, we recommend giving this flavor pair a try. It adds much more than just heat. From Sriracha to Cholula to Tabsco to boutique hot sauces, something tells us any brand you choose will provide you with excellent, flavorful results.

In addition to hot sauce, spicy peppers can easily be wedged inside a store-bought pot pie, especially once it has been cooked and cut open. You can also top a pot pie with sliced spicy peppers. Jalapenos are the most common, but really any kind works. However, jalapenos come in a jar, pre-sliced, so they are pretty convenient to keep around. If you aren't into super spicy foods, remember to apply sparingly so you don't accidentally overdo it and make your pot pie too spicy to stomach.

12. Finish your pot pie under the broiler

The broil setting on your oven is perfect for melting cheese, toasting bread, and, you guessed it, putting the finishing touches on store-bought pot pie. While you still want to bake it like normal, setting it under the broiler for the last couple of minutes is just what you need to give the upper crust a delectable golden brown color. We recommend using the low broil setting and moving your pot pie up to the top rack while you do.

The broil function on an oven is great and all, but it is scorching and works at rapid speeds. Additionally, considering the close proximity at which you cook items underneath it, you must watch food very closely to prevent burning. Whatever you do, don't put your pot pie under the broiler and forget about it, or it will quickly burn and become virtually inedible. Actually, setting a timer for two or three minutes is best. Then, you can reevaluate and either take it out or broil it for another minute or so until it is ready.

13. Use foil to prevent burning the edges

If you've ever baked a pie and noticed the rim of the upper crust is starting to burn, don't be alarmed. This is normal, and you didn't mess it up. You just need to take steps to prevent it from happening. Placing foil around the edges of a pie crust is an age-old trick used to avoid burning, and let us tell you, it definitely works like a charm. A simple foil rim covering the crust edges is all that is needed to produce evenly browned results. On a small frozen pot pie, it may seem like the foil is taking over the crust, but as long as you keep it to a minimum and wrap it underneath the edges a good amount, most of the top crust will still be exposed.

Pro tip: Make sure you cover the edges of your crust before you start to bake the pot pie. If you forget and don't think about it until you notice the edges becoming black and burnt, all is not lost, but your task will certainly be more difficult. Once it is hot, applying foil tightly on the edges is challenging without burning your fingers.

14. Air fry for faster, crispier cooking

Air fryers are pretty popular these days, and for good reason. Not only are they compact and versatile, but they are highly efficient and convenient. They cook foods in a fraction of the time required by the oven and don't require lengthy preheat times. In fact, preheating isn't really necessary at all, even though some recipes still recommend it. Air fryers also produce crispier foods without the need for additional oil, and this includes store-bought pot pies, so they are viewed as a healthier alternative. All this being said, frozen pot pies are a shoo-in for air fryer cooking. They develop the sought-after golden brown-hued crust we all crave with minimal effort when put in an air fryer.

Unlike the oven, which has hot spots and takes upwards of 30 minutes to bake a frozen pot pie plus time to preheat, an air fryer can have one ready in just about 20 to 25 minutes total. You don't have to take it out of the foil pan it comes in, either. Simply cook at 350 F for 20 minutes, check its progress, and determine if it needs a couple more minutes or not. Most air fryers can also cook two personal pot pies at a time; if you are, they will likely need a couple more minutes.