Rated ‘very good’ for general performance and ease of use in our expert tests, we’ve given the thumbs up to the $29 Kmart pie maker. It’s cheap, versatile, and does the job, creating lightly golden snack-sized pies in under 15 minutes. We think it's perfect for no-fuss cooks, busy parents or (self-sufficient) hungry teenagers.
It's the budget appliance that has sent Australians into a pie-cooking frenzy. This $29 pie maker has shot to the top of people's list of favourite Kmart buys and it's even spawned its own Facebook fan club.
Because who doesn't love a golden flaky pie, right?
We certainly do, but we also love appliances that work and don't take up unnecessary bench space, so we put this gadget to the test to see if it delivers the goods.
Plus, we have some top tips to share (including the news of an upcoming family-sized version).
We put the pie maker through its paces in our kitchen labs.
Our pie test: pie maker vs oven
We cooked a few batches of pies in the Kmart pie maker using two different homemade fillings (one sweet, one savoury).
For good measure, we also baked a batch of pies the traditional way in an oven so we could compare (also, because that would mean we could eat extra pies).
"This is a fun little appliance," says CHOICE home economist Fiona Mair. "It's easy to use and gives good results, cooking four pies fairly evenly to lightly golden in eight minutes. It takes five minutes to preheat, which is quicker than an oven, and, once the pies are cooked, you can simply pop them out with a spatula."
Fiona recommends using shortcrust pastry as the base and puff pastry for the top of your pies – this will help keep the bases firm (not soggy) and easy to handle, while giving a nice flakiness on top.
CHOICE tip: The pie maker comes with a plastic pastry cutter, but we found it a little tricky to use, especially if you have arthritis or limited mobility in your hands. You could use a paring knife to cut out your pastry circles instead.
We compared pies cooked in the oven with pies made in the Kmart pie maker.
Is the pie maker better than my oven?
If the thought of squeezing yet another appliance into your kitchen cupboard fills you with Marie-Kondo-related anxiety, we hear you.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with an oven-baked pie. The ones we made in the oven were more flaky, golden and rustic in appearance than the pie-maker versions (if that's what you're into). Plus, we could make a bigger batch in one go.
But, the Kmart pie maker was quicker (although you do need to set your own timer – it doesn't have one) and the 'sandwich'-style of the appliance seals your filling well and gives it a pretty decorative edge. It's not too bulky to store, and it's easy to wipe clean.
The perfect pie filling
"If you have your pastry and fillings ready to go – anything from casserole leftovers to baked beans or tinned fruit – this pie maker is a really simple way to make snack pies in minutes, even if you're not a confident cook," says Fiona.
"You could also easily bake quiches, mini cakes, custard tarts or fried eggs and ham in this, too. There are lots of options if you'd like to get creative."
CHOICE tip: There are recipe sites and social media groups dedicated to Kmart pie-maker hacks and recipe ideas, but the simple filling we voted best was tinned pie apple with mixed spice and a sprinkling of sugar. When pies are baked, you could dust with icing sugar for a pretty finish.
"It's not really suitable if you need to cook big batches of pies, for a party for example, but it's a great option for a simple dinner, for using up leftovers or for teenagers cooking after-school snacks," says Fiona.
You can only cook four snack-size pies at a time, so it'll only feed two people at once (we think two pies with an accompanying side would be enough for a meal).
In our test, the surface areas of the pie maker did get extremely hot, so it's definitely not suitable for kids to use unsupervised.
You also can't 'pre-make' pies to freeze raw and cook later, but you could always cook pies, freeze, then reheat in the oven or microwave.
There's a family-sized version coming…
A Kmart spokesperson has confirmed with us that there's a family-sized version of the pie maker launching in Kmart stores this October. Stay tuned for our verdict once we've tested it.