What Is a Pie Chest? A Complete Guide

What is a pie chest? The simple answer is that a pie chest, also known as a pie safe, is a type of cabinet that was originally invented to protect pies and other baked goods from animals, rodents, or other potential hazards. Today, they are often used for decorative purposes. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at pie safes, their history, and how you can incorporate such antique items into your present-today home decor. Whether you’re looking for a functional piece of kitchen furniture to store pies or a unique decoration, a pie safe is a great option either way!

History of Antique Pie Chests

Pie safes originated from German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the 17th century. It was first named because of its capability to protect pies as well as more baked goods from rats and other animals. The safe has an open-ended shape made from solid wood and is strategically designed to prevent excessive heat. Colonial cooks had the right idea – freshly baked goods such as pies or cake are best kept cool and airy. To ensure this, they cleverly crafted punched tin panels for their pie safes – proving that sometimes history isn’t just a lesson in style, but smart storage tricks too! As time wore on, the pie safe took on broader shapes such as cabinets. Below are a couple of specific models and features of early pie safes:

Pennsylvania Dutch Hanging Pie Chest

This pie safe was built for wall hanging in the early 1800’s. It was designed with special keyhole slots in the back, allowing them to be easily fixed on the wall. It was quickly gleaned that the optimal height for hanging a pie safe is around eye-level, so one can easily access everything inside- many early versions of such a kitchen safe also had built-in shelves for easy organization and display. It also was the earliest version that included a small jelly box that was hidden in the pie safe.

Chest of Drawers Pie Chest

As production expanded in the 19th century, pie safes were also available in larger shapes and were able to have more drawers- becoming a pie cupboard or pie cabinet. The homeowners of bigger estates favored this style of larger furniture to hold pies, because they could not easily be lost!

How Were Pie Chests Made?

They were made with sturdy wood materials such as oak, maple, and pine and were designed to be durable and long-lasting. Pie safes often had two hinged doors—an upper door that featured ornate punched tin design patterns, while the lower door usually opened inward to provide easier access to the items inside. The interiors were lined with metal screens or grids which allowed air to circulate around the stored goods, helping them stay fresher for longer.

How Are Pie Chests Used in the Home?

Nowadays, pie safes are still functional in certain parts of the world but have also become widely popular for their charming rustic look. These wood-crafted pie safes can be a very important piece of any American kitchen, bringing an air of timelessness with it. Such pie safes come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit any taste – from checkered accents to distressed frames, these furniture items make a boldly stylish statement that never goes out of style.

What to Know Before Buying

Any antique pie safe can bring a certain rustic charm to any home, but there are a few factors that you need to take into consideration before making your purchase. From the size of the cabinet to whether or not it has a finished appearance, each pie safe is unique and may require some adjustments to fit your home decor.

Material is another factor to consider – there are pie safes made from different types of wood such as soft pine or yellow pine, so take the time to think about what fits your space best.

Do pie Chests have glass doors or are they made of metal?

Pie safes typically have metal doors, which provide an effective barrier against unwanted visitors. However, some antique pie safes also come with closed doors made of glass, which offer the added bonus of being able to see your delicious treats without having to open the door. In addition to glass, tin doors are designed with special keyholes to fit over the latch and lock from the outside, making it difficult for anyone or anything to get into the pie cabinet without permission. No matter what type of door you choose for your kitchen safe, it will keep your food fresh and ready for eating!

How do locks on Pie Safes work?

The locks typically consisted of a latch and knob, or a window sash lock. The latches and knobs could be made from brass or cast iron, while the window sash locks were usually made from steel. Some pie safes also had ornate pressed tin inserts on the top doors for added security. Today, antique pie safes can still be found with their original lock systems intact, providing an interesting glimpse into the past.

How To Maintain A Pie Chest

To maintain your pie safe, dust it off regularly and keep the metal doors oiled to prevent rust. It’s also important to make sure there are no cracks or holes in the wood that could let pests or other contaminants inside. Finally, inspect all of the hinges, locks, and handles on a regular basis to ensure they are in good working order.

Mold growth can also be a concern when it comes to storing food items in a pie safe. Moisture buildup can occur inside the safe due to condensation, leading to mold growth which can quickly ruin the stored items. To avoid this problem, keep your pie safe in a dry area of the house and make sure it is wiped down regularly. Additionally, maintaining optimal ventilation within the safe through the use of a small fan can also help reduce possible moisture buildup and mitigate any potential issues with mold.

With proper maintenance, your pie safe can last a lifetime and will be an important part of your home decor that can’t easily be lost.


Pie chests aren’t just functional pieces to keep bread, meat, sweets, and other foods safe from insects or vermin, they can also be a beautiful addition to any country home. Besides the covered aspect that their original use was well-suited for, one can also extend their practicality with additional shelves or even an extra drawer for storage. If you’re looking to add some extra character to your country decor, then pie safes are ideal! Shop through our selection today and find the one that’s right for you – you’ll love how it ties your kitchen together in true rustic fashion.

  • Post Categories

  • Subscribe

  • Looking for exclusive deals and news? Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date!

  • Featured Products

You May Also Like