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Why does my chicken pot pie get watery?

Having a watery chicken pot pie can be a frustrating experience. You carefully make the filling and dough, assemble the pie, and bake it to perfection – only to cut into it later and find the filling swimming in liquid. Where did all that extra moisture come from? Read on to learn the common causes of watery chicken pot pies and tips to keep your pies nice and thick.

Common Causes of Watery Chicken Pot Pies

There are a few main culprits that can lead to a watery pot pie filling:

Using Too Much Liquid in the Filling

One of the most common reasons pot pie fillings end up watery is because too much liquid was added to the filling in the first place. Many chicken pot pie recipes call for adding some type of liquid like milk, cream, broth, or even water to the filling. This helps add flavor and moisture. However, add too much and you’ll end up thinning out the filling.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to add just enough liquid to the filling to moisten it without making it soupy. About 1/4 to 1/2 cup total of liquid for a 9-inch pie is usually sufficient. Be especially careful about overdoing it on the liquids if you’re also adding juicy vegetables like tomatoes or zucchini.

Not Properly Thickening the Filling

Another common mistake is not properly thickening the pot pie filling. Most recipes rely on a thickener like flour, cornstarch, or tapioca starch to add body and prevent the filling from becoming watery. If you forget to add the thickener or don’t use enough, the filling will likely be too thin once baked.

Be sure to whisk the flour or other starch thoroughly into the filling to prevent lumps. You’ll generally need 2-4 tablespoons of flour or 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to sufficiently thicken a standard 9-inch pot pie filling. Let the mixture bubble for at least 1 minute after adding the thickener to properly activate it and thicken the filling.

Overpacking the Dough Shell

While the filling itself is usually to blame for watery pot pies, putting too much filling into the pie shell can also cause problems. If you overstuff the shell, the filling has nowhere to go as it cooks and the expanding pie dough pushes down on it. This can force the liquid out of the filling and into the bottom of the pie plate.

Try not to overfill the pot pie shell – leave at least 1/2-inch of space between the top of the filling and crust. This gives the filling a bit of room to bubble up without making a mess.

Not Venting the Crust

If steam and moisture build up inside the pot pie but have no way to escape, it can lead to a watery filling. That’s why it’s important to vent the top crust before baking. Simply cut a few slits or decorative shapes in the top crust with a sharp knife. This allows steam to vent out of the pie while it bakes.

Skipping this crucial step traps all that moisture inside, which condenses and drips down into the filling. Just be sure not to cut the vents too close together or the crust won’t hold together.


Believe it or not, overbaking is another offender when it comes to watery pot pies. If the pie bakes longer than necessary, moisture from the juicy filling will continue evaporating into steam. Since there’s no place for that steam to escape once the crust forms, it condenses back into liquid on the inside of the pie. The result is a soggy bottom crust and filling.

Be careful not to overbake the pie. Your recipe’s baking time is just an estimate. Start checking the pot pie 5-10 minutes before the minimum baking time. As soon as the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, the pie is done. The filling will continue to thicken as it cools.

Tips to Avoid Watery Chicken Pot Pies

Luckily, with a few simple tweaks you can help prevent a watery pot pie filling:

Use an Absorbent Crust

The type of pastry you use for the top crust can make a difference in how well it absorbs moisture released from the filling. Flakier pastries like puff pastry are ideal because they have layers of butter that help block moisture. You can also brush the bottom crust with egg wash before adding the filling – this seals it so it doesn’t get soggy.

Blind Bake the Bottom Crust

Baking the bottom crust solo before you add the filling (called blind baking) helps ensure it stays crispy. Prick the bottom crust all over with a fork before baking to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg wash or sprinkle bread crumbs over the crust before blind baking for even more protection.

Chill the Filling First

Let the filled pot pie chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes before baking. This allows the filling to firm up a bit, which prevents it from becoming too loose and runny when baked. Just don’t chill it longer or the filling may over-thicken.

Bake at a High Temperature

Baking the pot pie at a slightly higher oven temperature (425°F instead of 400°F) sets the crust faster so moisture can’t seep in as readily. The high heat also kicks off more initial evaporation from the filling.

Let the Pie Rest Before Serving

After baking, allow the pot pie to sit for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing. This allows the filling to set up and thicken as it cools. Cutting into the pie too soon can cause liquid from the still-loose filling to run out.

Use a Thickening Agent

If your pot pie still seems watery, stir a little cornstarch (1-2 teaspoons) into the hot filling after baking to tighten it up. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken. For quicker results, you can also transfer the baked filling to a saucepan and briskly simmer it for 1-2 minutes to evaporate excess moisture.

Ingredient Substitutions to Reduce Moisture

You can also modify the ingredients you use in your filling to cut down on excess moisture:

Use Boneless, Skinless Chicken

Chicken with the skin and bones left on releases more moisture and collagen when cooked. Opt for boneless, skinless thighs or breasts to minimize liquid. Just be sure not to overcook them or they may dry out.

Go Easy on Juicy Veggies

Skip very watery vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and bell peppers or use them sparingly. Filling the pie with starchy veggies like potatoes, peas, and carrots instead helps soak up more liquid.

Use Dry White Wine

If the recipe calls for adding wine, dry white wine adds flavor with less moisture compared to red wine. Or, skip the wine altogether and use chicken broth instead for a kid-friendly pie.

Substitute Cream Cheese

Cream cheese makes a great substitute for milk or cream in fillings. It adds a similar richness but with less moisture. Just blend it smooth with the other filling ingredients.

Toast the Flour

Toasting the flour briefly before using it as a thickener helps remove any moisture, allowing it to thicken the filling more effectively. Just cook it over medium heat while stirring for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden.

Common Question and Answers

Here are some frequent questions and answers about preventing watery chicken pot pies:

How can I thicken my chicken pot pie filling?

Stir in a slurry of 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch whisked into 1-2 tablespoons cold water. Gently simmer the filling for 1-2 minutes to activate the cornstarch. Let the pot pie rest for 10-15 minutes after baking so the filling can thicken.

What causes a soggy bottom crust?

Overfilling the pie, not venting the crust, and underbaking are common causes. Try blind baking the bottom crust, and use parchment paper to line the pie plate.

Should I bake my chicken pot pie covered or uncovered?

Covering the crust with foil at first helps ensure it doesn’t over-brown before the filling is done. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for the last 10-15 minutes so the crust browns.

Can I reheat leftover chicken pot pie?

Yes, leftovers can be reheated in the oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until warmed through. The filling will thicken up more as it sits. Add a little milk or cream if it seems too dry.

Should I pre-cook my chicken for pot pie?

Partially pre-cooking boneless chicken breasts or thighs (poaching, sautéing) before adding them to the filling helps minimize moisture released during baking.


With a few simple filling, crust, and baking tweaks, you can keep your homemade chicken pot pies from turning watery. Be careful not to overfill the crust, vent it properly, and don’t overbake. Reduce excess moisture in the filling itself by limiting liquids, using dry ingredients, and thickening it well. Letting the pie rest before serving allows the filling to set up. Follow these tips and your pot pies will turn out perfectly flaky and moist but never watery.