Posts Tagged ‘WINCO’

The Pie Pan “dutch” Oven

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013



As I mentioned in my A Packable Dutch Oven Perfect for a Tramp” post, I’ve also fashioned a lightweight “Dutch” oven from pie pans and have had surprisingly good luck turning out biscuits, cinnamon rolls and the like.  In fact, until I devised the “tramp” oven, the pie pan oven was my favored method of lightweight baking in the backcountry.

The downside to a pie pan oven is that the thin aluminum can melt if subjected to too much heat.  Though I’ve never seen it, I’ve heard reports of light aluminum pie pans melting when too many coals were used or the oven was foolishly placed over a roaring fire.  When using a pie pan oven, never use more than handful of coals, small twig fires (as in a hobo stove), or the low heat on a single burner backpacking stove.  It will take some experimentation to learn just how much heat you need and how long it takes to bake in one of these but remember, they are made from thin aluminum and it doesn’t take much to heat the interior up in one of these.  Now, let’s go over how to make one of these stoves ~


  • Three heavy duty aluminum 9-inch pie pans (The pans I used were WINCO commercial pie plates (22-gauge seamless aluminum, 10” diameter, 1 ½” deep, 4 1/3 ounces and $4.25 ea.)


  • One 10-32 x ½ (fine thread) brass machine screw
  • Two #10 brass washers
  • One brass #10 wing nut


Drill a center hole large enough to accept the #10 machine screw, through the very center of two (2) of the pans.  I also use two brass #10 flat washers between the pan surfaces and the screwhead and wing nut, respectively.  These are not necessary but I like washers.  The bottom of one upright pan is affixed to the bottom (inverted) pan by using the hardware like so –




The two pans in the photo above have been bolted together.  The pan on the right serves as the upper container for holding coals, briquettes or a twig fire.  The inverted (bottom) pan on the left serves as the cover for the oven.  In use it rests on the third pie pan to create the oven like so ~



Dutch oven author John G. Ragsdale advises that two bolts, located 3 or 4 inches apart, are more secure than a single center bolt and while he may be correct, life is t0o short.  I’ve always used the single center bolt.  Ragsdale also recommends that the outer surfaces of the pans and interior of the upper pan be painted with black stove paint to improve performance.  That step is worthwhile but eventually the outsides will develop a hard, black carbon coating anyway.  I’ve also seen instructions that recommend clamping the edges of the upper pan set to the lower pan but I’ve found that that is not necessary when using heavy duty pans.

When using the pie pan oven over coals or briquettes, you rest bottom pan on three rocks.  The coals should be centered with the support rocks spaced around the outside.  The rocks should be of equal height so the contents of the oven remain level.  John Rasdale prefers to use three tent stakes over rocks as he believes that it is easier to level the pan, but I’ve never had any trouble finding three rocks that I couldn’t level by digging down if need be.

I recommend that you do not use pans made from stock thinner than 22-gauge as they will not hold up to the heat.  The WINCO pans shown here feature rolled edges which makes them very sturdy.  There are deep dish pans made by other manufacturers that would offer greater internal volume.  I have never seen these in stores but can be found online.  Vollrath makes a 9-inch anodized aluminum pie pan, which I consider the creme de la creme of pie pans.  These are made in the USA from 22-gauge anodized aluminum.  However, they are 1/4-inch shallower and cost more than twice that of the WINCO pan.

A set of pie pans and the hardware to assemble the Dutch oven weighs half that of the caldero though the packed size is similar.  However, the thin pie pans do not compare in baking performance to that of the thick cast aluminum of the caldero.  Surprisingly, the caldero was less expensive than purchasing the materials to make this oven.  Still, you might want to experiment with an oven like this to see which type you prefer.