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Learn how to make pie crust from crust. This is an easy homemade flaky pie crust recipe and tutorial. I have a step by step photo tutorial, with video. If you think a flaky pie crust is out of your reach, think again!
Perfect flaky pie crust. Sounds like catching a Unicorn doesn’t it? I assure you it isn’t.
When it comes to making a foolproof flaky pie crust, it’s not just about the recipe but learning a bit how and why with each step. In other words let’s nerd out a bit on the science behind making a flaky pie crust.
Which Fat Is Best For A Pie Crust?
I love an all butter crust because of the flavor, but my this flaky pie crust recipe uses a mix of both butter and shortening, which also has its benefits.
I’ve never used lard in my crusts, but I know some people do like using it, especially in a savory pie. It can create a very flaky pie crust so I’m told, but finding good quality rendered leaf lard that won’t have a strong piggy flavor might be tough to find in your local grocery store.
You could also use a liquid oil as your choice of fat for each pie crust, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil. A great option if you need to make a vegan pie crust! But an oil pie crust create a crumbly dough that’s tough to roll out.
Here is a quick rundown of some pros and cons between my two favorite options – butter and shortening.
Pros: Brings the most flavor. I mean butter makes it all better doesn’t it? Butter contains water, which can result in the water turning to steam. That steam will push apart the flour layers, puffing up your crust and creating one lovely flaky crust. A nice light texture can be achieved with all butter. Butter is 80-85% fat, and 15-20% water. Whereas, shortening is 100% fat.
Cons: Butter has a lower melting point than shortening or lard, and therefore can be tougher to work with. So if it gets too warm, it can become too soft to work with and tear easily. If you do choose butter, just make sure to chill your dough if it looks like it’s becoming soft and tearing.
Vegetable shortening is 100% fat. It’s usually hydrogenated vegetable oil made from palm, cottonseed, or soybean oil. It has a higher melting point than butter.
Pros: Because of it’s higher melting point, it tends to hold its shape better which makes its easier to work with making a lattice pie crust, or any fun, pretty pie crust designs. The edges and designs will keep their shape while baking. It’s also perfect if you need to make a vegan pie crust for someone since it’s made from vegetable oil.
Cons: Has zero flavor since it’s basically just grease. And since it is all fat, it can also leave a greasy mouthfeel.
New to making pie crust? If you’re new to making pie crust I highly recommend using a combination of butter and shortening. It will be easier to work with, you will still get flaky layers, and flavor from the butter.
- Mixing bowls (I always recommend metal or glass, but not plastic. Plastic can retain odors and grease over time.)
- Measuring spoons <–I love my magnetic double-sided measuring spoons!!!
- Glass measuring cup (for the ice water)
- Kitchen scale <– my new favorite gadget.I recommend using this to measure the ingredients and to evenly divide your dough)
- Pastry blender (if making by hand), Food processor, or stand mixer
- Spatula <– I highly recommend a spatula that is 100% silicone. That way the handle doesn’t seperate or become a home for some nasty mold and bacteria!
To make a complete pie, start to finish, be sure to check out my 9 favorite pie tools
How To Make A Pie Crust By Hand
Before we begin. It’s super important your to talk about temperature when making a pie crust. Your ingredients should be COLD. Cold, Cold, Cold. You want cold butter. Cold water. Cold shortening. I have even heard of people putting their flour in the freezer (although I don’t get that far). Just make sure before you begin, your ingredients are cold.
- Measure out flour. Measure out your all purpose flour (properly measured).
- Add the salt.
- Add the sugar (I’ve omitted this and it’s still great but can help with tenderizing the crust. For proper accuracy, it’s best to use a kitchen scale.
- Then go ahead and stir with a fork.
- Add your shortening.
- Mix in the shortening with a pastry blender. or you can squish it in with your fingertips by squishing the bigger pieces until they’re smaller. –
- Grate in your butter.
- Then fluff the mixture together with your fork.
- Your mixture should be crumbly and butter evenly incorporated. You can also do this with a pastry cutter and cut the butter in. Or if you don’t own either you can do this with your fingertips and squish the butter pieces between your fingertips. Pro Tip: You want your butter to be very cold (frozen is best!) 10.
- Add water. Add in a tablespoon of ice water one at a time and then stir. The amount of water you add will vary depending on the weather (and humidity). So add one tablespoon at a time, and then stir together.
- You want the dough to look shaggy but then when you squeeze the dough it should stick together.
- Refrigerate crust. If making a double crust, then divide the dough (again a kitchen scale works best for this) and shape into a round disc and wrap in plastic wrap. And refrigerate for at least 30 minutes!
HEATHER’S BAKING TIP: Dump your pie crust mixture into a clean dish towel. Bring up the ends and twist to make like a little purse. This will bring the crust mixture together and press it into one cohesive mass. Then unwrap the towel and transfer the mixture to plastic wrap. Wrap up and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes. Can also be done ahead time – up to 3 days.
How Do I Make A Pie Crust In A Food Processor?
I used to be very anti-food processor for my pie dough. Why? Did I think I was going against all grandmas everywhere? Sure there’s a risk of overworking your dough. But if you use the pulse feature you should be all set to make wonderfully flaky pie crust in your food processor.
If you’re really nervous about overworking your dough, then you can always stir your water in by hand. But I love using my food processor for how fast it comes together.
- Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Give it a quick pulse to combine it.
- Add the shortening and pulse it together. Scatter the cold butter over, give it a few quick pulses until most of the pieces are pea-sized. Some can be bigger. And some can be smaller.
- Add your water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between. Most recipes call for a varying amount, and this is due to how well the fat was cut in. So it always vary. I start with the minimum called for. I like to give it a “pinch test” to see if it holds together. If it doesn’t, then I add another tablespoon and repeat.
- Then I place my mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap to wrap it out and form it into a disc. If it’s a double pie crust, I divide the dough in half and wrap each disc up and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
How To Roll And Crimp Your Pie Dough
To properly roll your dough and place into your pie pan I recommend using a pastry mat. I love the non-stick surface and the measurements so I can ensure I’ve rolled enough.
- Sprinkle your surface with a bit of flour. You just want to slightly flour your surface so you don’t incorporate too much extra flour into your dough.
- Roll out your dough. If your dough is sticking you can always pop it back into the fridge. If your dough is breaking, it may be too dry. Add a few sprinkles of water to the dough.
- To see if your dough has been rolled out large enough, turn your pie plate upside down. The pie dough should be larger than your pie plate.
- Using your rolling pin, roll your pie dough over the pin so it’s completely rolled around it (like a roll of paper towels!)
- With your pie dough rolled around the pin, roll it out over the pie plate.
- Trim the overhang with a pair of kitchen shears, leaving about a 1 -inch overhang.
- For a single crust: Fold the extra pie dough under creating an edge. For a double crust, repeat steps 1-6 and fold both top and bottom dough under to create an edge.
- Crimp the edges. For 4 easy ways to crimp and decorate your pie crust, read this post.
- At this point, I like to pop my crust into the fridge to firm up the crust and butter. I do this for 30 minutes.
Pie Crust Troubleshooting
- Soggy Bottom – This could be from baking your pie crust too high up in the oven. I always recommend baking your pies in the lower third of the oven. Also use a glass pie plate so you can see the bottom. I find if I use a ceramic dish I end up with a soggier pie crust.
- Pie crust is crumbly. Your pie crust is too dry. You need to add a little more water. A spray bottle works best for this.
- Pie crust breaks when transferring to your pie plate – Transfer carefully by rolling the crust over your rolling pin, or folding into quarters first. The good thing is you can usually patch it back together with some scraps or press it back together.
- Pie crust shrinks when it bakes. The pie crust may have been too warm. I like to chill my pie crust at 3 stages – after mixing together, after it’s shaped into the pan, and once more when it’s completely assembled to make sure the crust is perfectly cold before baking. If it shrinks during blind baking, it could be because you didn’t fill up the pie plate enough with your pie weights or dried beans.
- Pie crust is pale (underbaked). Throw it back in the oven for longer! Make sure to brush the crust with an eggwash to help with browning. Just mix an egg with 1 tablespoon of water and then brush on before baking.
- Pie crust is tough. You probably overworked your dough. Or added too much water. Unfortunately there’s no real fixing it at this point. Just add some extra ice-cream or scoop of whipped cream on top. Pie crust takes practice!
Cold butter is key! You want the butter to be cold so it is solid when going into the oven. Also cold butter will not incorporate as well into the dough. So you will be left with pockets of visible butter. That’s a good thing.
The butter when it hits the oven will create steam which will expand the dough (aka lots of yummy flaky layers!)
And that’s why we want everything else cold as well! So we don’t melt that butter before it has a chance to get into the oven.
I know shortening can make people a bit squeamish, but it’s on of the few times that I swear by shortening. Shortening has a higher melting point than butter so it’s easier to incorporate than butter and will help to create those flaky layers. Shortening will also be easier when creating a decorative pie crust because it holds it’s shape better during the baking process! You can also use organic vegetable shortening which is what I use.
We need to refrigerate the pie dough after making it to relax the gluten strands. This will help make the pie crust tender and also easier to roll out. It will also help to cut down on any shrinking during the baking process because it will chill the butter again.
More Pie Tutorials
- 13 Tips For Perfect Pie Crust
- 9 Tips To Make The Best Pie From Scratch
- How To Blind Bake A Crust
- 9 Must Have Pie Baking Tools
Pie Recipes To Try
Flaky Pie Crust
- Prepare your ice water for later use. I simply take a glass measuring cup and measure out about 1/2 cup of water and add a few ice cubes. Place this in the refrigerator to keep cold until ready to use.
- In a mixing bowl, combine your flour, salt and sugar and whisk to combine. (If using a food processor, process until combined for about 5 seconds). Or you can do this in your stand mixer with your paddle attachment.
- Scatter shortening over the top and using a fork (or pastry blender) work the shortening in until it resembles coarse crumbs. (For the food processor method, pulse for about 10 seconds). Or turn your hand mixer on until the shortening is pea-sized – about 30 seconds on medium.
- Using a food grater, grate the butter into the bowl. If your hands are warming up the butter, use the butter wrapper to protect the butter. (For the food processor, cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces first, then scatter over the top and pulse to combine about 10 pulses.). For the stand mixer: turn the mixer on medium for about 30 seconds. If there are still some large pieces, just simply squish those with your fingertips.
- Take your ice water from the fridge. Add one tablespoon at a time and stir the dough after each addition. The dough will need about 4-6 tablespoons of water, but can vary. Once the dough begins to stick together, do not add any more water.
- Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press the dough together into a round disc. Keeping the plastic wrap between your hands and the dough press the dough together. (I use my knuckles for this step to “smoosh” the dough together!). Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.
- When ready to roll out the dough, let the dough sit out for a few minutes to soften slightly.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured counter. Loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin and gently unroll into your 9-inch pie plate, allowing the excess dough to hang over the edge. Ease the dough into the pie plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with the other hand. Leave any dough that overhangs the plate in place.
- Trim the excess dough to 1/2 inch beyond the lip of the plate. Tuck the overhand under itself. The folded should be flush with the edge of the pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around the edge of the pie using your fingers. Wrap the pie loosely in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or freezer for 30 minutes until firm.
- For a partially baked crust: Line pie shell with aluminum foil, covering edges to protect from burning and fill with pie weights. Bake until pie dough looks dry and and is light in color about 22 to 25 minutes. About halfway through, remove the pie weights so the bottom of the pie crust can cook through and lose its "rawness". Transfer pie plate to wire rack and remove weights and foil. (Crust must still be warm when filling is added.)
- For a fully baked crust: Line pie shell with aluminum foil, covering edges to protect from burning and fill with pie weights. Bake until pie dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove weights and foil and continue to bake crust until deep golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Transfer pie plate to wire rack and let crust cool completely, about 1 hour.
- If your dough is sticking you can always pop it back into the fridge. If your dough is breaking, it may be too dry. Add a few sprinkles of water to the dough.
- This dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to a month.
- If using frozen dough, let the dough thaw completely on the counter before rolling out.
- If you are not sure if you have rolled the dough to the correct size, use your pie plate as a guide. Turn the pie plate upside down onto your dough. There should be about 3 inches extra in diameter of the dough.