Simply Perfect Homemade Pie Crust
The most perfect homemade pie crust! Tender, flaky layers and a rich, buttery taste, made completely from scratch. No partially hydrogenated oils or artificial ingredients.
*This post originally published on November 12, 2013. I thought it was about time the pics were updated. So, many of the photos you see here now are new and improved. I’ve also added more answers to some frequently asked questions, but most everything else is exactly the same as it ever was! Hopefully you’ll enjoy this flaky pie crust recipe as much as my family and I do.*
Well, all of this laying around and recuperating has meant one thing for me: tv.
I’m not normally much of a tv person. I mean, the tv is always on around my house, don’t get me wrong. But usually it’s tuned in to Paw Patrol, Max and Ruby, or Peppa Pig.
When it’s not kid-tv, it’s sports. Mr. Allie is the biggest sports freak in all the land, and he’s happy as a lark to keep the tv on ESPN 24/7.
So, for most of the day, I busy myself with other things. At the end of a full day, I like to flip over to Food Network or Cooking Channel, and zone out to a recipe show or two.
These last few weeks have afforded me a lot more time for that sort of thing, and I’ve really had the opportunity to analyze the programming on these channels. This is what I’ve found: during the day, there are so many great shows on both Food Network and Cooking Channel. I mean, I love it. There’s nothing better than watching a lovely person in their spotless and airy kitchen, cooking up fabulous treats, and talking to you like you’re best friends from way back. It’s so comforting! Like, yes, I think you’re wonderful, and you want to cook for me? I’d love to watch you cook for me…
At around 5:30 pm, something changes. All of a sudden, all the lovely ladies and kitchens go away, and suddenly things get really aggressive and competition-y. This is not comforting. At all. I do not like all the fighting and clock-ticking and challenging and eliminating. This is no longer enjoyable. I’m now sitting on the edge of my seat and tense and worried, and where did all the yummy recipes go???
This is not what I come to Food Network and Cooking Channel for.
Food Network and Cooking Channel, please take note: lots of us can’t/don’t watch tv during the daytime. But we like recipe shows! Not game shows!
All that being said, I really enjoyed a show that aired a few nights ago. It was all about pie. Sigh! Pie. So comforting. So old-timey. Such tradition, and such a great way to take all that love that is just bursting out of your heart, put it in a dish, and feed it to your family.
And at this time of year, we all have our eyes on pies, as we are hurtling headlong into Thanksgiving baking, and what is arguably the most pie-centric time of the year.
So, I thought this would be a good time for me to share my absolute favorite pie crust recipe and method.
Has spring sprung for you yet? The calendar says it’s mid-April, but for some reason the weather is not cooperating here. We’re looking at another week of temps in the low 40’s, but I’m not letting it get me down! I’m moving right ahead with all my favorite spring recipes.
Because we all know that eventually the seasons will change, and with that change will come all sorts of glorious seasonal fruits, I thought we could talk about pie today.
There is just nothing nicer that a homemade pie! It’s so comforting and old-fashioned. Such tradition, and such a great way to take all that love that is just bursting out of your heart, put it in a dish, and feed it to your family.
But before you can make a really wonderful homemade pie, you need to have a good understanding of pie crust.
Pie crust can often be a bit challenging, but over the years I’ve worked out a technique that I love, and I think you will too! It’s pretty simple (although there is a bit of down time while it chills), and the result is always flaky, tender, buttery, and delish!
PIE CRUST WITH BUTTER VS. PIE CRUST WITH SHORTENING
All-butter pie crust sounds just wonderful, but I have found that it’s often a bit tough. A little bit of vegetable shortening goes a long way to tenderize the pie crust. Shortening creates a pie crust that is tender; butter will make a pie crust that is flaky. A little bit of both has always been the way to go, for me.
But I think we can all agree that shortening is maybe not the healthiest option. It’s made from partially hydrogenated oil, which is a chemically altered product and is really not good for us.
The good news is, oil will work just as well. Just a few tablespoonfuls added to the flour and salt, stirred in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, and you have a heart-healthier pie crust with all the tenderness of your granny’s classic.
WHAT KIND OF OIL CAN BE USED IN PIE CRUST?
I’ve yet to find an oil that I don’t like in my homemade pie crust. The options are truly limitless, and I would recommend you start by thinking about what kind of filling your pie will have, and then choose something that would compliment it well. Here are a few ideas:
For the step-by-step pictures you see here, I chose to use a light, floral olive oil. If you can get your hands on a fruitier olive oil, the subtle flavor can compliment even a sweeter pie in a really nice way.
MY SECRET TRICK FOR THE FLAKIEST-EVER HOMEMADE PIE CRUST
With the exception of using liquid oil instead of shortening, the ingredients and their ratio are pretty standard here. You could dump everything in a food processor, pulse, refrigerate, and roll out your crust as usual, and you’d have a perfectly delicious scratch-made pie crust.
But if you really want to take your pie-baking skills to the next level, I have a genius hack for you!
Once the disks of dough have had a rest in the fridge, and give each one a quick roll, to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Then fold into thirds, like a letter, give it a quarter turn and another fold, and roll again. Repeat on more time, then refrigerate for another hour.
All this folding and rolling is what creates the gorgeous flaky layers. It’s called “laminating the dough,” and it’s the same technique that’s used when making croissants or puff pastry.
Be sure to keep everything really cold while you’re working. You don’t want those layers of butter to soften or melt. They should be cold when they go into the oven, so steam is released and the layers open up.
CAN I MAKE HOMEMADE PIE CRUST AHEAD?
You absolutely can.
The dough will keep in the fridge for several days.
You can also make the pie dough a few weeks beforehand and freeze, just to make the prep a little easier on yourself. The laminated disks of dough can be defrosted in the refrigerator a day or two before you’re ready to roll them out.
Or, if you have the room in your freezer, you can roll and place in the pie pan, and freeze it that way.
This recipe makes enough for two single crust pies, or one double crust. Or you could do a lattice top pie! So pretty…
The proof is in the pudding! This is the mark of true pie crust success, to me:
Can you even get over those flaky layers???
HOW TO ROLL PIE CRUST
Using a rolling pin and even pressure, start in the center of the disk of dough, and work your way outward. Make sure to dust your work surface and the dough with plenty of flour, to avoid sticking. Every so often, give the dough a 90-degree turn so that it’s rolled to an even thickness. If you notice the dough is warming up or the butter seems soft, pop it right back into the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes. Then, roll the dough out to about an inch larger than your pie pan, trim off any excess, and crimp the edge.
HOW LONG TO BAKE PIE CRUST
It all depends on what kind of a pie you’re making. Some fillings need a longer bake time than others. While some pie recipes will direct you to par-bake the crust before filling. And some fillings don’t get baked at all! It’s best to follow the instructions for whatever pie recipe you are making, but just for reference, the blind-baked crust you see in many of these pics was baked for 35 minutes at 375 degrees F.
WHAT IS THIS PIE CRUST RECIPE GOOD FOR?
This is a great recipe for just about any kind of pie. It works well for quiche too! Or savory pies like chicken pot pie.
HOMEMADE PIE CRUST TROUBLESHOOTING
Why does my pie crust shrink?
If you overwork the dough, it will develop the glutens in the flour and cause things to become elastic. This is good for bread, but bad for pie crust! When the dough is baked it might shrink away from the sides of the pan. So be sure to stop stirring/kneading just as soon as everything comes together!
Why is my pie crust tough?
Same idea as above. An overworked pie dough will yield a tough pie crust. You also want to be careful not to add too much liquid. Add the ice water just a tablespoon at a time, and stop just as soon as your ingredients are moistened enough to hold the shape of a ball when squeezed together. Bear in mind that the pie dough will become more hydrated as it chills.
Why is my pie crust soggy on the bottom?
If you are baking a homemade pie with a wet filling, your pie crust may absorb some of that moisture. A good way to avoid this is to par-bake the crust (before filling) for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. You can also brush it with egg wash (one large egg beaten with about 2 tablespoons of water) before par-baking, to create a barrier between the crust and the filling. This is also a great way to give your double-crust or lattice-top pies a gorgeous sheen and golden brown color.
Why does my pre-baked pie crust poof up in the middle?
During the cooking process, any air that may be trapped between your homemade pie crust and the bottom of the dish will expand. Try to press out any air bubbles, and use a the tines of a fork to “dock” (or pierce little holes) in the bottom of the pie crust, to release the steam. You can also use pie weights or dry beans to hold everything down while baking.
The edges of my pie crust are burnt before the center is cooked.
If you notice that the edges of your crust are browning more quickly than the rest, you can cover them with foil or use a pie shield. This will help everything to bake more evenly.
Any time you want to encase anything in a flaky, buttery pastry, this is the pie crust recipe to use.
If you’re looking at a recipe, and it calls for “prepared pie crust,” or “refrigerated pie dough,” use this recipe! Everything is always better when it’s made from scratch.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Chocolate Pecan Pie
- Lemon Meringue Pie
- Pumpkin Pie
- Chocolate Cream Pie
- Apple Pie
- Gooey Butter Pie
- Peach Blueberry Pot Pies
- Citrus Galette
- Cinnamon Hazelnut Breakfast Pastries
- Irish Apple Amber
- Baked Nutella Ravioli
** WATCH THIS QUICK VIDEO TO SEE HOW IT’S DONE! **
Find even more great pie recipes on my “Pies & Tarts” Pinterest board!
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Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
Add the oil, and stir until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Cut the butter into thin slices and toss in the flour mixture to coat.
Dribble ice water in, a tablespoon at a time, mixing just until the mixture can hold it’s shape. (You may need slightly more or less water.)
Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two disks. Wrap the disks tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Roll the dough out to ¼” thickness, and fold into thirds. Fold into thirds again, then one more time, and refrigerate for another hour, or freeze for later use.
If frozen, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight.
Unwrap the dough and roll to about two inches larger than the diameter of your pie plate.
Slip the dough into the ungreased pie plate, and prick with a fork. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
Baking time will vary according to pie filling. Crust should be a deep golden color, and flaky.
This recipe makes enough for one double-crust or two single-crust pies.
A few more great crust recipes:
Next time I’m going to show you my favorite apple pie filling. It’s so good! I mean it’s basic but all the important stuff is there, and you can dress it up with whatever fancy ideas you might have (salted caramel, just sayin’). I love how it’s totally stuffed to capacity with the most juicy apples, that are firm and toothsome, not mushy or watery. Just wait! You’re going to love it!
PS- If you are looking to stock your recipe box with some really stellar basic recipes, you came to the right place! I’ve been baking for, ahem, 20-some odd years, cough-cough, so I’ve played with lots of recipes. Check out these other recipes from my “Simply Perfect” series (just click the pic to view the recipe):
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