Homemade Pie Crust Recipe
The most perfect homemade pie crust recipe! Tender, flaky layers & a rich, buttery taste. Easy to make; completely from scratch.
*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 homemade pie crust recipe as much as my family and I do.*
*Updated and republished again (from April 10, 2018) with even more useful info and FAQ’s.*
There is just nothing nicer than homemade pie! It’s so comforting and old-fashioned. Such nostaglia, 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 the ones you love.
But before you can make a really wonderful homemade pie, you need to have a great pie crust recipe.
This one is perfect. It bakes up so unbelievably flaky and tender, with a rich, buttery taste. It’s pretty simple to make with just a handful of ingredients you probably already have on hand. You’ll only have one bowl to wash, and it takes just 15 or 20 minutes of active time.
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 a pretty easy recipe (although there is a bit of downtime while it chills), and the result is always flaky, tender, buttery, and delish!
Every time I make a pie using this special technique, people just can’t believe how flaky the crust is!
PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS
This easy recipe has just 5 simple ingredients. You probably already have most of them on hand!
- Ice water
That’s it! Pretty simple right? Now just a few words about each of these ingredients.
All-purpose flour is best for this recipe. You can try making it with whole wheat or alternative flours, but if you do, you may need slightly more or less water.
I use kosher salt for almost all my baking because there are no additives (so the flavor is pure), and also because it’s a very inexpensive product to buy.
If you’d prefer to use another type of salt, just google “kosher salt to [your preferred type of salt] conversion” to find out how much more or less of it you should use for this recipe.
Many pie crust recipes call for all butter, or a combination of butter and shortening. I really like this combination because shortening yields more of a tender crust, while butter creates flakiness, so this way you get the best of both worlds.
But sadly shortening is not the healthiest option, so a few years back I started experimenting with oil instead. Guess what? It works beautifully!
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 melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of your granny’s classic.
That said, if you really don’t want to use oil, you can substitute with 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening, lard, or butter. Cut it into the flour/salt mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, and then proceed with the recipe as usual.
WHAT KIND OF OIL SHOULD BE USED?
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 choosing something that would compliment it well.
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 complement even a sweeter pie in a really nice way.
Butter is really the star of the show in this pie crust recipe. It imparts a rich flavor like nothing else, and it also creates all those gorgeous, flaky layers that we all long for in homemade pie crust.
Be sure to use unsalted butter when you make this recipe- that way you can control the amount of salt in your final result. I’d love to be able to tell you how much salt to cut back to if you want to use regular, salted butter instead, but the fact is, different brands use different amounts of salt in their product, so it’s really inconsistent and impossible for me to say.
Also, make sure your butter is ice cold! The colder the butter, the better your pastry will come out.
Again, cold pastry dough is best, so when adding water to your pie dough, make sure it’s ice cold.
The amount of water you will need can vary based on environmental factors. You may need slightly more if it’s a very dry day, or less if it’s humid. For me, it’s usually *around* 1/2 cup, but just stir it in a tablespoon at a time, continuing to add until the proper consistency is achieved.
And err on the side of less! Too-wet dough can bake up tough and it can shrink as it bakes. Plus the dough will continue to hydrate as it chills, so what goes in looking dry and crumbly can often come out of the fridge just perfect.
HOW TO MAKE PIE CRUST FROM SCRATCH
To make this recipe, start by placing the flour and salt in a large bowl.
Give them a quick stir with a whisk, to get them combined.
Then add in your oil (or shortening or additional butter, if that’s the route you’re going). Use the whisk (or a pastry blender) to work everything together.
You should then have a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs.
Now it’s time to add the butter. I use a special technique that creates the most unbelievably flaky result! (More on that below.) For this technique, you want the pieces of butter to be relatively large, so just cut the butter into thin slices (about 1/8-inch).
Toss them in the flour mixture to get them coated.
Next comes cold water. Dribble in about a tablespoon at a time, while stirring. You may need a little less or a little more water, depending, so look carefully at your dough as it’s coming together to determine how much to add.
When it looks a bit crumbly, but you can squeeze a handful together and it holds its shape, you’re done!
Tumble it out of the bowl and onto a big sheet of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to squeeze it into a flat disc, press down on it firmly to flatten and compress it even more, and pop it into the fridge to chill.
MY SECRET TRICK FOR THE FLAKIEST-EVER HOMEMADE PIE CRUST
With the exception of using liquid oil instead of shortening, the ingredients here and their ratio are pretty standard. 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 disc of dough has had a rest in the fridge, divide it in two and give each half 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.
At first, the dough might seem really crumbly, but as you continue to roll and fold, the glutens will develop a bit and it will become more cohesive.
You can see exactly what this looks like when you watch the video embedded in the recipe card below. (Just be sure to turn off your adblocker because that could prevent it from displaying!)
As you roll, the butter flattens out into big streaks that are sandwiched in between layers of dough. When the cold butter hits the hot oven, the steam is released and that opens up the layers.
Just make sure the dough stays cold as you’re working it! If you notice it getting soft or melty, put it right into the fridge or freezer until it stiffens back up.
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, rolling pin, 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, fold it into quarters, and transfer it to the dish, easing it down the sides and into the bottom.
Trim off any excess, then fold the edge under and crimp it.
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?
It absolutely can.
The dough will keep in the fridge (tightly wrapped) 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 thawed in the refrigerator a day or two before you’re ready to roll them out.
Or, if you have room in your freezer, you can roll it and place in the pie pan, and freeze it that way.
You could even roll it into a large circle, place a sheet of parchment paper on top, then roll it into a tight cylinder, just the same way store-bought pie crust is sold. Place this in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out.
HOW LONG TO BAKE PIE CRUST
It all depends on what kind of 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, 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 here was baked for 35 minutes at 375 degrees F.
WHAT IS THIS GOOD FOR?
Below are some of the most common pie crust problems, and how to avoid them.
WHY DOES MY PIE CRUST SHRINK?
There are 2 main causes of pie crust shrinkage:
- Too much water in the dough.
- Overworking the dough.
When you’re mixing up your dough, add the ice water just a tablespoon or so at a time. Depending upon the humidity levels in your kitchen, you may need slightly more or less water. You’ll know you’ve got enough water in when you can take a handful of dough and squeeze it together, and it holds its shape.
In the bowl, it may look really crumbly or scrappy, but as it chills in the refrigerator, the particles of flour will continue to hydrate. What seems overly dry at first will become surprisingly wet after a nap in the fridge!
If you overwork the dough, it will develop the glutens in the flour too much, and cause things to become elastic. This is good for yeast bread recipes, 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 IT TOUGH?
Same idea as above. 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 IT 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 CRUST POOF UP IN THE MIDDLE?
During the cooking process, any air that may be trapped between the pie dough and the bottom of the dish will expand. Try to press out any air bubbles, and use the tines of a fork to “dock” (or pierce little holes) into the bottom, to release the steam.
You can also use pie weights or dry beans to hold everything down while baking.
THE EDGES OF MY PIE 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.
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The most perfect homemade pie crust recipe! Tender, flaky layers & a rich, buttery taste. Easy to make, completely from scratch.
Place the flour and salt in a large bowl, and whisk to combine.
Add the oil, stirring until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
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.)
Tumble the dough out of the bowl and onto a large sheet of plastic wrap.
Use the plastic wrap to gather the dough into a disc shape, then wrap the dough tightly and press down on it firmly to compact it.
Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Flour the work surface, rolling pin, and the chilled dough lightly, then divide the dough into 2 equal portions.
Roll each portion out to ¼” thickness, and fold into thirds. Fold into thirds again, then one more time.
Refrigerate for one more 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 the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
Baking time will vary according to pie filling (see notes above, under the heading "How Long to Bake Pie Crust). 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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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.
PIE CRUST WITH BUTTER VS. PIE CRUST WITH SHORTENING
All-butter pie crust sounds just wonderful, but I often find that it can be 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.
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
And be sure to check out my chocolate pie crust recipe too!
** WATCH THIS QUICK VIDEO TO SEE HOW IT’S DONE! **
Find even more great pie recipes on my “Pies & Tarts” Pinterest board!