Baking Basics: Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Bakers! Welcome back to my Baking Basics series.

This is a very long post. Pie crust makes me chatty.

It’s summer. The days are longer and a bounty of fruit is at our fingertips. And this means you have time to finally nail homemade pies. Today I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about making the perfect buttery flaky pie crust. This is the one and only pie crust recipe I use. It’s been passed down through generations. Stands the test of time. Old-fashioned, yet never out of style. Wins my heart every single time.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

There is nothing more satisfying than making a pie completely from scratch. From the golden crust to the juicy filling and everything in between. Pies are so damn tasty for one reason: they’re time consuming. This shouldn’t scare you! It should intrigue you. Because if you can bake an exceptional homemade pie, congratulations. You’re a talented baker.

Let me help you get there.

As the base holding all of the pie’s contents, pie crust’s flavor is in every single bite. Start with a solid crust and you’re that much closer to pie-fection. !! Today we’re going to explore my pie crust recipe, preparation tips, how-to’s, and troubleshooting.

About The Ingredients

This crust is made with a few simple ingredients: flour, salt, cold water, and fat.

Start with quality flour. Did you know that not all all-purpose flours are created the same? King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (adoring fan girl. they do not know I exist.) is my go-to for not only pie crust, but for pretty much ALL baked goods. Now, I admit. Sometimes I buy cheaper flours that are on sale, but in general– KA flour is my top choice. Why? Its high protein level: “At 11.7-percent protein, it tops ordinary American all-purpose flours by nearly 2 percentage points.” (source)

What does this mean? Baked goods rise higher and stay fresh longer.

A gluten free pie crust, you ask? I’ve never made one. Do you have a solid recipe for one?

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Next up in my pie dough: salt. An obvious ingredient. Brings out the flavor. Pie crust shouldn’t be sweet.

Now, the final ingredient(s). They’re highly debatable. There are strong opinions out there for butter crust vs. shortening crust vs. lard crust. (I rarely use lard because it’s not as easy to come by for most people– though it makes a TASTY crust.) If you despise shortening, my pie crust recipe isn’t for you. If you want a crust recipe that stands the test of time, using good old shortening just as mom did– read on.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Why I Use Shortening and Butter

Not all fats are created equal. Why shortening? With its high melting point, shortening aids in creating flakiness. Flaky, tender, melt-in-your mouth crust. Why butter? Butter imparts unparalleled, impeccable flavor. Nothing beats butter. I use both to create a crust that is full of tender flakes and rich in buttery flavor.

A Tasty Experiment

I recently performed an experiment. The tastiest kind, of course. I prepared an all-butter version to compare to my beloved butter/shortening crust. One thing was clear: the all-butter crust created a lighter textured crust with more defined flakes. This is due to the butter’s water content. As the crust bakes, the butter’s water converts to steam, creating light flakes. Get it? Because of all this butter, I found that the all-butter crust didn’t have a perfectly neat-edged crust. Crimping the edges of the crust was a little pointless.

The all-butter crust tasted like pure butter. The butter/shortening crust (1) was just as flaky and tender in my opinion (and my taste tester’s, thanks Kevin) and (2) tasted buttery and like pie crust (think: diner style cherry pie). Both crusts were great. But the butter/shortening won in terms of texture, flavor, and appearance. This KA Flour blog post had similar results (great read if you’re a pie nerd like I am!).

Use Cold Fat

Why the emphasis on temperature? Keeping your pie dough as cold as possible helps prevent the fat from melting. If the butter melts inside the dough before baking, you lose the flakiness. When the lumps of fat melt in the oven as the pie bakes, their steam helps to separate the crust into multiple flaky layers– as explained above. Warm fats will lend a hard, crunchy, greasy crust instead of a nice tender flaky crust.

I keep some of my butter in the freezer and transfer it to the refrigerator a few hours before beginning the crust. This way it is part frozen and very, very cold. For shortening? Just keep it in the refrigerator.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Tips + Recipe

(Print-friendly recipe below!)

Start with flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold fats. Use a pastry cutter (or two forks) to cut in the fats. A pastry cutter is ideal. And the easiest. Cut in the fats until the mixture resembles coarse meal. You should have some larger pieces of butter and shortening when you’re done. That is OK.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Next: ice water. Measure 1/2 cup (120ml) of water in a cup. Add ice. Stir it around. From that, measure 1/2 cup of water (since the ice has melted a bit!). Drizzle the cold water in, 1 Tablespoon (15ml) at a time, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon after every Tablespoon (15ml) added. Do not add any more water than you need to. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps. I always use between 1/3 cup (75ml) and 1/2 cup (120ml) of water.

Stop adding water when the dough begins to clump just like this:

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

If too much water is added, the pie dough will require more flour and thus become tough. If too little water is added, you’ll notice the dough is dry and crumbly when you try to roll it out and handle it.


Speaking of liquids. Have you heard of adding cold vodka to pie dough? It comes as no surprise to me that the geniuses at Cook’s Illustrated rave about it. They say that half of the pie dough’s moisture should come from vodka, which is 40% pure alcohol. This alcohol doesn’t promote gluten formation, helping the crust stay flaky and tender. Basically, it is a BLESSING to those of us who accidentally overwork pie dough.

(If you want to try using vodka– use 1/4 cup cold vodka and 1/4 cup ice cold water in the below recipe. OR try out the Cook’s Illustrated recipe. Note: their recipe only makes one pie crust and my recipe below makes two.)

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Back to my recipe. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. Form it into a ball. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky.

Cut the dough in half. Flatten each half into 1-inch thick discs using your hands. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days. Or freeze!

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Specks or swirls of fat = good!

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

After the dough has chilled, start preparing your pie.

Roll out the crust. Always use gentle force. You are not mad at the crust. When rolling dough out, always start from the center and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Turn, roll, turn, roll.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Roll the dough to fit a 9-inch pie dish. I typically roll the dough into a 12-inch circle so that there is enough crust to go up the edges of the dish and so I can trim and flute.

Do NOT be overwhelmed. I made sure to break everything down very easily, so a lot of the text in this recipe is me being as thorough as possible. Be sure to read through additional tips and troubleshooting below. Let me know about your pie adventures!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust

Yield: 2 pie crusts

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes (includes chilling)

Print Recipe

This recipe is enough for a double crust pie. If you only need 1 crust for your pie, cut this recipe in half OR freeze the other half per the Make Ahead Tip instruction below.


  • 2 and 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup (148g) vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) ice water


  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening.
  2. Using a pastry cutter (the one I own) or two forks, cut the butter and shortening into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal (pea-sized bits with a few larger bits of fat is OK). A pastry cutter makes this step very easy and quick.
  3. Measure 1/2 cup (120ml) of water in a cup. Add ice. Stir it around. From that, measure 1/2 cup (120ml) of water-- since the ice has melted a bit. Drizzle the cold water in, 1 Tablespoon (15ml) at a time, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon after every Tablespoon (15ml) added. Do not add any more water than you need to. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps. I always use between 1/3 cup (75ml) and 1/2 cup (120ml) of water.
  4. Transfer the pie dough to a floured work surface. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. Form it into a ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into 1-inch thick discs using your hands.
  5. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and up to 5 days).
  6. When rolling out the chilled pie dough discs to use in your pie, always use gentle force with your rolling pin. Start from the center of the disc and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go.
  7. Proceed with the pie per your recipe's instructions.
  8. Make ahead tip: Prepare the pie dough through step 4 and freeze the discs for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using in your pie recipe.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

How to Make a Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust! Tips, tricks, and recipe included!

Pie Crust Tips

I prefer using a glass pie dish when I make pie. Why? Glass dishes conduct heat evenly, which allows the bottom of the crust to bake thoroughly. Also, you’ll be able to see when the sides and bottom of the crust has browned.

Keep everything cold. Cold fats are key, as you now know. On a hot day, you can even measure and chill your flour in the refrigerator before beginning. When taking the pie crust out of the refrigerator to roll out and fill, make sure your pie filling is ready to go. If not, keep the pie crust in the refrigerator until it is.

Preheat the oven so that the cold dough will go into a hot oven.

 If your pie recipe requires pre-baking (crust “blind baking”)– let’s say you’re making a pie with an especially wet filling– use pie weights. Without pie weights, the dough will puff up, then shrink. Pie weights are made from metal or ceramic beads and work to weigh down the crust to prevent the puffing/shrinking. Dried beans can also be used! Whichever you choose, be sure to line the crust with parchment, then fill the empty pie crust with the weights all the way to the top of the pie dish rim prior to baking. More on pie weights.

 I always, always use a pie crust shield. A shield keeps the crust edge covered, which protects it from browning too quickly or worse– burning. Here is the one I own. Alternatively, you can cover the pie with a piece of aluminum foil. Cut a large circle in the center of the square so the center of the pie is exposed.

If your pie recipe requires a pre-baked pie shell, such as banana cream pie, french silk pie, or a tart, here is what to do: prepare the pie crust through step 6. Roll out the chilled pie dough into a 12-inch circle, carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth, then trim and flute the edges. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, then line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake at 375°F (190°C) until it begins to color around the edges. (15-20 minutes)


Prevent a crumbly pie dough. Make sure you use enough water when preparing your pie dough. Too little water will make your dough unworkable. Read more about water above.

Prevent a tough baked pie crust. Tough crusts are the result of not enough fat in the crust, as well as overworking the dough. Use the recipe above (plenty of fat) and don’t work the dough too much.

Prevent a burnt crust with a pie shield! See above.

Pie Recipes!

Recipes to try using this crust: peach pie (in my cookbook!), cherry piechicken pot pie, pumpkin pie, quichebaked apples, salted pecan pie tarts, apple crumble pieblueberry peach pie, homemade pop-tarts!, and salted caramel apple pie.

How to make my FAVORITE pie crust! This is my go-to recipe!

181 Responses to “Baking Basics: Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust.”

  1. #
    Terryposted December 23, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    I used this tutorial to make pie crust from scratch for the first time ever – my pie (pumpkin, also completely from scratch!) turned out wonderfully! I received so many complements on the pie and specifically how good the crust was (I was curious and tried with half vodka). Thank you! This is my go-to recipe from now on!


  2. #
    Carolineposted December 24, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Hi Sally! I made your dough recipe yesterday and I baked a pie this morning and will make another pie tomorrow (your Apple Crumble Pie!) When I rolled out the dough for today’s pie, I had a hard time picking it up off my well-floured counter and ended up having to patch it together once in the dish. Any suggestions for an easier transfer into the pie dish for tomorrow’s pie?

    Thanks and Merry Christmas!


    • Ashtonreplied on December 31st, 2015 at 12:38 am

      I rolled mine out on a silicone baking sheet and just picked up the sheet and flipped the pie crust in. Not the most elegant but 4 pies later it worked! 


  3. #
    Katherineposted December 25, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I’m making 12 4 inch chicken pot pies. Can I just triple the ingredients to make 12 crusts? I’d like to make extra so I can freeze some too.


  4. #
    Melissa Holtposted December 26, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Thank-you very much! I decided to try this pie crust recipe when I made tourtière on Christmas Eve. My mother’s recipe for the meat filling is outstanding, but I could never quite replicate her crust. I was hesitant to try this at first because it has so much more fat than I am accustomed to using. What a pleasant surprise! This year’s pie was by far the best I have ever made. Even mom would have been proud! 


  5. #
    Melissa Holtposted December 26, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Oh, and P.S., it was easy too — so much easier to roll out and get into the pie plate intact than any other crust I have ever made!


  6. #
    Saminaposted December 27, 2015 at 5:11 am

    I have the dough ready. Was wondering if I can use it to make small tarts instead of 1 large pie. Will it be ok for a sweet filling like strawberry and cream.
    Any tips for baking these? Mine get burnt sometimes!!
    Thanks in advance 


    • Sallyreplied on December 27th, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Smaller pies work– I’m assuming you do not bake the strawberry and cream filling? I’m unfamiliar with the recipe.


      • Saminareplied on December 28th, 2015 at 2:05 am

        Thanks Sally! Yes I will fil the tarts after I bake. How much time does it take to bake with tarts. I will 12 at a time to bake.

  7. #
    Joseph Parkerposted December 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Hey Sally,
    just wanted to say you have a good pie crust. Making a good pie crust can be difficult but i like your method. I do a little SEO for a friend and i was blogging about crimping the crust today by rolling your excess dough under the crust and pinch it together to make a stronger crust, but also you can use it to decorate. Hope you don’t mind me adding a little input. Thanks, hope you join my blog I am currently starting.


  8. #
    Sara Foxposted December 29, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Usually when I bake and shortening is required, I use the Nutiva Shortening, It’s red palm oil. Basically it has no trans fat and is organic. Would I be able to use that for this crust? 


    • Sara Foxreplied on December 29th, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      I meant to say “Vegan” instead of organic


    • Sallyreplied on December 30th, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      I’m not familiar with it, but a quick google search helped me determine that it should be OK in this pie crust. Let me know how it goes!


  9. #
    Ashtonposted December 31, 2015 at 12:33 am

    I just need to share that this pie crust and pumpkin pie recipe were my first attempt at pie ever and they were magical! Your photos and tips and well written recipes are literally a Godsend when you are trying something new. Thank you from me and the 40 people who at 4 pies this Christmas in Toronto. <3 

    PS For those interested: I followed this recipe as is (no vodka) but did not pre-bake the pie crust. I used a deep dish 10" pan and i only made 1 large disc. I made the leaves with the discarded dough and had a thick crust. Because I didn't pre-bake the egg wash was enough for all 4 pies


  10. #
    stephanie Delpposted January 2, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I have been making this crust ever since I have discovered it!  I was using crisco until I found 4lbs of Lard at Save alot! Today is the first time I used Lard & I didn’t need as much water as I do with Crisco.  It worried me but I crossed my fingers & OMFG the crust was even more delicious & flakier!  I can’t wait to try the vodka version crust to see how that turns out! I try to keep your recipes a secret from everyone. .they are the best! Thank you so much!


  11. #
    Roseposted January 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    do you use the same amount of lard as you would shortening


  12. #
    Kariposted January 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    My 8 children are in love with a somewhat local restaurants pie crusts. But it’s almost a 2 hour trip each way just to eat their chicken pot pie & a slice of pie. Each time I try to duplicate the crust I fail tragically. Even using my 90 year  old grandma’s recipe failed the kid test. But this weekend I made a large turkey and had plenty of leftovers so I thought I would give it another try.  Your title jumped out at me & I was hopeful. I pulled out the ingredients I had on hand and gave it a whirl.  (Chilled salted butter, Butter flavored Crisco & so on) I wasn’t paying attention and cut up a full stick of butter. But I remembered my grandma adding extra flour to balance it out, but I added a bit too much flour and added more water slowly by the Tbsp. I tell you what it was amazing! Their response was, cool mom now we don’t have to drive to Bangor anymore. They ate 4 pot pies in under 20 minute. I didn’t get a chance to freeze 2 of them for a later date, they devoured them.  Thank you so much for this recipe,  you have saved me approximately  $200 each month. I no longer have to send $75 in gas (12 passenger vans are expensive to fill) plus the restaurant bill to feed our family & we no longer have to buy a “case” of wine (lol) to relax after a 4 hour screamfest driving to and from the restaurant. Now we can afford date night again!  Thank you, thank you, thank you


    • Sallyreplied on January 5th, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      I’m SO GLAD to read this! Thanks Kari!


  13. #
    Amandaposted January 11, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Hi, I was just wondering if it would be possible to do this in a food processor? I did it with a pastry cutter last time and it didn’t come out quite right, so I was going to try it in a food processor and see if maybe that worked? It was SUPER delicious, btw, I think my chunks were just too big or something..


    • Sallyreplied on January 11th, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Hey Amanda, so happy you loved this crust! About the food processor: I do not use one when I make pie crust. I SWEAR by a pastry cutter. You have more control with your hands.


  14. #
    Katelynposted January 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I made three batches of this pie crust for Christmas and it was delicious! I thought I’d let everyone know, I did not add enough water to the dough but I didn’t realize it until I tried to roll it out (it just crumbled when I tried to roll it out) so I added more ice water after it was chilled and it worked out just fine!


  15. #
    Tom Biggsposted January 26, 2016 at 7:10 am


    I made your homemade pie crust this past cold weekend for my version of chicken pot pie. Not being an accomplished baker, my crusts often detract from an otherwise well prepared dish. But this recipe is a game changer and produced a great crust that my guests raved over. 

    Thanks for the detailed recipe and great photography explaining how the crust is made. My chicken pie with your crust can be seen at I trust you will find that I have appropriately credited you with this great recipe. 




  16. #
    Cathie Foxposted January 26, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Sally I made your pie crust today and want to make individual pot pies. If I freeze them, do I bake them first.
    Thank you……Cathie


    • Sallyreplied on January 27th, 2016 at 6:22 am

      I usually bake pot pies and such before freezing.


  17. #
    Christine Smithposted February 1, 2016 at 3:02 am

    I was wondering how thick you roll out the crust. Thank you!


  18. #
    Allineposted February 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    I am scared of baking. Everything I’ve ever tried to bake turns out like a rock. Your recipe makes it look so simple, and the step by step instructions are awesome!


    • Sallyreplied on February 9th, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      I appreciate that, Alline! Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  19. #
    Luciaposted February 24, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Sally! from Agentina 🙂
    I’m a huge fan of all your recipes. I tried making this at home using all butter (I did not have any shortening)… It came out delicious, the texture was flaky and I love that… however, it was just so … I don’t know what other word to use but… heavy! Heavy, I mean like… after a few bites I felt like I was going to explode and felt like… I don’t want to eat anything anymore ever. Do you know the feeling I’m describing? Is that how the crust is supposed to be or did this happen because I used all butter?
    Thank you for sharing such valuable recipes!!


    • Luciareplied on February 24th, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      I meant ARgentina 🙂


    • Sallyreplied on February 25th, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Hi Lucia! It’s because of the heavy amount of butter. Shortening makes it even more flaky, lightened up the texture and mouthfeel.


      • Luciareplied on February 25th, 2016 at 11:20 am

        Awesome! I’ll try it again with shortening then. Thank you for responding!

  20. #
    Rachelleposted March 2, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    I love making pie!! I have been making them with the same pie crust recipe for 15 years. I was attempting your homemade brown sugar pop tarts and that brought me to your pie crust recipe. The pop tarts were delicious and I realized I have been making pie crust wrong all this time!! Thanks for this excellent recipe! My pies are so much better:) 


    • Sallyreplied on March 3rd, 2016 at 6:47 am

      I’m so glad your pies have improved!


  21. #
    Cindyposted March 14, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Amazing crust recipe!   So flakey and tastey.  Because of time I only refrigerated for 30 minutes and made mini apple pies.  


  22. #
    Briannaposted March 27, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Sally! Thanks for this recipe! I just used it for a mini version of your spinach mushroom quiche, and I will never use another pie crust again! I used the vodka – great idea. Also, I used my food processor for all the mixing/cutting/”kneading”. The crust was incredibly flaky, with enough salt to really highlight the sweetness of a pie. Everything else I did according to suggestion – KA flour, overnight chill, almost frozen butter/crisco. I’ll use this for decades!


    • Sallyreplied on March 28th, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      So happy the quiches were a hit! And even happier you found your go-to pie crust. I couldn’t love this crust more!


  23. #
    Jenniferposted April 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Hello Sally!

    I am a pie baking nerd like yourself. I have always been a die hard butter crust girl but am going to be open about using shortening this time!

    One question. Do you put the pie shield on immediately before baking? Or wait until the edges get to the desired doneness and then shield?
    In the past I have always just covered with foil once the edges are done to my liking. This time I am trying out my pie shield and just not sure when to put it on?

    Thanks! Great post!


    • Sallyreplied on April 29th, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Hi Jennifer! Great question. I put a pie shield on when I notice the edges beginning to brown.


  24. #
    Liaposted April 29, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I love this pie crust and it tastes amazing BUT I always seem to have issues when i am rolling it out. It always cracks and breaks. I patch it up where it starts break but it never rolls into a single crust.What am I doing wrong? too much water or too less?


    • Sallyreplied on May 1st, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Hi Lia! The dough is ripping because there is too little water- add a few more Tbsp.


  25. #
    Ruthposted May 4, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Sally
    Your recipe is the absolute BEST pie crust!  I love it, and it makes me remember the wonderful pies my grandmother used to make!    Thanks so much for sharing.   PS..I’m going to get some King Arthur All Purpose Flour.



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