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 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

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 about 1/2 cup (120ml) of water and a little more in dry winter months (up to 3/4 cup).
  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.

Did you make a recipe?

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© 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!


  1. Could i use just the butter and no shortening? I dont have shortening at homr and would like to try this recipe. Thanks!

    • Nvm, I would like to know you’re all butter recipe please!

      • you can use all butter instead of shortening. shortening just another lipid,(lipids including fats, waxes, and things along those lines that are solid at room temperature, not that I”m saying you should use wax, for some reason I would think that to be a bad idea.) the only thing that would be different would be the taste, it would be a lot more buttery tasting.

  2. Ah Vegetable Shortening..i have always wished this thing would be here in my town.. But we don’t.. that sucks tbh.. Any substitute for that (please don’t say NO)

  3. Am giving this crust and your pumpkin pie recipe a try today. Looks awesome! Wish me luck!! 

    p.s. I also freeze the butter and often grate the frozen butter (with a cheese grater) directly into the flour for biscuit and pie recipes. Saves a bit of time with the pastry cutter (which just helps me keep the butter as cold as I can.) 

    Happy (Canadian- Oct 10, 2016) Thanksgiving!

  4. I have your cookbook and it says 3/4 cup ice water. Is this a misprint cuz it seemed like way too much. 

  5. my crust always has pieces of visible butter in it. Should I be kneading the dough more to better incorporate the butter with the flour? Thanks for great recipe. Even with the butter marbled throughout it was a great crust I made today.

  6. It was my first time making pie crust and it was a success!!! I also followed her quiche recipe and it was divine!!!

  7. Success! I consider myself a pretty good cook, but have struggled with pie crust.  I made this yesterday as part of your Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie.  It worked perfectly.  The dough had visible chunks of butter, I worked it minimally and the result was flaky, tender and delicious.  I will be trying a vodka version soon.  I have one suggestion though…your instructions say to discard the pie crust trimmings.  Rather than waste them, put them in a baking pan, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and pop in the oven along with the pie.  A few minutes later you have a yummy snack!  

  8. Hi Sally, I’m attempting your pie crust recipe. Now my questions: I live in Switzerland and I don’t know what to Substitute the Shortening with. I would rather not take all butter. Is it possible to use sour cream?

    • Hi Stephanie! I would not use sour cream. Butter would be the best option.

      • I just made 2 pies for thanksgiving & replaced the shortening with refined coconut oil. (no coconut flavor or smell) It was flakey & tasted amazing! I also used half vodka in the ice water. 

  9. I LOVE baking but have always struggled with pie dough. Trying this for the first time, we’ll see what happens! It’s in the fridge chilling right now. Hoping I didn’t mess it up! I did half vodka. It seemed more blended than I know it should be though by the time I was done…. But here’s hoping! I only got to 1/3 liquid before deciding it was getting too blended.

  10. I made this crust for the first time today (after many attempts with other recipes) and this recipe IS IT!! I used the half water/half vodka and it was so delicious! But my crust edges always crack while I’m rolling it out and don’t stay in a nice circular shape, any hints? Thanks!

  11. Hi Sally,
    I and everyone I bake for has LOVED every single one of your recipes I have made.  What are your thoughts on using a fox processor to make your pie crust?  I have struggled with making pie crust in the past.  Thank you.

    • I heavily prefer mixing pie crust by hand. You have so much more control over the mixing process. I’ve found that a food processor cuts down the fat too much. The dough is far too compressed, which results in less flakes in my opinion!

  12. Hi Sally. I’m trying to plan ahead for Thanksgiving. I know I can make the dough now and leave it in the fridge. But my question is can I roll it out into the pie dish ahead of time (2-3 days before baking) and leave it in the fridge rolled out? That would make my life so simple the day I want to bake the pie since the hardest part for me is rolling it out. Let me know what you think.

  13. I am interested in trying your pie crust recipe but I am concerned about the flour. I have used the King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour in the past but have switched to organic wheat flour to ensure that I do not get all of those unwanted added ingredients. Do you think that the wheat flour would alter the taste too much? If so, any suggestions for different organic flour?

    • Hi Jessica, wheat flour would be fine but the crust may taste a little tough. You may need to add another Tbsp or 2 of ice water.

  14. Hi Sally! I made this crust yesterday, along with your Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie, and both came out fabulously. I did have issues with the dough, though — and I’m wondering if you have any advice. I was careful to follow your tips and directions, and followed the instructions carefully. However, when it came to rolling the though, I had issues: it kept splitting, so I had hard time getting it rolled out big enough to fit the width and had to patch a few places on both the top and the bottom. Any idea as to why that would have happened? Maybe not enough water and/or too much flour on the work surface (dried it out?)? It was strange, though, because even though it kept tearing, it did stick to my rolling pin quite a bit. So it wouldn’t stick to itself… but loved the rolling pin. Ha. Any advice would be great, because it baked up heavenly — unbelievably flaky and delicious. Just not so pretty. 😉

    • The tearing comes from too little ice water. That happens! It’s very dry out where I live and had to add much more water to my pie dough when I was baking over the weekend. I’m glad you loved the taste and flavor (and flakes!) but if you make it again– more water. 🙂

  15. First time making pie. How would these turn out if I make  mini pies using cupcake tins? 

  16. Thankyou for getting back!! Happy Baking

  17. Making this piecrust today but have a question. Should I use butter flavored vegetable shortening or plain? Does it matter? Thanks for your help and for all your wonderful recipes!!!

  18. Making your pie crust today!!! Could I use salted butter and omit the salt from the recipe? 

  19. Hi! Im about to make this crust…can I double the recipe to make 2 double pie crusts? or should I do two separate times?

  20. Hi Sally, I actually have lard on hand. Could I use it in place of the shortening in this recipe? Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. Best pie crust recipe! We substitute half the water for chilled vodka, though, and I always make the mistake of eating the raw dough. 

  22. So this is my second time making this crust and it’s still amazing!! Thank you so much for posting it!! I’m what I like to refer to as an intermediate baker lol. I only make pies around the holidays because they’re so much work but you’ve made it very easy!

  23. Hi Sally! 
    So my pie in currently in the oven…. but I did a taste test of the pumpkin pie filling and it was GOOD. I also tried your crust recipe for the first time. I love the idea of mixing shortening and butter. But when I pre-baked the crust it collapsed down. Also, I didn’t use pie weights because I never have and my crusts always turn out fine. What makes this particular crust recipe so unique? 

  24. I have a bunch of lard leftover from making tamales. Can I use this instead of shortening? Would it be a 1 to 1 substitution?

    P.S. I’m so nervous, but you’ve never steered me wrong before, so here’s hoping!

  25. This was my first attempt to make my own pie crusts. The directions were easy to follow. I made a pecan pie and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I must say they were the best pies I had ever made. The crusts really made a big difference. Everyone loved the pie crusts. I will never buy store bought again. 

  26. Sally I made your amazing pumpkin pie with this crust recipe for Thanksgiving! It was a huge hit even with a non-pumpkin pie lover! This was the first time I’d ever made my own crust – and it was so worth the effort! One thing though… how do you get it off of the counter and in to the pie dish without it falling apart??! That was my only difficulty. It wasn’t the prettiest, but definitely the flakiest and tastiest! 

    • Hi Debbie! If it’s too crumbly and breaking, then try adding a little more ice water next time you make it. If it was sticking way too much to the counter, use a little more flour on the counter and on your hands. I’m so glad that you loved it! And the pumpkin pie too 🙂

  27. BEST RECIPE EVER. I made this for Thanksgiving and it was PERFECT. I made the recipe 100% butter and loved every bite. This is my go to for life!!!!

  28. Love this pie crust. Over the holiday, I used this recipe several times–and usually in recipes using only half of the dough. My question: Could you put this as an “ingredient” in your recipe index “by ingredient” section? I look at my cold “pie dough disc” in the fridge/freezer and wonder “what else could I make with that”? But it is a long search on your site. Thanks!!

    • Hi Magan! In the meantime, you can search my pie section 🙂 http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/pies-crisps-tarts/

      • Will do. I think I will make the pecan pie tarts again. Good way to serve pecan pie to a lot of people!  Hoping there was another recipe (maybe a bar type cookie) that would make a lot of “servings” so they could be shared with the many neighbors,  friends, family, etc.  Just can’t see myelf delivering pie slices as a Merry Christmas card/greeting/thank you.  And I can hear the groans already if I bring a whole pie! It is that time of year! 🙂 A dozen assorted cookies seems the right size.

  29. Hi 
    I only have salted butter; should I forgo the salt in the recipe?

  30. Wondering if this recipe would work for tarts? If not, do you have one you recommend? Thinking butter or mincemeat tarts as opposed to a large tart. Thanks!

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