Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust

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 on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Pie Crust 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.” (from KA Flour site)

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. The all-butter crust tasted like pure butter. The butter/shortening crust (1) was just as flaky and tender in my opinion 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 in Pie Crust

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!

Pie Crust Tutorial

(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. Cut in the fats until the mixture resembles coarse meal. You should have some larger pieces of butter and shortening when you’re done.

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.

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.

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

Vodka in Pie Crust? 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.

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

Back to my pie crust recipe. After the ice water is added, let’s chill it. Here are the steps:

  • 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!

Visible Specks and Swirls of Fat in Pie Dough

These specks and swirls of butter and shortening will help ensure a flaky pie dough. They are a GOOD thing!

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

How to Roll Out Pie Crust

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!


Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 pie crusts
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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 (spoon & leveled)
  • 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. Visible specks of butter and fat in the dough are perfectly normal and expected!
  7. Proceed with the pie per your recipe’s instructions.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.

Keywords: butter pie crust, homemade pie crust

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

Pie Crust Tips

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat the oven so that the cold dough will go into a hot oven.
  4. If your pie recipe requires pre-baking– let’s say you’re making a pie with an especially wet filling– follow my how to blind bake pie crust guide and 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.
  5. Use a pie crust shield to keep the crust edge covered, which protects it from browning too quickly or worse– burning. Use an adjustable silicone pie crust shield that you can fit to the size of your delicate pie crust. Metal can break the crust. 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.
  6. 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)

Troubleshooting Pie Crust

  • 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. I want to try ur banana cream pie but I don’t get shortening where I live….any substitute for shortening???If yes how much and does it change the cooking time???

    Thanks for the amazing recipes

    1. An excellent recipe! I used virgin coconut oil instead of shortening or lard. It worked very well, though I don’t have a good basis of comparison. If you decide to use coconut oil, it is a good idea to cube or shave it and then throw it in the freezer for a few minutes before you add to the mix. Thanks for a great recipe, easily modified for use with healthier fat alternative!

  2. Not sure where Aysha lives, but every food market (large & small) that I’ve ever been to in huge cities and small towns, carry Crisco solid shortening. It’s in the baking aisle, not in the refrigerated section. When Aysha finds it, I suggest she buy a few boxes and freeze 2 of them. I think she’ll find you’ve shared the perfect pie crust recipe!

  3. Can you please please please make a video showing how to transfer the pie dough into the pie dish? is the step I found most difficult when making a pie 🙁 thank you

    1. Hi Judy, Though you can use a food processor to make this butter pie crust, I strongly recommend a pastry cutter to avoid over-mixing. Food processors are quick to over-work pie dough.

    1. If you use salted butter you will want to slightly cut the added salt in the recipe– down to 1 teaspoon would be fine. I recommend unsalted because every brand of butter contains a different amount of salt, so we never really know how much we are adding.

      1. I had a similar question, I don’t have unsalted butter on hand so can I use challenge salted butter and just not add the 1 1/4 tsp salt or add a little bit of salt on top of it?

  4. I have never made a pie before. I used this recipe and it turned out perfect. My family is so proud of me and I owe it all to you. This recipe was all laid out in step by step format and it was easy to follow. Thank you! I won’t even bother trying another recipe. This is now my go-to and I plan on making other pies now that I know I can do it.

  5. I finally made successful pie crust! Sally you have no idea how excited I am! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and all of the detailed directions. Many recipes these days don’t provide this amount of detail. I made a pie for pi day and even did that lattice topping. It looked professional!

  6. when I read this recipe, I thought it called for an enormous amount of shortening (3/4 cup to 2 1/2 c flour), but I went ahead and tried it as instructed in the recipe and I was right, way too much shortening, even chilled, it moistened the flour so much that water (I used vodka) was not even needed, really, I only put about of one T. I used one of my favorite flours, King Aurthur, but so much shortening only made it mealy when baked, crumbly, not flakey, it didn’t brown very well, it was a mess, it’s almost impossible to lift after rolling, I wouldn’t recommend this crust recipe. I am an experienced cook, this really made the worst crust I’ve ever made (and I’ve made some pretty bad ones) sorry, but your recipes are interesting, and most look pretty well thought out, except this one.

    1. I respectfully disagree that this is too much shortening for the amount of flour for a pie crust recipe, but sincerely appreciate your feedback! Thanks so much.

      1. I do 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup shortening :2 1/2 flour for my crust. Perfect every time! Maybe too much quality control on the vodka there David..?

    2. I really liked the recipe, I’ve prepared the dough and refrigerated it for a couple of days until I was ready to use for quiche. In my case I’ve used cachaça( sugar cane) instead of vodka ( potato) both very high in alcohol. I just felt it needed a little more water, but I didn’t used so it. So it looked a little more crumbly than yours. I also prefer to stay away of trans fat so I use organic coconut and palm shortening mixed with a delicious Irish butter. Yummy
      If I decide to use for pie I should just use less salt?
      Thank you very much and I’ll be doing that again.

  7. Hey Sally
    I’m on lockdown at home for and instead of buying groceries that go bad, I bought tons of flour, sugar yeast etc to make homemade stuff as I need it. I have a bunch of apples that will go bad soon so I decided to try your deep dish apple pie recipe. Two questions: 1. I don’t have shortening, but I have tons of butter(unsalted). Can I substitute shortening for butter for your pie crust recipe? If yes, how much more butter instead of shortening?
    Question 2: I don’t have pie dish. Can I use a 9 x9 glass dish for the deep dish apple pie?
    It’s tough times and I know it won’t be as perfect but I just want to be apple to create dishes that keep me from wasting food since it’s so precious to have food right now. I can’t get to store and there isn’t much in grocery stores in my town anyway.
    Take care during this soutbreak and thanks for all your help

    1. Hi Jennifer! I recommend using my all butter pie crust recipe if you don’t have shortening. You can try using a 9×9 inch square pan for the deep dish apple pie, but the filling (and top crust) will be pretty tall. I recommend a baking sheet on the oven rack below it just in case it begins overflowing. You can also try this apple galette recipe which just requires a baking sheet.

  8. I love your site; it has been the biggest help over the last few months, but… I am terrified of pie crusts… I watched the video this morning. I *am* going to make a pie this week. I will let you know how it turns out.
    Thank you for everything you do! 🙂

  9. This is a very good pie crust. I used a 1/4 cup cold vodka and 1/4 cup ice cold water and made mixed berry hand-pies. Turned out so flaky and delicious. Thanks!

  10. I found this recipe awful. I would prefer a butter crust any day. The crust left an oily taste and fill in my mouth. It seeped into the filling and I was so upset that this ruined my pie. I followed this recipe to a T and will never use it again. The color was great and it was flaky but nothing else. I would advise to use a butter crust

  11. I used this recipe multiple times already. I was unable to translate ‘vegetable shortening’ into my language – multiple results (all vegetable based – but with differences in properties), so I tried all of them. I even used lard!
    It all worked fine, as long as I used a correct ratio with butter. It’s kind of tricky to use ice-cold ingredients, because you need to mix them together.
    Only downside I found was that even though I put the crust on the sides of my pie dish, it always “slides” 1/3 down. Any tips?

    1. Hi Jana! So glad you enjoy this pie crust recipe. Using a pastry cutter– and, of course, some arm muscle– mixing the cold fat into the flour is definitely doable. I wonder if the fats weren’t cold enough? Keep the dough on the thicker side when rolling out so it has a bit more structure on the sides of your pie dish, too.

  12. Thanks, I love your site. The six inch cakes are my new obsession.
    The apple Cheddar pie was a huge hit.

  13. Hi Sally! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have made your homemade banana cream pie multiple times and many of my family members enjoy it. I follow all guidelines, paying attention specifically to chilling the ingredients. The one struggle I have is keeping the dough workable when rolling it out with the pin. It breaks apart easily at the edges when rolling it out. It barely reaches the 12 inch diameter requirements. I have added more water to it, but it seems to continue breaking a part.
    I use Crisco All Vegetable shortening, Challenge unsalted butter, and Gold Medal all purpose flour. What can I do from this point?

    1. Hi Cherisse! I’m happy to help troubleshoot for your next time. Was the dough tearing because it was too thin and wet? Or because it was too dry and cracking? Either can easily be fixed– try re-rolling into a thicker circle with more flour if it’s too wet or, if it’s too dry and cracking, bring the cracks back together with water moistened fingers.

  14. Hi Sally, I have made your pie crust recipe once before and it turned out great! Today I am making two pies (double the dough) and I think I overworked it and made the fat melt ): is there anyway to recover so I can still have a flakey crust? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lauren! Always best to work with 1 batch of dough at a time. If the dough has been overworked, the fat will incorporate too much and could possibly begin to melt before the dough hits the oven. You can still continue with the dough you made, though.

  15. I followed the recipe to a T!!! Had everything chilled, kept it cold, and even put stuff back in the fridge while it was waiting to be put together. While the flavor of the pie itself was excellent, it was not a success for me. I don’t know what I did wrong. It wasn’t really a good pie crust flavor…like my mom’s and grandmother’s pie crusts. It wasn’t flaky and it was different from most I’ve had…kind of heavy. The bottom got borderline soggy but the rest of the pie was definitely done. The juice in the pie didn’t thicken much and bubbled over during baking…a lot. It could very well be me and I either put too much water (used 1/2 c.) or overworked the dough…which I don’t think I did but I think I will need more practice regardless. I’m a baker…just not a good pie crust maker. 🙁

  16. Hi Sally, I couldn’t find shortening at the store today but they had ghee. Any idea if ghee could be substituted for shortening in your recipe?

  17. Sally, in order to use coconut oil instead of butter/shortening, would i change the amount measured? Thanks a bunch and Happy Baking!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally