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

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?

bag of King Arthur all purpose flour with text overlay that says quality flour

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.

stick of butter and shortening in a measuring cup

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.

cubed butter

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.

2 images of pie dough in a bowl with a pastry cutter and coarse crumbs of fats and dry ingredients mixed together in a bowl

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.

shaggy pie dough mixture in a pink bowl with a spatula

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.

pie dough in a ball

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!

3 images of discs of pie dough

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!

2 discs of pie dough wrapped in plastic wrap

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.

disc of pie dough with a wood rolling pin

Turn, roll, turn, roll.

hand holding pie dough

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!

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pie crust strips on top of cherry pie with text overlay that says baking basics a series

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

Description

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.


Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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.
  2. Salt: I use and strongly recommend regular table salt. If using kosher salt, use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons.

Keywords: butter pie crust, homemade pie crust

pie dough rolled into a circle with a wood rolling pin

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.

1053 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. I have made many crusts in the past. I took this recipe and added vanilla vodka with water and froze it for 15 minutes.
    I sifted the flour with the salt. Added the fat and pastry blended until pea size crumbles. Then froze it for 15 minutes. Then took the flour and water and mixed as directed with my hands. It did take more than a 1/2 Cup of liquid. I do use a metal pie shield.
    Loved the mixture of water and Vodka and Shortening and Butter.
    *NOTE: Always use the ebst ingredients possible for the best results. No shortcuts!

  2. Hey Sally, could you prepare the entire pie and let the apples (or blueberries etc) sit in the crust in the fridge the day before you cook it?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Suzanne! We don’t recommend it as the crust may get soggy. See make ahead instructions in the recipe notes of our apple pie recipe for some make ahead options.

  3. Maria A Vargas says:

    I want to make the pie crust crunches, but you never mention how much flour to put in a bowl!!! You mention the butter, the fat, the cold water. Did I fall asleep when the flour was being mentioned?? Help, my first time to make a pie….I made one, honestly and had to throw it away!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria! You need 2 1/2 cups flour for this pie crust. Can you see the recipe above? It’s in a light gray box above these comments and a few photos. Happy baking!

      1. I’m having issues with my crust shrinking down any recommendations? Thanks!

  4. Olivia Nostro says:

    Hi Sally, can I use a food processor to make this or should I do it by hand? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Olivia, we find it’s very easy to overwork the dough when using a food processor. We recommend using a pastry cutter or two forks for best results.

      1. I have loads of pain in my hands, so I decided to shred some frozen butter. Then back to the freezer for a few minutes in order to save a little thumb pain while cutting it in…

  5. I made my first apple pie from scratch about a month ago with this recipe and my whole family raved about it. My brother-in-law’s birthday is in about a week and he asked me to make another one for his birthday because he loved it so much. Thank you for this wonderful, fool-proof recipe!

  6. Hi Sally, when you made your all butter experiment did it shrink more than your butter-shortening recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi David! Here’s our all butter pie crust recipe – no issues with shrinking if followed closely!

  7. Hi Sally! Is there anything that can be substituted for the vegetable shortening? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Karina, if you don’t have vegetable shortening available, we recommend using our all-butter pie crust instead!

  8. Hi Sally! Do you have any recommendations when it comes to the shortening? I always end up with cubes of it in my pie dough when I wrap it for chilling. I’m from Australia and the only ones readily available are solid blocks made from coconut oil.

    1. Hi Amariah, it sounds like the dough could benefit from a little more mixing– I recommend working the fats into the dough a little more before adding the ice water. I usually use Crisco brand vegetable shortening. Do you have that available? You may enjoy our all butter pie crust instead.

    2. I know this is a bit late, but I live in Australia too and am familiar the coconut oil shortening you are talking about. Copha isn’t the sort of shortening referenced in this recipe. They don’t sell American style shortening in grocery stores in Australia, but you can get it in specialty cake decorating stores, or you can order it online. If you really want to use Copha you would need to grate it rather than trying to blend it with knives or a pastry cutter. Just keep in mind that it would have an impact on the flavor of the finished pie crust. American shortening has no real flavor, while Copha really tastes like coconut.

    3. Gabrielle Jelicich says:

      Hi Amariah and Tracey, I believe that in Oz you have kremelta which we also have in NZ. It’s used to makes cocoa rice bubble cups for kids birthday parties if that rings a bell.

  9. Sharon Van Houten says:

    I don’t have shortening. Can coconut oil be substituted?

    1. Hi Sharon, some readers have substituted solid and cold coconut oil. However, you may enjoy our all butter pie crust instead.

  10. My mother was always a die hard lard fan and would never use anything else-but I would love to try your shortening/butter method. I love your video. Very complete and easy to understand!

  11. Hi Sally, I made this recipe and it was delicious!! Only issue I had was the the crust on the edges was crumbly rather than flaky. Also, after chilling in fridge, it cracked in the middle when rolling out. It came together, but not sure why that happened too.

    Still amazing flavor and I would make again, just want to know if there is a reason for the above.

    Thank you for the great recipes

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joan! If you are experiencing a crumbly crust, the dough may have been over-worked and/or it was too dry. Don’t be afraid to add more ice water until the dough clumps together and feels a little moist. Keep the fats as cold as possible, use a pastry cutter to cut in the fats by hand, and don’t overwork them. You want little pieces of cold butter throughout. Hope this helps!

  12. Hi Sally (and friends)!
    I’ve been looking for a chocolate pie crust, I’ve found a few, but I just wanted to see (because your blog NEVER lets me down) if you had anyways you could change this recipe for a chocolate pie crust, I would be grateful.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emma! Here’s our chocolate pie crust recipe.

  13. This is probably a really stupid question, but I’ve never made pie before so stupid I am… what temperature should the oven be preheated to and cook at for blueberry pie? I’m making them in large muffin tins (individual pies)? Help?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Suzanne! We usually bake our pies at 350°F (177°C).

  14. Hai Hua sih says:

    Hi Sally, I made the pastry just now, now in the fridge. I only added half of the water you mentioned (75ml) because the dough was so wet. Now I’m worried that I have not added enough. Can you please advise .

    1. I always recommend at least 120ml ice water. If the dough became too wet, it’s possible the butter and shortening were either not cold enough or they were mixed in too much. Do you think the butter was too warm? Without enough water, the dough will be difficult to roll out without crumbling and cracking.

  15. Easy to roll out and transfer. Very flaky. Turned out so good with your quiche recipe!! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hi Sally,
    I tried making a pie crust for the first time the other day using this recipe. I substituted lard for the vegetable shortening as I had it on hand. I also made the pie crust in a 6 mini pie(s) pan. Although the crust was picture perfect, it was not tender. If I use lard again, can you tell me the ratio to use to butter and if the cook time needs to be adjusted for the “mini” pie crusts? Any other thoughts? Thanks so much!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cristin, lard should work in place of the shortening without any other changes. Make sure your fats are very cold prior to beginning and to just bring the dough together (without overworking it) to ensure a tender crust. You could also try using vodka in the place of water – see blog post for details!

  17. Hey!! I see where to set the temp
    To 375’ for 15-20 min for the crust that needs to be baked first. If I’m making a blueberry pie I’m assuming I bake it at 375 for how long!? Thank you!!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Whitney! It’s best to follow a recipe for best results – here’s our blueberry pie recipe for future reference! In that recipe, we bake the pie at 400 for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.

  18. Hi Sally,

    I was wondering if you prefer a specific brand of shortening.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Angela, Our stores usually carry Crisco brand but we don’t have a favorite.

  19. Sally, I have been making pie crust for many years as pies are one of my favorite bakes. I also use a butter/ lard ratio but mine wasn’t as high in lard as your recipe. I must say without a doubt yours is better then my standard pate brisee’ I will definitely use this from now forward. Kudo’s! your apple hand pies were wonderful as well. Keep up the good baking!!!

  20. I just wanted to add one cavoite to my comments: I always add 1 Tbl. sugar to balance out the flavor so its not so flat.

  21. Cindy: Can you use this pie crust for a meat pie? says:

    Can you use this pie crust for a meat pie

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can! You can see how we use it for a chicken pot pie (different than a meat pie but you can see it works well in savory dishes!).

  22. Nancy Davenport says:

    Do Crisco butter flavored baking sticks work well as the the shortening or is it better to use the all vegetable shortening sticks along with the real butter?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, they work for even more buttery flavor. Enjoy!

  23. amazing pie crust! I have made it multiple times and each time it works perfectly

    How can I increase this recipe so that I could make it fit into a 12 inch pie pan instead of a 9 inch pan?

    Thank you

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liza! You’ll need about twice the amount of dough for that sized pie pan. If you only need a bottom crust, the recipe as written (makes 2 9 inch pie crusts) will be perfect.

      1. Thank You, so would I double all the ingredients needed? For example 5 cups flour, 2 tsp salt, 12 Tablespoon butter etc etc?

        Also, what do I do if my dough keeps falling apart? It’s all perfect until I cut the Latices or roll out my circle for put into my pan, then it starts falling apart to the point where I have to piece it together in order to form the bottom of the pan!

  24. Shelley Buie says:

    Hello! I saw that you mentioned not having a recipe for a gluten free pie. I have a lot of friends that are gluten free for one reason or another, and I’ve found a lot of success baking with gluten free flour and xanthan gum. I don’t have a pie recipe (yet!), but if you wanted to experiment, that might be a good place to start. Gluten free flour is usually 1 to 1 for normal flour, and the xanthan gum usually has recommendations for amounts on the back depending on what you’re making.

    Just a thought!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thanks for the tip, Shelley!

  25. Paula K Schmidt says:

    I never buy unsalted butter. Can I just skip the salt and use salted butter?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Paula, you can use salted butter in this pie crust recipe. We recommend reducing the added salt to 3/4 teaspoon.

  26. Hi Sally, I just want to say I absolutely love this recipe; I find the crust always comes out flakey and not tough at all, everyone loves it. I do however have a question however; after chilling the dough I always have a really hard time rolling the dough out. It’s always cracking on me and I try my best to go slow and fix the cracks as I’m rolling but the last pie I made I just gave up and honestly started packing the crust into the pan. The crust surprisingly still turned out quite well, but it just made the decorating part a lot more difficult, especially with the lattice top. Do you let the chilled dough sit out at room temperature for a while before rolling? Any other tips to make rolling it out easier?

    Love your recipes, thanks so much!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Trae, We are so happy you love this recipe! If the dough is just too hard right out of the refrigerator, let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. It will still be cold, but even a few minutes at room temperature will help soften it up. Roll out very slowly and gently. If the edges are cracking, use your hands to bring the edges back together. (We always use our fingers to “meld” any cracks back together– as if it were play doh.) If it’s cracking, the dough may not have enough liquid. We highly recommend at least 1/2 cup of ice water. Most pie dough problems come from not adding enough water. I hope all of this can help for next time!

  27. Hi Sally, I’m looking for something that is dairy-free. Could I do an all-shortening crust? Would you recommend replacing the 6 tbs butter with 6 tbs shortening or doubling the 3/4 C shortening?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alison, You can use all shortening but your pie crust will not be as flakey. You can also make a pie crust with lard if you can find it.

  28. Hey Sally

    I would love to make this but in Belgium we dont have vegetable shortning. Is there anything else I can use or just butter?
    Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Yani, we’d recommend our all-butter pie crust instead!

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