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!

Print

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 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

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.
  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.

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 (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.
  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!

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470 Comments

  1. I’ve always had trouble with pie dough; probably because I need more practice. This, however, was the best pie crust I have ever made. It was indeed flaky, and tender, and delicious, and I wanted another piece of pie so I could eat more crust. This in my new “go to” pie dough recipe. 🙂

    1. Hi Vera-Lynn! Vinegar helps prevent the formation of gluten. Too much gluten weighs down pie crust, making it tough and dense. I don’t usually add it to this recipe, but you certainly could add 1-2 teaspoons.

  2. I have always made lard crusts. You are right, they are very tasty! I was wondering about using your recipe, but substituting lard for the shortening. Have you ever tried that and/or how do you think it would work?

    1. Hi Julie! Yes, you can sub lard in for the shortening– makes a deliciously flaky and rich crust! Same amount.

      1. Yes lard is the best way to go. My grandmother taught me how to make a pie crust years ago an everyone want my recipe for the crust. Love that you add this to your coment. God bless you honey.

  3. Hi from Australia 🙂
    I’m excited to try making this lovely recipe which I will this week. You said that, ‘This recipe is enough for a double crust pie’, though you mention that you divide the dough into two. Is it recommended to use the whole dough for a thicker pie base rather than dividing in 1/2 and having a thinner base?
    Also for your Lemon Meringue Pie recipe would the full amount of dough be ok, or thinner? Hope I make sense. Looking forward to hearing your answer, and can’t wait to try these recipes 🙂 Thanks Sally

    1. By “double crust” I mean one crust on the bottom and one crust on the top! It would be too much dough to use the entire thing on the bottom. For the lemon meringue you only need the bottom half so after you cut the dough in half, use one for the bottom and you can freeze the other for later!

      1. Oh bummer, I went ahead and made the pie dough crust using the double. Thicker but if at first you don’t succeed try again. Not sure whether to use it with the lemon meringue pie but maybe I’ll try. Or keep it and make a pumpkin pie. Thanks anyway Sally 😉

  4. Hi Sally, is this crust good for savoury pies like meat pie?
    Also, how does the crust on your mixed berry galette compare with this basic one here?
    Thanks again,
    Vincent

  5. I know what Crisco/lard is and butter, but I’m not sure what shortening is. I don’t see margarine anymore in the grocery store. What name does shortening come in. Is it shaped in a package of four just as butter is?

  6. I’ve not run across such great instruction. I can’t wait to try your crust. As I was reading the comments section, I saw one about a mixed berry galette!! Searching for it now!!

  7. I used this recipe with Sally’s blueberry pie recipe, and it turned out wonderful. I made it during one of our cold, dry Minnesota months and used a full 3/4 cup water. Another great recipe!

    1. Thank you for the great tips Sally! I will definitely be trying this. One question I have is that I always have problems when rolling out my pie crust. I am never able to keep it completely round. The edges always fan out and crack and I end up having to try to pull them back together. It usually ends up being a lot of wasted dough. Is there a way to prevent this?

      1. Hi Sean! Happy to help. When the edges of the pie dough crack as you roll it out, lightly moisten your fingertips with cold water and press your fingers into the cracks to mold the dough back together. The cracked dough is thirsty and a little extra water will help as you roll it out.

  8. Hi Sally. I have butter flavored shortening (Crisco) in the fridge. Could I use that instead of vegetable shortening? Thank you.

  9. Easy recipe and delicious crust. I made blueberry pie with this crust and it was the best pie I ever baked. My husband loved it, too. Then I baked Rhubarb pie with All-butter crust and, even though the pie was delicious (Rhubarb Pie is my favourite), the crust was a bit too dense and hard. I prefer the one with Crisco shortening as it was lighter and so flaky.

  10. I always use the food processor to mix pie dough. Any reason you don’t? I find it faster and more user-friendly.

    1. Hi Carol! I like to get a feel for the dough using a pastry cutter and the food processor can sometimes over-mix things. Use what you like best!

  11. I have been using the half ice water/half vodka from the freezer (total: 1/2 cup) in my pie crust for years now [Thanks, Cook’s Illustrated]. I have had fabulous results and feel as though the dough holds together well, doesn’t crack while rolling, and it does not require much manipulation. The results are a tender, flaky, flavorful pie crust. I also use cold shortening and butter and agree the flavor is better with both than one or the other. Thanks for many helpful recipes! Love your website.

  12. Hi sally
    Can you please help me with a substitute for vegetable shortening..here where i live in india there is no crisco available. Is it the same as margarine?

  13. Pie Everyone !
    Thanks!
    I’m officially no longer a pie crust maker wanna be . I actually baked my fist pie ever, crust and all. Butter only. Strawberries. Sour cherries. I can practically taste it by looks.

    forgot to add in the cherries and minute other things, but confident l’ll be better next time.
    Thanks again

  14. I haven’t made it yet but I can tell this is a keeper. Printed and ready to go for the next pie, might even try the vodka trick eventually but first time out I will do half lard and half butter, vegetable shortening now has soy in it, for those who must avoid it. Oh the good old days when soy was not in shortening. Can’t let that stop us though from making delicious baked goods.

    1. Spectrum is an AWESOME brand for organic shortening (no hydrogenated fats) and fine to use in this pie crust recipe.

  15. I loved the attention to detail in your recipe however a last key component was left out–transferring the crust to the pie pan–I don’t see this on the video–it went straight to making lattice. The text doesn’t address it either. Is there a trick for success in doing this?

  16. Hello, I want to try this recipe but do not have unsalted butter. Can I just use regular butter and leave out the 1 1/4 tsp in the recipe.
    Thank you Peggy

  17. Hi Sally,

    I’m so excited to try baking a pie from scratch, and your instructions make me feel much more confident. My husband surprised me with a stand mixer and food processor recently. Could I use the food processor in lieu of the pastry cutter, as I don’t have one of those yet?

    Do you suggest any particular pies for novices to try first?

    Thank you kindly!

  18. OMG!!! I will follow you simply because you know that KAF is so much different than any other flour out there. I already was well known for my baking skills in both my family and at my church but when I started using King Arthur Flour exclusively, I never had another baking disaster! You go girl!

  19. This was my first pie ever (I actually made two.) I had some crust rolling issues that nearly broke my spirit but the pies were pretty tasty in spite of my shortcomings. I’ve read your pointers on keeping the crust (and myself) together. I was wondering if substituting other fruits is as simple as just that. I was thinking of doing everything the same but using fresh apricots instead of cherries. Am I being foolish?

    1. Hi Troy! So glad you made this pie crust and thank you for sharing! You can definitely substitute apricots for the cherries in my cherry pie. I recommend using 1/4 cup flour instead of cornstarch though.

  20. The crust tastes great! It cooks well and my family loves it, but I have trouble rolling out the dough to fit my 9 inch dish. Once I get it big enough to fit, it’s almost too thin to pick up without breaking. Again, the recipe is great and I’ve made a few pies with it already but if you have any tips on rolling out the dough I’d really appreciate it. Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Kristen! Happy to help. This crust recipe yields 2 crusts. When I want a thicker crust or if I’m having trouble rolling it out, I use 1.5 crusts. (So, you’re left with dough that is enough for 1/2 of a pie crust– you can freeze it for another time when you need extra dough.) To pick up a thinner pie crust, though, use the rolling pin. You can see me do this in the butter pie crust video: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/all-butter-pie-crust/

  21. I have been trying to master a deep dish quiche crust for the last year (ok, off & on, but still…). I used the full recipe & it came it out perfectly. This recipe is the first one that gave me a better crust than one that I can buy frozen. Thank you 🙂

    Following now to see what other wonderful things you have!

  22. I have made this pie crust recipe (along with Sally’s pot pie recipe) a few times now and I refuse to go back to the less-than-mediocre refrigerated/frozen pie crusts from the grocery store!! So. Spoiled. Sally’s pie crust recipe yields the most delicious buttery, flaky crust!! This one’s a keeper.

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