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Learn how to make a perfectly buttery, flaky pie crust from scratch using this in-depth tutorial and video. This page includes all of my best success tips, lots of step-by-step photos, and a thoroughly detailed recipe. Millions of readers have been using this helpful guide since 2015. Master this crust recipe and the rest will be as easy as… eating salted caramel apple pie!

apple pie with lattice pie crust top in glass pie dish.

For a baker, there’s nothing more satisfying than making a pie completely from scratch. Pies are often made for special occasions, and there’s a good reason for that: they’re time consuming. This shouldn’t scare you! It should intrigue you. If you’ve ever felt intimidated about making homemade pie crust, I’m here to walk you through it and cheer you on. If I can do this, you can do this.

Pie crust is the foundation for so many delicious desserts (plus savory pies and quiche), so once you build up your confidence in making a crust, you’re opening a door to an entire baking category. And that’s exciting! Whether your favorite pie filling is apple pie or creamy banana cream pie, or even eggs & cheese, the success of the overall pie can really hinge on the quality of the crust.

You wouldn’t hang a beautiful piece of art or favorite photo in a terrible frame, right?

Today I’m teaching you everything about making a buttery, flaky pie crust. This is my absolute favorite pie crust recipe and one of the most popular recipes on this website.

With all the recipe testing that goes into publishing the many pie recipes on this website and in my cookbooks, plus my annual Pie Week, it’s not an understatement to say that I have made a LOT of pies. Along the way, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and I’m happy to share it all with you.

pie crust in lattice design on top of apple pie sitting in glass pie dish.
pie crust up close

Start With These 5 Ingredients

The ingredient list for pie crust is short & simple:

  1. Flour: Start with quality flour. Did you know that not all all-purpose flours are equal? King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour is my go-to for not only pie crust, but for everything. (Not working with the brand, just a true fan!) Why? Its high protein level: “At 11.7% protein, it tops ordinary American all-purpose flours by nearly 2 percentage points.” What does this mean? Baked goods rise higher and stay fresh longer.
  2. Salt: Enhances the flavor.
  3. Butter: For that unparalleled buttery flavor and flaky layers.
  4. Vegetable Shortening: For structure and stability. More on this below.
  5. Ice water: Liquid brings the dough together. Some recipes call for half water and half vodka, because alcohol doesn’t promote gluten formation, which helps the crust stay flaky and tender. Basically, it’s a gift to anyone who accidentally overworks dough. If you want to try using vodka, use 1/4 cup (60ml) each cold vodka and cold water in this recipe.

You can use this pie dough for so many recipes beyond a traditional pie, too, such as mini pecan pies, mini fruit galettes, apple hand pies, and homemade brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts.

ingredients on marble counter including flour, shortening, butter, salt, and a cup of ice water.

Is Pie Crust Better With Butter or Shortening?

I use BOTH shortening and butter in this pie crust because they work together to make the BEST crust. Buttery, flaky, and tender: the pie-fect trifecta.

  • What does butter do? Butter adds flavor and flakiness.
  • What does shortening do? Shortening helps the dough stay pliable, which is helpful when you’re rolling and shaping it. Plus, shortening’s high melting point helps the crust stay tender and maintain its shape as it bakes. Have you ever had a butter pie crust lose its shape completely? Shortening is “shape insurance.” 😉

If you don’t want to use shortening, try this all-butter pie crust instead. Let’s compare:

  • Using all butter creates a lighter-textured crust and this is due to the butter’s water content. As the crust bakes, the butter’s water converts to steam, lifting up the dough and creating flaky layers. But because of all this butter, the crust doesn’t usually have a perfectly neat-edge/shape compared to the shortening and butter combination.

Both crusts taste buttery and flaky. But overall, this butter-and-shortening crust wins in terms of texture and flavor; AND, if you follow the pie crust recipe carefully, it holds shape too.

cubes of butter and chopped up shortening in a bowl of flour.

The Secret to Perfect Pie Crust: COLD

The refrigerator is as important as the oven when you’re making a homemade pie.

Why the emphasis on temperature? Keeping your pie dough as cold as possible helps prevent the fats from melting before the crust hits the hot oven. 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 yield a hard, crunchy, greasy crust instead of a tender, flaky crust.

The colder the ingredients, the easier your pie crust is to work with, and the better it will turn out.

Two Tricks to Start as Cold as Possible:

  1. 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 still a little bit frozen and very, very cold. Simply keep the shortening in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (the flour and salt). Place the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

These Step-By-Step Photos Will Help

Take the butter and shortening out of the refrigerator. Cube the cold butter and measure out the cold shortening. Give the shortening a little chop—this is actually optional because, truly, the shortening is quite soft even when cold so it’s easy to mix in.

Now it’s time to combine everything. Add the butter and shortening to the dry ingredients, and use a pastry cutter (or 2 forks) to cut in the fats. Some pie crust recipes use a food processor for this, but I don’t recommend it, because it can lead to overworking the fats into the dough, cutting them up too small—which means you’ll need less water and your dough will fall apart. In this step, you’re only breaking up the cold fat into tiny little flour-coated pieces; you’re not completely incorporating it:

hands using a pastry cutter in a bowl of flour and another photo showing pea-sized bits of dough mixture in bowl.

Cut in the fats until the mixture resembles coarse meal—crumbly with lots of lumps, as you see above. You should still have some larger pieces of butter and shortening when you’re done.

From a cup of ice water, measure out 1/2 cup (120ml), since the ice has melted a bit. Drizzle the cold water into the dough 1 Tablespoon (15ml) at a time, stirring after every Tablespoon has been added.

pouring water with a Tablespoon measuring spoon into a bowl of pie crust mixture and dough shown again being stirred.

You’ll add just a little water at a time so that you don’t accidentally add too much. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps. I usually use 1/2 cup (120ml) of water, but if the weather is humid, you may not need as much, and if the weather is really dry, you may need a little more.

If too much water is added, the pie dough will require more flour and 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.

You want the dough to clump together, but not feel overly sticky. Once the dough is clumping together, transfer the dough to a floured work surface.

hands forming dough into a circle shape on a marble countertop.

Using floured hands, fold and smush (yes, that’s the technical term) the dough into itself, forming the dough into a ball. Your hands are your best tool, just like when making homemade puff pastry.

The ball of dough should come together easily. If it feels a bit too dry or crumbly, dip your fingers in the ice water and then continue forming the dough with your hands. If it feels too sticky, sprinkle on more flour and then continue forming the dough with your hands.

Once your ball of pie dough has come together, use a sharp knife to cut it in half:

two discs of pie dough and one cut in half.

This is enough dough for 2 pie crusts. You can use both crusts for a double-crust pie, like chicken pot pie and strawberry rhubarb pie; or, if your pie doesn’t require a top crust, like coconut cream pie, brownie pie, and lemon meringue pie, save the second pie crust for another pie. You can also roll out the second dough and use cookie cutters to make an easy pie design, like on this pumpkin pie.

Success Tip: Visible Specks and Swirls of Fat in Pie Dough

Take a look at the inside of the dough where you just sliced it. You want to see pieces of butter and flaky layers throughout the pie dough. These specks and swirls of butter and shortening will help ensure a flaky pie dough. They are a GOOD thing!

pie dough cut in half with flaky layers of butter inside.

Now your pie dough is ready for a rest in the refrigerator. Flatten each half into 1-inch-thick discs using your hands. The disc shape makes it easier to roll out. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.

overhead photo of two discs of pie dough on a marble countertop.

Can I Freeze Pie Dough?

Yes, absolutely, and I encourage it! Pie crust freezes beautifully, so it’s a great thing to make ahead of time. Store the tightly wrapped discs of pie dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you know you’re going to want several pies around the holidays, or when your favorite fruit will be in season (cherry pie, anyone?), you can cut down on the amount of time it takes to make pies from scratch the day you want them by making several pie crusts in advance and freezing them.

Thaw the pie crust dough overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it out. It will be extra cold, which is a great starting point.

How to Roll Out Pie Crust

After the dough has chilled for at least 2 hours, you can roll it out. Work with one crust at a time, keeping the other in the refrigerator until you’re ready to roll it out. You’ll need a clean work surface, a rolling pin, and some flour. Lightly flour the work surface, rolling pin, and your hands, and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Use gentle-medium force with your rolling pin on the dough—don’t press down too hard on the dough; you’re not mad at it!

When rolling dough out, start from the center and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go:

hands rolling out pie dough with wooden rolling pin on marble counter.

Between passes of the rolling pin, rotate the pie crust and even flip it, to make sure it’s not sticking to your work surface. Sprinkle on a little more flour if it’s sticking. Roll, turn. Roll, turn.

Do you see that beautiful marbling of the butter and shortening throughout the dough? Flaky layers, here you come!

Success Tip: If you notice the dough becoming a lopsided circle as you’re rolling it out, put down the rolling pin and use your hands to help mold the dough back into an even circle:

hands shaping edges of rolled out dough.

Roll the dough into a thin 12-inch circle, which is the perfect size to fit a 9-inch pie dish. You want enough crust to have some overhang so you can make a decorative edge.

Your pie dough will be about 1/8-inch thick, which is quite thin.

Success Tip: Since your dough is so thin, use your rolling pin to help transfer the pie crust to the pie dish. Carefully roll one end of the circle of dough gently onto the rolling pin, rolling it back towards you, slowly peeling it off the work surface as you go. Pick it up, and carefully roll it back out over the top of the pie dish. It’s helpful to watch how I do it in the video below.

hands using rolling pin to fit dough into pie dish and hands using scissors to cut excess dough around edge.

Make sure the pie crust is pretty well centered in the dish, with some overhang all around the sides. Tuck the crust into the pie dish, gently pressing it to the interior all the way around—no air bubbles.

Trim dough around the edges if there’s excess dough in some spots—you want about 1-inch overhang. After you add your pie filling and top crust (such as a lattice pie crust), fold overhang back over and pinch the top and bottom crusts together. Now you can create a pretty edge, such as fluting or crimping.

Fluting with fingers: To flute the edges, use a knuckle and 2 fingers to press around the edges of the pie crust, to give it a beautiful and classic scalloped look, like this apple pie.

Crimping with fork: You can also use a fork to crimp the edges, like I do with this peach pie.

two pies shown, one with fluted edges and one with crimped edges with a fork.

Your pie crust is ready to bake! Follow your pie recipe’s instructions from here; some recipes may call for a fully baked crust, and some may call for a partially baked (par-baked or blind baked) crust. You can read a tutorial on that here in this How to Par-Bake Pie Crust post. And some recipes, like this blueberry pie, don’t require baking the crust at all before adding the filling, because the pie bakes for so long; just spoon/pour the filling right in.

Your pie recipe might call for an egg wash on the dough and for that, use a pastry brush. And if you bake a lot of pies, this list of Best Pie Baking Tools will be helpful for you.

Troubleshooting Pie Crust
  • Pie crust is tough: Tough crusts are the result of not enough fat in the crust, as well as overworking the dough. Use the recipe below (plenty of fat) and avoid handling the dough more than you need.
  • Don’t have enough pie dough: This recipe yields 2 pie crusts. To ensure you have enough pie dough for overhang and a pretty topping, roll your dough out to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Pie crust shrinks down the sides of the dish when baking: This can happen when par-baking a pie crust. See section below.
  • Pie dough is dry & cracking around edges when rolling: Use enough ice water when preparing the pie dough. If you work the fats into the dry ingredients too much, the dough will feel too wet before you can add enough water. (And the dough will be dry and thirsty.) Do not overwork the fats in the dry ingredients—you still want those nice crumbles. If it’s too late and you notice the edges of your pie crust are cracking as you roll it out, dip your fingers in ice-cold water and meld the edges back together. Wait a minute, and then try rolling out again.
  • Pie dough is falling apart & crumbling when rolling: The dough is likely crumbling because there’s too much fat, and not enough flour and water. Again, this is usually a result of fat being worked in too much, which can easily happen if the ingredients weren’t cold enough. (Refrigerate those dry ingredients before you start!) If it’s too late and the pie dough is crumbling as you roll it out, try adding more water AND more flour. Sprinkle a tiny bit of ice water and flour onto the cracks and crumbled pieces, and gently work it all in with your fingers. Wait a minute, and then try rolling out again.

Gently work ice water drops and flour into your crumbly pie dough to bring it back together:

crumbling and cracking mass of dough on counter and another photo showing hands pressing the dough.

Blind Baking Pie Crust

If your pie recipe requires a fully baked or par-baked pie crust before adding the filling, follow the directions and success tips in this How to Par-Bake Pie Crust guide. You need 2 packs of pie weights, which are metal or ceramic beads that serve to weigh down the crust to prevent the puffing/shrinking. You could use dried beans instead. Whichever you choose, be sure to line the crust with parchment paper, then fill the empty pie crust shell with the weights prior to baking. Without pie weights, the dough will puff up, and then shrink down the sides.

two jars of white pie weights and shown again filled into a pie crust shell lined with parchment paper.

Pie Crust Success Tips

  1. Use a glass pie dish. 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 have browned.
  2. The refrigerator is pie dough’s best friend. Keep everything cold every step of the way: ingredients, the bowl, and the dough before rolling. 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. Keep dough cold when rolling out: Warm pie dough is unworkable. If the dough becomes too warm when you’re rolling it out, stop what you’re doing, pick it up as gently as you can, put it on a plate or small baking sheet, and then cover and refrigerate it for 10–20 minutes.
  4. Protect the crust edges from burning: Use a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from burning. A shield keeps the crust edge covered, but the center of the pie exposed, protecting the edges. I usually just make a pie shield out of a piece of aluminum foil. Take a piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half. Cut out a half circle. When you open it back up, you’ll have a square of foil with a circle cut out of the center. If you notice the edges of your pie crust are browning before the pie has fully baked, carefully and gently place the foil over the top of the pie, centering the cut-out hole over the pie. Carefully (obviously it’s very hot!) and lightly tuck the sides of the foil around the pie crust edges, then let the pie finish baking.
  5. Create a beautiful topping: For designing the top crust, see How to Lattice Pie Crust, How to Braid Pie Crust, or these Pie Crust Designs.

For more pie crust inspiration, see my graham cracker crust and homemade chocolate pop tarts (with a chocolate crust!).

Print
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pie crust in lattice design on top of apple pie sitting in glass pie dish.

Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 pie crusts (1 lb, 8 ounces dough total) 1x
  • 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, freeze the other half per the Freezing Instructions below. Is your pie dough tearing, cracking, or crumbling as you try to roll it out? See recipe Notes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for shaping and rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2/3 cup (130g) vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) ice cold water

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter 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). In this step, you’re only breaking up the cold fat into tiny little flour-coated pieces; you’re not completely incorporating it. Do not overwork the ingredients.
  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 has been added. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps. I always use about 1/2 cup of water, and need a little more in dry winter months. Do not add any more water than you need.
  4. Transfer the pie dough to a floured work surface. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky. Avoid overworking the dough. If it feels a bit too dry or crumbly, dip your fingers in the ice water and then continue bringing dough together with your hands. If it feels too sticky, sprinkle on more flour and then continue bringing dough together with your hands. Form it into a ball. Use a sharp knife to cut it in half. If it’s helpful, you should have about 1 lb, 8 ounces dough total (about 680g). Gently 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. After the dough has chilled for at least 2 hours, you can roll it out. Work with one crust at a time, keeping the other in the refrigerator until you’re ready to roll it out. Lightly flour the work surface, rolling pin, and your hands, and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Use gentle-medium force with your rolling pin on the dough—don’t press down too hard on the dough; you’re not mad at it! When rolling dough out, start from the center and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go. Between passes of the rolling pin, rotate the pie crust and even flip it, to make sure it’s not sticking to your work surface. Sprinkle on a little more flour if it’s sticking; don’t be afraid to use a little more flour. If you notice the dough becoming a lopsided circle as you’re rolling it out, put down the rolling pin and use your hands to help mold the dough back into an even circle. Roll the dough into a very thin 12-inch circle, which is the perfect size to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Your pie dough will be about 1/8 inch thick, which is quite thin. Visible specks of butter and fat in the dough are perfectly normal and expected.
  7. Because your dough is so thin, use your rolling pin to help transfer the pie crust to the pie dish. Carefully roll one end of the circle of dough gently onto the rolling pin, rolling it back towards you, slowly peeling it off the work surface as you go. Pick it up, and carefully roll it back out over the top of the pie dish. It’s helpful to watch how I do it in the video below.
  8. Proceed with the pie per your recipe’s instructions. If your dough requires par-baking, see helpful How to Par-Bake Pie Crust tutorial.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare the pie dough through step 5 and freeze the discs for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using in your pie recipe.
  2. Special Tools: Pastry Cutter & Rolling Pin. For more tools you may need to completely assemble and bake your pie, see my 10 Best Pie Baking Tools list.
  3. Salt: Use regular table salt. If using kosher salt, use 1 and 1/4 teaspoons.
  4. Shortening: This recipe uses a butter and shortening combination. Butter for flakiness and flavor, and shortening for its high melting point and ability to help the crust hold shape. You can use butter-flavor shortening if desired. If you want to skip the shortening, feel free to try this all-butter pie crust instead. Some readers have substituted lard for shortening in this recipe with success.
  5. Can I use a food processor? You can use a food processor to bring the dough ingredients together in step 1, but I find it quickly overworks the dough. For best results and a light, flaky crust, I recommend a pastry cutter.
  6. Pie dough is dry & cracking around edges when rolling: Use enough ice water when preparing the pie dough. If you work the fats into the dry ingredients too much, the dough will feel too wet before you can add enough water. (And the dough will be dry and thirsty.) Do not overwork the fats in the dry ingredients—you still want those nice crumbles. If it’s too late and you notice the edges of your pie crust are cracking as you roll it out, dip your fingers in ice-cold water and meld the edges back together. Wait a minute, and then try rolling out again.
  7. Pie dough is falling apart & crumbling when rolling: The dough is likely crumbling because there’s too much fat, and not enough flour and water. Again, this is usually a result of fat being worked in too much, which can easily happen if the ingredients weren’t cold enough. (Refrigerate those dry ingredients before you start!) If it’s too late and the pie dough is crumbling as you roll it out, try adding more water AND more flour. Sprinkle a tiny bit of ice water and flour onto the cracks and crumbled pieces, and gently work it all in with your fingers. Wait a minute, and then try rolling out again.
  8. More Crusts: If you need more than 2 pie crusts, make another separate batch of dough. Doubling or tripling the recipe leads to over- or under-working the dough, which ruins all of your efforts.

Keywords: pie crust

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I love this pie crust recipe! The first time I made it I was too afraid to use all of the water making it dry and crumbly to the touch. Using ice cold water I dipped my fingers into the water and proceeded to work the dough (gently) until it came together. The dough is very forgiving. I’ve used this recipe 4 more times, perfect roll out, no problems. The recipe doesn’t call for this but I put the butter and shortening into the freezer and grated the butter and sliced the shortening once frozen. After grating and cutting I put both in a stainless steel bowl and placed it back into the freezer. I find they combine evenly and easily when I cut in with my pastry cutter.
    I made Ina Garten’s quiche and Sally’s French Silk pie – both were amazing, the crust was flakey and full of flavor.
    I’ve struggled for YEARS with pie crust, I definitely think this is a keeper.
    P.S. Sally’s French Silk Pie is to die for!

  2. For the past few years, I’ve been using a reliable crust recipe that uses only shortening. It was easy to work with, and produced an acceptable crust, but nothing spectacular. I found this recipe nearly as easy, but the results far superior (I also used vodka for part of my cold liquid). I will continue to use this recipe unless I need a vegan pie crust.

  3. I’m sad. I’ve been making pie crusts successfully and deliciously for 55+ years, wanted to try something new (IDIOT!) for the 4 pies I was making for Thanksgiving this year and figured this was a “guarantee make” for the dinner.

    I have no idea what I would have done incorrectly, but made 4 recipes, followed all instructions exactly (using a scale) and after the first 3 crusts rolling out so difficultly, I gave up.

    I used Sally’s pumpkin pie recipe, vs my creation, and it was excellent.

  4. My family craves this crust lol I eat the dough more before it’s baked lol so good! But I have a question.. can I add sugar to make the crust sweeter for a dessert pie? If so how much would you add?

    1. Hi Amanda! We use this crust as written for sweet & savory pies, but you could add 1 Tbs granulated sugar with the dry ingredients!

  5. Best pie crust ever!!! It hasn’t failed me yet! I receive comments on how fluffy and flavorful the crust is every time! Thank you, thank you!

    (I do have one question, I’ve made your deep dish apple pie a few times, and also pumpkin pie, some of the time the bottom of the crust are not baked completely. I’ve tried baking longer, but the rest of the pie then starts to burn. Do you have any suggestions on how to be sure the bottom bakes completely? (I use the pie plates you suggested)). Thank you for your suggestions.

  6. I’m a personal chef. I grew up with food from my fathers restaurant. He grew up with food from his fathers food talents.
    …You get the idea.
    People tell me I’m very talented when enjoying the meals I make for them. It’s been a blessing to bring delicious food to others.
    Why I tell you this? Because in a world wide web of millions of recipes, it’s rare for me to come across a site where I KNOW the author knows what they are talking about.
    Many times, it’s the opposite, actually. But I understand their path and encourage them anyway.
    Not you. You know what you’re talking about. Thank you.
    I’ll hit you up on IG. Maybe we could collaborate someday in some way. Cheers!

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