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


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 (313g) 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


  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.
  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.


  1. I have to admit, this particular post was a make-it-or-break-it one for me.  I have a very special place in my heart for pies and pie crusts and if you had some flimsy, silly post, I was ready to leave forever.  But, you NAILED IT!  I have worked on pie crusts for years to get them “just right” and it seems like you have done the same.  EXCELLENT INSTRUCTIONS!  Thank you.

  2. Hey, Sally. I’ve been following you for years and I know every recipe I try of yours is going to be foolproof. But this pie crust, man… It’s really kicked my ass.
    I’ve tried it at least 3 times with and without a pastry cutter and it ALWAYS comes out crumbly and falls apart. Also, the mixture turns into clumps long before I add the water, so I typically add about 1 Tbsp of water out of the 1/3 of a cup that you recommend because its already clumpy and coming together. What do you think could be the problem? One thing I do is cut the shortening in before the butter, or vice versa, but not together. Could that be why? I swear by your recipes and I know this would be fantastic so I really wanna nail it. 

    1. Hey Robin! Easy fix. The reason is the lack of water! The reason your dough is crumbly and falls apart is because there is no liquid in the pie dough. There needs to be liquid. Use about 1/2 cup. Trust me!

      1. YES! It worked! I knew your recipes were foolproof. You’re awesome, thanks so much! I can finally make pie!

  3. Hi there! Thanks for such an informative post. I’m curious… if I wanted to use lard in this recipe, I should substitute it for the shortening, right? Or what would you recommend? I don’t think I would / should do only lard, because I like the flavor that butter adds, so I’m assuming I should do some combination of something. Thanks!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Yes, replace the shortening with the lard.

  4. Homemade pie crust is one cooking basic that I had given up trying to master – UNTIL TODAY! I prepared this recipe for meat pies, and I ended up enjoying the crust more than the filling. Unlike ALL my previous attempts, this pie crust was extremely tender and flaky. It is so flaky, it reminded me of phyllo dough, but richer with a delightful crumb. I added 1 tsp of sugar, which for me, balances the flavor of the crust. If one can “master” a recipe in one attemp, I did it, thanks to this awesome recipe post. Thank you, Sally!

  5. After searching every nook and cranny ad nauseam for pie crust I finally had an epiphany, let me just see what sally’s baking addiction has. . . and sure enough here it is. I don’t know why I bothered looking elsewhere because everything I’ve made of yours has come out beautifully- instructions are detailed easy to follow (even amusing at times) and the recipes themselves turn out beautiful AND taste amazing! Thanks!
     I’m making this pie crust to go in your apple crumble pie today. I finally understand that I’m an overworker when it comes to pie crust. What are your thoughts on using a food processor to combine flour and fats? Is there an impact to the finished product? Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much Erin. And about the food processor. I do not use one, ever, when I make pie crust. I SWEAR by a pastry cutter. You have more control with your hands.

  6. I know this comment is a little late but this pie crust recipe and instruction are amazing. I nailed it first try and made my very first completely from scratch pumpkin pie (even the pumpkin did not come from a can for I finally had the time to make it fresh and i like the texture better). This was seriously the best pumpkin pie I have ever eaten and I know ours because of the crust!!!! Thank you! 

  7. Hi,
    When I roll out the dough I get cracks on the edges that get bigger and bigger as I roll it out so that in the end my dough isn’t round and when I put it in the dish I have to patch certain areas. How do I avoid this?

    1. Marilyne, that is a result of not enough liquid in the pie crust. It’s cracking because it is too dry. Add a little more ice water next time– 1 Tbsp at a time.

  8. Hi Sally!  After I add the 1/2 cup of water tablespoon by tablespoon and transfer the dough to a floured surface, my dough is a little crumbly and has a hard time sticking together.  How do I precent this?  Thanks!

    1. If it’s still too crumbly to work with, add a little more ice water Tbsp by Tbsp until it comes together.

  9. Made these tonight and so excited to see how they turnout.  Should I grease or flour the bottom of the pan?  When I’ve skipped this in the past I’ve had crust stick, but I haven’t tried this recipe so perhaps with all the fats perhaps sticking won’t be an issue? thanks!  

    1. This pie crust won’t stick to the bottom of the pan unless filling seeps through it.

  10. Hi Sally! This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to make it today! Quick question that I’ve been wondering about for a while…does it turn out yummier using the unsalted butter? I have both that and salted in my fridge and in most cases I prefer the salted butter…for this recipe though you would use the unsalted? Thanks so much and happy thanksgiving!! 

    1. Using unsalted gives you complete control over the salt going in. The amount of salt in salted butter varies between brand so you could end up with super salty baked goods and pie crusts even if you reduce the salt in the actual recipe. I always suggest unsalted.

  11. This pie crust turned out amazing,  nicely gold and flaky! I was amazed by how easy it was to roll it out . A complete success! Thank you for sharing the recipe! 

  12. Hi,
    I made this pie crust recipe in my food processor.  I did not use as much water as mentioned in the recipe because it came together like the pictures without as much water.  When I tried to roll it out, the dough kept breaking apart but still felt moist and not crumbly.  What can I do next time to keep this from happening?  I was afraid to add more water because I figured it would be too sticky.  Thank you!

    1. Terri, to prevent this– add more water. A crumbly crust doesn’t have enough moisture. Add 2 more Tbsp. That should be plenty.

  13. Silly question, can you add more water after the dough has chilled, if it is too crumbly when you are rolling it? If yes, do I need to re chill it after adding the water? I have never been able to figure out pie crust and want to give this a try on Tuesday, to make your Chicken Pot PIe on Wednesday. I’ve made the pot pie before, but always with a store bought crust. LOVE the pot pie recipe!! Your instructions are fantastic, so easy to follow! Thank you!!

    1. Amanda, I’ve never had luck doing that. Make sure you are adding enough ice cold water as you are mixing it. Add just enough so the dough comes together and clumps like the picture shown. Around 1/2 cup.

  14. Recipe looks great! I  appreciate the pictures. I am making chicken pot pie today and I have a large family so wanted to use a glass 9×13. Should I double the recipe? 

    1. Yes, double the recipe for that size pan.

  15. Hi there! I just wanted to let you and your readers know that I used this recipe for a chicken pot pie and it was PERFECT. So flaky and delicious. I did use all butter because I didn’t have any shortening and though there is a strong butter flavor, I thought it was fine with the savory dish. If I were to make a cherry pie, say, I think I’d use shortening. Anyway thanks for the great recipe! 

  16. I used this tutorial to make pie crust from scratch for the first time ever – my pie (pumpkin, also completely from scratch!) turned out wonderfully! I received so many complements on the pie and specifically how good the crust was (I was curious and tried with half vodka). Thank you! This is my go-to recipe from now on!

  17. Thank-you very much! I decided to try this pie crust recipe when I made tourtière on Christmas Eve. My mother’s recipe for the meat filling is outstanding, but I could never quite replicate her crust. I was hesitant to try this at first because it has so much more fat than I am accustomed to using. What a pleasant surprise! This year’s pie was by far the best I have ever made. Even mom would have been proud! 

  18. Oh, and P.S., it was easy too — so much easier to roll out and get into the pie plate intact than any other crust I have ever made!

  19. My 8 children are in love with a somewhat local restaurants pie crusts. But it’s almost a 2 hour trip each way just to eat their chicken pot pie & a slice of pie. Each time I try to duplicate the crust I fail tragically. Even using my 90 year  old grandma’s recipe failed the kid test. But this weekend I made a large turkey and had plenty of leftovers so I thought I would give it another try.  Your title jumped out at me & I was hopeful. I pulled out the ingredients I had on hand and gave it a whirl.  (Chilled salted butter, Butter flavored Crisco & so on) I wasn’t paying attention and cut up a full stick of butter. But I remembered my grandma adding extra flour to balance it out, but I added a bit too much flour and added more water slowly by the Tbsp. I tell you what it was amazing! Their response was, cool mom now we don’t have to drive to Bangor anymore. They ate 4 pot pies in under 20 minute. I didn’t get a chance to freeze 2 of them for a later date, they devoured them.  Thank you so much for this recipe,  you have saved me approximately  $200 each month. I no longer have to send $75 in gas (12 passenger vans are expensive to fill) plus the restaurant bill to feed our family & we no longer have to buy a “case” of wine (lol) to relax after a 4 hour screamfest driving to and from the restaurant. Now we can afford date night again!  Thank you, thank you, thank you

  20. I made three batches of this pie crust for Christmas and it was delicious! I thought I’d let everyone know, I did not add enough water to the dough but I didn’t realize it until I tried to roll it out (it just crumbled when I tried to roll it out) so I added more ice water after it was chilled and it worked out just fine!

  21. Hello Sally!

    I am a pie baking nerd like yourself. I have always been a die hard butter crust girl but am going to be open about using shortening this time!

    One question. Do you put the pie shield on immediately before baking? Or wait until the edges get to the desired doneness and then shield?
    In the past I have always just covered with foil once the edges are done to my liking. This time I am trying out my pie shield and just not sure when to put it on?

    Thanks! Great post!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Great question. I put a pie shield on when I notice the edges beginning to brown.

  22. Hi Sally! I need 4 crusts, can i just double this recipe? I know doubling can be tricky sometimes. Would i be better off just making the recipe twice? Thanks 🙂

    1. Make the recipe twice. That’s what I always do!

  23. Just made this today.  Dough did not want to cooperate…..kept falling apart, bottom was soggy after I cooked it and lattice did not brown.    I refrigerated the dough for two hours, but it still seemed too soft.   Next time I’m going to refrigerate the dough for four hours and blind bake it. And I just saw your comment about using the glass pie pan…… I will try that the next time. I used one of those deep dish pampered chef type of pie plate.  And I’m also going to go for a longer bake time.  Hopefully, those adjustments will fix this pie.

  24. Tried out this crust for your chicken pot pie recipe and it turned out great.

    Quick question: is there any way to adjust the ingredients for a 9.5″ pie dish? I did have a bit of leftover dough for the 9″ version but it won’t be enough to fill the bigger dish. 


    1. Hi Ivy! I’m unsure. I’ve used this exact crust in a 9.5 dish with no issue. Do you think you could keep working at it to make it fit?

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

    1. The visible butter swirls are GOOD! You want those; don’t stir or handle the dough more to rid them.

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

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

    1. It happens, sometimes cannot be avoided! Simply smooth them down with your fingers. This always helps!

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

    1. I would still use about 1/2 teaspoon of salt if using unsalted.

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

    1. You sure can!

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

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