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– let’s say you’re making a pie with an especially wet filling– follow my how to blind bake pie crust guide and use pie weights. Without pie weights, the dough will puff up, then shrink. Pie weights are made from metal or ceramic beads and work to weigh down the crust to prevent the puffing/shrinking. Dried beans can also be used! Whichever you choose, be sure to line the crust with parchment, then fill the empty pie crust with the weights all the way to the top of the pie dish rim prior to baking. More on pie weights.
  5. Use a pie crust shield to keep the crust edge covered, which protects it from browning too quickly or worse– burning. Use an adjustable silicone pie crust shield that you can fit to the size of your delicate pie crust. Metal can break the crust. Alternatively, you can cover the pie with a piece of aluminum foil. Cut a large circle in the center of the square so the center of the pie is exposed.
  6. If your pie recipe requires a pre-baked pie shell, such as banana cream pie, french silk pie, or a tart, here is what to do: prepare the pie crust through step 6. Roll out the chilled pie dough into a 12-inch circle, carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth, then trim and flute the edges. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, then line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake at 375°F (190°C) until it begins to color around the edges. (15-20 minutes)

Troubleshooting Pie Crust

  • Prevent a crumbly pie dough. Make sure you use enough water when preparing your pie dough. Too little water will make your dough unworkable. Read more about water above.
  • Prevent a tough baked pie crust. Tough crusts are the result of not enough fat in the crust, as well as overworking the dough. Use the recipe above (plenty of fat) and don’t work the dough too much.
  • Prevent a burnt crust with a pie shield! See above.

Pie Recipes! Recipes to try using this crust: peach pie (in my cookbook!), cherry piechicken pot pie, pumpkin pie, quichebaked apples, salted pecan pie tarts, apple crumble pieblueberry peach pie, homemade pop-tarts!, and salted caramel apple pie.

How to make my FAVORITE pie crust! This is my go-to recipe!

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521 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, thanks for the recipe. I can’t find decent vegetable shortening here in Malaysia, may I please have the measurement for an all butter dough?

  2. Love this pie recipe thank you for sharing. Will this work for making mini pies? I am going to try to make mink blueberry pies but unsure if I need to blind bake the crust first.
    Thanks!

  3. Wow. Just WOW. I’ve made pies for years, always using the same pie crust recipe, thinking it was the best, in fact, I’ve had many compliments on it…but THIS! This pie crust is totally AMAZING! The crust is flaky and light, and just plain good!
    I used lard instead of shortening, and the dough was beautiful to work with! This is my new go to crust recipe!

    1. I prefer to use a pastry cutter or two forks. A food processor can actually blend the dough too much – you want it to be a coarse meal with some larger pieces of butter and shortening.

      1. Hi Carol! For best taste and texture, I recommend making the pie dough 1 batch at a time. It’s easier to work with 1 batch of dough at a time, too. You don’t risk adding too much or too little liquid that way either.

  4. Although this recipe yielded a wonderfully flaky and tender crust, I ran into trouble with the dough. First if all, rolling it out was so challenging: it kept cracking at the edges and sticking to the rolling pin in the middle. It also cracked when I tried to use it to form my apple hand pies. I was thinking maybe I added too little liquid to the dough…? Also, would it be possible to reduce the shortening to 1/2 cup and use 10 tablespoons total of butter? Some people in my family want a buttier-tasting crust 🙂 Personally, I liked it. But, would that work? Would the crust still keep it’s shape and all? Would I need to make any other changes? Thanks Sally I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Erin, It sounds like your dough might have been a bit too dry. If the edges are cracking when you roll it out you can slightly moisten them and just keep putting them back together (you can see me fixing the edges of my crust in the video!). Also, if your rolling pin is sticking you can lightly coat it in flour. If your family would like an all butter crust I suggest this one: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/all-butter-pie-crust/

  5. Hi Sally,
    I used this recipe to make an apple pie, and was having some trouble while rolling out the dough. The edges kept cracking with each roll. I know it will do that just slightly, but this was pretty bad. I tried pinching the dough back together, but it just seemed so fragile that when I’d pick it up to put in the pie pan it would tear at the cracks. It also didn’t seem like enough dough to cover a 9 inch pan, so I ended up rolling it out pretty thin to cover the pan. After it finished baking, the crust was very flaky, but to the point where it would just crumble. I think overall it was just too delicate. Would you be able to pinpoint where I went wrong?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Andrea! I’m happy to help. It sounds like the pie dough is simply too dry. If you make the dough again, add more ice water. If the edges are cracking when you roll it out, you can slightly moisten them and just keep putting them back together (you can see me fixing the edges of my crust in the video!).

  6. Hey Sally, in your scone recipes you recommend grating the frozen butter. Would you recommend that approach for pie crust? I’m afraid that my butter chunks are too big. Does that ruin the crust?

    1. Hi Teo, You really want to stick with larger chunks of butter for the best pie crust! You can see in the last photo above how my crust looks marbled with larger pieces of butter – that’s a very good thing in pie crusts 🙂

  7. I always struggle trying to make pie dough. Is it possible to cut the butter into the flour too long? It didnt seem to want to break into pea sized bits (the butter was very cold) until I spent extra time cutting it in.

    1. It is possible – If your crust comes out too tough it could be the result of overworking the dough. How did yours turn out?

      1. It came out the opposite – so sandy and crumbly after baking (I test baked an empty pie shell) that it was unusable. It didn’t hold together and it shrunk down the sides of the pan. I read up on another website that i may have made the consistentcy TOO uniform by cutting in the butter too much and therefore not enough gluten forms. Perhaps I should just accept that I can’t make pastry. I try and try and it’s always wrong 🙁 I wish I had a grandma to show me!

    1. If you use salted butter try cutting the amount of added salt in half. Every brand of butter contains a different amount of salt so I can’t say exactly how much you should use (which is why I always suggest unsalted butter so we know exactly how much we are adding).

  8. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I did use a food processor but was careful not to overwork the dough and did not use it for a pie. My mother used to sprinkle butter, sugar and cinnamon on any leftover dough from a pie crust, roll it into a log and bake it. Once out of the oven she sliced the logs and sprinkled with confectioners sugar. I made these a couple of times for my grandchildren using store bought pie crust. They loved them. Well, needless to say, they were a huge hit with your pie crust recipe. Actually, the first word out of my daughter’s mouth was “flaky”. Thank you Sally for another great recipe. I’m making your drop sugar cookies today and will let you know how they turn out.

  9. Used this recipe to make my first pie crust for a razzleberry pie. Crust turned out excellent. Instructions very easy to follow and step-by-step photos are helpful. Pie was delicous and the crust was flaky and so tasty. My family loves pie and especially a good crust. This is a win!

    Thank you for the nice recipe.

  10. Hi Sally, I am new at pie making and want to make this recipe. However, my deep dish pie plate is 10″. Will this recipe make enough dough for a 10″ pan?

    1. Hi Terri! Happy to help. When cutting the dough in half to make 2 crusts, cut about 2/3 and 1/3. 2/3 of the amount of dough would be great for the bottom of the pie and you can use the 1/3 of dough for pie crust decoration/design on top.

  11. Greetings, Sally!
    I’m a brand new email subscriber and I thoroughly enjoy exploring your blog. I’ve been baking pies since I was 10 years old (I’m 66 years young at the moment). About four years ago I discovered I have a sensitivity to gluten. 🙁

    Trust me when I say making a gluten free pie crust is IMPOSSIBLE. No matter the approach, no matter the use of fabulous King Arthur gluten free flour, no matter the number of prayers, chants, mantras, and fingers crossed … the result is a dismal failure. It’s extremely frustrating for someone like me who’s baked successfully for decades.

    I respect and admire everything you’re doing on “Sally’s Baking Addiction”. Wishing you tremendous and continued success!!

    1. Hi Melanie, Welcome to the blog and thank you for such a kind comment! I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be to try to recreate pie crust with gluten free flour. I unfortunately don’t have much experience with it, but there are some wonderful websites out there that are dedicated to gluten free baking and I hope you find something you love soon!

      1. Howdy again, Sally
        I must say your blog readers are so engaged! Keep making your magic. The blogosphere needs people like you. 🙂

    2. Hi Melanie,

      Please see below for a tried and true gluten free pie crust recipe. We used it in culinary school for pies. It’s amazing. (Please note: everything is by weight)
      Buttermilk 1.5 fl oz
      Egg 1.6 oz (1 egg)
      Salt .2 oz (1 tsp.)
      Brown sugar 1 oz
      Vanilla extract 1 tsp
      Almond extract 1 tsp
      Rice flour 7 oz
      Cornstarch 2 oz
      Tapioca flour 2 oz
      Xanthan gum .05 oz (1 tsp)
      Unsalted butter, cold 6 oz.

      Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, salt, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Set aside.
      Combine the rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour and xanthan gum in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, then cut into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of a pea.
      Add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and chill at least 1 hour before using.

      This was for an apple pie, so you may need to change the flavorings,as we did, accordingly. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks a heap, Deidre! Much appreciated. 🙂
        Anxious to give your recipe a whirl. You’re an angel for chiming in.

  12. I definitely have a fear of pie crust. This recipe was successful and best of all crisper nicely. However, mine was a bit crumbly instead of flaky. I did think that I left too many large butter pieces in the dough. Could that be the problem?

    1. Hi John, no, my first guess would be that there wasn’t enough hydration in the dough. Add 1-2 more Tablespoons of water next time.

  13. I love this pie crust! I’ve made both all butter and shortening/butter blend. I live in Charleston, SC where lard is readily available for yummy southern cooking. How much lard do you use instead of shortening?

  14. Sally, I love your blog and your recipes have served me so well, especially this fool proof crust. Now that we are in full blown pie season (yay!), I’m curious how many days this dough would last in the fridge (not freezer) before baking? Thanks!

  15. I have someone who is allergic to eggs, but I wanted to do either a lattice pie crust on the top, or use the cookie cutters and do some fun shapes on the top of the pie. Is there any way I can do it without the egg wash or can I use something else?

  16. Hi, I am just getting ready to make this pie crust recipe for the first time. Is coconut shortening the same as vegetable shortening? Or is vegetable shortening only like crisco?

    1. Hi Kaye, I’m not familiar with coconut shortening so I have not tried to substitute it! Crisco is certainly one of the most popular brands of shortening in the U.S. but store brands work just as well!

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