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!


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 (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


  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.

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!



  1. I suck at making pie crust, like to the point I’d given up and just bought it for years and I’m the type to try to make everything homemade. I made this recipe tonight on a whim to top a curry turkey pot pie I threw together (gotta use up those holiday leftovers!) and not only was this recipe super easy but it is by far the very best pie crust I’ve ever made! My husband loved it and I ended up nibbling on a bunch of the little crust leaves I topped the crust with made with the scraps! Thank you SO much for this recipe, I’ll never make another crust recipe again!

  2. When baking this pie crust, do you recommend standard or convection cooking? If convection, what temperature do you recommend?

    1. Hi Paul, I always use the conventional setting on my oven for baking. The general rule for convection is to lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees if you would like to try it.

  3. Wow, just wow! I’ve had your recipe for a few weeks now, and still put off baking a pie because I hate making crusts so, so much! Problem is, here in Germany, you cannot buy pre-made pie crusts, so I used a substitute which was never absolutely right. Today, I ventured into baking my first ever double crust apple pie, using your crust recipe.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s the first time in decades that the pie crust turned out perfect at the first go (also, I never made a perfect pie crust before!), and while I didn’t find it easy, the recipe is super simple, if you follow it completely. My pie is currently in the oven, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Again, thank you, I will never attempt a different pie crust ever again!

    1. OMG I made the crust using cold lard and unsalted butter and again OMG I am in love with your crust. I made a homemade cherry pie and my next pies are holiday meat pie with Hamburg and pork. Thanks again for posting this.

      1. Brian, on the lard did you replace gram for gram the amount of vegetable shortening? I have debated doing lard but wasn’t sure how much to use. Thank you, Lauren

      2. Brian: Same question as Lauren, but hoping repeating it would send a reminder to your email, did you replace gram for gram the amount of vegetable shortening?

        Lauren: Have you ever used the butter flavored shortening?

      3. If I’m subbing lard for shortening, would it be gram for gram? I’ve already made your all butter crust and it was fantastic! I had to smack my brother upside the head to stop him from eating all the crust off the pie haha

  4. I will never buy a store bought pie crust again… This came out so fantastic!!! I used it on a chicken pot pie last night and it was so delicious that the whole pie is already gone… the crust really made the whole dish! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  5. Can I replace the shortening in this recipe with vegan butter (Earth Balance brand)? I would still use the 6 tablespoons of regular dairy butter but do not have shortening and was wondering if vegan butter would produce similar results if I used that to replace the shortening amount.

    1. Hi Naaila, I’m sorry but I haven’t tested this recipe with vegan butter in place of the shortening. I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you try it.

  6. My Lemon Meringue Pie crust turned out magnificent! At thought, I believe pie crusts are a hassle & I’m a cake lady but the baker in me will not allow me to substitute a frozen for a handcrafted crust! On to next, making a chess pie (wish we could share photos).

  7. I usually hit or miss when making pie crusts but not with your recipe; I made several pies over Thanksgiving and the pie crusts were unbelievable. They rolled out perfectly and were flaky and buttery. Thank you.

  8. I read your article, and will have to try it. I don’t know, if its me, but I have made pie crusts, and I want it somewhat sweet. Is this normal? Lol. I made one today, (not your recipe) and it came out good, flaky, yet there is something wrong with it. Maybe because I forgot to glaze it with milk, and egg yolk. I did add, just a pinch of sugar. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I will contact you, and let you know how your recipe comes out, I am saving this link. Thanks…

  9. Sally, this is an excellent recipe for pie crust and so clearly laid out. Your instructions were very easy to understand and helpful and the texture was just as you said! I used the full 1/2 cup of cold water. We used the crust for the french silk pie and will use the leftover crust for another one of your pie recipes. I’m thinking the lemon meringue for New Years.

  10. Can I use margarine in place of the shortening? And can I use salted butter? If so how much do I cut back on the salt in the recipe?

    1. You can thaw it in the refrigerator or at room temperature. The refrigerator is best. It takes a few hours to completely thaw out.

  11. Let me start off saying I’ve made your pie crust multiple times and every time it tastes amazing and the texture is sooo flaky. But every time when I roll it out it cracks! And I feel like I’m doing surgery on it to repair it and make it look decent. I take it out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes prior to rolling it. I don’t want to let it get to warm because I know the dough should be kept cold. I’ve even thought about rolling it out and putting in the pie dish and then chilling it. I know it has enough water because it comes together just fine.

    Please help! What can I do so that my crust doesn’t crack when I roll it out?

    1. Hi Katie, I’m so glad you enjoy this pie crust recipe! You can absolutely roll out the dough in the pan and then chill it again – I do this often!

    1. Hi, Olivia! I’d recommend making each batch individually. The ingredients will incorporate much better that way. Hope this helps!

  12. How do you keep the crust from shrinking? I don’t usually blind bake the crust for pecan pie but would that help? I’m using a glass pie dish.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Happy to help. My first tip is to avoid over-working the pie dough. Dough should only be mixed until the ingredients come together. Don’t use a food processor if you continue to experience pie dough shrinking. Use a pastry cutter. Let it rest for at least 2 hours in the fridge– and if you can let it rest longer, awesome. Better yet, make the pie dough discs a few days in advance so they can rest during that time. Likewise, use gentle force when rolling out pie dough. Roll out very slowly and take your time. Keep the ingredients as cold as possible. You can even freeze the crust for 20-60 minutes before blind baking. That always always helps! (I usually do that.)

  13. I made homemade pie crust for the first time EVER–it was this recipe and it was PERFECT!!
    If it were not for Sally’s step-by-step instructions, pictures, tips and tricks, I am afraid I would have had a ‘terrible’ experience!
    BUT, my very first (partial blind bake) homemade crust came out GREAT!
    Thank you Miss Sally for your tutelage and encouragement!
    I am going downstairs right now to make another pie!!!

  14. I am a senior who can bake bread, cookies, cakes etc etc. When I made pies I bought the pastry because I couldn’t make pastry at all even tho I have many MANY recipes. I never paid attention when I was younger to how my mom or grandmother made their delicious pies. I watched your video and decided to give your recipe a try thinking it would be like all the others. Your tutorial was so helpful that I now have mastered pastry making. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I’m so proud of myself that at my age I’ve finally learned how to make pastry.

    1. Elaine, I am almost 60…and had NEVER made pie crust (nor a pie for that matter)
      I LOVE to bake, and when I got a request at Christmas for a “lemon meringue pie” I thought “well, I accept that challenge!!”
      **If it were not for Sally’s step-by-step instructions, and pictures, and videos, I KNOW I would not have had the great experience/results that I did!**
      Elaine, you should be proud of yourself! –Sally has given us the confidence!

      (I am getting ready to bake Sally’s “deep dish apple pie” for my husband!)

  15. I made this dough today. I’m not sure what I did wrong but I found the dough had to work with. whenever I tried to roll it out, it tore all the time. I added a little more cold water but that did not help much. Not sure what I did wrong

    1. Hi Lori! Was it tearing because it was too thin and wet? Or because it was too dry and cracking? Either can easily be fixed– try re-rolling into a thicker circle with more flour if it’s too wet or, if it’s too dry and cracking, bring the cracks back together with water moistened fingers.

  16. I used your recipe as a reference and changed it quite a bit in order to make a gluten free lattice crust. If you’d like me to share my recipe for you to try and share, let me know!

  17. Thank you, Sally!
    This recipe makes pie crust exactly like my Mom and Gramma used to make 🙂

    Have you ever made crust using whole milk as the liquid?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy this pie crust recipe. I haven’t tried it with whole milk, but I’ve used ice cold buttermilk before. It’s extra tender and delicious.

      1. It seems to me that, although the taste would be somewhat different, the texture would be similar. 🙂
        Sounds like a win!

  18. I have never had luck making pie crusts come out flaky until I found this one today… I’m in love and will only use this from now on. Thank you…

  19. I make pie dough using only olive oil with flour right out of the freezer. My daughter is celebrating her 50th birthday Feb 5 and she loves lemon meringue pie. I would like to try your recipe but without dairy products. Any help you can give will be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hi Brenda, I have not tested this crust with vegan butters. You can use all shortening but your pie crust will not be as flakey. You can also make a pie crust with lard if you can find it.

  20. Hi Sally I’m going to try and make your recipe today for the piecrust I was just wondering could that also be used for chicken pot pie and I love the way you explain things you make it sound so easy

      1. Hi Sally it’s Josephine again LOL thank you for getting back to me so quickly I forgot to ask you do I have to blind bake the bottom Of the pie crust first Before making the chicken pot pie

  21. What type or brand(s) of pie baking dishes or pans would you recommend, Sally? Glass is shown in your photo. Just wondering if u have a recommendation, or advice on what to invest in f/ perfect pies every time. I have a glass Pyrex pie shaped dish here (2nd hand, tho, so not f/ sure it’s safe to bake pies in). (would love it if it is)…& a 2nd hand metal pie pan (not aluminum). Thank you!

    1. I always prefer baking pies in glass pie dishes mostly because you can see when the crust has browned around the edges inside the dish (as well as on the bottom). Additionally, glass conducts heat evenly and the radiant heat in the pan also helps the pie crust cook.

  22. I made your crust today. and it was wow wow wow great Thankyou I filled it apple and cranberry pie filling that I made yesterday on the stove top to use some apples up. Thanks Again

  23. I want to try this and I wonder if there is an apple pie recipe because my mom loves apple pie.
    Also, I don’t have any pie weights or the pie crust cover things. How can I make my own without altering the flavour?

    1. Apple pie is my favorite dessert so you will find many Apple Pie Recipes on my site!
      If you need to pre-bake a crust and don’t have pie weights you can use dried beans instead. And you can use strips of aluminum foil in place of a pie sheild.

  24. I tried this crust and failed miserably! It fell apart and stuck to my rolling pin. I’m pretty sure I didn’t use enough water–it seemed to be coming together after about 4 tablespoons so I stopped there. Planning to try again! Questions though–is there any difference between stick and canned shortening, and is crust destined to stick to my wooden rolling pin? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jamie! I highly recommend adding more water. 4 Tablespoons is not enough– I usually add double. In my baking, I find no difference between the stick and canned shortening. That being said, I usually make this with the canned, kept cold in my refrigerator.

  25. Bahahahahaa! I failed! The first time I made it, it went slightly better than the second. Before I started this, I read and re read your instructions, people’s comments, and I still failed! But I did better than my friend who threw her pie dough at her kitchen window! I think half my problem is, is that I have no idea what it is supposed to feel like or how it is supposed to behave. I am basically home bound due to a very rare lung disease so I can’t take a class, but maybe I can find someone to come and teach me. I really don’t want to buy the premade.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally