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. This is my go-to recipe for pie crust. It is so delicious! I am a food processor pie dough maker – so I do use it for this recipe and it comes out great. When I have a 1 crust recipe I use the 2nd disc as sweet dippers. Cut into strips, brush on some melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. I can eat them with no dip!

    As always, thank you Sally!

  2. Wow Sally you were already a superstar in my household but now you’ve gone to the next level – THANK YOU for this fantastic recipe, it was a huge hit on the weekend with my family! I can’t wait to make a whole heap of pie dough and freeze them for upcoming Christmas events xxx

  3. I have pinned this and will write it down to make.
    I watched your sprinkled video episode 7 on this
    and it looks simple enough to make.
    I do not know how to make pies at all, but after watching your video I want to do my best at it.
    Thank you sally.
    Have a good day.

  4. I have made this pie crust for several years. I have made it up against some other recipes and in the end, this is my go to. My mother’s recipe is all shortening, which admittedly rolls out easier, but this one has the best flavor and flakiness. I have tried all butter and just don’t seem to like it.

    I always seem to be cursing when I am rolling out because it cracks around the edges or breaks when transferring to the pan. I think I am just going to have to add more liquid, I am just always so worried to add too much, but that is probably the issue. I have experimented with vodka/water or apple cider vinegar/water, and this time I used all vodka with ice and am going to stick with that. I measured out my flour the night before and put it in the freezer, and also cubed up the butter and shortening and put the cubes in the refrigerator overnight. I only put the disc in the refrigerator for about an hour or so before rolling out. It came out the best so far this time. I also add 1.5 t of sugar into the crust. Thank you so much for your great recipe. And the pumpkin pie recipe is also fantastic.

  5. I made my first two pecan pies from scratch using this recipe for the crust and Sally’s pecan pie recipe – I was worried since I was making them for our family Christmas party, but they turned out STELLAR and everyone loved them, including my southern grandma and great-grandma. I am so thankful I found these recipes! Thanks for making a first-timer look like a seasoned baker.

  6. This is my new pie crust recipe! I love the combination of butter and shortening for a buttery yet flaky crust. The tutorial and understanding the science behind a perfect pie crust is great for beginners to!

  7. I made this pie crust yesterday and it turned out great. The shortening, in my opinion, put it over the top. Thanks for another great recipe.

  8. My first time making a pie dough myself in years, turned out great, and the pics were a perfect help! I needed just a titch more water, less than a tbsp, but other than that, it was worked out great!

    1. YES! I haven’t tried it with this crust but I think it would be delicious (cheddar apple pie!!). I’d try adding 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Let me know how it works!

  9. Hi Sally! This is a bit of an emergency >< I made the dough (really delicious btw, this is my second time using your recipe) and I left it to chill in the fridge for a couple of days. But when I wanted to use it for my apple pie, my oven exploded !! Well, at least the inside exploded, the outside is still okay. So I was wondering if you have any advice on how to cook the dough because I really don't want to waste it. The only equipment I have left related to heat and cooking would be my stove and microwave. Or perhaps there's another recipe I could use the dough in? I apologise in advance if this question has came up before, thank you for helping!

    1. Hi Nadira! So sorry to hear about your oven! This pie dough can be frozen for 3-6 months with no problem. Freeze the dough so you can use it when the oven is all fixed. 🙂

  10. My family loves pie! You should see all the pie at holiday time. Thanks so much for your crust recipe. I have pretty good luck with the crust but I never put the crust in the refrigerator after I make it. I’m going to start doing that as I’m sure it would be easier to work with. I look forward to using this recipe for my next pie.

  11. Best pie crust ever! I used to be afraid of making pies, but no more! This recipe makes an easy pie crust that’s absolutely delicious as well. I always use five tablespoons of water instead of eight so I’m glad the recipe says to add it one tbsp at a time instead of all at once because then I’d have a sticky mess, but with the clear instructions it always turns out great.

  12. I’ve made your pie crust twice now, once for your chicken pot pie and today for your deep dish apple pie. It is an excellent recipe! Flaky, buttery, and no soggy bottoms! My problem lies in dividing the dough. If I divide in half, the bottom crust is not enough to cover over the sides. Should I be rolling it out bigger? I use a slip mat with measurements. Or should I just divide it where the bottom crust has more dough? I’m using a 9 inch deep dish pie plate (ceramic).

    1. Hi Connie! I’m so glad you enjoy this pie crust recipe. I suggest using a larger portion for the bottom crust. Maybe closer to 1/3 for the top and 2/3 for the bottom crust. I usually eyeball it and always use the larger portion (if not totally even) for the bottom.

  13. Hi Sally,
    Will a Cuisinart food processor change anything? I actually purchased one because most recipes call for one for pie crust.. Just saw yours!!!! but want to try the food processor.
    Thank you!

  14. Hey Sally! If I may ask, how did you weigh your shortening? (148g) Did you weigh it when it was chilled or at room temperature? I actually live in a tropical country. Mine breaks so easily when I rolled it out, so I had a hard time placing it on my pie dish but it turned out flaky when it was cooked. I assumed my flour is not enough for my 10×2 pie dish. What do you think?

    1. Hi Leah! I weigh it when it’s chilled. If the pie crust is cracking and breaking, you actually need a little more moisture. (Unless it was breaking from being too flimsy and wet? In that case, add a little more flour!)

  15. Sally,
    I am trying this pie crust with cup4cup gluten flour blend substitute and lard instead of shortening. I live in Chile and I can’t get crisco here – only lard, and I didn’t realize we were out of “normal” flour when I started. I used 1/2 cup cold water minus 1 tablespoon. It was nice and moist until I placed it on the floured surface and divided and flattened. I’m nervous the crust is going to be too dry and fall apart. My question is can I add more water if in 2 hours my crust crumbles? How do I rescue a “too dry” pie crust?

    1. Hi Lacey! If you find your pie crust is too dry as you are rolling it out, moisten your fingertips and very gently massage into the dough. The dough needs extra moisture if it’s cracking and falling apart.

  16. Hi Sally,
    I’m asking about the recipe above, there isn’t egg or egg yolks included. I used to put two egg yolks in my old recipe that I have. What is your opinion ??

    1. Hi Ghada! Eggs aren’t typically used in traditional pie crust, but sometimes they are added for extra richness. I do find they cause crusts to shrink a little more. Feel free to test with this recipe though!

  17. I am making 10-inch pies for Easter. Your recipe is for a 9-inch pie. Is there a formula to convert the 9-inch recipe to a 10-inch?

    1. Hi Judy! The best way to go about this would be to double this recipe to yield 4 pie crusts, then use that amount of dough to yield 3 pie crusts. Not sure how many you needed!

  18. Hi Sally,

    Whenever I try to flute the edges on this pie crust, it never holds its shape. Is the crust too thin or warm? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Heather! It’s both, actually. If the pie crust is too thin, it will melt and completely lose its shape. There isn’t enough substance to hold. And when the pie crust is too warm, the butter begins melting even before the pie goes in the oven. This means you lose all the flakiness and structure. I recommend keeping the pie dough on the thicker side. If a thicker crust means using 1.5 crusts for the bottom of 1 pie, do it! (This pie crust recipe yields 2 crusts, so it’s enough for using 1.5 crusts. Save extras in the freezer.)

  19. Hi! I totally forgot I ran out of all purpose flour – I do however have King Arthur White whole wheat flour? Is it possible to use that instead or would it change the consistency of the crust?

    1. Hi Kim! The crust will taste heavy and dense and may not absorb as much liquid. I 100% recommend all-purpose flour, but you can certainly try the substitution if you’d like.

      1. Okay thank you! I made my husband go out and get me all purpose because I didn’t want to cut any corners. I now have the disks in the freezer and going to roll them out towards the end of the week and prepare the filling on Saturday evening for Easter Sunday. Looking forward to making this and hoping it comes out as well as yours looks!

  20. Hi Sally – will this work for the crust of a ham & cheese quiche? Also, could I make the dough the night before & leave it in the fridge?

  21. Hi, Sally! Is it easy to double this recipe or would you recommend making it just for two crusts? Thanks! Happy Easter

    1. Hi Herica! You can double, but I find results are much more consistent and successful making two batches. 1 recipe yields 2 crusts.

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

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

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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