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How to Make Homemade Pie Crust

How to Make Homemade Pie Crust


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Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Learn our sneaky tricks for rolling dough out flawlessly and constructing the perfect crust.

Make Your Own Pie Crust

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Store-bought pie dough is undeniably convenient, but there’s satisfaction in making your own. This one comes together so easily you can make several at a time, and then stick the crusts in the freezer. Vodka adds moisture to the dough without the need for added fat. The alcohol bakes off in the oven.

Baking a crust from scratch that's lower in calories and saturated fat while still having a wonderful buttery taste and flaky texture is a tall order. But we've found a way to deliver just that—here's your step-by-step guide.

View Recipe: Homemade Pie Crust

Find more delicious recipes and how-tos in our cookbook Cooking Light's The Good Pantry: Homemade Foods & Mixes Lower in Sugar, Salt & Fat.

1. Weigh Your Flour

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

2. Mix It Up

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Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse 10 times. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Place food processor bowl and flour mixture in freezer 15 minutes.

3. Add Fluids

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Place bowl back on processor. Combine vodka and cold water. Add vodka mixture slowly through food chute, pulsing just until combined (do not form a ball).

4. Divide and Chill

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Divide mixture in half. Press each half gently into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill at least 1 hour.

This recipe yields 2 pie crusts. To freeze, place the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in a zip-top plastic bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

5. Roll It Out

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

If the chilled pie dough is too stiff, let it sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before rolling it out. To roll the dough into a circle, apply light pressure while rolling out from the center of the dough. Try to keep the dough thickness even.

6. Make It Pretty

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

To flute the pie dough, use two hands to pinch the edge of the crust. Put one hand on the inside edge and one hand on the outside. Push your thumb from one hand between the thumb and index finger of the other hand to form a U or V shape. Continue all the way around the pie plate.

7. Fill and Bake

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Fillings can be as simple as chopping up fresh fruit and tossing it in a bowl with a few other ingredients, or stirring together pecans, bourbon, and eggs. With inspiration from our favorite pie recipes, you'll be pulling better-than-you-ever-imagined pies out of your oven. It's the sweet stuff that after-dinner dreams are made of, and now you know, crafting the dough for a beautiful pie is way easier than you think.

Variation 1: Cranberry-Apple Pie

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Be ready for the aromas of fall to fill your kitchen as this beautiful pie bakes. We call for grade B maple syrup because it's less refined and a stronger, more "maple-y" flavor. If you use milder grade A syrup, stir in a single scrape of fresh nutmeg to boost the maple flavor.

Variation 2: Spiced Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Celebrate the best of fall flavor with this creamy pumpkin pie. This version of the classic Thanksgiving pie is a fluffier, less dense version of the original, so it's perfect for serving at holiday gatherings when you want a crowd-pleaser.


Homemade Buttery Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

This Homemade Pie Crust Recipe is buttery, flaky and my tried and true favorite. Today I’m sharing all my foolproof tips and tricks to show you how easy making pie crust from scratch can be.

You can use this pie crust recipes for all kinds of delicious pies, including my favorite recipe for perfect apple pie or my pecan pie!


Make and freeze pie crust

Warm apple pie à la mode. Super-smooth, luxurious pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream. Classic pecan pie, with its signature salt-sugar crunch in every rich bite. Homemade pie: what’s not to love? Well, maybe the fact that you need the time to put together the crust and get out your rolling pin and flour your counter and gently, GENTLY roll out the crust while hoping the pie gods smile on you… De-stress your life! When the pie urge hits, make and freeze pie crust is a game changer.

I won’t skate around the issue: compared to cookies, muffins, and most cakes, making pie crust can be a technical challenge, as well as a potential time sink. Working the fat (often two kinds) into the flour, nailing the right amount of liquid for optimum flakiness (and handle-ability), rolling without tearing or sticking, then oh-so-carefully transporting the resulting crust into its waiting pan — frankly, it can be a painful process, especially for those of us who don’t make pie frequently.

Enter make and freeze pie crust. While it doesn’t shorten the overall pie-baking process, it does break it into more manageable steps. Make crust now, freeze it, and do the filling and baking later: when the blueberries are ripe or, say, the day before Thanksgiving.

What’s the best way to make and freeze pie crust?

It depends. When do you need to save the most time: now, or later? Making pie crust does take time, but the cadence of the process is up to you.

Are you busy right now? Pie crumbs are fast and easy

Give yourself a head-start by making pie crumbs: combine flour, salt, and fat, then bag and refrigerate (or freeze) the crumbly mixture. It's ready to be turned into pastry with the addition of liquid whenever you want. Especially if you have a stand mixer, this step is extremely quick and you can easily make enough crumbs for multiple pies.

Plus: Very little up-front time and effort.
Minus: You still have to finish the pastry and roll it out later.

Less busy? Make pastry, but skip the rolling

Make the pastry for crust, shape it into puck-like disks, wrap, and freeze. It's ready to thaw, roll out, and fill when the pie urge strikes you.

Plus: No rolling pin, no floured counter, minimal cleanup.
Minus: You still have to leave yourself enough time to thaw the crust, roll it out, line the pan, add the filling, and bake the pie.

Sufficient time, but not enough pie pans? Roll pastry and freeze

Once your pastry is made, roll it out and freeze it flat (rather than simply shape it into disks). Or fold it in quarters, or roll it into slim pastry tubes.

Plus: Pastry quickly thaws at room temperature, ready to line the pan.
Minus: It’s a bit trickier to find space in the freezer due to the pastry’s awkward shape (compared to space-optimizing disks).

For double protection, this bagged crust will go into another bag.

Plenty of time now, NO time later? Go all the way

To save the most time down the road, freeze rolled-out pastry right in its freezer-to-oven pan. When you’re ready for pie, all you need to do is haul that handy crust out of the freezer, add filling, and bake your pie, giving it a bit longer in the oven since the crust was frozen.

Making a custard-based pie (e.g., pumpkin), one whose crust might benefit by some pre-baking? Go ahead and prebake the crust, then freeze it in the pan. When the time comes, add filling and bake no need to thaw the crust first.

Plus: No mixing bowl, no rolling pin, no cleanup — no stress!
Minus: A somewhat bulky space-hog in the freezer, and ties up your pans.

For all types of make and freeze pie crust —

  • Use a crust recipe that’s heavy on fat, light on liquid. The fewer the ice crystals from liquid, the more successfully pastry goes through the freeze-and-thaw cycle.
  • Wrap, and wrap again. Wrap dough disks in plastic wrap, then airtight in a plastic bag. Stack rolled-out crusts with waxed paper or plastic in between, and slip into a large plastic bag (or wrap securely in foil). Double-bag crusts in the pie pan. You’re trying to avoid both freezer burn and off flavors from surrounding foods.
  • Store crusts in the back or bottom of the freezer. The more they’re exposed to warm air when the freezer door’s opened, the more ice crystals develop.
  • Store crusts in the freezer no longer than three months (or one month for pre-baked crusts). Even the best-wrapped frozen crust will eventually deteriorate.

Are you pie crust-phobic? We can help discover all kinds of handy tips and techniques in our complete guide to perfect pie crust.


Easy Oil Pie Crust

Although most pie crust recipes call for shortening or butter, you can make a successful pie crust without either. Using oil makes the crust vegan friendly, so this simple oil crust can cater to restricted dietary needs or people with dairy allergies or intolerances. A pie crust using oil is not only a nice change but is also much easier to make as you don't need a pastry blender or a rolling pin. The result is a flaky crust that you can use for savory or sweet fillings.

Keep in mind that the oil you use will impact the flavor of the crust, so the dough is most versatile when made with a mild-flavored oil like vegetable, canola, or orange safflower. Choose wisely, as coconut oil, olive oil, or peanut oil can add a bold and rich flavor. Use coconut oil for an added flavor in a coconut cream pie or banana cream pie with coconut, olive oil for a quiche or chicken pot pie, or peanut oil to complement a chocolate filling.

Also, different oils have different smoking points, so first check the temperature you are planning to use on the oven against the smoking point of the oil you have in your dough. If too hot, the dough will inevitably "smoke" and have a sour flavor.

This is the perfect pie crust recipe for beginner bakers or anyone intimidated by having to cut shortening into the flour. It's also a quick and easy alternative to crusts for all types of pies. If you need a top crust as well for your pie, simply double the recipe.


Recipe Ingredients

To make this easy pie crust recipe you’ll need some all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, unsalted butter, shortening, and ice water. Each of these ingredients plays a crucial role in creating a delicious pie crust, so let’s break them down.

  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour when making this homemade pie crust because it creates the perfect crust. One important thing here, make sure to measure your flour correctly. Too much flour in your pie crust can take your crust from flaky and tender to dry and crumbly. Here’s my post about how to measure flour with the spoon and level method. Or even better, use a food scale to measure your flour! You’ll need 315 grams of all-purpose flour for this recipe.
  • Salt & Sugar: The salt and sugar help to enhance the flavor of the pie crust. Salt is a very important ingredient when it comes to making your own homemade pie crust, so don’t leave it out or cut the amount down. As far as the sugar, you can leave it out if you prefer.
  • Fat: Some pie crust recipes call for all butter, a combination of butter and shortening, oil, etc. For this recipe, I use a combination of cold butter and cold vegetable shortening. The butter gives your pie crust a delicious buttery flavor and the shortening gives the crust structure and keeps it tender.
    • One important thing – Make sure your butter and shortening are cold. Not soft, not warm, I’m talking straight from the refrigerator right before you add it to the flour mixture. Why? When you put the pie crust in the oven, you want little bits of cold fat in the crust. The little bits of fat will melt as the crust bakes and create little air pockets, which is what gives you a beautiful flaky crust.


    Easy Homemade Pie Crust in Bulk

    Does the thought of making a homemade pie overwhelm you? Pie-making used to feel like a big task to me when I took into consideration making both the crust and the filling from scratch (and in our family, there really isn’t another way besides scratch).

    Several years ago, I learned a new recipe along with some tricks that have simplified pie-making for me. The key was making pie crust dough in bulk and then freezing the dough balls.

    Making pie crusts in bulk has some wonderful benefits:

    • It’s less mess– just clean up once!
    • We have pie crust dough in the freezer all year for homemade pies, quiches, pot pies, etc.
    • Measuring is a cinch. I am not a fan of measuring out shortening because it’s messy, so I love that my bulk pie crust recipe takes a whole can– no measuring needed!
    • Pie-making is half the work, but still with the tasty benefits of a homemade crust.

    If you’re a visual or auditory learner, the short video below will quickly teach you everything you need to know about making pie crust in bulk, otherwise keep reading for the bulk pie crust tutorial in words and pictures. There’s a printable recipe at the bottom of the post.

    Bulk Pie Crust– Makes 20 crusts

    Let’s get started with the ingredients!

    • 1- 5lb bag of all purpose flour (hold back about 2 cups)
    • 1- 3lb can vegetable shortening
    • 4 Tablespoons sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons salt
    • 4 Tablespoons vinegar
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups water

    You’ll want to get out the biggest bowl you have (seriously!). Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Using a pastry cutter if you have one (if not, a fork will suffice), blend the shortening with the flour mixture.

    When the flour mixture and shortening are combined, set the bowl aside.

    In a separate bowl (I always use the shortening container to minimize dirty dishes), beat together the water, eggs and vinegar using a fork or whisk.

    Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and blend with a fork until all ingredients are moistened.

    Continue to blend using hands and fold dough into a ball.

    Cover dough ball with plastic and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

    Use the reserved 2 cups of flour to flour your surface and hands, though you probably won’t need it all. Divide your giant dough ball in quarters. Divide each quarter into 5 equal parts. You’ll have 20 equal-ish pieces of dough. Roll each dough portion into a ball. It’s okay if they’re not perfectly even. You can use the smaller balls for top crusts and the larger ones for the bottom crusts. For a flakier crust, be careful not to overwork the dough.

    Wrap each ball individually in plastic wrap, then place balls into a freezer bag. Store in the freezer indefinitely. I’ve stored mine for over a year without any problems.

    Each dough ball makes one pie crust or top.

    To use, remove the dough balls you need from the freezer and allow to thaw on the countertop or in the refrigerator. If I’m in a hurry (not that that ever happens!), I have also microwaved them for a few seconds to thaw.

    Tip– Stick any extra dough “scraps” from making your crusts in a freezer bag back in the freezer. Add to the bag every time you have scraps. You’ll probably get another pie or two from all the scraps.


    Simple Pie Crust Recipe

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour (you can use whole wheat here, but it won’t be as tender. I don’t mind using a little white flour for this recipe)
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/3 cup cold butter or lard or firm coconut oil(coconut oil will make a slightly tougher crust, but still yummy)
    • 4-6 Tablespoons cold water

    Instructions:

    In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt.

    Cut in the fat using a pastry blender or two knives. You can use a food processor if you’d like, just be sure not to over-process.

    Tip: If you are using butter, freeze it first, and then grate it with a cheese grater. The butter shreds are the perfect size for mixing into your dough.

    The flour/fat mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Little chunks of butter, coconut oil, or lard are perfectly o.k. and actually preferred– this is what will give you a flakier end result.

    Carefully add the water, one tablespoon at a time. You are looking for the dough to stick together and form a rough ball, but you don’t want a sticky mess. You might use your hands to form the ball, but be careful not to overwork the dough. Err on the side of crumbly!

    Generously flour your countertop and roll out the dough until it is several inches larger than the diameter of your 9″ pie pan. (you might need to flour the top of the dough as you roll, to prevent sticking and tearing).

    Carefully fold the dough into quarters and place into your pan. Unfold.

    Trim around the edges (if needed), but leave an overhang around the edges of the pan. Gently fold the excess dough under itself, then crimp the edges as desired to make it pretty.

    Fill with your favorite pie filling and bake as directed in the pie recipe you’re using, or refrigerate until you need it.

    Be sure to cover with a pie shield or foil strips while baking (at least for the first part, anyway). Nothing worse than a crunchy, overdone crust!


    CUSTOMIZE THE VEGETABLES!

    The vegetables in this recipe were kept simple and are as follows: Carrots, celery, peas, and onion. However, you can easily omit any one of those and add in others like potatoes or onions, if you’d like. More info on that ahead.

    To prepare the vegetables for chicken pot pie, you begin with diced onions and carrots. The diced vegetables go into a large sauté pan with butter and oil. Butter for flavor, and oil to keep them from browning too quickly. Once the vegetables have softened, you’ll continue on to making that roux we spoke of for your homemade gravy.

    To add potatoes to this recipe:

    1. Peel 1 Russet potato and dice it into small 1/4″ cubes. Note, if you want the potatoes to cook through in your chicken pot pie, you must dice them small.
    2. Add to the pan with the carrots, celery, and onions, and proceed with the recipe from there.

    To add mushrooms to this recipe:

    1. Wipe clean an 8-ounce package of button mushrooms and quarter them.
    2. Add them to the gravy at the same time as the peas, and proceed with the recipe from there.

    How to make pie crust in your stand mixer

    Is it a good idea to make pie crust using a stand mixer? Or is it really better to combine all of the ingredients — the flour and salt, fat and water — by hand?

    The vast majority of pie crust recipes (including those here on our recipe site) direct you to combine the dry ingredients, then work the fat in using a pastry blender, pastry fork, two knives, or your hands.

    As far as using one of your handy countertop appliances, some folks say you can make pie crust using a food processor. But never will you see anyone espousing the use of a stand mixer (or electric hand mixer) to make pie crust.

    Why is that? We use our trusty stand mixers for everything from brownie batter to bread dough — why not pie crust?

    Some say a mixer toughens crust. Others say it doesn't flatten the fat in just the right way. And for some, I think it's simply resistance to change: Great-Grandma didn't use a mixer, and neither do I!

    Well, I'm going to tell you a little secret: I've been using my stand mixer to make pie crust for years. Nay, decades, ever since I got my first mixer by saving S&H Green Stamps (and if you know what those are, you know how long ago that was!).

    Truthfully, you may get marginally flakier pie crust by flattening each little piece of cold butter by hand as you work it into the flour. But these days, my aging hands, wrists, and shoulders — to say nothing of my patience — are sorely tried by the process.

    I've used a stand mixer to make pie crust forever, and people have always raved about my crust. And I believe that using a stand mixer to make pie crust is a perfectly reasonable solution for those who don't want to work fat and flour together by hand.

    Can you make pie crust using a stand mixer? Yes indeed — and here's how.

    I'm using our recipe for Classic Double Pie Crust here, which combines both butter and shortening. The recipe yields crust with a textural combination of tender shortbread and flaky croissant — with a generous measure of crispness thrown in.

    To make pie crust, first combine flour, salt, and shortening

    I put 2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 cup vegetable shortening into the bowl of my stand mixer. I then use the beater attachment at speed 2 to create an evenly crumbly mixture. (I've poured the mixture out onto a piece of parchment so you can see it clearly.)

    This first step, thoroughly combining shortening with flour, is what produces a tender crust. Fat coats the flour, which helps prevent gluten from forming strong bonds. When you cut into your baked crust, it breaks easily — which registers as "tender."

    Next, cut ice-cold butter into small cubes

    This recipe uses 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter. A baker's bench knife is very handy here. These butter cubes will separate from one another as you mix them into the flour.

    Add the butter to the flour/shortening

    Beat on a low setting (speed 2) until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. That's unevenly crumbly: you want dime-sized chunks of butter to remain unmixed.

    Add ice-cold water as the mixer is running

    The recipe I'm following calls for 6 to 10 tablespoons of water. However much water your recipe calls for, don't add it all at once drizzle it in slowly. When you see the mixture start to form larger clumps, stop adding water (and stop the mixer).

    Stop mixing when the dough becomes cohesive

    Grab a handful of the crumbs and squeeze. Do they hold together? If not, continue to drizzle with water until the dough is cohesive when squeezed.

    When that happens, you're ready to add enough of the remaining water to make a crust that comes together nicely, without any crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl. Stop the mixer — you're done!

    Gather the pastry into a ball and transfer it to your work surface. I like to work on parchment it makes cleanup super-easy.

    Divide the dough

    Shape the cohesive dough into two disks. For a double-crust pie, one disk should be about twice as large as the other. The larger piece will be the bottom crust, the smaller one the top crust.

    Chill and roll

    Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so, and you're ready to roll. This short chill lets the flour absorb the water, as mentioned above, and solidifies the fats, making the crust a bit easier to roll.

    See that white patch in the photo? That's a flattened piece of butter, and that's exactly what you want to see in your unbaked crust: flat chunks of butter, big and small. These butter chunks will translate to flakiness as the pie bakes.

    So at the end of the day, how do you know if it's really OK to make pie crust using a stand mixer?

    The proof is in the pudding — er, pie!

    I'm betting there aren't many who'd turn down this slice of Apple Pie, made with the crust you saw prepared above.

    Now remember, there's no such thing as baking police if you've always made your wonderfully flaky and delicious pie crust using a pastry blender, food processor, or your hands, keep on keeping on. If your pie crust prep ain't broke – don't fix it!

    But if you hesitate to make pie crust because you're unsure of your hand-blending technique, or your arms and hands can't take it, or you simply love the convenience of your electric mixer — go for it. Put away that pastry fork for good — no one will ever be the wiser!

    Ready to put that pie crust to use? Browse our extensive collection of pie recipes for some baking inspiration.


    Tasty Pie Recipes

    Now that you’ve mastered the art of making pie dough, let’s get to the fillings! These tasty pie recipes are great for larger celebrations or just weeknights with the family.

    The filling does the decorating with this Cinnamon Apple Tart. Slices of Honeycrisp apples are layered in a flaky pie crust for a delicious dessert that smells just as good as it looks!

    If you’re a fan of the sweet and tart flavor combo, this Raspberry Peach Pie is for you. Fresh raspberries and peaches are mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg for a flavorful pie you can serve for Easter, Mother’s Day or any spring celebration.

    Nothing says classic like this Cherry Lattice Pie. Perfect for summer picnics and BBQs, this simple cherry pie recipe is a must-have for pie lovers.

    No matter what the celebration, you can’t go wrong with this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Packed with amazing flavor, this homemade pie recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

    For a taste of fall, this Chai-Spiced Swirl Pumpkin Pie is a great go-to. Filled with the spicy-sweet flavor of chai tea and pumpkin, this pie is the perfect ending to your holiday meal.

    Bursting with blueberries and just a bit of lemon, this Blueberry Pie tastes just like summer. With no slicing or pitting needed, it’s a great way to use up a bounty of berries.

    Use pie crust to make an elegant lattice design with this Old Fashioned Apple Cranberry Lattice Pie. Decorated with braided pie crusts and cut-outs, this elegant pie is (almost) too pretty to eat!

    Do you have any great pie crust tips to share? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’ve used this recipe to make a pie, share a picture of your treat on social media and tag us @wiltoncakes so we can see it!