I've simplified how to make pie crust, and shared 5 expert pie crust tips. No need to be intimidated! This is the only recipe you'll ever need. A pie crust that is flaky, tender and most of all tastes so delicious the filling is almost a second thought!
Perfect pie crust can sometimes be intimidating. But it shouldn't be. It's as simple as mixing cold butter into flour with a bit of cold water in the right proportions, in the right way. Piece of cake. I mean pie!
Below are 5 pie crust tips that will help you make perfect pie crust. Plus I'll show you how to make it in a food processor in minutes! Watch the video.
You can make perfect pie crust
It takes a few times to get the hang of making pie crust. Once you do it's as easy as, well, pie! Following a few simple steps, and learning my tricks, you'll be making this flaky and buttery crust in no time.
Homemade pie crust is so much better than the pre made kind. The crusts in the fridge or freezer section of your grocery are often made with oils and preservatives. I prefer the taste and texture of pie crust I make myself. I'll tell you how easy it is.
Everyone has different methods and even different recipes for making pie crust. You will develop your own way once you follow this recipe and the tips.
Why is this the best pie crust recipe?
This is a butter and shortening crust and has all the best properties of pie crust. The butter gives it amazing flavor and crispness, and the shortening makes lovely flakes.
I make several different kinds of pie crust. Sometimes I use an all butter crust when I want a sturdy and crisp shell. My amazing-baker mother uses all shortening for tender crusts.
A butter and shortening crust like this one is forgiving to work with and easy to roll out. And even better, you can make several batches and freeze it to get ready for the holidays.
What makes this pie crust even better?
I add vinegar to this butter and shortening crust. It's for flavor and tenderness.
The acid tenderizes the dough and like salt, brings out the flavor of the butter. It helps the dough brown and caramelize as well.
You may have tried pie crust recipes with vodka or lemon juice. These liquids do the same thing as the vinegar. But I prefer the flavor of white vinegar.
I have used apple cider vinegar in a pinch as well.
Making shortening and butter crust
In the video you will see I try to work quickly and not handle the dough much. Warm hands can melt the butter in the dough and make it tough.
You'll want to get the fats cut into the flour quickly. Keeping the fats cold prevents them from mixing into the flour too much. That would cause the dough to be tough.
Add water just to create a dough that holds together, but not too wet. A wet dough will also be tough and not light and flaky.
Bring the dough together, it will be falling apart a little because it will be dry in parts. Divide the dough in half and wrap it in plastic.
I like to flatten the dough into disks to make it easier to roll out after it's chilled. Freeze or chill the dough at this point. You'll know each disk is for one single crust.
Make one of my award-winning pies or crostatas:
- Maple Caramel Pie with Hazelnuts
- Ginger Razzleberry Pie
- Pecan Streusel Apple Pie
- Pear and Almond Frangipane Crostata
- Rustic Apple Tart
- Black Bottom Chocolate Cream Pie
Tips for how to make the perfect pie crust
1 Start with chilled ingredients
Refrigerating everything—yes, even the flour—is key to creating tender, pliable dough. Warm ingredients make tough crust because they bind too quickly with the gluten in the flour.
2 Use shortening and butter
Shortening provides flakiness while butter adds flavor; combining the two gets you the best of both worlds.
3 Add water carefully
Too much water makes the crust tough. But don’t try to play it safe and be stingy. The crust will crack and fall apart without enough liquid. Be sure to have a light hand so you don’t over mix the dough.
4 Crumble-proof your crust
Do this by using a tenderizer such as salt, vinegar, vodka or lemon juice. Each provides a different hint of flavor.
5 Roll the right way
Lightly flour your work surface, then roll dough from the center outward to create a circle. Lift and move the dough frequently as you work so it doesn’t stick to the surface. Avoid stretching it: stretched dough shrinks during baking.
Tools you'll need for making this crust
- A food processor is great for quick preparation.
- If you don't use a food processor, make sure to have a pastry blender.
- I like a rod rolling pin, but you may prefer a standard rolling pin or one with tapered edges like this French style rolling pin.
- You can use a glass pie plate or metal pie tins for the final pie.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 12 tbsp (1½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¼ cup chilled shortening
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ½ cup very cold water
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and half the butter. Pulse 8 to 10 times or until mixture is coarse crumbs and some of the butter is pea-size. (Alternatively, combine in a bowl using a pastry blender or a fork.)
- In a measuring cup, combine vinegar with ½ cup of the very cold water. Add the remaining butter to the food processor, and while pulsing processor, drizzle in just enough water mixture to form dough, 5 to 8 tbsp. (Dough may be slightly dry but will hold together when you pinch it.) Add water as needed to create a dough that holds together when pinched.
- Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap to bring the dough together in one ball. Halve dough, wrap each half in plastic wrap and press into disks. Chill 1 hr or until ready to use. May be kept refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 4 months.
- To pre-bake crust, roll into a 12- to 13-inch circle and gently transfer to pie plate. Trim edges (or decorate as desired) and chill or freeze until very cold. Line cold crust with a double thickness of foil or line with parchment. Fill with pie weights or dry beans and bake at 375ºF until edges are just golden, 12 min. Remove foil or parchment and weights; bake another 10 to 12 min until cooked through. Let cool before filling.
- Follow instructions in individual pie recipes for other preparations.
- No-Bake Cheesecake Dessert Tart
- Maple Caramel Pie with Hazelnuts
- Rustic Apple Tart Recipe with Almond Frangipane
- Ginger Razzleberry Pie Recipe
- 15 Stunning Summer Desserts for a Crowd
- Pecan Streusel Apple Pie with Perfect Pie Crust
Recipe by Tara Teaspoon
I’ve been in the food publishing business for over 20 years, creating recipes and food styling for magazines, books, television and advertising. Find out more about me!
Recipe by Tara Teaspoon. Photography Kate Mathis. Food Styling Sara Neumeier. Prop Styling Megan Hedgepeth