If there is one recipe I swear by, it's this pie crust recipe. It is my go-to - summer pies, fall pies, fruity pies, chocolate pies, and everything in between. This truly is the best pie crust recipe.
It is buttery, flaky, tender, and surprisingly easy to make. A lot of people are intimidated by pie crust but I promise, once you make this recipe, you will never go back to store-bought pie crust.
Why this is the best pie crust recipe
- It's easy to make. With only a few steps, you have yourself a beautiful looking and delicious tasting pie. This recipe is very straightforward, and you can make it by hand or in a food processor.
- Simple ingredients. This recipe does not have any crazy ingredients - all we need is flour, sugar, salt, butter, vegetable shortening and water. Easy as pie!
- It's flaky. Pie is supposed to have a flaky crust, and this pie crust goes above and beyond. We use butter and vegetable shortening in this recipe as they both have very important roles.
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice for this recipe. It yields the most perfect crumb.
- Granulated sugar: granulated sugar is used to sweeten up the dough just slightly. Not a lot of sugar is needed because it's likely the filling is on the sweeter side.
- Salt: salt is a flavor enhancer and enhances the flavor of all other ingredients.
- Unsalted butter: the fat in butter provides a buttery and flaky pie crust. Because of butter's water content, it helps the pie dough achieve a lighter textured crust with defined flakes. While baking, the water in the butter converts to steam creating pockets of air which makes those flaky layers. You want to see those pockets of butter in the dough as you are rolling it out, as those are what creates the characteristic flakes.
- Vegetable shortening: including vegetable shortening allows the dough to stay pliable while rolling it out and shaping it, which is important if we want a beautifully decorated pie. Also, vegetable shortening has a high melting point, so it tenderizes the dough while allowing it to keep its shape.
- Ice water: ice water helps bring the dough together. Anything warmer than ice cold will melt the butter and vegetable shortening which will prevent the flakes from forming.
How to make the best pie crust
We're breaking it down step-by-step, answering the most commonly asked pie dough questions, so that your pie is absolutely delicious and looks amazing.
Step one: add the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk together
In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, and salt and whisk until combined.
Step two: add the cold butter and vegetable shortening and mix until they are combined
Cut your butter into cubes and use spoonfuls of vegetable shortening when you are adding these items to your dry ingredients. This will make them easier to mix through. Use a pastry cutter or your hands and cut the butter/shortening into the dough.
The butter and shortening should be fully incorporated into the flour and no large chunks should remain. It is important that the butter and shortening are both ice cold when added to the dough. The key to a flaky dough is the pockets of butter and shortening, so it is imperative that they do not melt.
Step three: add ice water to the mixture until the dough comes together
Start with three tablespoons of ice water and use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the dough. Continue to add water tablespoon by tablespoon until it comes together. The dough will be thick but not dry.
The purpose of the water is to help the dough bind just enough, so you may not need to use all of it. Too much water and it will be too wet you will need to add more flour, which can make the dough tough.
Make sure the water is ice cold - anything warmer will melt the butter and shortening.
Step four: chill the dough for two hours in the fridge
This pie crust recipe makes a bottom crust and a top crust. Divide the dough in two and wrap them each in plastic wrap.
Place the dough in the fridge for two hours to chill, or up to two days if you want to make it in advance! You can also freeze the dough for three months.
Step five: roll the dough into a large circle on a generously floured surface
Roll one of the dough portions out into a big circle while leaving the other portion in the fridge. You'll want to roll your dough into a circle that is 2-3 inches larger than your pie dish. The less you work the dough, the better.
Step six: place your pie dish face down on the dough and cut a circle two inches wider than your pan
Place your pie dish face down on the rolled out dough. Using a sharp knife or scissors, trim the edges into a circle two inches wider than your pan.
This will give you enough wiggle room to perfectly center your pie dough around the pan. It will also give you enough space to make crimped edges.
Step seven: roll the dough around your rolling pin and unroll it over your pie dish
Place the rolling pin at the edge of the dough and carefully lift it onto the rolling pin. Rotate your rolling pin while carefully wrapping the dough around it. Unroll the dough over your pie dish so it is centered.
Step eight: crimp the edges of the pie crust
Trim the edges if necessary then roll the excess pie crust underneath itself, rolling it up and underneath towards the pie dish like you would roll up a sleeping bag. Using one hand, create a "v" with your fingers and press the outside of the crust. Using the index finger of your other hand, push between the "v" to make a crimped edge. Repeat this all the way around.
Step nine: prepare the crust for baking
Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust to give air room to escape. If no holes are created, the bottom of the pie will puff up with air.
If your recipe requires the second pie portion, roll it out and proceed per your recipe's instructions!
Making the crust in a food processor
This recipe is great because you can also make it in a food processor. To do this:
- Pulse together the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add the cold cubed butter and cold chunks of vegetable shortening and pulse until evenly incorporated into the dough and no large chunks remain.
- Add three tablespoons of ice water to the food processor and pulse until combined. Continue to add ice water tablespoon by tablespoon and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out of the food processor onto a floured surface and roll into a ball. Separate the dough into two portions, cover, and refrigerate for two hours.
- Proceed with the recipe the same way as you would if making by hand!
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Best Pie Crust Recipe
- 2 ½ cups (313 grams) all purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter cold and cubed
- ¼ cup (50 grams) vegetable shortening cold
- ½ cup (120 mL) ice water
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar and salt.
- Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the cold butter and cold vegetable shortening into the flour mixture until the butter and shortening are fully incorporated into the flour and no larger chunks remain.
- Measure out ½ cup (120 mL) of water, add ice and stir it around so it becomes ice cold. Remeasure ½ cup (120 mL) since some of the ice melted into the water. Start with three tablespoons of ice water and drizzle it on top of the dough. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the water into the dough. Continue to do this, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the dough just comes together. You may not need to use all of the water.
- Fold the dough into itself until it forms a ball. Divide the dough into two equal parts and flatten them slightly into discs. Wrap each with cling wrap and place them in the fridge to chill for at least two hours but up to two days. If you only need one disc of dough for your recipe, you can freeze the other for up to three months.
- On a generously floured surface, roll one of the dough portions out into a big circle while leaving the other portion in the fridge. You'll want to roll your dough into a circle that is 2-3 inches larger than your pie dish.
- Place your pie dish face down on the rolled out dough and use a sharp knife or scissors to cut a border two inches wider than your pan.
- Roll the dough over your rolling pin and unroll it centered over the pie dish. Roll the excess dough on the edges up and underneath itself like you would roll up a sleeping bag.
- Crimp the dough, making a "v" with two fingers on one hand while pressing the dough against the index finger of your other hand. Repeat until the entire edge is crimped.
- Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the pie crust to give air room to escape. If your recipe requires the second pie portion, roll it out and proceed per your recipe's instructions!
- To make the dough in a food processor: pulse together the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add the cold cubed butter and cold chunks of vegetable shortening and pulse until evenly incorporated into the dough and no large chunks remain. Add three tablespoons of ice water to the food processor and pulse until combined. Continue to add ice water tablespoon by tablespoon and pulse until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out of the food processor onto a floured surface and roll into a ball. Separate the dough into two portions, cover, and refrigerate for two hours. Proceed with the recipe the same way as you would if making by hand!
- This pie dough can be frozen for up to three months. If making the dough after freezing it, remove the dough from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight before you use it.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!