A step-by-step tutorial showing you exactly how to make homemade pie crust. This recipe is made with both butter and shortening for a pie crust recipe that’s flaky, buttery, and perfect for sweet or savoury pies.
Making pie crust by hand can seem super intimidating. Personally, I was terrified of making pies for years. But I’m now ready to show you exactly how to make buttery, flaky pie crust. I promise it’s easier than you might think.
Pie Crust Ingredients
There’s only a few key ingredients in pie crust: fat (butter, shortening or some combination), flour, salt, a little sugar, and cold water.
Butter. Traditional pie crust is made with 100% butter. Butter adds incredible flavor, and contributes to the flaky texture.
Shortening. While shortening has way less flavor than butter, but it’s far more forgiving when making pie crust. It makes the crust tender, flaky, and easier to work with.
Flour. Flour is the structure of the crust. I use all-purpose flour (aka “plain flour”) because I feel that’s what most people normally have on hand. Be very careful when measuring the flour – too much and your crust will become dry, tough and flavorless. On a kitchen scale, it will measure 312.5g.
Salt. Salt is an important ingredient for flavor in the pie crust. I recommend using unsalted butter and adding in salt because different butter brands use different amounts of butter. Therefore by using unsalted butter and salt – you have more control.
Sugar. Just a touch of sugar for flavor as well. If you’re making a savoury pie, feel free to leave this out.
Ice Cold Water. This brings the dough together. Too much water and the pie dough gets sticky and impossible to roll out, but not enough water and it won’t hold together.
The Importance of Cold Ingredients
When making pie – the fats (butter and shortening) need to be cold. When the pie bakes, the butter melts and releases steam. This release of steam creates little air pockets – creating flaky layers. If the fats get too warm before the pie bakes, they will start to melt before entering the oven. This means you lose the flaky texture you get when the butter melts in the oven.
How to Make Pie Crust
First, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, salt and sugar. Then cut in the butter and shortening using a pastry cutter. You want to blend in the butter and shortening until it’s in small pieces that are less than the size of a pea. You don’t need them to be all the same size. Below are 2 photos showing you what I mean. The photo on the left shows the process about halfway through, and the photo on the right is what the dough should look like when you’re done cutting in the fats.
Sprinkle in the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, gently folding it in using a wooden spatula. You’ll use 6-8 tablespoons total. When you’re done, the dough should hold together when you squeeze it in your hand (just be careful not to do this too many times, otherwise you’ll heat up the dough too much).
Empty all the contents of the bowl onto a floured work surface and form the dough into a ball. Then cut the dough in half – you should see flaky layers if you look at the slice mark. Form each half into a round disc about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick, then wrap each in plastic and chill. Your pie dough should have little specks of butter and swirls of shortening in it.
It’s imperative that you chill the dough for at least 2 hours before rolling it out. If you try to roll out the dough without chilling it will be way too sticky.
Rolling Out Pie Dough
Once your dough has chilled – it’s time to roll it out.
- Always have your work surface and rolling pin well floured. I also sprinkle a little flour on both sides of the pie disc.
- Start from the middle, roll up to 12 o’clock. Place the rolling pin back to the center and roll down to 6 o’clock.
- Turn the dough a quarter turn, and re-roll. This process of constantly turning the dough creates a nice circular shape. It also prevents the dough from sticking to the surface. Sprinkle more flour on the bottom of your work surface as necessary.
Having a few cracks around the edges is fine. If the cracks go deep into the pie dough – this means that your dough needed a little more water or it’s too cold. Try warming the dough up a little before continuing to roll it out, or lightly misting a little water over top may help.
Transferring the Dough to a Pie Plate
This is actually quite simple – as long as your pie dough and rolling pin is well floured.
- Gently roll the pie dough over your rolling pin – it doesn’t need to be tight. You can see this in the first photo below.
- Then unroll the pie dough over pie plate.
Do not stretch the dough when you transfer it to the plate. If you stretch it out, it will pull back as the pie bakes – therefore causing the pie to shrink.
Note: This recipe makes enough for one double-crust 9-inch pie, or two single crust pies (bottom crust only). If you only need one, single crust pie – feel free to freeze the other half. I do not recommend doubling the recipe because it can lead to overworked, tough, dry pie crust.
This pie crust recipe is deliciously flaky, perfectly buttery, and with all these tips and tricks – you’ll be a pie crust expert!
Why not use this pie crust to make:
Pie Crust Recipe
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup ice water
- Cut the butter into small cubes. Place in the freezer as you measure out the dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
- Add the cold butter and shortening to the bowl.
- Cut the fats into the flour mixture using a pastry blender. Work it in until it resembles a coarse meal. The butter should be no larger than pea-sized.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently stir in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time. (1/2 cup water is equal to 8 tablespoons). Stop adding water when the dough starts to form large clumps and if you squeeze it in your hand it sticks together. Typically 6-8 tablespoons.
- Pour the contents of the bowl onto a floured surface and form into a ball.
- Cut the dough in half.
- Form each half into a round disc shape about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. Wrap each individually in plastic.
- Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours to chill.