This is a step by step guide on how to make easy homemade pie crust. It covers all the tips and tricks for how to make your own homemade pie dough from scratch, including how to make ahead, how to freeze and store pie crust, and a perfect all-butter pie crust recipe!
Table of contents
- Homemade Pie Crust Step by Step
- Pie Crust Ingredients
- All-butter pie crust vs Shortening Pie Crust
- Pie making equipment
- The secret to a flaky pie crust - laminated pie dough.
- Pie Crust by hand vs food processor
- How long does pie crust last in the refrigerator?
- How to freeze pie crust
- How to scale a pie dough recipe
- Top tips for making pie crust.
- Commonly asked questions
- For more pie recipes, check out:
Homemade Pie Crust Step by Step
Hi hi! I am just popping in to share this ultimate guide to making your own homemade pie crust! Making pie dough from scratch can be a little intimidating, but I promise with this guide and a couple of steps, we will have you making your own perfect pie crust in no time at all.
Homemade pie crust is super easy to make once you get the hang of it. It is great to make in bulk and store ahead so that you have frozen pie dough ready to go whenever you need.
Pie dough that is easy to work with is a dream. It just takes a couple of sneaky extra steps to give you a super smooth, homogenous but flaky pie crust. It settles well into the pie pan, and gives a lovely sturdy bottom crust. This is the go to method that I have been using for years and the recipe that I use to make detailed lattices. It works great for blind baking, par baking, and for baking sturdy double crust pies.
This all-butter pie crust recipe can be used for all sorts of homemade pie recipes - single crust pies such as a pumpkin pie or a chocolate cream pie, double crust lattice pies, savory pies, slab pies, and hand pies to name a few. I use one base recipe, and then scale the quantity depending on what I am using it for.
If you are after information on blind baking a pie crust, check out my post: How to blind bake pie crust for all my tips and tricks!
Pie Crust Ingredients
Pie Crust has quite a short ingredients list - it is the technique that makes all the difference! Here is what I use in my pie crust recipe:
- All-purpose flour. We want to avoid gluten development when making pie crust, so all-purpose (also called plain or standard) flour works well here.
- Butter. It is important to use cold unsalted butter that is straight from the fridge, in order to avoid it melting. If it is hot where you are, cut the butter into chunks, and put it back into the fridge until you are ready to use so you have nice cold butter.
- Salt: Just a touch to season the dough.
- Sugar. I add about a teaspoon of sugar to my pie dough recipe, but you are welcome to leave this out.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Adding vinegar to your pie dough helps prevent gluten formation and keep it tender. Some recipes will also use vodka. This is a totally optional addition, and you are welcome to use all water here if you like.
- Ice Water. It is really important to keep everything nice and cold when you are making pie crust. Ice cold water helps with that.
All-butter pie crust vs Shortening Pie Crust
I make my pie crust using only butter as the source of fat. Other pie recipes may use shortening, or lard, or a mix of butter and shortening. I much prefer butter as it has an amazing flavor, and is something that I always have in the house.
I prefer to use unsalted butter for my pie crust recipe. It means that I can control the amount of salt in the recipe. If you only have salted butter this is fine too, just hold back on the added salt in your mixture.
Pie making equipment
The thing I love about making pie crust from scratch is that it requires limited equipment - a digital scale is a must obviously, but aside from that you don't need many things!
- Mixing Bowl. I prefer something on the larger side so that nothing flicks out while I am working.
- Pastry Blender or pastry cutter. This is a totally optional tool. I know that some people love to use it, but I do my pie crust by hand. Either works here, the purpose of the blender or using your hands is to incorporate the butter into the flour.
- Plastic wrap. This isn't equipment as such, but it is important to have on hand to wrap the pie crust to prevent it from drying out. I have tried ziploc bags and other wrapping materials and nothing works quite as well.
- Rolling Pin. A pie making essential - my favourite rolling pin for making pie is a french style rolling pin.
The secret to a flaky pie crust - laminated pie dough.
I use a little tip that my baking bestie Erin Mcdowell taught me - to laminate my pie dough after making it but before rolling it out for use. What this does it pops a few layers within the pie dough. This makes it homogenous and easy to work with but also still nice and flaky.
A flaky pie crust comes from developing thin layers of butter within your dough, so when you bake it, you get lots of little flaky layers in your crust. So you get the best of both worlds - flaky pie dough which is also super easy to work with. Here's how you do this:
- Make your pie dough - For this recipe I make the dough then form it into a rectangle. Then I wrap tightly in plastic and chill for only an hour. This gives the butter time to chill down enough that it won't melt everywhere when you roll it out.
- Roll out and perform turn 1 - Roll the dough into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Then brush off any excess flour and perform a letter fold - where you fold it like a business letter.
- Perform turns 2 and 3 - Repeat the process again two more times. Your dough should be super homogenous at this point!
- Divide and shape - At this point I split the dough in two and shape each into a disc rather than roll out and laminate each piece individually. Works much better. If you're using it for a lattice top, shape into a rectangle. Starting with the shape you are wanting to achieve makes rolling out much easier!
- Chill again - Either chill your dough for at least 2 hours or overnight, or freeze for another time. It is now ready to roll out for your pie plate!
Pie Crust by hand vs food processor
It is super common to make pie crust in the food processor. This method works great, and if you do it this way, go for it! When you make the dough in the food processor you use the machine to pulse the butter into the flour, which serves the same purpose as shingling it in with your hands. However, I prefer to make it by hand for a few reasons:
- Much easier to get the moisture content right. When you are making pie crust by hand, you can see exactly how it is reacting to the water added, particularly toward the end of the process where you sprinkle in the water a tablespoon at a time. It is quite easy to accidentally over hydrate a pie dough made in the food processor, as you can't see or feel it coming together as well.
- You run the risk of over working the dough. Again, it is harder to see what is happening when you make pie crust in the food processor, so it is much easier to over work the crust by mistake, resulting in a tough crust.
- Cleaning the food processor sucks. That's all I have to say on that.
How long does pie crust last in the refrigerator?
I like to make my homemade pie dough ahead of time - ideally the night before, but this can be done up to three days ahead of time if you are storing your pie crust in the fridge. Make sure that it is well wrapped, and use it straight from the fridge to keep everything nice and cold and to ensure that your pie crust is easy to work with.
Sometimes if you have left pie crust in the fridge for too long it will start to oxidise and turn grey - this is how to tell if pie crust is off. If you are unsure when you are going to use it, your best bet is to throw it in the freezer and bring out to thaw when needed.
How to freeze pie crust
The great thing about making homemade pie crust is that it is easy to make a whole bunch at once, and then freeze it until you are ready to use it. Pie crust will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to wrap it well in plastic wrap once it has been shaped into a disk, then add a layer of aluminum foil on the outside just to help with freezer smell.
To thaw pie crust, remove from the freezer and place into the fridge overnight until it has thawed. It is now ready to use the exact same way you would use a fresh pie crust from the fridge.
Can I freeze the pie crust in the pan?
I don't recommend doing this - things get weird and dried out. You are much better to just freeze the dough as discs, well wrapped, then proceed as usual.
How to scale a pie dough recipe
If I am making multiple batches of pie crust, I often do it all in one go. However there is a limit when scaling the recipe. You don't want to do too much at one time or you run the risk of over working your pie dough. The recipe below makes enough for a basic double crust pie, or two single crust pies. I divide the dough and shape it into a disc and store like that. I like to scale the recipe around how many discs of dough it will yield.
The most I recommend scaling this pie crust recipe by is 1.5, which will yield 3 pie crusts. If you do any more, I would work in batches. Usually I do one batch of this pie crust recipe at a time. Then I make multiples of it depending on how much I need.
This recipe makes enough pie crust for two single crust pies, or a basic double crust pie with just a lattice. If you are making a pie where you want a more detailed top crust, I suggest making a 1.5 batch of this recipe to ensure you have enough. Any leftover pie crust can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the fridge or freezer for another time.
While this pie crust guide should set you up for success, there are a few things that can go wrong when you are making pie crust. Here are the most common ones:
- Pie crust is over hydrated. The dough will be sticky and hard to roll out. Remember that when the dough is resting in the fridge the flour will hydrate, so you don't want it to be too wet just after mixing. Start with the amount of water suggested in the recipe as a starting point and then add more from there carefully.
- Pie crust is under hydrated. You know your pie crust is under hydrated when you have big dry chunks and it is hard to bring the dough together. Add a little more water when you are mixing - if needed, sprinkle some water on the dry parts at the bottom of the bowl and incorporate them in.
- Large butter chunks in pie crust. If you have large butter chunks in your dough, it is not going to roll out evenly. Make sure that when you are incorporating the butter, it gets mixed in enough so there are still some pieces left (this will get taken care of by the laminations), but that most of the butter is pea sized chunks. Large pieces of butter mean they won't full incorporate into the dough, and may leak out in the oven or make lattice work difficult.
- Pie crust is leaking butter in the oven. This often happens if the butter chunks were too big in your pie crust. When you do the lamination step, it should leave you with homogenous dough. Sometimes you can see leakage of butter from the crust around the edge of your pie dish. A little leakage is fine, but if you find that you are getting pools of butter, it is likely that you have not incorporated the butter well enough.
- Pie dough is cracking when you go to roll it out. This could be because it is too cool, or your dough is under hydrated. I like to press on the dough with my rolling pin a few times to help even it out before I start to roll. Forming the dough into a disc before it goes into the fridge and tucking the edges under means you get a nice clean edge on it too.
Top tips for making pie crust.
- Plan ahead. Pie crust works best if you are able to make it ahead of time so that it can rest overnight. The minimum rest period that it needs is 2 hours, but you will get best results if you are able to leave it to rest overnight.
- Keep everything cold. Make sure you have cold butter, and ice cold water. This helps to stop the butter from melting and means your dough is nice and easy to work with.
- Don't work it too much. Gluten is a bad word when it comes to making homemade pie crust. You don't want to develop too much gluten in the crust by over working it. Be gentle when mixing your liquid in. The laminations is adding folds to the dough rather than kneading it - like rough puff pastry.
For all my tips on blind baking, check out my post: How to blind bake pie crust which is filled with all my tricks for a perfectly par-baked pie crust!
Commonly asked questions
- What tools and equipment do you use?
You can see a full list of all the tools I use here
- Is Pie Crust the same thing as pie dough?
Yes! I use the words interchangeably but as far as I am aware, they are the same thing
- Can you make pie crust gluten free?
Not with this recipe. But there are a bunch of gluten free specific pie crust recipes out there, so I would try one of those rather than trying to adapt this.
For more pie recipes, check out:
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This is a step by step guide on how to make easy homemade pie crust. It covers all the tips and tricks for how to make your own homemade pie dough from scratch, including how to make ahead, how to freeze and store pie crust, and a perfect all-butter pie crust recipe! This recipe makes enough for two single crust pies or one double crust pie - freeze any excess!
- 375g all-purpose flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 tsp (8g) sugar
- 225g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 240g cold water
- 1 cup ice
- 60g Apple cider vinegar
- Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat.
- Incorporate the butter. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or your thumb and fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only large pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.
- Add the water and mix the pie dough. Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I usually start with about 120g liquid, mix that in, then go from there and add additional liquid as needed) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet.
- Shape the pie dough. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into a rectangle, Rest in the fridge for one hour.
- Laminate the pie dough. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle, fold it in thirds like a letter, then roll again and repeat the folding. Repeat this process one more time. Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape each into a disc by folding the edges under. Rewrap tightly in plastic, and rest for at least two hours, or preferably overnight, before using. Store pie crust in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes enough pie crust for one double crust pie, or two single crust pies. If you double the recipe, you may not need to double the quantity of water and vinegar - see how much you have left first and make up more if needed
Keywords: Pie Crust, Pie, Easy pie crust, pie crust recipe, pie dough