Easy, All-Butter Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

How to make our easy butter pie crust recipe that makes consistent flaky pie dough every time. Jump to the full Pie Crust Recipe now. Or, watch our quick, straight-forward recipe video showing you how we make it. In the video, we show you how to make the crust by hand and with a food processor.

We’ve been making pie crust the same way in our kitchen for years. We cut butter (or other solid fat) into flour until the butter and flour looks crumbly and has pieces of butter the size of peas. Then, we add just enough water to form the dough into a ball.

That was until we found a better way. A homemade pie crust recipe, rather pie crust method, that’s consistent and makes dough that’s a dream to roll out.

Blueberry PieWe use this recipe when making our blueberry pie — the crust lines the bottom and then we add a lattice crust on top. Since the dough is so easy to work with, adding the lattice is easy.

We also use the recipe in this cherry pie. The crust lines the bottom and top. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the crust works wonders for pre-baked pie crusts, just like in this strawberry pie.

How To Make Our Easy, All Butter Pie Crust

It’s not that our previous method failed us. We just came across another way of how to make it. A while back Cooks Illustrated reworked pie dough. You may have heard of it — they added vodka to their recipe. (We don’t add vodka — I’ll get to that in a minute).

Easy, All-Butter Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

Cooks Illustrated looked at the science behind pie crust — and it made sense. Our high school science teachers would be proud.

Here’s all you really need to know: Gluten is an enemy to pie crust. Some gluten is okay and actually needed for structure, but too much can really mess things up.

So, remember this: less gluten formation = flakier and more tender pie crusts.

Back to the vodka. That’s what got all the hype — why wouldn’t it, right?

In their recipe, the vodka replaced some of the water. The theory is that vodka doesn’t promote gluten formation, whereas water does. So, by replacing part of the water with vodka, it helps the pie crust become flakier and more tender.

We love the idea and many swear it works, but adding a 1/4 cup of vodka to our homemade pie dough recipe just didn’t sit well with us. It’s not something we store in our home often and it’s expensive. (If you want to see the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, Serious Eats has it here).

Easy, All-Butter Flaky Pie Dough Recipe

Making Flaky Pie Crust — It’s About the Method

What’s more important than the vodka is the way you combine the flour and fat (in our case, butter).

Remember that gluten is our enemy when it comes to pie dough? Well, Cook’s Illustrated found that if you thoroughly mix part of the flour with the fat (butter) and make a flour-butter paste first, every particle of that flour becomes coated in fat. Think of each particle of flour with butter raincoats. These raincoats make it very difficult for the flour to absorb water. In other words, it helps to prevent the development of too much gluten.

Then, you can add the remaining flour so the perfect amount of gluten develops. This means perfect pie crust, every time.

What We’re Looking For

Great pie crust shouldn’t become all soggy from juicy fillings, but is light enough to flake.

How to Make the Flakiest Pie Crust

It isn’t crumbly, instead it’s made of long, thin layers of dough (see photo). It should stand up to fillings, but shouldn’t be chewy, hard or heavy.

So, after all that talk — did it work?

Yes. It really did. Our pie crust was tender with long thin layers of dough, making it perfectly flaky.

We love this method for two reasons — First, it’s consistent. By adding part of the flour to the butter first, combing them into a paste then adding the remaining flour, the recipe determines how much flour is being used for the formation of gluten. The dough is the same, every time.

Second, that butter and flour paste really helps when it comes to working with the dough. Since it’s more pliable, the dough is easily rolled out.

Making the Dough – By Food Processor or by Hand

The folks at Cooks Illustrated insist on using a food processor for this method. We sort of agree — It makes making the flour and butter paste easy.

Use the food processor to make the paste then add the remaining flour. Pulse a few times then transfer everything to a bowl and add water until the dough comes together. (You don’t want to add water to the food processor — that can overwork the dough and lead to extra gluten formation).

Using the food processor eliminates variability. If you have one, use it.

With all that said, we hate cleaning dishes and since a food processor means 5 parts to clean (yes we counted) we tried this method by hand.

It worked.

We used a pastry cutter to cut the butter into part of the flour and made as close to a paste as possible. The flour was moistened by the butter and the mixture looked like fresh breadcrumbs — it was not powdery from flour. Then, we cut in the remaining flour and added water until the dough came together.

The dough made by hand was just as easy to roll out and turned out just as flaky. In fact, the photo above is actually from dough made by hand, not the food processor. So, if you don’t have a food processor or are like us and hate the extra dishes, give making it by hand a go.

Easy Pie Dough from Scratch

Recipe updated, originally posted May 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

Easy, All-Butter Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

  • PREP
  • TOTAL

This pie crust recipe, rather pie crust method makes consistent dough and makes dough that’s a dream to roll out. Using a food processor in this recipe eliminates variability. If you have one, use it. With that said, you can do this method by hand. Directions are provided below for using a processor and by hand.

Enough for one 9-inch double crust pie

You Will Need

2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

1 cup (230 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)

6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Directions

  • Method When Using Food Processor
  • Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar (optional) to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.

    Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).

    Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).

    Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water and continue to press until dough comes together.

    Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).

    • Method When Making By Hand
    • Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar (optional) to a medium bowl. Stir 2 to 3 times until combined.

      Scatter butter cubes over flour and mix briefly with a fork or spatula to coat the butter with flour.

      Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender, working mixture until the flour has a coarse, mealy texture similar to fresh bread crumbs. About 1 – 2 minutes.

      Add remaining 1 cup of flour. Work butter and flour with the pastry blender until flour is evenly distributed. About 20 seconds. (Dough should look crumbly with pea-sized pieces).

      Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water and continue to press until dough comes together.

      Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).

      • Rolling Out Dough
      • Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.

        Lightly flour work surface, top of dough and rolling pin. Then use rolling pin to roll out dough to a 12-inch circle (about 1/8-inch thick). Be sure to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below — add a small amount of flour when necessary.

        Check for size by inverting pie dish over dough round. Look for a 1-inch edge around the pie dish. To transfer dough to dish, starting at one end, roll dough around rolling pin then unroll over dish.

        Gently press dough down into dish so that it lines the bottom and sides of the dish. (Be careful not to pull or stretch the dough). Then, use a knife or pair of kitchen scissors to trim dough to within 1/2-inch of the edge of the dish.

        Fold edge of dough underneath itself so that it creates a thicker, 1/4-inch border that rests on the lip of the dish. Then, crimp edges by pressing the pointer finger of one hand against the edge of the dough from the inside of the dish while gently pressing with two knuckles of the other hand from the outside. Refrigerate dough at least 20 minutes or freeze for 5 minutes before baking.
        If making a double crust pie, do not crimp edges yet. Roll out second dough disc, fill pie then top with second dough round. Trim the edges then crimp.

        • How to Pre-Bake a Crust for a Single-Crust Pie (quiches, custard, and cream pies)
        • Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a baking sheet on a middle oven rack.

          Roll out enough dough to make one 9-inch crust (1 dough disk). Place into a pie plate and then pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork (this prevent air pockets or bubbles from forming while baking). Line the crust with two sheets of aluminum foil. (Be sure to push foil against the edges of the crust). Then, fill foil with dried rice, dried beans or pie weights. Refrigerate 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

          Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.

          Make an egg wash by whisking one egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cream in a small bowl. Then, remove rice, beans or pie weights and foil from pie crust. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with egg wash. Bake until egg wash is dry and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool crust completely before filling.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

Get Free Recipes by Email

Get insanely delicious FREE recipes and cooking videos in your inbox. Enter your email address below:

122 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Shelley D Newton November 26, 2016, 8:52 pm

    This recipe is the exact amounts as my grandma’s….except the method change, I will see if that helps my crust is never flaky. One trick she did was to use frozen butter and shred it into the flour with a hand grater….made using a pastry blender super easy, she always said the less you handled it th better.

    Reply
  • marybeth November 24, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Have been searching for a flaky pie crust until now. OMG! It is so amazing, so fast and effortless. The dough feels silky and rolls out so easily. Thank you

    Reply
  • Youssa November 1, 2016, 5:26 pm

    What if I only need one crust should I divide the ingredients in half? Im gonna try making your pumpkin pie 🙂

    Reply
    • Joanne November 8, 2016, 2:21 pm

      Hi there, You can either make half a batch or make the whole batch and save half of the dough in the freezer for another pie.

      Reply
      • Youssra December 6, 2016, 1:31 pm

        Thank you, everyone loved the pie and the crust got lots of compliments too! Thank you

        Reply
  • Dianne October 24, 2016, 8:25 pm

    Just some questions if making the crust for a cream pie (banana). Am I understanding:
    1. Make the crust as normal
    2. After refrigeration – roll the pie crust
    3. Do you then put it in the pie plate THEN the 2 pieces of foil with rice on in foil …OR leave the pie crust flat and put the foil on the flat pie crust (vs putting crust in pie plate first)

    Where I’m confused with baking a single crust for custard or cream pie per your instructions above is WHEN do you put the crust in the pie plate (after baked flat on baking sheet????)

    Reply
    • Joanne November 8, 2016, 2:25 pm

      Hi Dianne, If you plan to pre-bake the crust (which you will need to do for cream pies), you should fit the crust in the pie plate, cover with the foil and beans or pie weights and then bake until golden. You do make the crust as normal and it is easier to roll the dough when it is cold, so refrigerating helps with this.

      Reply
  • Steven October 23, 2016, 1:20 am

    I think the ratio of flour and butter is not correct, I measured 360 grams of flour which is 2 1/2 cups and I also measured 226 grams of unsalted butter which is 8 ounces, 2 sticks or 1 cup. The problem I had that was when I didn’t even add 3/4 of the butter to my flour it looked like you’ve already added the water and when I added the water it started to looked sloppy, I had to add 3 cups more of flour, and when I bake it, it was a disaster!!! I tried this recipe 3 times and I still have the same problem with the dough, maybe I’ll try instead of 1 cup of butter add 1/2 cup. Please help!!!

    Reply
    • Joanne November 8, 2016, 2:23 pm

      Hi Steven, We have had success with the ratio of flour to butter stated in our recipe. I’m not quite sure what happened when you made the crust, you should not have needed to add additional flour. I’m sorry things did not go well! If the dough is already coming together without the water, then leave the water out completely.

      Reply
  • Beth October 12, 2016, 4:01 pm

    Does it matter if the pie filling is hot? Does it need to be room temperature or cold? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Joanne October 14, 2016, 1:53 pm

      Hi Beth, good question. It’s best to add the filling at room temperature or cool.

      Reply
  • Maithilee October 10, 2016, 6:20 pm

    There are already over 100 reviews for this pie crust. I had read previously about a few teaspoons of ice cold water and not working the dough too much, but this explanation is the best. It is convincing and motivating. I made this on Thanksgiving morning and it’s irresistibly good.I forgot the salt honestly but it looks good. The video on processor and hand kneading was exceedingly helpful. It demonstrated what is meant by “working the dough less”. Just holding it together and resisting the temptation to give it the perfect round shape. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Agnes October 6, 2016, 7:13 pm

    OMG this is the best

    Reply
    • Agnes October 6, 2016, 7:20 pm

      OMG!!! This is the best recipe !!! I will do it as soon as possible):). Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! GBY

      Reply
  • Colleen Victor September 29, 2016, 9:44 am

    5 stars for sure!!!!!!!! I have made pie crusts for many years, and they are always kind of tough and no flavor at all! This pie crust is amazing!!!! I used the pie crust for a Turkey Pot Pie, and my husband and I could not stop talking about how excellent the crust was! Going to make an apple pie with it next week. Thank you so much for sharing this pie crust recipe and information! Very informative and so wonderfully delicious!!!!!

    Reply
  • Cookie Monster September 11, 2016, 9:57 pm

    Very good recipe! Easy and works great!! I will definitely use this recipe again — thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Sara D August 21, 2016, 7:16 pm

    I just wanted to share that I’ve struggled for years trying for find an easy and tasty pie crust recipe and this one is the best hands down! Just made homemade apple pie and the crust is super flakey and buttery! I used the by hand method

    Reply
  • Tom July 7, 2016, 9:41 am

    What is the difference between very cold butter and frozen? We store our butter in the freezer (we buy when it’s on sale) and we have to let it thaw before using. The recipe calls for very cold butter chunks. What is considered “very cold”?

    Reply
    • Joanne July 7, 2016, 5:18 pm

      Hi Tom, frozen butter is fine. I’d let the butter sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes (so it is thawed just enough for you to safely cut the butter) then go ahead and make the pie crust as stated in the recipe.

      Reply
  • Megan June 20, 2016, 5:31 pm

    In making this dough recipe, I added the six tablespoons of ice water and the dough subsequently became sticky. Will it solidify more after refrigeration or should I add more flour?

    Reply
    • Joanne June 21, 2016, 2:59 pm

      Hi Megan, I don’t recommend adding more flour. Refrigerating the dough for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up should help.

      Reply
  • Jess June 14, 2016, 10:35 pm

    I had to come back here just to say this is the best pie crust recipe ever!!! I never thought I liked pie until I used this recipe!!!

    Reply
  • Lexi March 25, 2016, 7:22 pm

    Hi Adam and Joanne! I’m a big fan of your cooking!

    If I am going to make this dough tonight, and I am going to make the pies on Easter Sunday (that is in two days), then, after I make the dough, should I leave it in the fridge as the little discs, or should I pre-roll the dough into the pans? I need help!

    Reply
    • Joanne May 19, 2016, 1:12 pm

      Hi Lexi, sorry for the late response. I usually leave the pastry in thin disks and wrap them really well with plastic wrap.

      Reply

Leave a Comment or Review

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our Comment Policy.

If you are visiting from a mobile or tablet device, our star review system can be tricky for some devices. If you plan to leave a star review, please write the number of stars (1 to 5) in your comment and either Adam or Joanne will amend your comment with your star review. Thanks!

Did you make it? How was it?:

 

Previous Post: Next Post: