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. 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

  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

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

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/8 of dough / Calories 345 / Protein 4 g / Carbohydrate 30 g / Dietary Fiber 1 g / Total Sugars 0 g / Total Fat 23 g / Saturated Fat 15 g / Cholesterol 61 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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217 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Susan October 18, 2015, 12:58 pm

    Your “Flaky Pie Crust Recipe” is the bomb. I’ve been making pies for many years and my crust is always hit or miss. THIS recipe turns our great, It rolls so smooth with no edge cracks and tastes awesome. It’ll be the one I use from now on. KUDOS to you and THANK YOU

    Reply
  • jasmine October 9, 2015, 3:37 pm

    what if i add too much water and its too moist? will it still turn out okay?

    Reply
    • Joanne October 16, 2015, 12:44 pm

      It depends how much extra water you added — too much water and you may find the crust loses it’s flakiness.

      Reply
  • May July 30, 2015, 3:27 pm

    I changed the fat to 3/4 butter, 1/4 lard but otherwise made as written. Was tougher to roll out nice than my usual recipe (without tears) but much easier to shape the edge of the crust without crumbles (if that makes sense).

    End result – super flaky crust! LOVE IT!

    Reply
  • syam May 3, 2015, 6:28 am

    Hello Adam and Joanne…
    I’m a beginner home cook from Indonesia.Your website has helped me a lot with the step by step tutorials as well as the videos. Thanks! This flaky crust recipe is so great! I’ve made it twice for apple and pumpkin pie and i received so many compliments from my family and friends!! It’s the best. Thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂

    Reply
  • Stella Tsikrika April 2, 2015, 5:28 am

    Hello! I’m from Greece and I’m currently visiting my boyfriend who lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Last night I made your blueberry pie and it was AMAZING! Super tasty and super easy to make… And your videos were extremely helpful. It was really great for me to find a new recipe that came out so great, especially one that I wanted to make for so long, since I had NEVER tasted a blueberry pie before, let alone one that I baked myself! I’ll try out your other recipes for sure… Thank you so much! Greetings from Geneva…

    Reply
    • Joanne April 3, 2015, 1:40 pm

      That’s so great, Stella. We love blueberry pie! Thanks for all your kind words and we are really happy it turned out so well for you! (p.s if you want to keep up with our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube page at youtube.com/inspiredtaste ) Thanks again!

      Reply
  • MissMarie March 30, 2015, 12:05 pm

    Hi! I found you here after searching because I tried the J. Kenji-Lopez Easy Pie Dough instructions found on Serious Eats this weekend and *totally failed*. I have no trouble making pie crust with and without a food processor, using a different recipe and the normal “pea size” butter chunks, but they tend to be a little dense.

    However, though I had no problem making the paste, blending it with the remaining flour, and forming a dough, I could *not* get this dough into a pan to save my life, it was so tender/delicate. I chilled it for two hours before rolling the first disc, and it fell apart as I tried to put it in the pan. The second I rolled between wax paper, and while it rolled beautifully, again when I tried to pan it it tore, even after re-chilling it after rolling and before panning.

    The only differences I can see is that the original recipe calls for 2.5 sticks of butter (where yours calls for 2) and I only added 2tbsp water because the dough was quite moist at that point, although the original recipe called for 6tbsp. I also used lard for 1/4 of the butter, but I generally use it for up to 1/2 and have no trouble.

    Do you think it was just too much fat for the flour? Not enough water? Please help!

    Reply
    • Joanne April 1, 2015, 9:36 am

      Hi there, I’m not really sure what happened — we have found our ratio of butter to flour to work really well for us. The Serious Eats recipe is pretty solid, too. It is pretty important to get the butter and flour mixture to paste-like (this is the step that should have the most influence of how easy it is to roll in the end). Then you should quickly cut in the remaining flour. After that, water is added — we usually add more than what you said you added, but it can vary some. It really is hard for me to tell what went wrong (I wish I could help more!). All the best, Joanne

      Reply
      • MissMarie April 2, 2015, 11:06 am

        Thank you for replying! I tried the method again, but used my normal recipe amounts and it turned out perfect! I don’t know whether it was because it was all butter (I use half butter and half lard normally) or because it was just too much, or because I didn’t use enough water. But 1.5cups flour, 1/2 cup fat worked, so I’m going to stick with that. I can’t eat any more pie yet, but next I’ll try all butter again, and if it’s different I’ll report back 🙂

        Reply
        • Joanne April 3, 2015, 1:36 pm

          Oh good! I’m so glad you found something that worked for you 🙂 Thanks for letting us know how it turned out the second time around. As for eating more pie … we can help!

          Reply
  • Justin Robey January 2, 2015, 3:32 pm

    Hey guys!

    So I just got finished and put my crust in the oven. I had a similar problem to one of the comments above where after my initial food processor use (15 to 20 seconds) it was super dry, not pasty and it looked like the butter was super small. I added the other flour and it took 10 to 12 tablespoons of water to get the dough. Should I just make it again? I followed the recipe, and really want this to turn out well.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne March 3, 2015, 2:55 pm

      Next time try processing a little longer. The flour-butter mixture should come into a paste-like substance eventually. You can still use the crust you made. It may not be as flaky as it could be, but hopefully still good 🙂

      Reply
  • Mary O November 27, 2014, 7:24 pm

    Wow, thank you for your recipe and video instructions. Using the food processor was soooo easy. And following your directions for rolling out the dough was great. The pies look great and crust is so flaky and delicious. Thank you again and again.

    Reply
  • al arioli November 25, 2014, 4:52 pm

    A ‘paste’ did not form. A dry mixture (2 sticks butter to 1&1/2 cups flour) was the result, which would have poured right out of the processor – no need to scrape. I added another cup of flour anyway and pulsed. I needed much more water than the 6 tablespoons you gave. We’ll see, but I’m not confident because the procedure you described didn’t give the results you described.

    Reply
    • Joanne November 26, 2014, 2:22 pm

      Hi there, a paste should have formed after pulsing. You may have needed to process longer before adding the extra flour. Also, pie crusts can be tricky with how much water to add. With our flour and kitchen (humidity levels vary), we usually end up adding 6 to 8 tablespoons, but that may be either too much or too little for others. I hope the crust worked out for you in the end!

      Reply
      • Diana G January 24, 2016, 8:37 pm

        We live in Nevada where it is arid, so depending on the season, the amount of liquid will vary.

        Reply
  • Clifford B November 3, 2014, 8:41 pm

    I have a 9 cup Kitchenaid food processor and it took about a minute to turn the dough into the paste. What size food processor do you use? Is it possible to over process the dough and melt the butter?

    Reply
    • Joanne March 3, 2015, 2:56 pm

      It is possible to melt the butter, but that’s why you want to watch and stop processing once it turns into a paste. Our processor is pretty large (I’m not sure cup size, though).

      Reply

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