How to Make Homemade Pie Crust

Pie Crust Step Ten
Molly Watson
  • 01 of 11

    Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust In a Few Easy Steps

    Perfect pie crust is flaky and flavorful and easy to work with. It may seem difficult to achieve, but with a few tips and tricks you'll be making buttery crusts left and right. These step-by-step instructions will show you how the dough should look at each stage. We're using this ​​pie crust recipe, but the method can be used with any flaky pie crust recipe you like.

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    Start With Cold Fat

    Pie Crust Step One
    Molly Watson

    Start with very cold butter, lard, and/or shortening that has been cut into small pieces and scatter them on top of the dry ingredients that you've already combined. If it is hot out or your kitchen gets warm, cut the fat into small pieces and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes or so right before you're going to start the crust.

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    Work the Butter Into the Flour

    Pie Crust Step Two
    Molly Watson

    Use a fork, two knives, a pastry cutter, or just your fingers to work the fat into the flour.

    Many people prefer to use a food processor to make pie dough. If this includes you, pulse in half the amount of fat until the mixture looks like cornmeal, then add the remaining fat and pulse until there are pea-sized chunks of fat within the mixture.

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    Cornmeal With Large Chunks

    Pie Crust Step Three
    Molly Watson

    Work the fat into the flour until all of the flour resembles cornmeal with some larger pieces of fat still in the mix. Some of the floury mixture should be starting to cling together into larger, shaggy bits.

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    Drizzle In Very Cold Liquid

    Pie Crust Step Four
    Molly Watson

    Quickly drizzle in the cold liquid that the recipe calls for. Most pie crust recipes use water, but some include some acid, like lemon juice or cider vinegar, to keep the dough tender. It's best to start with the minimum amount and add more liquid if needed. You're only adding enough to make the dough workable, the fat will make the crust moist.

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    Stir Liquid Into the Dough

    Pie Crust Step Five
    Molly Watson

    Use a fork to stir the liquid into the pie crust dough or pulse the food processor. There is no need to panic, but you do want to work quickly so the dough stays relatively cold. Keep stirring the pie crust dough until it starts to pull into shaggy chunks and pulls away from the sides of the bowl just a bit. 

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    Forming a Dough

    Pie Crust Step Six
    Molly Watson

    Gently knead the dough into a solid mass. Unlike bread dough, which you work in order to develop the gluten, when you make pie crust you want to develop as little gluten as possible. So while you want to make the dough come together as one, you want to work it only just enough to make that happen. In this context, "gently kneading" means you're really just squeezing it lightly, ideally kneading just a few times until the comes together in a ball as pictured.

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    Pat the Dough Into a Disk

    Pie Crust Step Seven
    Molly Watson

    Turn the pie crust dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently pat it into a disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for at least 30 minutes. Most dough will keep for up to three days chilled or, double wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag, frozen for up to six months.

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    Put on a Floured Surface

    Pie Crust Step Eight
    Molly Watson

     Once the pie dough is well-chilled, remove it from the fridge and unwrap. Put the disk on a floured work surface. Put an even sprinkling of flour down then sprinkle a bit on top. Keep the flour handy in case your dough starts to stick to the counter.

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    Roll out the Dough

    Pie Crust Step Nine
    Molly Watson

    Roll out the dough into a circle about four inches wider than the pie plate, being careful not to push down on the edges. Turn the dough 90 degrees between each pass with the rolling pin to keep it from sticking to the work surface. Add more flour to prevent sticking as needed.

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    Chill and Line the Pie Plate

    Pie Crust Step Ten
    Molly Watson

    Once rolled out, you can fold it (with wax paper or plastic wrap between the folds) or lay it in a pie pan (or whatever vessel you'll use) before covering and chilling for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before filling or baking. Dough at this stage can also be frozen for up to three months. 

    When transferring dough to a pie pan, let the dough drop into the edges or corners, rather than pushing or pinching it in—this will help decrease the amount the dough with shrink and break as it bakes. Proceed with your pie recipe as written, either blind baking the crust or adding your filling and baking.