Filed Under: How To | Pie | Thanksgiving

Best Ever Pie Crust

Recipe By Tessa Arias
October 3rd, 2017
5 from 3 votes
5 from 3 votes

How to Make the Best Ever Pie Crust with all the tips and tricks for a flaky beautiful crust that impresses your friends and family. For even more, download my free Pie Crust Troubleshooting Guide HERE.

Yield: 1 9-inch pie crust

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Homemade pie dough is about a thousand times more flaky, tender, and flavorful than the store-bought kind. It takes a little bit of extra work, but it absolutely does not need to be as intimidating as it may seem.

I joke that working with homemade pie dough often seems like everything is going wrong until it actually comes out of the oven golden brown, wonderfully flaky, and absolutely delicious.

How to Make the Best Ever Pie Crust with all the tips and tricks for a flaky beautiful crust that impresses your friends and family.

I’m sharing a ton of tips in this post, so let’s go ahead and get right into the juicy stuff. (Or should I say flaky stuff?)

Making pie crust by hand with a pastry blender

Top 3 Pie Dough Tips:

1. Keep everything cold, especially your butter.

If your kitchen is above 73°F, then refrigerate all of your ingredients and equipment, including your bowl, rolling pin, and pie tin until it’s between 65-70°F (dip an instant thermometer into your flour to gauge the temperature). If it’s a hot day, or you have hot hands, you’re probably better off making your pie dough in a food processor.

Once your dough is made, the internal temperature should be around 65°F before you start rolling it out. Too cold, and it will be too hard and brittle. Any warmer, and the butter will melt and stick and your final crust will be a non-flaky mess.

If your kitchen is warm, fill freezer bags with ice and a little water and set them on your work surface for 10 minutes to chill it before rolling out your pie dough.

2. Be quick, gentle, and a little messy!

It should take about one minute to cut the butter into the flour mixture. For a flaky crust, leave chunks of butter about the size of walnut halves. For a sturdier crust (better for custard fillings like pumpkin pie), leave chunks of butter the size of peas.

Over-working the pie dough develops more gluten, which can make the baked crust tough and dense instead of light and flaky. This can also create shrinking in the crust while it’s baking. Additionally, over-working the dough with your hands can start to melt the butter, which will prevent that flaky texture from forming.

The dough won’t look like much at first. It’ll be kind of craggly and messy looking, that’s okay. You just don’t want any really floury dry bits. That means you need more water. If your dough is sticky, then you’ve added too much water.

3. Give the dough a rest.

If you have problems with your crusts shrinking while baking, then they need more time to rest so the gluten can relax so it doesn’t snap back to its original smaller shape. For best results rest the dough:

After mixing it: wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Especially if your kitchen is warm.
After rolling it out: let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes before placing it into your pie tin if you have issues with shrinking. Do NOT stretch the dough to fit into the tin, as it will snap back like a rubber band while baking.
After filling it: Refrigerate the assembled pie for 10 minutes before baking it.

Making homemade pie dough by hand
How to make all butter pie crust
Foolproof all butter pie crust recipe

Now let’s move onto the other area of pie crust that I think frustrates a lot of people.

Rolling Out the Dough

Here’s a step-by-step video on how to roll your pie dough easily and keep it nice and pretty.

I typically roll out my dough on a marble pastry board, but that is totally optional. You can use the trick I mentioned above of icing down your counter before rolling to help keep things nice and cool. Avoid overworking the dough as you roll it out. Keep the dough moving so you don’t roll over the same areas repeatedly, making it tough.

How to roll out homemade pie dough

Don’t be shy about flouring our work surface, the dough itself, and your rolling pin throughout the process. There are two inexpensive tools that I find are both a MUST when it comes to rolling out pie dough: a flour shaker and a bench scraper.

The flour shaker allows you to easily add flour wherever sticking might be happening. The bench scraper allows you to easily keep the dough moving as you roll it out, which is essential. I keep the dough moving in quarter-turns to prevent sticking and to keep it an even thickness.

Alternatively, you can roll the pie dough out between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap. I find that most non-commercial paper and plastic wrap isn’t big enough to accommodate a 12 to 14-inch diameter circle, so I don’t often use this method.

If at any point the butter begins to get melty and sticky, return the dough to the fridge immediately.

How to roll out and shape pie crust
How to Make the Best Ever Pie Crust with all the tips and tricks for a flaky beautiful crust that impresses your friends and family.

Use your fingers to flute the edges of the pan if you wish. I find that I need to make a more dramatic flute than I might think since the design will loosen during baking. Whatever you do, don’t make the flute too heavy otherwise it’ll slump don’t the sides.

Butter vs. Shortening?

Butter vs shortening in pie crust

I’ve done an extensive amount of testing on pie crust. Let’s just say my kitchen has seen a LOT of butter. I made the messes and did the testing so you don’t have to. Here’s what I learned.

When it comes to pie dough, I’ve heard a lot of confusing and conflicting opinions about which is the better fat?

If you’re curious, you can learn more about the general differences between butter and shortening here.

But I actually tested the two fats in pie crust side-by-side to compare. I still need to do testing with lard, so stay tuned for that!


This all-shortening dough was very easy to work and requires less chilling time with since shortening has a higher melting temperature than butter. However, this also means that unlike the very hard chunks of cold butter that remain in the control dough, shortening is soft enough that it is easily overworked, resulting in a crumbly dough instead of a flakey dough.

As you can see in the photograph, the all-shortening dough ended up being flat, tender, and fairly crumbly. The texture was actually reminiscent of shortbread and it was completely lacking in flavor. In fact, the flavor reminded me of store-bought dough.


In this all-butter dough there were plenty of visible chunks of butter studded throughout. Once it came together and was chilled, it was a bit of a challenge to maintain that perfect temperature where it’s warm enough to shape but cold enough that the butter doesn’t melt. The extra effort paid off immensely, though. This pie crust was ridiculously light, flaky, and loaded with rich buttery flavor. You could immediately tell this was homemade, in the best way. This is why I almost always prefer a 100% butter pie crust.

If you like the affects of shortening, then I’d recommend a 50-50 ratio of butter and shortening to get the best of both worls.

Other Pie Crust “Tricks” Put to the Test


Testing out vodka in pie crust
A few reputable sources have claimed that by substituting a portion of the water with vodka in a pie crust recipe, you prohibit gluten development and therefor ensure a tender, flaky crust. I tested this against my standard pie crust recipe and found the differences to be slight. I don’t think it’s worth the extra effort if you don’t have chilled vodka on hand.

By hand or with a food processor?

It’s been said that pie crust made by hand, either with a pastry blender or two knives, produces a flakier and superior crust. When I tested the by-hand method vs. the food processor method I did notice that the by-hand version was a bit flakier. Since it takes less than 5 minutes to mix up the dough by hand, and since you’re guaranteed to *not* over mix it if you use a gentle hand, I prefer this option. Also, my food processor is a pain to lug out of the pantry!

Optional SECRET Ingredient!!

Pie crust with sour cream

As you can see, I’ve done a lot of side-by-side testing of pie crust variations. Most of the time the classic recipe has won out, with a single exception. SOUR CREAM!

Sour cream acts as a tenderizer in baked goods and I was curious to see if it would significantly affect the texture of pie crust. I added 2 tablespoons of sour cream to my standard recipe along with the butter.

This dough was very soft and slightly sticky, but easy enough to work with. This pie crust puffed up to a surprising height. The texture was ultra light, puffy, and flaky, almost like puff pastry. If you have sour cream handy, I definitely suggest giving it a shot if you have some on hand. Add in 2 tablespoons to the recipe below, and reduce the water by about 2 tablespoons or as needed.

Baking the Crust

I’ve included instructions on how to blind-bake the crust for recipes that require an already baked crust. Otherwise, just follow the directions in the pie recipe you’re following for baking the crust.

Pie Pans

The material of your pie pan can make a noticeable difference in how your pie bakes. This is actually something I talk about a lot in The Magic of Baking, my online baking class. Here’s what you need to be aware of at minimum:


These pans heat up and bake quickly, so you may need to shave some time off your baking to avoid overdoing it. Avoid dark or coated aluminum pans for baking pie crust, which are likely to result in overly browned crusts.


Glass bakes more slowly than aluminum, but since it’s slow and you can see how brown your crust is getting, you’re less likely to over bake. Don’t take your pie directly from the freezer to the oven unless the manufacturer says it’s safe to do so. I like this OXO glass pie pan because it’s made from borosilicate glass to withstand extreme temperature changes without shattering.


These are pretty for serving at special occasions, and like glass they bake more slowly and shouldn’t be subjected to extreme temperature changes.

Place your pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet before putting in the oven. This helps you to remove the pie tin without damaging the crust with your oven mitts.

Be sure to check out my free pie crust troubleshooting guide:

And now, finally, the recipe!

Photos by Lauren J Photography.

5 from 3 votes

How to make
Best Ever Pie Crust

Yield: 1 9-inch pie crust
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
How to Make the Best Ever Pie Crust with all the tips and tricks for a flaky beautiful crust that impresses your friends and family. For even more, download my free Pie Crust Troubleshooting Guide HERE.


  • 1 1/4 cups (159 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 stick (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water


  1. In a medium deep mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter, and cut into the flour using a pastry blender or two knives. You can also use a food processor.

  2. For a flaky crust, leave chunks of butter about the size of walnut halves. For a sturdier crust (better for custard pies), leave chunks of butter the size of peas.

  3. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add in a few tablespoons of water and toss with your fingers to saturate. Continue this until the dough comes together. If the dough holds together when pinched between your fingers, it’s good. If it doesn’t, drizzle just enough water until it does. You can remove the mass of dough that collects and sprinkle additional water on the floury bits left behind.

  4. Shape the dough into a disk and chill in the fridge until firm and cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days or make ahead.
  5. Let the dough sit at room temperature for up to 10 minutes, or until slightly pliable. The dough is best to work with when it has an internal temperature of about 67 to 70°F.
  6. Roll the dough out on a generously floured work surface. Keep turning the dough after every roll to ensure it doesn’t stick to the counter and is of even thickness. Use your hands to cup the edges of the dough to keep it smooth and prevent cracks. Add additional flour to the dough, the counter, and your rolling pin as needed. Roll out into a 12 to 14-inch circle, depending on how deep your pie tin is.
  7. Gently roll the dough up and around the rolling pin then unroll and drape over a 9-inch pie tin. Gently press into the pie tin, being careful to avoid stretching it to fit. Use scissors or a knife to trim the excess dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under itself and crimp or flute. Avoid making your edge too thick and heavy or it may slump over while baking.

  8. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  9. If the pie recipe calls for a prebaked shell, preheat the oven to 400°F. For an extra crispy bottom crust, place your oven rack on the bottom shelf or bake on a preheated baking stone.

  10. Line the chilled crust with foil or parchment. Fill the crust completely with pie weights, sugar, rice, or dried beans. Place on a rimmed baking pan.

  11. To par-bake if baking again with filling: Bake for 12 to 17
    minutes, or until pale and just beginning to brown but not raw.

  12. To bake completely: Bake for 20 minutes Remove parchment paper and weights. Continue to bake until totally browned and crispy, about another 5 to 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Double this recipe for a double crust pie.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Jenny from — October 3, 2017 at 4:15 am

    Thanks for this very informative post! I am a huge fan of butter myself, so I love an all-butter pie crust!

  2. #
    Lisa — October 3, 2017 at 10:39 am

    How about pure lard instead of butter? Thank you!

    • #
      Tessa — October 5, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Haven’t tested that here, Lisa. But if you give it a try let us know how it goes 🙂

  3. #
    Stephanie — October 4, 2017 at 5:29 am

    My problem with pie crusts is that my crusts don’t seem to hold together very well with just 4 TBSP’s of water. I often wonder if the recipe writer has a bigger TBSP. I do notice that your butter pieces are bigger than what I thought they were supposed to be. I thought “pea sized” was what was required. I’m going to try your pie crust recipe for sure. Thanks for all the tips.

    • #
      Tessa — October 5, 2017 at 7:56 am

      Hi Stephanie! You’ll notice this recipe actually has less flour than most other recipes so you don’t end up having to add a ton more water 🙂 And pea sized is way too small in my experience. At that size, the butter will start to melt super quickly as you’re working with the dough.

  4. #
    Deb Lambert — October 5, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Did I read correctly? You bake an pre baked pue shell with the pie weights in it for 45 minutes?

    • #
      Tessa — October 5, 2017 at 7:58 am

      Yes! But the pie is baked at a lower temperature than other recipes might call for. That time should get you a totally baked golden shell ready to use in a recipe that needs one 🙂

  5. #
    Anda — October 6, 2017 at 2:25 am

    Would this pie crust also work for tart shells? 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — October 8, 2017 at 8:09 am

      I haven’t tried! Though tart crust usually has an egg and more sugar, so it’s a little different.

  6. #
    Phil Van Kirk — October 6, 2017 at 7:16 am

    You infer that OXO glass pie plates are the best, but you’re using ceramic. Sponsor?

    • #
      Tessa — October 8, 2017 at 8:09 am

      I’m giving the reader three different options… Also this post isn’t sponsored.

  7. #
    Sandra — October 6, 2017 at 7:48 am

    I am definitely guilty of overworking dough and dealing with shrinkage issues…I will be more aware from now on. Two questions:
    -How do you avoid overworking dough when you need to reuse the rolled scraps left from the bottom crust?
    -The pieces of butter throughout dough in your photos are so large…do you ever have pools of melted butter in the baked crust?

    • #
      Tessa — October 8, 2017 at 8:07 am

      Make two batches of dough instead of using re-rolled scraps 😉 The only time I had a small pool of butter using this recipe was when there was a tear in the crust going into the oven. I wanted to see what would happen! Still worked perfectly fine though.

  8. #
    Jenie — October 6, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I’m fresh out of unsalted butter( it’s a tragedy) so I’m going to delete the salt and try salted butter. I’ll let you know how it works. I’m thinking the unsalted butter doesn’t melt as quick, we shall see.

  9. #
    Merlinda — October 6, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Pre baked for 45 mins @350 seems like a lot. What temp do you use for pre baked. Is there a particular type of butter you use, some have more water then others? Chunks of butter do look pretty massive, was that more for photo? Sour cream, use this method only if doing a top crust, such as for apple pie? Thank you!

    • #
      Tessa — October 8, 2017 at 8:06 am

      You answered your own question 😉 Yes, 350°F. This is lower than many other recipes, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Start checking at 30 min if you’re concerned or if your oven runs hot. Any quality brand of American-style butter should be fine. Nope, those are how big the chunks should be so they don’t melt before they enter the oven. Sour cream method is up to you!

  10. #
    Stacy Dohle — October 6, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Hi Tessa!

    I really like using cast iron pans for Pies. Would the pie crust turn out ok using your pie crust recipe? Would the temp and baking time be different as well?

  11. #
    Debra — October 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I’m not able to print the recipe. would you know, it’s not mandatory, but when my granddaughter is judge for 4-H they prefer lard, would we use the dame amount of lard as it calls for butter?

  12. #
    Bella — November 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Tessa!
    I’m soooo glad you did a very informative article on making pie crust! I love to bake, but I usually stay away from scratch pie crust recipes because I always seem to have issues with overworking and shrinkage as another reader stated. My kitchen is probably too warm to make pie dough and I think that may be at least some of the reason why I at least have the shrinkage problem.
    I have a question that I really hope you can answer – Is there a reason why you don’t (or shouldn’t) use sliced frozen butter as opposed to cold butter? Will it not work into the flour as well?
    I look forward to your answer. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #
      Tessa — November 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      Hi, Bella! I find using frozen butter can make the dough too brittle, leading to cracks and tears when you work with it. Hope that helps!

  13. #
    Kerry — November 23, 2017 at 12:10 am

    When you are “cutting” in the butter, how do you keeps the chunks so big as in the photo and still have it cut/mixed in? I use the Vodka crust, are you saying it is close to this all, large chunck, butter recipe shown here?

  14. #
    Ronnie — December 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Is there any way you could post some photos of the butter chunks you cut beforehand? I can’t figure out what size to cut them. Do you just slice them the size of a butter pat? Do you cut the stick vertically down the middle and then slice it horizontally (i’m confusing even myself here). I’ve only ever made butter pie crust but I always have trouble with it melting and being “overworked” (it always comes out flavorful but flat).

    • #
      Tessa — December 18, 2017 at 10:16 am

      I cube the butter: slice it horizontally once, flip the stick, and slice it horizontally again so there’s 4 logs. Then I make cuts to create square pieces. Does that help?

  15. #
    Pam Neumann — November 2, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Tessa, Try the Flour Paste Pie Dough recipe from Joy of Cooking. My copy is from 1975. Major difference between this recipe and most recipes is you separate one third of your dry ingredients into a separate bowl and add a quarter cup of water or enough to make a thick paste. Incorporate the shortening into the two thirds dry ingredients. Then combine the two until well incorporated and the dough forms a ball. You do not have to let this dough rest, you just roll it out. I once won a pie baking contest and knew I was the winner when I heard the judge say “the crust.” This is perfect every time.

  16. #
    Donna B Oliphint — November 2, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Like the other comments, WOW to the size of the butter chunks. Can’t wait to try this. Also, (on another blog) the blogger was using a refrigerated, roll out pie crust and said to use powdered sugar instead of flour to keep from risking a tough dough. That was an eye opener, and I can’t wait to try that since I often use the refrigerator dough. I always brush the top crust or the sides with an egg wash and sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of sugar before baking. It comes out crispy, if not flakey.

  17. #
    Andrew Schmidt — December 15, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Hoping someone can help… I try following the recipe, but I get either good sized butter bits with REALLY dry flour (even with all the water), or good consistency but no butter bits. Help!

  18. #
    PK — January 9, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    WARNING…!!! Don’t Follow Her Instructions…!!!

    Author of this recipe said… ” I added 2 tablespoons of sour cream to my standard recipe along with the butter, keeping everything else the same.”

    Then, Later she said… “Add in 2 tablespoons (of sour cream) to the recipe below, and reduce the water by about 2 tablespoons or as needed.”

    Well, it’s certainly too late for me to reduce the water by two (2) tablespoons. Hopefully, you’ll learn from my mistake, when following her poorly written instructions! Unless she deletes my corrective review… ugh!

  19. #
    PK — January 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    P.S.- The Auther states… “Place your pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet before putting in the oven. This helps you to remove the pie tin without damaging the crust with your oven mitts.” However, I would certainly not recommend baking your pie on a rimmed cookie sheet, unless you have a heavy gauge pan… as mine bent in the oven due to the heat & threw my wet pie all over inside… ugh!

  20. #
    Jen.A — April 20, 2019 at 10:46 am

    I used this recipe a few months ago, followed it EXACTLY, and it was the best pie crust I’ve ever made!! Thank you Tessa for taking the time to experiment and create amazing recipes to share with us all

  21. #
    Susan — September 15, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Would this crust recipe work for handheld pot pies such as pockets or pasties?

  22. #
    Carol Sanders — October 12, 2019 at 11:28 am

    recipe says preheat oven to 400 and bake 20 minutes
    comments say bake at 350 for 45 minutes
    Have you updated the recipe to the higher temp and lower time?

  23. #
    Heather Aullman — November 16, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Love it. Used the sour cream. Perfect. 🙂

  24. #
    Mary Montgomery — February 5, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    I am really excited to try this recipe. I have used others, including Ina’s “Perfect Pie Crust” — but I found it was anything but perfect.

    Question: I am planning to make a double crust apple pie and I’d love to use my Emile Henry pie pan. Should I preface the bottom shell at all? Or should I brush the inside bottom to ensure it doesn’t get soggy?

    Do you have any suggestions for a great apple pie?

  25. #
    Tonya Daily — April 8, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    I doubled this recipe today for a cobbler. It’s the first time I’ve made a crust without shortening. And, it has been a very long time since I made my own pie crust. Following your recipe and tips on rolling out the dough, it turned out great! Thank you for your wonderful instructions and video.

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