How to Make a Pie Crust from Scratch

4.20 from 5 votes

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The truth is, few things in the kitchen have ever intimidated me.  Making a pie crust from scratch was the exception.

With some flour and a little ice water and cold butter, I’m going to show you how to make an easy homemade pie crust.

How to Make a Pie Crust from Scratch

Our Brandy-Infused Chocolate Chess Pie with Roasted Hazelnuts

 

There was a time when the thought of making a pie crust could put me into the same state of mind as getting my yearly taxes together. Panic mode would set in. I hadn’t made pie dough often but when I did it seemed as tho I was never sure of what I was doing and it seldom turned out to my satisfaction.

A table full of homemade pies
From Not Quite Amish, these are precisely the kinds of pies my Mennonite mother, aunts, and relatives made on an almost daily basis.

While growing up, I’d watched my mother and sisters make pie crust with the seemingly mindless effort that was required to fold a basket of towels. A no-brainer, for them. Why wasn’t it easy for me? Then one day, an old saying came to my mind. “How do you get to Carnage Hall? You practice, practice, practice.” I had to practice.

An unbaked pie crust.
You can use a table fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of a pie crust.

 

Ingredients for homemade pie crust

  • Flour
    • All-Purpose flour or Pastry Flour both work. Try different combinations of each to get the type of crust that your looking for.
  • Fat
    • You can use straight butter (best flavor) lard (homemade lard may add a savory flavor) or shortening (easiest to handle) or a mixture of any of the above. I’ve even seen vegetable oil called for as the fat.
      If you are using straight butter, remember it starts to melt at 59*. With a body temp of 98.6* a pastry cutter might work out better then using your hands to mix.
  • Ice water
    • I use mostly ice so the water stays very cold.
  • Salt
    • Some recipes call for regular salt, others for kosher salt. You also have the option of mixing the regular salt with flour or with water.

 

How to make it

Use a bowl (metal) for mixing that will easily contain your hands and ingredients without spilling over when working.

  1. Place flour into a bowl.
  2. Cut in fat & salt with a pastry blender until your ingredients look like coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually add water, by the tablespoon and while gently blending with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  4. Watch for your crumbs to curd to the size of peas.
  5. If you are uncertain, add a tad more water. If the pie dough is too dry, it won’t stick together when your try to roll it out but if you add too much, you’ll end up with a tough crust.
  6. Once you add more water, and the dough sticks together when gently squeezed, you’ve got the correct consistency.
  7. Place your dough on a work surface and give it a few folds over onto itself
  8. Then, shape into a flat, 2 sided round, place in plastic wrap & refrigerate for 1/2 hour. This will give the gluten a chance to relax so that when the rolling time comes, it will stay put and won’t spring back.

 

Rolling out a pastry dough

Perfect Pie Crust, from The Pioneer Woman.

Rolling the dough was always tricky for me. First lightly flour your rolling board and rolling pin. I found that I was applying too much pressure and ended up with cracks and fishers all over my crust. With the help of my sister, I learned to ease up and apply a more evenly distributed roll. Start in the center and gently roll out to the edge, turning dough 10* at a time, making sure that the dough doesn’t stick.

“The truth is, few things in the kitchen have ever intimidated me.  Making a homemade pie crust was the exception.”

Try to end up with a dough that is round and approx. 1/8” thick. Roll the dough 1/2 way around your rolling pin and slide it into the pan. Or, you can 1/2 then 1/4 the sheet of dough and fold it in the pan. Let the dough find the corners of the pan by gently working and lifting dough to a smooth fit with your pan. If you stretch the dough, it will shrink during baking. Chill crust once again.

Rolling out a pie dough on a rolling pin
Rolling your pie dough around your rolling pin is an easy way to transfer it to your pie dish.

I think that my glass pans are my favorite for baking pies. I can see when the pie is done on the bottom. When I’m using a disposable aluminum, I always place it inside a glass pan to give the aluminum stability and more evenly distributed heat. I feel that dark pans absorb too much heat and have a propensity to burn. Shiny metal pans tend to deflect heat and make a soggier crust.

A pie in a dish with a slicer cut out
Glass pie pans allow you to monitor both sides of your crust, as it bakes.

Depending on my filling and to avoid a soggy bottom, I put a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. The pie enters the oven, place directly on the baking sheet at 475℉ for 15-20 minutes. This gives the chilled dough a shock of heat and helps to set the crust.  Next, the temp is knocked back to 375℉ for about 40 minutes more.

Our family recipe for Pecan Pie

About halfway through the baking time, I check the pie to see if the crimp in the crust is browning too fast. If it’s almost the color I’m looking for but still only halfway cooked, I know that I have to put aluminum around the top (in a halo, shinny side out) or I’ll have a burnt crust before the pie is actually finished cooking.

You will know that your pie is done soon after the aroma hits your nose. Look for steam and bubbles coming up through the vents and your pie will be done. Finally, allow the pie to cool until the contents are set, usually at least 15 minutes to a half-hour.

Homemade pie is a part of my heritage and like other foods that have been an integral part of my life, I’m often reminded of the people in my life that I associate with pie. My good friend Liz, who I grew up with, is a perfect example of this.

It’s with her immortal words that I dedicate our lifelong friendship with, through this post. “If  I don’t get a piece of pie, I am afraid I’ll simply DIE.”  Thank goodness, we have enough pie ideas right here on Platter Talk to keep Liz around for a long, long time.

Easy Homemade Pie Recipes

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Homemade Pie Crust

4.20 from 5 votes
This homemade pie crust will be your go-to recipe for delicious pastry desserts!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 8

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup water, use ice water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Instructions 

  • Combine flour, shortening, sugar, and salt.

  • Work together with a fork until consistency is pebbly

  • In separate small mixing bowl, beat egg and add water and vinegar, beat again.
  • Add liquid mixture to flour and shortening then use a fork to stir and form into a ball. Roll out dough on a lightly-floured surface.

Notes

Adjust amounts of flour and water as necessary.

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 301mg, Potassium: 57mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 30IU, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 2.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!


Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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76 Comments

    1. To tell you the truth, I like the crust better then the filling! Have fun & thanks for the comment.

  1. Oh boy! You touched a real nerve!!!! I hate making pie crusts and I’ve been a chef go over 30 years!
    Guess I’ll buckle down & do the practice, practice, practice. Or maybe just have my baker take care of such things – LOL

  2. What a great post Dan. You’ve given so many wonderful tips here.

    My mother wasn’t much of a cook but she could turn out a great crust which always baffled me why I let this one thing (one of two) bother me. I finally mastered it in a pie crust class! Now on to sourdough.

    1. Good job! I felt the same way- my mom was famous for her pie crusts. I just had to “work” at it. Gook luck with the sourdough!
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. I was always told in school to use butter and lard for shortcrust pastry. I use vegetable shortening and butter now.

    1. We had our own lard, which was rendered on our farm. Later, Crisco ruled. I personally use a mix, as you do. Have fun baking!