Pie Crust Tutorial

This post has been a long time coming. I love baking pies, in fact they are probably one of my most favorite things to bake. But I know plenty of you are intimidated by pies, more specifically, pie crusts. I’m here with a detailed tutorial to hopefully give you a little more confidence with your next pie, or maybe give you the courage to bake your first pie.

This is my favorite pie crust recipe, I’ve been using it almost exclusively for the last several years. It’s made with butter and flavored with buttermilk. Many pie crusts call for half butter and half shortening, as shortening is known to make a flakier crust and butter has the better flavor. But I don’t like using shortening, and I think that a flaky crust comes more from how the crust is prepared than from the kind of fat used. I love the flavor that the buttermilk adds to the pie crust, it gives it a little something extra that crusts mixed with just water don’t have.

I have taken something from my experiment with the crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and now use a bit of vodka if my dough needs a little more moisture to bring it all together. Since the vodka evaporates during baking, it won’t cause the baked crust to be tough, as excess moisture can sometimes do. If you prefer not to use vodka, use more buttermilk or substitute with water, just do so sparingly.

To make a long story short, this crust is tried-and-true. You definitely should try it. Let me show you how!

It starts with six ingredients: butter, all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, buttermilk, and vodka.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add the cold butter and toss it in the dry ingredients.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Dump it all out into a pile and get your rolling pin and bench scraper ready. A bench scraper is very handy to have during this whole processes, but you could improvise if you don’t have one.

Pie Crust Tutorial

With the rolling pin, roll the butter into the dry ingredients. You want to roll out each cube of butter, combining it with the flour mixture. Some butter will stick to the rolling pin as you go along, just use the bench scraper to scrape it off.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Bring the mixture back into a pile as needed and continue this process of rolling the butter into the flour mixture until it is all in thin sheets.

Pie Crust Tutorial

It should look like this. And you can begin to see how this crust gets to be so flaky!

Pie Crust Tutorial

Working with the butter warms it up. You want the butter to stay cold because otherwise it may incorporate into the other ingredients completely and you’ll lose those flaky bits that are so crucial to a pie crust. So put the mixture back into the bowl and freeze it for about 15 minutes.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Remove the bowl from the freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a spoon and then your hands to bring the mixture together into a ball. If the mixture is too dry, add the vodka (or water) a tablespoon at a time. Sometimes I need to add it, other times I don’t. Add the extra liquid sparingly, you don’t want the dough to be too moist.

Pie Crust Tutorial

This recipe makes enough dough for a double crust pie, so divide it in half. Flatten each half into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour (and up to a few days). This accomplishes two things: it gets the butter in the dough cold again, and it relaxes the gluten. Ever had a pie crust shrink when you baked it? Letting the dough rest properly can help keep that from happening.

If you only need a bottom crust for your pie, the other disk can be stored well-wrapped in the freezer for several months.

Pie Crust Tutorial

After the dough has chilled, unwrap it and place it on a well-floured surface. Let it to come up to room temperature for just a few minutes, which will make it easier to roll out.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Use your rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large circle.

Pie Crust Tutorial

The key to preventing your crust from sticking to the surface while you’re rolling it out is to use your bench scraper to keep it loose. My process is to do several rolls with my rolling pin in each direction, swipe my bench scraper underneath it to remove any areas that have stuck, add a little more flour if needed, and repeat.

Pie Crust Tutorial

For a standard 9-inch pie you want to roll your dough out to a rough 12 or 13-inch circle. It doesn’t have to look perfect. Holes can be mended, and cracks can be repaired. If you have any large cracks, use your finger to tack them back together.

Pie Crust Tutorial

For the longest time, transferring the crust to the pie dish was one of my biggest frustrations. It’s where everything seemed to fall apart, literally. What I’ve learned to do now is use my rolling pin. Gently roll the crust around the rolling pin, then unroll it over the pie dish.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Works like a charm.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Next I trim up the overhang if it’s really long. And then I usually snack on the trimmings.

Pie Crust Tutorial

If you’re making a double crusted pie, roll out the second disk of dough. Prepare your pie filling, put it in the prepared bottom crust and then cover with the top crust.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Pinch the top and bottom crusts together, tuck them under into the pie dish, and then use your index fingers and thumb to make the traditional crust border. Or, get creative!

Pie Crust Tutorial

As the pie bakes, the filling is going to produce a lot of steam. If you’ve got a lattice or have cut out shapes in your top crust, then you’ll be fine. Otherwise, cut a few vents with a knife.

Pie Crust Tutorial

Finally, lightly beat an egg to make a wash and brush onto the crust. This will help it turn beautifully golden brown. You can add sanding sugar as well, which will give the crust a nice crunch.

Pie Crust Tutorial

And that’s it! Bake it according to the pie recipe’s instruction. Different pies may require different temps and baking times.

I hope I’ve taken some of the mystery out of how to get that perfect flaky pie crust. You seriously can do it. If you try this recipe, I would love for you to let me know what you think!

Here are a few pies I’ve made with this crust recipe:

Apple Gouda Hand Pies
Peach Crumb Tart
Cranberry Blueberry Pie
Summer Berry Pie
Sweet Cherry Pie
Toasted Coconut Cream Pie
Blueberry Galettes

How to Make Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust

Yield: Makes one double crust pie

How to Make Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust

A flaky and flavorful pie crust, perfect for just about any pie.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) buttermilk, cold
  • 1-2 tablespoons vodka or water, cold

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Dump the mixture out onto a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll the butter into thin sheets, combining it with the flour. Use a bench scraper to scrape the rolling pin and to bring the mixture back into a pile as necessary. Continue until all of the butter is incorporated into the flour. Mixture will be very flaky. Return mixture to the bowl and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill the butter.
  2. Remove from freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a spoon and then your hands to stir the mixture until it comes together into a ball. If mixture is too dry, add the water or vodka a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in two and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  3. When ready to roll out, let the dough rest at room temperature for five minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rough 13 inch circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pie dish. Fill pie with desired filling. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Cut dough and make a lattice over the filling, or leave the circle intact and cover the filling completely, cutting a few vents with a sharp knife.
  4. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crusts together and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch into a pattern. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired.
http://www.completelydelicious.com/2012/09/how-to-make-perfectly-flaky-pie-crust.html

You may also like these posts:


Keep in touch! Subscribe to Completely Delicious and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

This page contains affiliate links, which provide me a small percentage of all purchases made through them.

 

38 Responses to How to Make Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust

  1. This pie certainly does look perfect! Great tutorial :)

  2. I’m stunned by how detailed you are for this great pie crust recipe! This makes preparing pie crust so much easier with all the visuals. What a great recipe, too – I’ve never heard of vodka used in pie crust and I love cooking/baking with alcohol so I’m excited about this idea! Will probably making a looooot of batches of this pie crust this fall and winter! :)

  3. Alba says:

    Wonderful tutorial! Gotta try it! xo

  4. You have just solved the world’s problems with this tutorial. Seriously. I’ve seen vodka used several times in recipes, but the buttermilk is new to me. Okay, I’ve found another new fave. LOVE you for this!

  5. Deborah says:

    First of all, I’m so intrigued because I’ve never seen a pie crust made like this before – I must try it!! I did try the vodka crust recipe from Cooks Illustrated a few years ago, and while it tasted good, it was so hard for me to work with and totally shrunk. But I think I need to give this a go!

  6. This is just what I needed for my pies. I’m never satisfied with the way my apple pie crust turns out but when I follow this post, I’m sure it will turn out perfect. Neat idea with the volka. Thank you.

  7. ashley says:

    Hello Annalise!

    I’ve never made a pie crust before so will try this out (minus the vodka). Hopefully it’s a keeper since I love pie! I was wondering though, is this pie crust recipe specifically for certain fillings: fruits such as apples / blueberries or is it good for creams such as pumpkin, banana cream / chocolate pudding? I wouldn’t want to make this and have the pumpkin ruin the crust.
    Also, my husband’s family is part Mexican and sometimes they make something called an empanada during the holidays. I was wondering if you happened to know whether I could use this pie crust recipe to hold the fillings or if that’s a completely different recipe? Thanks in advance!

    *If any other commenters happen to know the answers to my questions please feel free to let me know! Thank you!

    Warmly,
    Ashley

    • Annalise says:

      I use this crust for all recipes where a pie crust is required- fruit pies, cream pies, hand pies (like empanadas), etc. I haven’t ever had a problem using it in conjunction with various fillings. Use it if you like and come back and tell me what you think. Thanks for the comment, Ashley!

  8. Absolutely gorgeous, Annalise!! I was lucky enough to try this crust and it’s delicious. Flakey, buttery & almost sugar cookie like taste. It was scrumptious. I’m going to have to try the trick of rolling the butter in the flour! Thanks for the great tips!!

  9. Great tutorial. I’ll have to try your techniques.

  10. This will be my go to pie crust recipe from here on out. Thank you for years of deliciousness :)

  11. What a fantastic tutorial!
    You’ve provided great detail and photos. I can’t wait to try it.

  12. Pat secrest says:

    I am a seasoned cook but have never seen a pie crust this different. Pie is my one challenge that I have never mastered. Am so anxious to try this one.
    Thanks for the great detail.

  13. Shelly says:

    Hello Annelise,I found you on Pinterest and i love the detailed instructions and photos.I look forward to making your recipes.Keep up the good work.

  14. Lisa says:

    Made this last night, turned out great! I was worried because my mixture seemed too dry to form a “ball” as shown in the picture (it wouldn’t hold together) despite adding 3+ tbsp of vodka. But the end product was flakey and wonderful!

    • Annalise says:

      This happens to me sometimes too, every batch of crust is different. But after chilling, even the crumbliest dough seems to roll out well and turn out flaky and delicious. So glad you had success!

  15. Jodie says:

    Hi Annalise! The oblivious non-American I am, I’ve never made a pie crust before, I’ve not even had a genuine pie whatsoever in my entire life yet. But also the blog-reading girl I am, I figured pie must be delicious, and I also figured with my mom’s birthday today and also my own coming up in ten days I needed to make a pie (also it’s almost Thanksgiving, and I always look for excuses to bake). With my own pie crust. I was pretty afraid of pie crusts since every single person who writes a blog about baking always goes “I used to be afraid to make my own pie crust from scratch” or “I still am afraid of doing that” – but also they always go “But then I discovered this special pie crust recipe, go try that, don’t be afraid of making your own pie crust from scratch”. So I tried yours because it seemed to be the least suspicious method to me and made an awesome Pecan Pie from that (Hello, lover). While it’s still cooling down, I’m a hundred percent sure that’s it’s going to be a huge success. The pie crust turned out to be perfect, not too wet, not too dry, overall awesome and this is definitely not going to be the last pie I’ve made. Thank you so so so much for the recipe!
    Lots of love from Germany! =)

  16. Samantha says:

    I am definitely going to try this recipe. Thanks for the details and pics and the great information about the dough. One thing I do with left over dough is make cinnamon and sugar pinwheels. Roll out the extra dough, spread a very thin layer of butter on the dough and then shake some cinnamon and sugar on the dough. Roll up the dough to form a long tube and then cut the tube to make pinwheels. You can then place them in a pie plate or cookie sheet and bake them in the oven. They are really good. My mom always made these when making pies, and everyone would fight over them!

  17. Alvin says:

    Hello Annalise!

    I have recently conquered my fear of making pie crusts from scratch and stumbling upon your tutorial I am eager to test and improve from my previous attempt. I previously used a processor to blitz together the butter and flour but since my processor was too small it barely did the job. I will be trying out your method this weekend for my apple crumble pie!

    I have a slight concern that hopefully you could answer. Where I come from buttermilk is very hard to come by, and extremely expensive if it’s even available at all. Can it be substituted at all with regular milk (even if it means losing the unique flavor)?

    Greetings from Hong Kong!

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Alvin! Feel free to substitute the buttermilk with whole milk or even water, though since they are both a little thinner than buttermilk, start with 1/3 cup, adding more if necessary. You can also make your own buttermilk with whole milk and a lemon. Place 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1/2 cup. Let sit for 5 minutes, and voila! Good luck!

  18. Carrie says:

    Hi Annalise,

    I love your blog. Thank you for sharing! My question here is about the weight of the flour in this recipe. One cup of all purpose flour weighs 120 grams, so 2.5 cups would be 300 grams. Your recipe says 2.5 cups (375 grams). Can you please clarify?

    Thanks!

    • Annalise says:

      Thanks for the comment Carrie! That was a math error I thought I had corrected long ago, but I guess it never took. It’s definitely fixed now!

  19. Hannah says:

    My name is Hannah. I’m thirteen years old, and really, really looking forward to using this recipe-it looks fantastic! I’ll be making it for my dads birthday today, actually, for some lemon meringue pie.
    I would really like to see some of your end results with this pie crust recipe-do you think you might be able to post up a pic? It would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks! ;D

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Hannah! Thanks so much for your comment. Your Dad is one lucky guy, lemon meringue pie sounds like a great birthday treat! If you look on this post, right above the recipe, I have links to several other recipes where I’ve used this pie crust and posted pictures of the final product. Hope this helps!

  20. Pie crust is something I always had trouble with. I am so looking forward to trying this. Thanks!

  21. Toni Shawver says:

    Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I found this recipe on Pinterest while searching for the perfect crust for my new pie recipe! Go check it out! The pie couldn’t have been as great as it was without your flaky recipe to support it!!

    https://asylummom.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/the-very-best-peach-crumble-pie-with-caramel-whiskey-sauce/

    • Annalise says:

      Gorgeous looking pie! Peach, caramel and whiskey?! Come on, you’re killing me. :)

      • Toni says:

        It’s worth trying! I took it to a local culinary friend here to test the new recipe and his exact words were “That shit is delicious! Don’t change a thing in that recipe!” He LOVED your crust, too! And so do my kids, who keep taking the crust bits off the ends of my pie >_>

  22. Carlotta says:

    Hi Annalise!

    I’ve just made this, and it’s wonderful, thanks a lot for your tutorial. I’ll put it on my blog! I’ve already wrote about your chocolate cake (the one of Julia Child)
    Your blog is really nice! I love it!
    Thanks,

    Carlotta

  23. Erin says:

    I stumbled across this the week before Thanksgiving, how lucky am I? Pie crusts have always been my ‘eeek’ thing…just threw some out of my freezer from last year (shhh, don’t tell) that I had made and they didn’t turn out to my liking. I’m so trying these next week and will let you know how I do! Thanks so much!

  24. Genevieve says:

    Just wanted to stop in and say that I used your piecrust recipe for Thanksgiving pies. I followed the steps exactly and it was a breeze! It would have been better if I had one of those scraper things, but either way it turned out fabulous! Thanks so much!

    • Annalise says:

      I’m so glad to hear the tutorial worked out for you and you enjoyed the pie crust! And yes, a bench scraper is an absolute must, maybe a stocking stuffer idea? :)

      • Genevieve says:

        I would love that idea. Will you by chance be putting together a post with your favrite Holiday recipes? I would be all over that one!

  25. christine says:

    Hi Annalise,
    Thank you so much for this post!!! It was my first time making a traditional pate brisee (I’ve only tried a spelt flour pie crust before) and your pictures & instructions helped soo much, it came out perfectly delicious! And the process was enjoyable as well :) Loved your tip about rolling out the butter into thin sheets–thank you so much!!

  26. William says:

    Hi!

    I’m 17 and my girlfriend and I are competing with different dishes – and this week it’s pie! She has been making pies for years and this will be my first… :$. I’m looking forward to using this crust and I’m sure it will impress :) I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    You have given me a chance at this contest ;)

    Thanks,
    William

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post, search my recipe index, or contact me! Recipe Index | Contact