How to Make Foolproof Flaky Pie Crust
The flakiest all-butter pie crust is easy to prepare and practically impossible to mess up with my tried and true recipe and step-by-step instructions.
This pie crust is my go-to for all of my pie baking and I’ve probably made it hundreds of times. I know there are a lot of recipes and opinions out there when it comes to pie, but this is the crust that never fails me. It’s flaky and full of flavor. And if making pies intimidates you, this foolproof method is a great place to start.
This full tutorial has been on my site for almost 5 years and is one of my most popular posts, and now it’s been updated with even more photos, tips, and a video!
Watch now: How to make foolproof flaky pie crust
Here’s what you’ll need to get started (complete printable recipe card at the bottom of this post):
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cubed cold butter (I prefer to use unsalted)
- 1/4-1/2 cup cold water
- You can add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar to compliment the sweetness of a fruit or creamy pie.
- My favorite way to make this recipe is with buttermilk instead of water. So much flavor! Click here to see my buttermilk pie crust variation.
There are three ways that I make pie crust:
- By rolling out the butter into the dry ingredients (the method I’m going to show you here).
- The more traditional way of cutting the butter with a pastry blender.
- Using a food processor, which is great if you’re short on time (click here to see my food processor tutorial).
In my experience, rolling the butter into the dry ingredients is a guaranteed way to get a flaky pie crust. Those flat sheets of butter layered within the dough melt and release steam as the pie bakes, leaving behind little pockets of air, and lots of flakiness.
This method takes a little bit more time, but only about 5 additional minutes, and it works!
First, combine the flour, salt and sugar (if using) in a bowl and add the cold butter cubes. Toss until all the butter is coated in flour.
Dump everything out onto a clean surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter cubes and roll them into the dry ingredients. A bench scraper is handy to bring it all back together into a pile, and also to remove butter from the rolling pin as needed.
Keep rolling until all of the butter has been rolled into the dry ingredients.
The goal is to have sheets of butter visible throughout the dry ingredients. Break up any really long sheets of butter with your bench scraper or a knife.
Gather up the mixture and return it to the bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes if needed, just to get everything cold again.
Then, make a well in the center and add about 2-3 tablespoons of cold water.
Use a large spoon and then your hands to bring the mixture together into a ball. If necessary, add more cold water 1 tablespoon at a time. I always need to add more water, anywhere from 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup total, but it’s different every time and so I start with a small amount and slowly add more. Adding too much water will make the dough sticky and produce a tough crust.
The dough should hold together in a ball, but a few loose crumbs are okay. I like to dump the mixture out onto a work surface to knead the dough to get it to come together. You don’t want to over-work it, but a little kneading and handling is just fine.
Divide the dough in half and flatten each into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
The pie crust dough will keep in the fridge up to 5 days and in the freezer (double-wrapped) for up to 2 months. Making pie crust ahead of time is a great time saver!
When you’re ready to make your pie, work with one disk of dough at a time. Unwrap it, place it on a floured surface, and let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes. You want it to still be cold, but pliable.
Roll out the pie crust with a rolling pin, working from the center out in a clockwise motion (1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc.). After a few passes with the rolling pin, I use my fingers to rotate the dough a quarter turn, to make sure it’s not sticking. If there’s any sticking, I use my bench scraper to un-stick it and re-flour my surface.
You want 1-2 inches of overhang, so for a standard 9-inch pie dish, roll the dough out to about 12 inches.
To transfer the pie crust to your pie dish, gently roll it up onto the rolling pin.
Then center it over your dish and unroll it from the rolling pin.
Now, if you’re making a double crusted pie, go back and roll out the second disk of pie crust and have it ready.
Fill the bottom crust with your desired filling. If you need some recipe inspiration, have a look at my archives. Some of my favorites are my Mile High Apple Pie (pictured in this post), Cranberry Blueberry Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Coconut Curry Chicken Pot Pie.
If making a double crusted pie, place it on top now. Cut slits to vent steam as it bakes, or if you’d prefer, you can also make a lattice.
Pinch top and bottom crusts together, tuck into the pie dish, and crimp edges as desired. To create this traditional crimped edge, I used my thumb and index fingers.
I like to brush my pie crusts with an egg wash made of 1 large egg + 1 teaspoon water, which gives it a nice golden shiny crust. I also sometimes sprinkle with sugar after applying the egg wash for a little more color and crunch. But toppings are optional.
Place the pie on a sheet pan (to catch any drips and also to make it easy to take in and out of the oven) and then bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling through the vents.
Foolproof Flaky Pie Crust
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (300 grams)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar , optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (226 grams), cold and cut into cubes
- ¼-½ cup ice cold water (60-125 ml), as needed (see Notes)
- Combine the flour, sugar (if using), 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 10 minutes to chill the butter.
- Remove from freezer and add ¼ cup of the ice cold water. Use a spoon and then your hands to stir the mixture until it comes together into a ball. If mixture is too dry, add additional water a tablespoon at a time. I usually end up needing somewhere between ⅓ and ½ cup but it varies each 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 5 days. Dough can also be frozen (double-wrapped) for up to 2 months.
- 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 ¼ inch thick.
- Transfer dough to 9-inch 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.
- 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.
- Bake pie according to pie recipe instructions.
Note: This recipe was originally published in November 2013.