Making pie crusts from scratch can be intimidating. I know when I first started making them I felt like I would never get them right. They would turn out tough or stick to the board when I was trying to roll them out. My great grandma used to make great pies. But since she was gone I needed to learn the secrets of a perfect pie crust on my own.
Then one day I was watching a local cooking show. The chefs were making pie crusts, so it was of real interest to me. As they were preparing the pie dough they mentioned not to be afraid of the water or flour. I thought it was odd, but then they explained.
Don’t be afraid to add more water as needed, if the pie crust is too dry it won’t be good. Also don’t be afraid to add more flour as a wet dough will stick and be frustrating. From that time forward, I had a good idea of how to make the perfect pie crust at home.
Pie crust is really a simple cooking recipe. It only contains 4 ingredients, flour, water, salt, and fat. That’s it. In my pie crust below I used shortening, because we need to eat dairy free. But butter will work well too if you can eat it. Just swap out the shortening for the butter in the recipe.
Making Perfect Pie Crust
Here’s a quick video to show each step, just in case your a visual learning like I am or keep scrolling on down to get to the written directions and the printable recipe.
Start by measuring the flour and salt into a bowl and mix. Then cut in the butter or shortening. I like to cut in the fat with my hands. Another technique I learned from that cooking show so long ago.
Cutting in the Fat
I toss the fat into the flour mixture and then pick up the fat pieces give a pinch until I feel the stickiness and drop it into the flour again. This technique breaks up the fat nicely and distributes it well in the flour. Keep going until the fat is small pea sized pieces in the flour.
Adding the Water
Now it’s time to add the water. I never measure but go by the look of the dough. I start by adding a small amount and stirring it in with a fork. If some dry areas remain I add a little more water until all the flour is moistened and the dough comes into a ball easily.
Chill if Using Butter
At this point if you are using butter you might want to pat the dough into a circle and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a while to chill the butter again. If working with shortening, I don’t bother with the chilling time. But go immediately to rolling the dough out.
Rolling Out the Dough
Rolling out the dough is when you don’t want to be afraid of the flour. Flour your board well and then place the dough on the floured surface. I also flour the top of the dough too. You don’t want to have the dough stick and have to start over, that will only result in tough pie crust. So be sure to flour well before you start to roll the dough.
As you roll out the dough roll the dough away from you only. I like to roll away, pick up the dough turn a little and roll away from me again. It makes a fairly even circle. Don’t roll away from you and then back only roll away. As you pick up the dough to turn it, add a little flour if the dough is tacky at all, to keep it from sticking.
Once the pie dough is rolled out to the correct size, roll it onto the rolling pin and transfer to a pie plate. Picking it up on the rolling pin helps the dough to keep it shape. Place the pie dough into the pan and press it into the bottom. Once the pie crust is seated, it’s time to roll the edges.
If I have a large overhang of extra crust I will cut it off within an inch. With the overhanging pie crust, I just tuck it under to make the edge thicker. Then flute the edge with your fingers or a fork.
The pie crust is complete and ready to be filled or baked. If you want a top crust too, just double the recipe below and place the filling and top crust onto the pie plate before tucking and fluting the crust.
- 1¼ cups Flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2-4 tablespoons Water
- ⅓ cup Fat, Shortening or Butter
- In a bowl add the flour and salt, mix to combine.
- Add the fat and cut into the flour until approximately pea-sized pieces remain.
- Add the water a tablespoon at a time stirring it in with a fork. Only add enough water to moisten the flour and make the dough come into a ball.
- Gather the dough into a ball and if using butter, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or so. If using shortening chilling, the dough isn’t needed.
- On a well-floured surface place the dough and pat it out into a circle. Flour the top of the dough too and roll out into a circle. Rolling only away from you and turning as you go. Add more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.
- Once the dough is large enough, seat into a pie plate. Tuck in any overhanging dough and flute the edges.
- Fill with filling and bake until done.
What has been your experience with making pie crusts? Is it easy or a hard task for you? What tips could you add to the tips above to make the perfect pie crust? I would love to have you share them in the comments below.
See the rest of the articles in the Frugal Simple Living series by following this link.