How to Make the Perfect All Butter Pie Crust
I first made my own homemade pie crust from scratch when I was just 9 years old and have been doing it ever since. I still remember the day because my Mom and I spent most of it roasting sugar pumpkins to make an uber creamy and sweet pumpkin pie filling.
To this day, I still make my all my pies and pie crusts from scratch. Not only is it nostalgic, but also therapeutic and 10x better than any store-bought pie crust. The love and care that goes into baking homemade pies is one of kind.
Today, I’m going to share all of my tips and tricks for making the best flaky pie crust recipe that’s made with all butter and zero shortening. It’s truly foolproof and no fail, and I’m SO excited for you to try it.
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Butter vs. shortening in pie crust
The debate of butter vs shortening in pie crust has been going on for decades, but personally, I believe an all butter pie crust to be better for a few reasons.
- Better flavor: butter definitely has better flavor and texture than shortening. So while shortening does have a higher melting point, butter will give you a more delicious crust with delicious flaky pockets.
- Deliciously flakier: butter will produce a slightly flakier crust. Since butter has a higher water content when compared to shortening, it’s going to produce a slightly flakier crust. You’ll also notice that an all butter pie crust will have a puffier crust due to the layers of butter essentially steaming within the flour.
Ingredients in the best homemade all butter pie crust
This easy pie crust recipe calls for a few simple ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry, which is another reason why it’s so great.
- All purpose flour
- Cold unsalted butter
- Vodka (optional but recommended!)
- Ice water
Equipment needed to make pie crust
You’ll need these three pieces of equipment to ensure perfect pie crust success:
- Food processor: I prefer to use a food processor for ease, but you can also use a pastry cutter.
- Rolling pin: a rolling pin is essential to rolling out pie dough. Always make sure your rolling pin is well floured before rolling.
- Pie pan: a classic glass pie pan is perfect for baking your pies.
Tips for making the perfect butter pie crust
There are a few essential tips and tricks to ensuring that your pie crust comes out perfect every time:
- Make sure your butter is VERY cold. Chilled butter is best when making pie crust, especially since you’ll be working with warm hands. My recommendation is to dice up the butter, place on a plate and set in the freezer for at least 15-30 minutes. This will also give you the opportunity to get all of your ingredients out and ready to go.
- Use vodka. I recommend using vodka in your pie crust to achieve a perfect, flaky crust. If that’s not possible for you, then you can replace vodka with 1 tablespoon buttermilk, milk or cider vinegar, I wouldn’t use more than a tablespoon though (the rest of the liquid should be water.) This is also assuming you are only making a single pie crust instead of a double.
- Allow your pie dough to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes-1 hour. Resting your pie dough in the fridge will allow gluten to relax, the butter to harden and firm up within the pockets of flour and give you a flaky, perfect crust.
- Thaw out your pie dough for a few minutes before rolling. Before you roll out your dough, allow it to sit out at room temperature for 5-10 minutes so that it’s easier to roll. If you have trouble rolling it out, then simply wait another 5 minutes.
- Try not to overwork the dough. Don’t spend a ton of time processing the dough in the food processor; you really only need to pulse it 10 times to get the butter to come together into the dough before adding your liquid.
- Chill your crust in the pie pan before adding your pie filling. After rolling out your dough and placing it in your pie pan, cover the pie crust and place it back in the fridge to get the dough back to being very cold by chilling the fat in the crust. Again, this is best for achieving a flaky pie crust and helping to keep the shape of your crust upon baking. Alternatively you can always roll it out right away, put it in your pie pan and then refrigerate the crust in the pan until you are ready to use.
- Make sure your surface and rolling pin are well-floured: this is to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface or to the rolling pin.
Why use vodka in homemade pie crust?
I first remember hearing about using vodka in pie crust from Cook’s Illustrated, and it’s transformed my pie crusts into flaky little goddesses. Essentially, the theory is that vodka adds moisture to the dough and also prevents gluten in the pie crust from over-developing, leaving you a flakier pie crust and a pie dough that’s easier to work with.
Do not try to substitute another alcohol for the vodka as you will not end up with the same results. If you want to try a substitute, you can try subbing in a tablespoon of cider vinegar, or a tablespoon of buttermilk or milk in place of the vodka.
Time to shape your pie crust
Once you are ready to go, it can feel intimidating to actually place it and shape it onto your pie pan. Don’t worry! It’s easier than you think with a few simple instructions and tips:
- Roll out the dough: the dough should be about 1 inch larger than the pie pan diameter. Don’t worry too much about cracks, you can patch them up as you go or just start over. The pie dough should be about 1/8th inch thick when rolled out.
- Fold the dough. Take your rolled out dough and gently fold it in half so that you can pick it up and transfer it to your pie pan.
- Place the dough. Carefully unfold and ease the dough into the pan. Don’t worry if the dough cracks or messes up, just reshape the dough into a disk and roll out again!
- Trim the excess. As you place the dough into your pan, trim the extra crust around the edges of the pie plate and discard excess dough.
- Flute the edges. Finally, flute the edges of the crust however you’d like. I normally use my finger and thumb to pinch the dough or you can use a fork! See above for a photo example, and check out the video to see it in action.
Do I need to do a blind bake?
A blind bake, AKA a pre-bake or a par-bake means that you partially bake your pie crust before adding the filling and baking it all together again. I personally do not blind bake this pie crust before making any of my pies because the pies always turn out perfect as-is!
Whether or not you need to do a blind bake before baking your entire pie really depends on the pie recipe and the filling, so just be sure to pay attention to the recipe you’re following to see if a blind bake is recommended. For example, no bake pies often require blind baking the crust because the filling (of course) will not be baked after adding it to the crust.
Top savory pies with this homemade crust
Not only can you use this easy pie crust recipe to make a delicious crust for your favorite sweet pie recipes, but you can also use it to top savory pies like my famous chicken pot pie and delicious broccoli cheddar chicken pot pie!
Instead of placing the pie crust in your pie pan and shaping it as described above, you’ll simply:
- Cook the savory pie filling
- Add the filling to your pan
- Carefully layer the crust on top of the filling, press the edges to seal it
- Poke a few holes or slits to let the filling steam while it bakes!
- Brush the crust with an egg wash so before baking so that it gets nice and golden
See how to make an all butter pie crust
Can you freeze pie dough?
Yes! I love freezing pie crust before baking because then anytime I want to make a pie all I have to do is thaw it out and roll. Making and freezing pie dough ahead of time is also a great way to save time during the hectic holiday season.
There are two options for freezing pie dough.
- Freeze, then roll out later. This is my favorite option. First make the recipe as instructed, then wrap in plastic wrap then wrap in foil and place in a reusable or freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Once ready to make your pie, you can thaw the frozen pie dough in the refrigerator for a few hours, then roll it out and place in your pie pan.
- Freeze in the pie pan. To save additional time, you can freeze your pie crust before baking right in your pie pan. Simply roll out the dough, then freeze in the pie pan you plan on baking in. You’ll just need to make sure it’s well-wrapped with plastic freezer wrap, foil and then places in a freezer bag. Once ready to bake you can add your filling directly to the frozen crust and bake your pie as your normally would. You just may need to add 5-10 minutes more baking time.
Try this pie crust with these amazing recipes
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If you make this pie crust recipe be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it! Do you have any tips or tricks for making the best pie crust? I’d love to hear from you — leave a comment below!
This post was originally published on November 11, 2019, and republished on October 31, 2021.
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