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All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe

Butter Pie Crust Recipe

I’ve heard more nice things about my pie crust recipe over than years than I should say here lest I seem a braggart. Pie crust has a bad reputation, but it needn’t. There are only three absolute requirements to any pie crust: fat, flour, and liquid and once you understand the science behind it you’ll be making kick-ass pie crusts every time, all the time.

The first step of pie crust making is very much like the first step of biscuit making. The instructions will tell you to “cut the butter into the flour” or something like that. What that means is to work the fat component into the flour component to produce little blobs of fat coated in flour of varying sizes ranging from crumb-sized to pea-sized. This one essential step begets two delightful characters: Mr. Tender and Madame Flaky.

Meet Mr. Tender By coating the flour granules in some fat you are preventing them from touching other flour granules and therefore preventing the formation of gluten and making a tender-not-chewy crust.

Hello, Madame Flaky By coating the fat blobs in flour you are setting the stage for flakiness galore. When the flour-covered fat blobs are rolled out flat, they create microscopic layers of fat and flour. Imagine a sedimentary rock. Once it goes into the oven, those fat blobs melt, leaving behind air pockets and that’s what makes a flaky crust.

Viola! It’s that easy!

Well, almost that easy.

Pie Crust Recipe Video

Pie Rulez! (Or, Pie Rules)

There are three moments where people commonly screw up pie dough:

1. The fat melts before it’s properly blended into the flour. To make the microscopic strata within the dough you need to have the little fat blobs. Melted fat won’t make blobs. The remedy is to keep your flour and fat cold while cutting in and if it starts to soften too much to make blobs, then stick it back in the fridge a while to chill again.
2. The dough is worked too much after the liquid is added. Gluten can only form in the presence of liquid so you must be very careful to add just enough liquid to bring the pie dough together into a loose ball and do not knead the dough. Once you’ve added enough water to make it hold its shape, wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
3. Trying to roll the dough right away. It’s imperative that you let the dough ball rest in the refrigerator before rolling it. The chill and the set time allows whatever gluten has formed to relax, making the dough less elastic and easier to roll out. Refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. You may refrigerate it longer (up to 24 hours) but let it warm and soften a little on the counter before trying to roll it. Attempting to roll out rock hard, ice cold dough will make you hate pie crust forever.

Fats Make a Difference

The fat you use might be butter, shortening, lard, coconut oil (vegan), or a combination of any of those. Each of these have a different optimal working temperature range, above which they become too soft to properly cut into the flour. The wider and higher the range, the easier the fat is to work with.

Butter adds great flavor, but its working temperature range is around 58-68 degrees F which makes it trickier for first-timers to use successfully (unless you live in a very cold place!). Keeping your flour and butter and even your mixing bowl cold while you’re cutting in is the key to success when using all butter as I do in the video. All-butter crusts (Pâte Brisée) are slightly sweet and absolutely perfect for sweet pies. Using a high-fat, European-style butter will make for an even flakier crust!
Shortening is made from hydrogenated oils (cottonseed and/or soybean). Hydrogenation makes oils more heat-stable; therefore shortening has a much wider working range of 53-85 degrees F, so it’s easier to get flaky layers of fat and flour without the pressure of worrying that it’s getting too soft to work into the dough properly. If your main goal is flakiness, using all or part shortening is a fool-proof way to achieve that. Personally I find the flavor off-putting and not worth the easy flake.
Lard is rendered pork fat and has a range of 58-75 degrees and makes a great substitute for shortening if you’d rather stay away from hydrogenated oils. Look for leaf lard at specialty stores, which has a milder flavor than the industrially produced tubs o’ lard next to the shortening at the grocery store.
Coconut oil is a great option for making vegan pie crusts without resorting to artificially hydrogenated oils. I recommend using virgin coconut oil (as opposed to refined and bleached – yuck!) which has a working range of about 70-76 degrees F in my experience, which is a narrow window but fortunately also around room temperature. Virgin coconut oil will give your pastry a coconut flavor, though, so it’s not a good option for the weirdos who hate coconut. (wink wink)

Margarine can be used, but expect a similar flavor as with shortening, but with less flakiness. Liquid oils won’t do any kind of flake-action at all.

Now that you have the knowledge, make use of it. Here’s my BEST PIE CRUST RECIPE.

All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe

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Homemade Pie Crust

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 1 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/2 tablespoons) cold (unsalted) butter or other fat
  • about 1/4 cup water, but possibly less

Instructions

  1. Chill the flour and baking powder in a bowl by freezing it for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Begin with very cold butter, talking real cold, like “put it in the freezer for 10 minutes” cold. Dice it with a knife into cubes about 1/3″ (1 cm) across; they don’t have to be exact.
  3. Add the butter cubes to your dry ingredients and use your fingertips or a fork to toss them around to get each cube separated and coated in flour. Now you’ll begin the cutting in. The object here is to get the butter cubes broken up into smaller and smaller bits, each coated in flour.
  4. Continue until the largest pieces are about half the size of a pea and the smallest ones are crumb-like.
  5. Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time and mix swiftly and gently. Add just enough water to allow the dough to form into a loose ball.
  6. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  7. Roll the dough out to the desired size (12″ circle for a 9″ pie pan) on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Turn it frequently to maintain its shape and prevent sticking.
  8. Gently roll it over the pin and transfer to your pie pan. Wiggle it into the corners of the pan, don’t press.
  9. Turn the edges up and crimp with your fingers.

Notes

This makes one 9″ pie crust. Double the recipe for a two-crust pie such as a fruit pie.

 

Now you have a pie crust to use in whatever manner you desire! One yummy way is to make a quiche!

41 Comments

  1. Bev Weidner on November 22, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I want to eat this. Raw.

    • Hilah on November 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

      DON’T DO IT, BEV!
      Put pie in it first.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Great Stone Face on November 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I have a food processor. Can I cut the butter into the flour by pulsing it? I have an idea to freeze the processor blade and bowl first. Also, what should I do about the surface I roll the raw crust out on.

    In a related question, I once made savory elephant ears (palmiers) from premade frozen puff pastry. They turned out tough, not flaky. Any ideas what I might have done wrong?

    • Hilah on November 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

      Hi GSF!
      I’ve never used a food processor but I think it should work fine, especially if you freeze the blade. I’d mix in the water by hand though so you don’t risk overworking the dough. I just roll it out on my counter with plenty of flour. Any smooth surface will work: formica, marble or granite, if you’re counter tops are butcher block or something rough I’d recommend rolling the dough out between floured wax paper sheets.

      As far as your palmier puzzle, I admit I’ve never made them, but the process is basically rolling the dough up into a heart-shaped spiral and then slicing off thin cookies to bake, right? Your knife may have compressed the layers instead of cutting cleanly through them so that they didn’t flake apart. Or perhaps you had to add too much extra flour when you rolled the dough out?

  3. Marfa on March 22, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I usually make a pie crust using butter as above…using my food processor, it comes out nicely, even though I don’t usually freeze the blade…but I will next time and I’m going to try this with coconut oil! Our Trader Joe’s started selling 16 oz. jars of virgin organic coconut oil for just $5.99. I ♥ it.

    • Hilah on March 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Hi Marfa!
      Yeah, food processor is the way to go with coconut oil. Man, I wish we had a TJ around these parts…
      Have fun cooking!

  4. JessicaAFM on July 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for saving me yet again LOL The first pie crust recipe (from a different site) I used didn’t work out to well but then I wondered what the heck was wrong with me. Ah I know, I should have looked for a tried and true recipe on Hilah’s site. This worked perfect for my homemade turkey pot pie and it was easy peasy. I used my pastry blender but stuck it in the freezer first. Worked fabulously. Thanks!

    • Hilah on July 17, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Hi JessicaAFM!
      Thank you! I’m so glad you had success with pie crust this time. 🙂 And now you got me a’hankerin’ for a pot pie!

  5. Jess on September 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Another way to help with the potential overworking and glutins is vodka instead of 1/2 of the water. I do plan on using this recipe for my next pie, maybe for pot pie later this week.

    • Hilah on September 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks, Jess! I’ve heard of that trick but haven’t tried it. I made a wine pastry for empanadas once and that was very flaky, too. I’ll try to remember to do the vodka trick for my holiday pies.

  6. Cecilia on January 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I just made this crust for the fried apple pies and they turned out great!!! I have been trying to master a good flaky crust for a while now and haven’t been able to get it quite right but this crust is amazing! I didn’t realize how simple it was to get it so flaky! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

    • Hilah on January 31, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Yay! That makes me SO HAPPY, Cecilia! 🙂 My quest is complete! I hope you share your new knowledge with friends and family.

  7. Alma on November 3, 2013 at 3:36 am

    Thanks for your awesome videos and recipe website! Much love and more power to your endeavors..

    • Hilah on November 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      Thank you so much, Alma! 😀

  8. Amy on November 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I have recently stumbled upon your webshow and I love it! You are very entertaining to watch and the recipes seem very easy. After watching some videos i immediately purchased your book “Learn to Cook”, im seriously stoked to read it:) I have a question about this particular recipe, i plan on making your coconut cream pie with this crust, does it matter if the butter is salted or unsalted???

    • Hilah on November 23, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Thank you, Amy! That is such a help to us! Hope you like the book. 🙂
      I recommend using unsalted butter in baking. Unsalted butter is typically fresher than salted butter (because it has no salt as a preservative, it has to be turned over faster by stores) and that way you have more control over the saltiness.
      But, it should still turn out fine if all you have is salted. Hope that helps!

  9. Amy on November 23, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I am in love with your webshow, i recently stumbled upon it searching youtube for the perfect pir crust and found this! Since then i have purchased your book and signed up for newsletters. I love how you have a way of making cooking fun and easy:) AND SIMPLE! I do have one question, does it matter if the butter is salted or unsalted when using this recipe? Thanks:)

  10. Jan on December 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks Hilah, I can’t wait to make the pie crust on the weekend..it looks so simple!

    • Hilah on December 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      I wish you success, Jan! 🙂

  11. Jessica O. on February 10, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I adore all your recipes! I was so hopeful in the simpleness of this one and when I brought out my mini apple pies I was so ecstatic as they looked so beautuful! BUT after letting them cool and taking a bite, chewing and swallowing… There was a plastic-y taste in my mouth. I repeated and still… Same taste coming from the crust. I followed your recipe exactly as it said. What did I do wrong?

    • Hilah on February 11, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Hi Jessica,
      I have no idea. I’ve never had a crust turn out plastic tasting. Maybe it was a coating on your pie pans or the butter had gone bad?

  12. Carol on October 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Hilah you are the very bestest ever! I have been watching your videos for a couple of years now and have learned so much, while being very well entertained as well LOL! I have also shared your videos with my off spring and friends – and they chuckle quite a lot. My daughter rarely cooks (her hubby is the main chef in their home) and after watching one of your videos she said “Mom, I could do that!” Now that says it all lol!
    I really appreciate the time and effort you take to share the details and the ‘whys’ as well as the ‘hows’. Having this understanding is all important for the cooking learning curve 🙂
    Btw, I am making your Chicken Pot Pie for my (Hubby’s Birthday dinner) children and grandchildren tomorrow and am very excited. Again, Thank you so very much!

    • Hilah on October 18, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Thank you, Carol! You just made my day! Hope everyone enjoys the pot pie and thank you for sharing my website with your family.

      • Carol on October 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm

        Oh, Hilah, you are so very welcome. As a matter of fact You made My Day by reaching out to me to let me know that I made your day! Great feeling to know that I brought a smile to your face, which brought a big smile to my face 🙂

  13. Christine Ramey on October 21, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Hi there, I am going to attempt making this for the first time, but I noticed there was not a temp listed on your pie crust. What would I put my pie crust on? Is 350 degrees acceptable for this recipe? I’m going to be making a cheeseburger pie with it.

    • Hilah on October 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Hi Christine,
      Correct, this recipe is just for the pie crust itself. Pie recipes should tell you what they want you to do with the pie crust (bake it or leave it raw). I think you are asking about how to pre-bake the pie crust? If your cheeseburger pie recipe doesn’t specify pre-baking, then you are meant to fill it raw and then bake. If it does specify pre-baking but doesn’t give you instructions to do that, then here is what you do:
      Set oven to 375F
      prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork
      Line crust with foil or parchment paper
      weight with dried beans or pie weights
      Bake 15 minutes for a partially baked pie crust, and 20-25 for a fully baked crust

  14. MrsGarza on November 25, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    For the butter ingredient did you use: unsalted butter or just plain old butter? Not sure which to use as this is my first time making pie crust. Thank you in advance. 🙂

    • Hilah on November 26, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Unsalted butter, Mrs Garza. Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Lupe on November 26, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Will be trying this with your recipe of apple pie for Thanksgiving this year, you make it seem so easy! Well, wish me luck! 🙂

    • Hilah on November 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Hope your pie crusts turned out well, Lupe!

  16. Kristy on December 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I had to use quite a bit of water for it to stick but it never really made a ball. Did I do something wrong? I’m trying to perfect this before Christmas. I want to look like the amazing baker! Also, if baking a double pie crust is there a certain temp and how long? Does it just depend on the type of filling?

    • Hilah on December 7, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Hey Kristy!
      How much water did you need to add? It should make a “rough ball”, sometimes called “shaggy” looking. It should not look like play-do right away. Just add enough water to barely bring it together, then let it rest a while wrapped in plastic. If you had to add more than 3 tablespoons water to get it to even form a rough ball, I wonder if you might have started with too much flour. Next time sift the flour first and then just lightly scoop it into the measuring cup and level off.
      For a double-crust pie, just refer to the recipe you are using for instructions on baking. My apple pie recipe is a double crust, as an example.

  17. Kristy on December 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I just finished my pie. I made a custard filled pie so I baked my crust before putting in the filling. The crust sides slipped down from the edge of the pie plate. The edge of the pie crust tasted great and was flakey. The bottom half had a tough texture. Is this from maybe using too much of the water. I really tried not mixing it very long after adding the water.

    • Hilah on December 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

      It’s normal for the sides to slip a little, but if it slipped a lot (more than a quarter inch or so) try refrigerating the pie pan/crust for 10 minutes before baking and also be sure to poke holes in the bottom and sides with a fork. Did you use pie weights or dried beans in the crust to hold it in place? Depending on how long your recipe says to bake, you might want to add weights next time. If pre-baking longer than 5 minutes, line the raw crust with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans before baking. That will hold it all in place. You can reuse the beans over and over again for future pie crusts. (don’t try to cook and eat them later, though)

      The tough bottom could be from the crust absorbing liquid from the filling, maybe. Brush with egg wash before pre-baking next time to “seal” the crust.

  18. Roby on November 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Hi, I’d I ike to know how much coconut oil to use.

    • Hilah on November 23, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Hi Roby,
      For pie crust, you can use an equal amount of coconut oil as you would butter. Just be sure the coconut oil is solid, not liquid, but not super cold either. Coconut oil gets much harder than butter when it’s refrigerated so it’s easiest to just make the pie crust with room temperature coconut oil. Hope that helps!

  19. Cynthia on November 24, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    dear Hilah, LOVE your website, youtube channel, congratulations on your beautiful baby!!! I watched your video 3 times, and I still don’t know how long would i bake and at what temperature with a pecan pie filling? Living in the Nederlands, and have to cook a pecan pie for American brunch thanksgiving tonight, hoping you will see and answer my question soon.

    Kindest regards, from an expat living abroad!

    Cynthia

    • Hilah on November 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Hi Cynthia!
      Pie recipes vary so much with cooking time and temp that I recommend you follow whatever the instructions are on the pecan pie recipe you are using. Here is mine https://hilahcooking.com/bourbon-pecan-pie/
      Usually pie crusts are not pre-baked for pecan pie, but the filling is poured into the raw crust and baked all together. Hope that helps!

  20. Felicia on June 23, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Hi Hilah!
    I love to use your recipes and I love watching your youtube videos. Anyway I was wondering, can I use this recipe to make a blueberry pie??

  21. Shabnam on March 7, 2018 at 1:49 am

    Thanks for sharing…

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