Master This Basic, Butter-Rich Pie Crust Recipe

Sometimes I wonder why homemade pie crust has a reputation for being so difficult to make. I’m often surprised to discover friends, who are otherwise proficient in the kitchen, continue to shy away from the process and dismiss any recipe involving a homemade crust outright.

I’d wager that much of the problem is rooted in the excess of admonitions advising against potential missteps. Truth be told, it’s actually a rather simple process and has less to do with skill than a certain (small) degree of patience. In a nutshell, if you can keep the butter cold and resist the urge to overwork the dough (which really has more to do with doing less), then it ought to be a relatively painless process.

If you’re on the fence, then I’d urge you to try this simple recipe at least once — even if it’s not perfect on the first shot, it’ll surely trump any store-bought substitute.

All-Butter Pie Crust

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


You can make this dough either by using a pastry cutter by hand or a food processor, but it’s harder to overwork the pie dough when using a pastry cutter. It’s very important to keep all the ingredients cold throughout the assembly process. If the butter starts to soften, then stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow it to firm up. If you’re not using the dough within two to three days, then wrap the plastic-wrapped discs in tinfoil, or place them in a heavy-duty resealable bag, and freeze until needed. Thaw in the fridge overnight before use.

More of a visual learner? Reference our step-by-step guide.

Ready to take it to the next level? Learn how to crimp pie crust or to top with a lattice.



To Make by Hand:

  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until the largest pieces of butter are in between the diameter of a dime and a nickel.
  3. Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water. Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball.
  4. Divide the dough ball into two, and flatten each half into a rough disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum one hour (this allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out).

To Make in a Food Processor:


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