Tis the season for holiday baking! There’s a good chance you’ll want to make a pie for either Thanksgiving or Christmas (In my case, both) For many years I used pie crust from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It was reliable, and while it wouldn’t win any awards, it was at least decent.
Then, something changed. At first I thought maybe I got a bad batch. I bought some more, still it wasn’t right, something had changed with the texture, the look, even the smell was different. Every time I opened a package, I didn’t like what my nose was telling me.
A quick web search showed I wasn’t alone: many have complained about whatever has changed with these crusts. So, I decided to make my own. Follow along, and you can make homemade pie crust like a pro!
Why I love this recipe for pie crust
Homemade pie crust has a certain mystique, some think it’s part of folklore, handed down through the ages. Actually, it’s really very simple.
I especially like this version that uses butter rather than lard, shortening or any other unpleasant oil.
Pie crust is even easier to make if you have a food processor, and I will describe the old fashioned mixing method as well as the food processor method so you can make delicious crust no matter what tools you have available.
How to make homemade pie crust
To start, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, salt and sugar) just to combine.
Then, cut a butter stick into small cubes. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and begin to mix.
If using a food processor, you simply pulse the blade until the butter is evenly mixed in.
If you don't have a food processor, the tool you need is a pastry blender. This is a tool made of narrow strips of metal attached to a handle. When you repeatedly cut down into the butter and flour it will chop up the butter and combine it with the dry flour mix.
The goal is to create a mix that resembles coarse meal, with pieces no larger than a pea. This takes about a minute with a food processor, and about 4-5 minutes to manually mix with the pastry blender.
To this, add two tablespoons of ice-cold water and mix in. Pulse with the food processor until the water is evenly distributed. When using food processor, the 2 tablespoons are usually enough water to make the dough. Your dough should stick together when you squeeze a small portion between your fingers.
When using a pastry blender I eventually use my hands to ensure the dough is evenly mixed. The recipe calls for adding one or two more tablespoons of water to ensure you get the right consistency, and when mixing manually, I usually add both these optional tablespoons, for a total of four. Which probably indicates that the food processor does a better job distributing the moisture.
Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk, then wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Get ready to bake
To bake, unwrap the dough and place on a large piece of floured wax paper. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to make a large circle, about 14 inches in diameter.
Then, use the edge of the wax paper to guide and roll the dough around the rolling pin, kind of like a roll-up window shade.
The rolling pin becomes the mechanism to transfer the crust from the work surface to the pie plate. When ready, you’ll unroll the dough from the pin to go into your pie plate.
Trim and crimp the edges.
Baking the crust
Most recipes will specify whether you fill the crust before baking, or bake the crust separately. Here is how you do both these steps.
In either case, lightly cover the unbaked crust (I re-use the plastic wrap that I used for the dough) and then place the pie plate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This helps the crust relax and will help it keep its shape while baking.
If your pie specifies an unbaked crust, simply prepare the filling, fill the crust and bake per the pie recipe directions.
How to blind bake the pie crust
"Blind baking" is the term used for baking an "empty" pie crust. You need to do this when the filling is cooked on the stove top and does not require baking time, such as for a lemon meringue or chocolate pie.
To blind bake the crust, first place some parchment paper over it and then add weighs. I use pie weights, pictured below. They help prevent the crust from puffing up when it starts to bake.
Bake (375F) the weighted crust for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment. Take a fork and "dock" the crust (poke steam holes) before baking 14-15 more minutes.
The recipe can be doubled for a 2-crust pie but I prefer to make 2 batches of one crust each.
I have another post just giving tips for making pie crust. In that, I describe all the ways to help your crust turn out the best!
This pie crust is easy, and you get huge bonus points for making it yourself!
Homemade Pie Crust
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 8 TB butter 1 stick, cold and unsalted
- 2 or more TB ice water up to 4 TB
- In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and salt until combined.
- Cut the butter into very small cubes, then add to the bowl. Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal (Nothing larger than a pea-sized piece).
- Sprinkle dough with ice water and mix until the dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (An additional 1-2 tablespoons of water can be added if needed).
- Turn dough out onto a work surface and shape into a disk, about ¾ inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Before baking, unwrap dough and place on a large piece of floured wax paper. Roll dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap the dough carefully onto the rolling pin and then transfer it to the pie plate by unrolling the dough over the plate. Trim excess dough to about one inch larger than the edge of the pie plate. Fold dough edge under itself and crimp the edge. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes until ready to fill and bake.
- For baked crust, cover with parchment paper and weights. Bake 15 minutes at 375F, then uncover, dock the crust, and bake 14-15 more minutes.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.