How to make the perfect pie dough – every time

In my heart of hearts my passion lies in baking. I can’t explain the joy I get from watching other people indulge and enjoy my sweet treats!

Unfortunately for me, my husband doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Not one. He prefers salty and sour, which is why I have turned him into a pie lover!! His favorite is the tart bitterness of a strawberry rhubarb pie. He would eat the whole thing if I let him.

A lot of people I know buy pre-made pie dough, but why? Although a little messy, it is quite simple to “whip” up a pie crust. They also stand up to freezing and can even stay in the fridge for up to 4 days. Seriously, why not?

So, I have decided to share my secret pie dough recipe with you all. It is the basic butter crust that goes with just about anything. We also use this recipe for our chicken pot pies. It is truly universal.

This recipe makes enough for a 9 inch pie (top and a bottom) or three individual pies (top and bottom).


Before we get started, there are a few tricks, which is where the “secrets” come into play.

  1. Freeze your butter. You will regret it if you skip this step. If you plan to make pie crust, the second you think of it, take out 2 sticks of butter and cut into small cubes. Put your cubes in a bowl int he freezer for at least 2 hours. Feel free to cube the butter the night before and leave it in the freezer over night. The reason you want to freeze your butter is so you get the little pockets of flaky buttery crust. I’ll explain when we get to that step in the recipe.
  2. Use a food processor. There is no difference in the end product as far as quality when you use a machine or a hand held pastry cutter. The biggest difference is consistency. With a food processor, you can get the same texture every time. With a hand held, you are going to tire yourself out before you get to the texture you want.



So now that we know some basics, let’s gather our ingredients.

2 1/2 cups of All-Purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, cubed and frozen
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
6 – 8 tablespoons of I C E water



First, you will want to mix the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Next, add your butter. You can put it all in at once, there is no harm done. Make sure you put the lid of the food processor on and pulse about 10 times or until mixture looks like coarse sand. You should still have some chunks of butter – that is G O O D !

Then, removing the ice from the ice water, pour about a 1/4 cup of water into your flour and butter mixture and pulse 6-8 more times. Feel your dough, it will be ready when you can take some in your hand, make a fist and squeeze the mixture. When you open your hand, the flour stays tightly formed. If it is too loose, add water 1 tablespoon at a time and test until correct consistency. Don’t overdo it. Putting too much water in will make your dough tough and gooey. Not good!

Once your mixture rests softly, but firm in your hand after squeezing, pour the mixture onto a clean counter. This is where it is important that you froze your butter. You are going to take the palm of your hand and press firmly down flattening the butter and combining the flour. Do this over and over flattening your dough and then pulling in the sides and flipping to knead. Your hands are warm and will melt the butter. If you didn’t freeze your butter, the butter would get T O O soft and add moisture tot he dough removing the buttery layer and creating a tough bread like quality. We are not looking for bread here, we are looking for a light, soft flaky dough.

Keep smashing and kneading until the dough just comes together into a loose ball. Don’t worry if it isn’t smooth, you are going to roll it out again later. Split your dough ball into appropriate proportions (most common is 2 – one for the top and one for the bottom). Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and put in the fridge to rest. It is ideal to rest your dough for at least 2 hours, but I have been impatient many times before and pulled it out after 30 mins.

The reason you want your dough to chill is for 2 reasons.

  1. The butter we froze is now softened by your hands from kneading the dough. It needs to firm back up to hold a structure when rolling. This is what creates the little buttery pockets of deliciousness.
  2. The dough needs to rest. Any time you are working a fat like butter and a flour, you are forming glutens. This is the science version of the sticky glue that holds the dough together. The more you work with a dough (pie, bread, cinnamon roll, pizza, etc.) the more glutens are formed and typically the tougher and stronger the dough gets. Since we are looking for a light, flaky pastry, we want minimal glutens, so R E S T   B A B Y   R E S T !

After you have let your dough chill, you are ready to roll and bake. Simply pull the dough out of the fridge and let it rest at room temp for 2-3 minutes. This helps it soften just enough to knead it one more time. We left the dough loose before resting because we need to knead the dough slightly before rolling. Wake the dough up and knead it until it is soft enough to roll. You will want to use plenty of extra flour when kneading your dough this time.

When rolling, I use a wooden rolling pin like the one seen above. It is easiest for me to maneuver. I roll the dough a little, then sprinkle four and flip it over. Repeat this process until it is about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick and round enough to fit into your pie pan. I flip the dough multiple times to ensure the butter doesn’t melt onto my counter and the dough doesn’t stick and tear.


If your recipe calls for pre-baking your dough, you will want to freeze or chill your dough for 30 minutes or so before baking. This will keep your dough from shrinking down the sides of your pan.

Then, line pie crust with aluminum foil and fill with beans, rice or pie weights. This will keep the bottom from bubbling up like a pizza crust. The aluminum foil also keeps the crust from getting too brown and burning.

Bake the crust above for 60 – 70 minutes on 350 degrees. If your pie calls for additional baking with the filling, pre-bake pie crust for 45 – 55 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool crust completely before filling.





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