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Perfect Pie Crust

The best flaky, buttery, flavorful pie crust! This recipe makes enough for a two-crust pie, or two one-crust pies. I'll walk you through the process with tons of tips, tricks, and photos!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword How to Make Pie Crust, Perfect Pie Crust Recipe, Pie Crust Recipe, Pie Crust Tips and Tricks
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 2 crusts
Author Stephanie Simmons

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp cold salted butter (254 grams or 18 tbsp)
  • 9-10 tbsp ice-cold water

Instructions

  • Please Read This Before You Begin: Make sure your filling and topping (crumble, lattice, etc.) are ready to go before you roll out your bottom crust and put it in the pan - I explain why in the post above - it can become weak and dry if you let it sit in the pie plate too long while you make the filling and topping. Don't do it!
    Read through the directions once before you begin, especially if you're newer to making pie crust. This will help you to avoid any mistakes!
    I have lots of troubleshooting fixes above in the body of this post, so if you have issues with your dough at any point, scroll back up and read through those. 
  • Making the dough: Before you begin, measure out the water and pop it in the freezer so it gets REALLY cold. Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Next, take the 2 sticks of butter out of the fridge (it’s important that the butter is COLD for the crust to turn out). Unwrap and cut into chunks. Add to the flour mixture and toss to coat them in the flour. Add with shortening (I never chill my shortening) and begin to cut in the fats using a pastry cutter or two forks (highly recommend getting a pastry cutter!) You've cut it in enough when there are mostly pea-sized bits of flour coated butter, and the rest looks like very small crumbles (almost like the powdery parmesan that comes in the shakers).
  • Drizzle the cold water into the flour/butter mixture, 2 Tablespoons at a time, stirring with a fork after each addition. Stop adding water when the dough comes together easily and begins to form large clumps. The dough shouldn't feel sticky or overly wet. If you can grab a handful of the dough, and it forms, well, dough when you squeeze it, it's ready! It will still seem a bit on the dry side.
  • Gently begin to form the dough into a ball - don't roll it, just gather it and pat it until you have a ball. You can work it a bit to get some of the cracks out - do this in the mixing bowl or on a floured counter. Use a large knife or bench cutter to evenly divide the dough in half. Slightly flatten each half into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (preferable) or in the freezer for 30-40 minutes before proceeding. 
  • When rolling out the dough: Flour your counter and rolling pin. Start in the center of the disc, and gently roll the dough out in all directions. Turn the dough between each roll to make sure it's not sticking to the counter. Continue flouring the counter and rolling pin as you go. Smooth out/push together any cracked areas and continue rolling. Flip your pie plate upside down and lay it on top of the dough to see if it's rolled out enough, allowing for a 2-3 inch overhang of dough around the edge of the pie plate. Don't roll the dough thinner than about 1/8". I usually roll my dough out to about 16 inches across. 
  • Transferring dough to your pie plate:
    -Gently fold your dough into quarters, and lay it down in the pie plate, with the point in the center, and gently unfold it.
    -Gently and loosely wrap your dough around the floured rolling pin, but don't lift it far off the counter. Roll about half the dough around the rolling pin. Slide the pie plate under the rolled portion and gently drape it back over the pie plate.
    After either method, gently press and smooth it down onto the bottom and onto the sides of the plate, making sure there are no gaps between the dough and the pan. 
  • Finishing Touches and Crimping the Edges: Once you've transferred your dough to the pie plate, trim the edges with a kitchen scissors or knife, leaving a 2-2 1/2 inch overhang. Fold the overhang over, into the inside of the pie plate, rolling it like a rope, pinching it to the inside of the crust, so you have a thick rope of dough around the rim of the pie plate. If it doesn't adhere to the inside of the crust that is OK - we're going to freeze the crust before baking so it won't matter. If you touch the dough a ton during this step it will melt and fall in the oven even after freezing - trust me, I've learned the HARD way.
    Crimp the edges by using your index finger on the outside of the pie plate, and guide the shape of the crimp or flute using your index finger and thumb on your other hand, from the inside of the pie plate. Repeat all the way around the pie! You can make your crimps as large or small as you want. 
    Extra Chill Time - SUPER IMPORTANT STEP: Once the pie dough is in the pan (before egg wash), chill it in the freezer for an additional 15 minutes to ensure that everything is nice and cold before going into the oven.
    For a Single Crust Pie Or a Pie with a Crumble (Dutch) Topping: If you're making a single crust pie (such as a pumpkin pie or a pie with a crumble topping) you'll freeze the crust for 15 minutes, egg wash the crust, pour in the filling, top with any crumble topping, if using, and bake it.
    Par Baking: Freeze the crust in the same way, skip the egg wash, and blind bake the pie as directed in the recipe. Preheat oven to 425° F. Use dry beans, rice, or even granulated sugar in a pinch as pie weights. Take the pie crust out of the freezer and gently press in a piece of crumbled parchment paper - the edges will be semi exposed - that's fine. Pour in the pie weights making sure that they come all the way up to the crimped edges of your crust - this will prevent those edges from slipping down into the pie dish. Place this on a baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the crimps are lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven, and gently lift out the parchment with the pie weights (have a bowl ready to set it in to keep your counter clean). Brush the edges of the crust with egg wash at this point, if desired (gives a nice shine - I always do this). Return the pan with the pie to the oven and bake for 2-4 more minutes, until the bottom and sides appear set and matte (they shouldn't be shiny).
    This method should work with almost any recipe for a single crust pie! I used it in my Bourbon Cherry Pie. This method comes from Erin McDowell's "The Book on Pie."
    Blind Baking: Follow the same steps as listed in the par baking section above, but bake the pie for 10-12 minutes in the second portion, after you've removed the parchment and pie weights.
    For a Double Crust Pie: If you’re making a double crust pie, I still recommend prepping the topping (a lattice or a whole crust – it can be rolled out and chilled on a baking sheet in the fridge) and refrigerating it while you make the filling and get your bottom crust in the dish. Once your whole double crust pie is assembled, freeze for 15 more minutes before egg washing and baking.
    Regardless of the type of pie you're making, don't skip this last round of chilling! It will help ensure that the pie crust holds its shape and bakes up with that beautifully flaky texture.
    Egg Wash: I always use an egg wash on my crust - it helps it brown nicely in the oven! Beat one egg with 1 tbsp of milk - brush on all exposed parts of the crust using a pastry brush. Sprinkle crust with coarse sugar and proceed to bake as directed in the recipe you're using! I linked all of my pie recipes in this blog post, above the recipe!
    Preventing Burnt Crust: No matter how long the bake time is for a pie, I always start with about 20-30 minutes, and check the crust at that point to make sure it's not browning too quickly. If it is, lay a piece of foil across the top of the pie to prevent the edges from burning. You can also use a pie shield, but I find that a piece of foil works just fine!
    If you're using partial bake times like this, it's helpful to keep a scrap of paper and a pen nearby so you don't lose track of the bake time!
  • Crust Decorations: Gather your pie dough scraps, roll them out (no thinner than 1/4 - 1/8") and use a knife or leaf shaped cookie cutters to cut designs! Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet (use whatever temp your pie is baking at) for about 5-12 minutes (depending how large they are). They're finished when lightly browned. Top your pie with these pie crust designs! They work well for hiding any flaws in your crust, and they're fun!