Every good pie starts with a delicious Pie Crust. This flaky, tender pie crust recipe is easy to roll out and pairs well with about any kind of pie!Jump to Recipe
Last week, I decided to make a trip to my Grandma's to learn how to make pie crust. I've made pie crust before (many, many times), but they always turned out just okay. So I wanted to learn all of Grandma's tips and tricks!! And when both my grandmas use the exact same recipe (and make INCREDIBLE pies), you know it's gotta be good.
Spending time with my grandparents was certainly the highlight of the trip, but coming home with many pie crusts ready to be filled (and the confidence and knowledge on how to make more) was a close second!
Pie Crust Ingredients
Thinking through each of these ingredients brings me back to my food science days! There's reasoning behind each and every ingredient and the combination here makes the best pie crust!
- Flour - All-purpose flour works best. It produces the right amount of gluten, where-as a bread flour would create too much and a cake flour produce too little.
- Sugar - Though it may seem like a lot of sugar would be needed (pie is typically a sweet dessert after-all), you don't want too much. Sugar interferes with gluten development, so while it helps create a tender pie, you don't want it so fragile that it's difficult to roll out.
- Salt - Does it seem strange to add salt to a pie crust? Perhaps, but a little bit of salt won't make the crust taste salty, it'll just help boost the other flavors and enhance the pie.
- Butter-Flavored Crisco - Crisco (shortening) or lard are my two favorite options for the fat in a pie crust as it'll make the pie crust flaky and tender. It also creates a crust that's easier to roll out and shape (vs butter that will harden too much when chilled).
- Egg - Eggs are not a super common ingredient in pie crust, however I find that adding one egg (to a batch of 4-5 pie crusts) makes the crust more pliable and easier to work with.
- Ice-Cold Water - The key word here is "ice-cold." You want the water cold, because if it isn't it'll begin to melt the shortening. When the shortening is melted, you won't have those nice pockets of fat in the crust that form the super flaky crust.
- Vinegar - I could take or leave the vinegar (however I'm leaving it here because I'm not going to mess with the perfection of my grandma's recipe!). If you don't have any, you can certainly replace with an extra tablespoon of cold water. The theory of adding a little vinegar is that adding something acidic helps tenderize the crust, though I don't tend to notice much difference.
How to Make A Pie Crust From Scratch
Sound intimidating? It really isn't difficult - trust me on this one! If you start with the right ingredients and follow the picture by picture instructions below, you'll be just fine. And remember, there'll be a topping that covers any imperfections! 😉
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the butter-flavored Crisco.
- Use a pastry blender to cut the Crisco into the dry ingredients.
- The Crisco should now be in chunks around the size of a large pea. Chunks are good - these lovely pieces of fat will create a beautiful flaky crust!
- Combine the wet ingredients.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the center of the pie crust mixture.
- Use a fork to carefully incorporate the wet ingredients into the crust.
- Once the dough is starting to stick together (as the picture shows), stop mixing.
- Form a disc.
- Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 90 minutes.
10. Generously flour the surface you'll be working on as well as the rolling pin and your hands.
11. Roll out the pie crust, going slowly and rolling in each direction.
12. Continue rolling the pie crust until it's about ⅛" thick and larger than the diameter of the pie plate you intend to use.
13. Use the rolling pin to help transfer the crust onto the pie plate.
14. Shift the crust into the pie plate and remove any excess edges (depending on how you'd like to decorate the outside of the pie crust - see below for ideas).
15. Decorate the edges as desired.
Pie Crust Designs
I think this is one of the most fun parts about making a pie!! You can keep it super simple or use a more intricate design. The designs I've listed below will go from simple to more elaborate.
Super Easy Fork Method
For this one, you'll simply remove any excess crust (I just use a paring knife and go around the edge of the pan) and then press down gently with a fork to create lines. Simple, huh?!
For these edges, I keep about ½ an inch of crust on the outside of the pie plate and fold them under the crust. Then, I press the crust between my thumb and index finger on one hand and my index finger on the other hand. Hard to explain, but easy to do once you give it a try! Here's a video in case you're a more visual learner!
I love how easy this one is, yet gives a pretty, feminine vibe. First, you'll trim the edges of the pie crust right to the edge of the pan with a paring knife. Then, use a piping tip (or even the tip of a spoon) to form a scalloped edge.
Cookie Cutter (or Piping Tip) Edge
I tend to think that the size of a piping tip works great here! However, if you have a cookie cutter you'd like to use (such as small leaves in the fall or hearts around Valentine's Day), that would add such a fun, festive flair!
Once you have the pieces cut out, you'll just brush a little water on the pie crust (think of this as the glue) and stick the cut out piece on top.
This one takes a little bit of patience, but is SO pretty! I typically do four small braids and stick them onto the crust with water. It takes a little finagling to get them to lay just right, but it's so worth it!
How to Freeze Pie Crusts
This recipe makes 4-5 pie crusts, each 9-10" in diameter (however I've also adjusted the amounts in the recipe notes if you'd prefer to just make one). I actually love that this recipe makes so many crusts, because they're great to have on hand when I'm wanting to make a pie!
To freeze them, I wrap them in plastic wrap, stack them on each other and then place in a large freezer bag. They can be in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you're ready to use one, grab one from the stack and let it thaw out just enough to be able to decorate the edges. Then fill, top and bake!
Can I Blind Bake this Pie Crust?
Absolutely. If you're planning to make a pudding pie, lemon meringue pie, or something similar, you'll want to blind bake the crust (bake it without the filling). To blind bake, you'll use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the pie crust. Then, place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill with pie crust pie weights or dry beans. This will keep the pie from shrinking and/or creating large air pockets on the bottom.
Lastly, you'll bake in a 375° oven for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. I highly encourage you to wait until the crust is completely cool before filling so it doesn't get soggy.
A Few Fan-Favorite Pie Recipes
Rhubarb Custard Pie - Tart rhubarb, creamy custard and a crunchy crumb topping....yes, please!
Pumpkin Streusel Pie - It's like a pumpkin pie but with a crisp, buttery topping. SO good!
Blueberry Custard Pie - Though this recipe includes a press-in-pan crust, this pie crust recipe would work great, too!
Oatmeal Pie - If you've never had this pie, you're missing out!! It's a pie they made way back when, when pecans were really pricy and oatmeal was cheap!
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