Recipe: How To Make the Best Pie Crust

The holidays are coming, and baking season is upon us!  Sure you can buy the pre-made roll up pie crusts from the dairy case by the Pillsbury products, but why not make this year special?  There really is nothing like the taste of a homemade pie crust.  And it’s not that hard, I promise! 

Here is what you need to make the most delicious homemade pie crust you have ever tasted:

Making Perfect Pie Crust Is Easy!

The Right Equipment

  • A decent rolling pin.  A “regular” wooden rolling pin is designed more for cookie dough than for pie crusts.  It will work after a fashion, but the dough will stick to it terribly, and you will have to constantly sprinkle flour on it.
  • Better yet, buy a marble rolling pin.  These keep cool (see the next hint on temperature control), and the pie crust won’t stick to it as badly.  And the added weight of the marble will really help you with rolling out the crust!
  • A non-slip pie crust mat.  This is a big square of silicone plastic which you lay out on your counter.  Just sprinkle a small amount of flour on the mat, and roll out that dough! 
  • A pie crust mat is a better surface for rolling out dough, and will be pre-printed with pie crust sizes, so you can see how much farther you need to roll out the dough.  I also find the circles helpful because I can never quite manage to roll out a perfect circle, so I use the printed marks to trim the crust to shape.
  • Pie crust shield.  This is a tin circle that will protect the edges of your crust from scorching when you bake your pie.  You can try using strips of aluminum foil, but I have yet to figure out a way to fasten them on so that they don’t fall off halfway through baking.  Just pop the pie crust shield over the edges, and you’re set!

Pie Crust Help Is On The Way

2. Keep Cool!

  • The key to making a successful pie crust is to keep all of the ingredients and equipment cool.  The chemistry of pie crust is such that you have to prevent the butter from softening at all costs.  This is hard, because as you apply pressure to roll out the crust, the butter will automatically start softening up.
  • Keep all of your ingredients and equipment refrigerated until you are ready to roll out the crust. Most pie crust recipes have a “cool down” period, when you pop the dough into the fridge for a little while.  This is a great time to gather up all of your ingredients (like a cup of flour, which you will be sprinkling on the dough) and your equipment (like the pie mat and rolling pin) and pop them into the fridge for a while.
  • If your kitchen is warm, take a break halfway through rolling out the dough, and pop it all back into the fridge.  Better yet, try and find a cooler place in which to roll out the dough.  If you have a pastry mat, you can lay it just about anywhere and safely roll out your crust!  We won’t tell your guests that you rolled out the pie crust on the work bench in the garage.  And they will be too busy enjoying your pie to care!
  • Avoid touching the dough as much as possible.  Your hands are warm, so do not use them to pat or shape the dough until the very last step.

3. How To Mix Pie Crust Dough

Now that we have discussed why it is important to keep the butter chilled, let’s talk about how to get the butter into the flour in the first place.  Your challenge is to blend the butter with the flour, without actually creaming the butter.

When you make cookies or cakes, you are creaming the butter into the flour and sugar.  Butter which is creamed is melted slightly, and re-forms in an emulsion with the other ingredients.  This is NOT what you want in pie crust!  For pie crust, you need tiny bits of butter mixed loosely with the flour – just enough to hold together, but not so much that it loses its structural integrity.

The key to this is, don’t over-mix!

If you do not have a pastry blender, the easiest way to blend the butter into the flour is to grate it with a cheese grater.  Simply hold the end of the butter stick in your hands, and grate it across the grater into the flour, just as if you were grating cheese.  Grate it in small amounts, mix the shaved butter in with the flour, then grate in a little bit more.

As you do this, your fingers will melt the end of the butter a little bit.  This is not what we want!  Be ready to pop that end back into the fridge for a while, or use several different sticks to make up the total.

4. Pie Crust Recipes

As you can see, the pie crust recipe is the simplest part! Here are some recipes I have used successfully in the past:

Which fat do you prefer to use for pie crusts?

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Comments 4 comments

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

I prefer butter but you have to work in a cold kitchen for best results, it softens up the fastest. Great Hub!

Blogging Erika profile image

Blogging Erika 7 years ago Author

Thanks! And I agree - although it can get hard to keep the temps down if you're in "production mode" and the oven's been cranking for hours!

Specialk3749 profile image

Specialk3749 5 years ago from Michigan

We always used a shortening recipe, but one day when my daughter was making a crust we did not have enough so she replaced what she needed with butter. It turned out great! So, now we always use part butter and part shortening.

bugslady8949 profile image

bugslady8949 5 years ago from The Bahamas

I love to do my pie crust with shortening. The taste is different that is just me. I like you hub, keep up with the good work!

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