Basic Pie Crust


pie crust

Here is where I tell you that I stink at making pie crusts. I’ve been making them badly for 15 years. I’ve asked every baker I know for tips. (Flatten the dough slightly before rolling it out. Freeze the dough before working it.) I’ve written stories about pies. I’ve amassed a large body of knowledge about how to make a beautiful, tasty pie crust. I just can’t actually do it. So, if you’ll forgive my photos. This is what my crusts look like. Maybe someday my mental block will lift and I’ll get much better at this skill. Till then, no judging, okay? I’m including this recipe only because it’s a basic building block to so many other dishes I make. Have any pointers you’d like to share?

Makes 1 pie crust, double for a 2-crust pie.

Adapted from the  Joy of Cooking


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
  • 3-4 Tbsp. cold water


  1. Combine flour and salt in large bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, working quickly so as to keep butter cold. Mix in enough cold water with fork until flour is moistened. Do not over mix. Form dough into a ball. Fatten slightly.
  2. Roll out dough with rolling pin on lightly floured surface into circle. Fold into quarters. Place dough into ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Unfold dough, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim crust to 1/2 inch from edge of plate. Set aside.


For a two-crust pie, double the recipe. Divide into two equal halves. Wrap 1 ball in plastic wrap; refrigerate. Roll out remaining ball of dough as instructed above. Remove top crust from the refrigerator. Place atop filling. Trim if needed. Then crimp with fingers or flatten two crusts together with fork. Carefully cut small holes in top crust to vent.






6 thoughts on “Basic Pie Crust

  • I love making pie crusts and the less I think about it, the better it is. Lately I have been using my own rendered lard which is super in pies. My only tip to add to yours is to leave it wrapped up and sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes – it is easier to roll then.

    • Thanks for the tips, Hilda! One of my goals this winter is to render my own lard. I do think that would help. My refusal to use shortening probably has a lot to do with my struggles. All butter crusts are tough to pull off, I’m told.

      • Definitely preparing your own lard is worth the bother – and it keeps very well. I have been using it for pies, but also in other baked things, sometimes alone and sometimes mixed with other fats. The texture for pie crusts is different from butter which works best for crumbly biscuity textures (sablee in French), but when you want light and flaky – 100% lard is great. I use 3 cups flour, 1 cup lard, a bit of salt and water to hold it together.

      • So helpful, Hilda. Can’t wait to try this recipe…

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