Tips for Making Pie Crust

Making pie crust is easy with these basic tips. Learn how to make pastry for pies successfully every time with these helpful hints.

The secret to making flakey pie crust is to measure ingredients accurately and mix them properly. If proportions are off even slightly or if you overwork the dough, the pastry can be tough, soggy or crumbly. Another secret is to use pie crust ingredients that are very cold.

When making pie crust, work the cold fat (butter, shortening or lard) into the flour using a pastry blender or two knives pulled in opposite directions, until the fat particles are broken up and coated with flour and the mixture is pebbly and coarse. For a really flaky crust, cut in the fat until the size of small beans. During baking, the fat melts and the pockets of air that are created make the pastry light and flaky.

Sprinkle cold water, one tablespoon at a time, over the flour mixture and stir with a fork just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. When making pie crust, don’t overwork the dough as the more you handle it the more gluten will develop, toughening the pastry. Add the minimum amount of water that will moisten the flour mixture as too much water will make the dough soggy.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Chilling the dough keeps the pie crust ingredients cold and makes it easier to handle.

Lightly flour the rolling surface and place the chilled dough in the center. Slightly flatten the dough with the side of your hand. Flour the rolling pin and carefully roll the dough from the center to the outside edges. Do not roll back and forth across the dough as this will stretch it and cause it to shrink during baking. Lift and turn the dough periodically to make sure it is not sticking. If it does stick, loosen it with a spatula and sprinkle more flour on the rolling surface. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness and about 2 inches larger in diameter than the pie pan.

To transfer the crust to the pie plate, carefully fold the dough in half and fold again into quarters. Place the point of the folded dough in the center of the pie pan and carefully unfold. Do not pull or stretch the dough.

Trim the edges of the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang, using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. Fold the overhanging dough under, pressing firmly to seal. Pinch or flute the edges as desired.

Cover the pie crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to use.

If the pie crust is to be used with a baked filling, proceed as directed in recipe.

How to Bake Pie Crust:

If the pie crust needs to be baked before filling (called blind baking), such as pudding pies or cream pies, prick the bottom and sides generously with a fork. Line the pie crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with dried beans so that it will keep its shape while baking. Bake the pie crust at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. When the pie crust is done, remove the beans and foil or paper. Let the crust cool completely before adding filling.

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