How to Make the Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

The best pies start with the best crusts. Learn how to make pie crust from scratch using these step-by-step instructions.

When it comes to baking pies, the most daunting part of the process is making the perfect flaky crust. After all, you want a great foundation to hold all those fillings. Making the perfect pie crust doesn’t need to be overly challenging. With the right ingredients, like great butter, and the right technique you can make a flaky crust that everyone will be talking about. We’ll walk you through how to do it.

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How to Make Flaky, Buttery Pie Crust

To make a great pie crust, you need a great recipe. This top-rated recipe is a favorite among readers and our Test Kitchen cooks. For a single crust you’ll need the following (double for a double-crusted pie like these):

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Looking at this recipe, you’ll notice that it only calls for butter. Shortening and lard are also used in crusts, but our tests have proved that butter makes the crust the flakiest and tastiest.

Step 1: Cutting the Butter into the Flour

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The first step in making pie crust is to quickly whisk together the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl. Then, using a pastry blender—not your fingers—cut cold butter into the flour. Work the butter into the dough until the bits are about pea-sized.

Editor’s tip: Use a pastry blender, not your fingers, to work the butter into the mix. Your hands are warm and will melt the butter. The secret to a flaky crust is cold butter, so keep your hands off!

Step 2: Just Add Water

Next, add ice-cold water to your pastry mix. Start slow with just two or three tablespoons and add more as needed. Your crust is at the right consistency when it holds together when pressed.

Step 3: Chill the Pie Pastry

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Before you do anything else with your pastry, you need to let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour. This will help firm up the butter. We’ll say it once and we’ll say it a thousand times: Cold butter equals flaky crusts.

To chill, form the pastry into a disk and wrap. You can stash it in the fridge for a few days or even freeze it if you’re working in advance.

Step 4: Roll the Pie Crust

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After allowing your pie crust to chill, it’s time to get rolling. For this, you’ll want to lightly dust your work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Also, dust your rolling pin with a bit of flour. As for the right rolling pin to use, it’s all personal preference. If you have a stainless steel or marble pin, though, you can pop it in the fridge or freezer in advance—this will keep the pastry cool.

To roll, work from the center and move outward to the edges. Rotate a quarter turn every so often to help geet the right round shape. Roll until you reach the appropriate size and thickness. If necessary, add an extra sprinkling of flour to prevent sticking as you go.

Step 5: Moving the Crust to Your Pie Pan

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The most stressful part of pie baking is moving your perfectly rolled crust into the pie pan. It can make even experienced bakers tremble. But if you work quickly and confidently, you’ll be just fine (and remember that you can always patch or re-roll the dough if needed).

To move the crust into the pan, rely on your rolling pin. Drape the crust over the pin and quickly move it to your pan. Allow the pastry to ease into the plate and let it settle before you manipulate it. Trim the edges, leaving some excess to crimp.

If you’re making a single-crust pie, all that’s left is to finish the edges. If you’re creating a double-crust pie, it’s time to fill the pie and work on rolling out the second crust. You’ll use the same rolling pin drape method to transfer that crust to cover the top of your pie.

Editor’s tip: If you’re making a double-crust pie, don’t forget to add some vents to allow steam to escape. This can be as simple as adding slashes or can be done by creating a decorative topper like a lattice crust.

Step 6: Finishing the Edges

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You can finish off your pie crust a variety of ways. Pinching the pastry around the edges is the most traditional method, though you can create all sorts of nifty edges, like ropes or braids or even just pretty impressions using a fork.

After all that, it’s time to bake your pie. Just remember to place it on the center rack and keep an eye on it as it bakes to prevent over-browning (here’s a handy trick to prevent a burnt crust).

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.