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This simple pie crust recipe is made using butter and lard that results in a flaky and tender crust perfect for all your dessert recipe needs! Five ingredients and a little bit of patience are all you need to master this homemade pie crust recipe!
This is the pie crust recipe I’ve been making for years to go along with all my pie recipes. I love using a combination of butter and lard for both flavor and texture.
The lard provides so much moisture to the crust while the butter infuses so much flavor and both help in making a tender, flaky crust!
Read on (and checkout the video!) for the entire in-depth breakdown of how to make perfect pie crust every single time!
Ingredients for this recipe
- Flour – Regular, all-purpose flour is all you need.
- Sugar – Just to add a touch of sweetness. If you’re using the crust for a savory recipe, such as a pot pie, you can omit the sugar.
- Butter – When it comes to baking 99% of the time you’ll want unsalted butter, this is the other 1% - using salted butter means no need to add extra salt.
- Lard – I render lard from our pig farmer friend, but know not everyone has that option. Morrell Snow Cap Lard is my recommendation for store-bought.
- Ice Water – Water helps hold everything together!
Pie Crust Recipe at a Glance
This is a very brief overview of the recipe, find a more in-depth walkthrough in the recipe card below and read the entire post for my most important tips!
- Whisk the dry ingredients. In a large bowl.
- Work in the fat. Very gently, we’re just barely incorporating it.
- Add ice water. And mix until just combined.
- Wrap and store. Chill the dough until ready to use.
Cold is Key!
It’s important that the fat in your pie crust remains cold so that when the pie hits the heat of the oven the water in the crust evaporates, producing steam and leaving us with those delicious flaky layers.
Some people will say you have to keep the bowl, flour, and fat in the freezer before making the crust, but I think that’s a bit unnecessarily difficult.
Butter and lard straight from the fridge, ice cold water, and proper chilling times are all you need to ensure the fat remains cold in the crust and you get those pockets of steam evaporating.
Bigger is Better
When making a pie crust I always cut my butter into tablespoon-sized pieces to ensure there are big pieces of fat marbled throughout the dough after mixing and rolling.
If the butter is cut too small, you’ll wind up with a mealy crust and not a flaky one.
To ensure the fat is properly worked into the dough, use clean hands (remove any rings!) to gently toss it into the dry ingredients and press each piece between your fingertips to flatten it and break it apart slightly. That’s really all you need to do.
If desired, you can place the lard in the freezer for 10 minutes before using, but you don’t have to. Again, we’re trying to keep things simple!
What to do if the fat is melting
At my first ever bakery job my old boss would give me a hard time for melting doughs. I couldn’t help it! I have what’s known in the baking business as “hot hands” – my hands give off a lot of heat a lot of the time. This can make working with chilled doughs difficult!
To alleviate the issue, I handle the dough very gently and as minimally as possible (this is also just a really good rule of thumb for anyone).
If you find the butter and lard are melting while you’re working with the dough, simply pop it back in the refrigerator for 5 – 10 minutes and then continue working.
How much water to add to homemade pie crust?
Moisture matters in a perfect pie crust! Too little water and it’ll be dry and difficult to roll out. Too wet and it’ll stick to everything and be oh-so tough.
When mixing the crust, add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir gently with your fingertips until just combined. It usually takes about ½ cup of ice water for the dough to come together. In the dryer, colder months it might require extra water and in the warmer, more humid months, the dough may need less.
A properly mixed crust
To make sure you don’t add too much water follow these tips:
When the dough is about 80% combined, gather what will hold together into a shaggy ball, leaving behind the small bit of dry ingredients that aren’t combined.
Sprinkle drops of water over the remaining dry ingredients.
Gently mix before you work that bit into the rest of the dough.
Sprinkle a few drops of water over the surface of the dough at this stage.
You’ll know the dough is properly hydrated when it holds together and has very minimal cracks along the surface. You should be able to push down with your fingers and come away without any fat sticking to your skin and without the ball of dough breaking apart.
Refrigerating pie crust before using
It’s important that after all that mixing to make the crust that it rests in the fridge for awhile. This does two very important things:
It chills the dough. No matter how hard you try and how careful you are, the fat will warm up when the dough is mixed. Chilling will help the fat solidify once more and that means it’ll be easier to work with when it’s rolled out.
It relaxes the gluten. One of the keys to a tender pie crust is not working it too much. We don’t want the gluten to get overworked – that’s what makes them toughen up and strengthen. We want nice, chilled out, relaxed gluten strands. A break in the fridge means the dough will be easier to work with.
Here’s how to properly chill the pie dough before use
- Form the dough into a disk (unless you’re making pie bars, in which case, form the dough into a rectangle).
- Drip a few drops of water onto the surface of the pie crust. This will add just the teeniest amount of moisture.
- Wrap securely in plastic wrap. Then seal in a plastic bag.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Or overnight.
If you let the dough chill overnight, remove from the fridge 10 – 15 minutes before rolling out. This will give the dough enough time to be warm enough to work with but the fat will still be cold.
How to keep pie crust tender
Let’s review the keys to a tender, flaky pie crust recipe:
- Mix minimally! The less you work with the dough, the better.
- Chill out! A properly chilled dough will be flaky as all get out from the escaping steam during baking.
- Take your time! The process of pie crust simply can’t be rushed. It takes time to gently mix, it takes time to rest, it takes time to roll, it takes time to chill, it takes time to bake.
What should pie crust look like?
When the pie crust is formed into a disk you’ll see large pieces of fat disbursed throughout it. And when it’s rolled out you’ll see those same pieces of fat, just now flattened. The dough will have a few cracks along the surface when in a disk, but none along the edges while rolling.
If you find the dough is cracking and falling apart while rolling, sprinkle with a few drops of ice water and gently pat in, allowing the dough to rest for 10 minutes before starting to roll again.
Why butter and lard?
Why use butter in pie crust? Butter is going to provide SO MUCH flavor. That quintessential pastry taste comes from using butter. However, butter has more water in it than lard and while that’s great for the crust being flaky, it can also mean it’s easily overworked or tough.
Why use lard in pie crust? The lard helps to keep the crust tender and help it hold its shape. Y’know when pie crust shrinks away from the pan or the shapes on a fancy top crust get all wonky? Using lard will help prevent that!
Can you freeze pie crust?
Yes! Freezing pie crust can be a huge time saver when it comes to preparing for big holidays like Thanksgiving.
Wrap the pie crust in plastic and seal in an airtight plastic bag, labeling with the content and date and freeze for up to two months.
To use frozen pie dough: thaw in the refrigerator overnight and remove from fridge 10 – 15 minutes before rolling out.
How to roll out pie crust
My grandma gave me the most important piece of pie crust advice when I was a teenager, and I am now giving it to you!
When you are rolling out the dough, you are gently stretching it, not pushing and pulling it. If you force the dough you’re likely to tear it or overwork it and wind up with tough crust!
To easily roll out the pie crust
Ensure the surface you’re working on is lightly floured to avoid sticking. Flour your rolling pin as well.
If the dough has been refrigerated for 8 hours or more, allow it to sit out for 10 – 15 minutes before you begin rolling.
Begin in the center of your dough circle and gently move the rolling pin outward in one direction.
Return the pin to the center and gently roll it in the other direction.
Continue doing this, moving the pin in a circle around the dough to ensure the shape remains even.
Every once in awhile, you’ll want to pick up and rotate the dough circle to ensure it isn’t sticking to the work surface. If necessary, add a light sprinkling of flour to the surface if you experience sticking.
Roll out the crust out to between ¼ and ⅛ inch thick (thicker crusts will require longer baking times but that’s my favorite part and I tend to error on the side of thicker).
Transferring to a pie pan
Voila now you’ve rolled out a crust! Time to move it into a pie plate.
Gently roll the crust onto your rolling pin and slide into the the pan you’ll be using. If the dough is properly chilled, rested, and rolled, it’ll settle gently into the pan and you won’t have to force it.
Trimming and Crimping Pie Crust
Once the crust has been transferred to a pan, trim off any excess dough greater than ½ inch around the edge of the plate and tuck the edges under into the pan.
You can either crimp the edges with your fingers, a fork, or do a simple roll. There’s all types of fun designs you can make!
Chilling Pie Crust Before Baking
Now that the crust is settled into the pan it needs to rest and chill once more before baking. Cover it lightly with plastic wrap (I like to use the same piece the dough disk was wrapped in) and set in fridge for another 30 minutes or so.
This final chilling will prevent the crust from shrinking away from the edges of the pan (the lard helps with that, too) and also ensures that the fat will be as cold as possible when it hits the oven!
And just like that, you’re ready to go forth and bake the best pies ever!
Watch the recipe video!
Butter and Lard Pie Crust
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 8 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons lard
- ½ cup ice water (more or less, depending)
To make pie crust:
- In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and set aside.
- Cut 1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter into pieces that are about 1 tablespoon each and add it to the dry ingredients along with 2 tablespoons lard. Gently toss the butter and lard into the dry ingredients. Then, press each pad of butter and lard between your fingertips to slightly break it apart (we want really big pieces of fat here).
- Once all the fat has been gently worked into the dry ingredients, begin to add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, gently mixing with your fingertips after each addition. Once you’ve added about ½ cup of water, you can begin to mix more thoroughly to form a shaggy ball of dough.
- Press the dough into a rough ball with both hands, keep this ball separate from whatever ingredients do not stay in the ball or are left in the bowl (in essence, separating what is still dry ingredients from what has been hydrated by the ice water). Sprinkle more ice water over the dry ingredients only, mixing until they are moistened.
- Now, work the entirety of the crust into a ball, sprinkling with a few more drops of ice water. The dough is properly hydrated when it is neither crumbling apart or sticking to your fingers when pressed. The pie crust should be able to be pressed and still hold together, with only a few fine cracks along the surface.
- Transfer pie crust from mixing bowl to a large piece of plastic wrap and sprinkle with a few more drops of ice water before wrapping tightly and pressing into a disk. (If you’re planning on make pie bars you can pat the dough into a rectangle to make things easier later on.)
- Place in a zip-top plastic bag, squeezing out the excess air before sealing. Refrigerate crust for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
To roll out pie crust:
- Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.
- If you’ve chilled the dough overnight, allow it to sit out for 10 – 15 minutes before rolling so it’s not rock solid.
- Lightly flour the top of the pie dough disk and working from the center out, gently stretch the dough with the rolling pin. Be very careful not to push, pull, or force the dough. It’s all about being gentle and it takes a bit of time.
- Every so often rotate the crust to ensure it is not sticking to the work surface, adding more flour to the work space, rolling pin, or top of the crust, as necessary.
- When the crust has been rolled to ¼ inch or less in thickness, transfer it to your pie pan by gently folding it over your rolling pin and letting it gently fall into the pan.
- Trim any excess crust greater than ½ inch along the edge of the pan before tucking the edges into the pan and crimping with your fingers, a fork, or leaving it be. Cover the pan lightly in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
- Chill the crust in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before continuing with your pie recipe!
- If at any point during mixing the fat begins to melt, pop the mixing bowl into the fridge to chill for 10 or so minutes before continuing.
- Refer to post for all the tips and visual aids.
- Makes one pie crust, is easily doubled!
- Mixing method courtesy of Erin McDowell.