Pie Crust 101

I was petrified of making pie crust. What makes it flaky? What makes it golden? Why does the bottom get soggy? Butter or shortening or both? More or less water? Air vents in the top crust or none?  As mysterious as pie crust can be, it is also a fairly debunkable myth. Once you put in the practice, pie crust can actually be a crowning achievement in your baking endeavors.

This pie dough recipe has served me well over the years. It is straightforward and simple and produces a flaky crust time and again. The trick? Refrain from overworking the dough. You should still see small bits of butter even after rolling.

Basic Pie Dough

Makes enough for 1 Double Crust 9-inch Pie


2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening, chilled
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces
8-10 Tbsp. ice water


  1. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Add the shortening and butter and cut into the flour with a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

  2. Sprinkle with 8 Tbsp. of the ice water. With a rubber spatula, using a folding motion to mix, press down the dough until it sticks together. Add more ice water if needed but be careful not to make the dough too wet.

  3. Flatten the dough into a large disk and cut in half. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch circle. If the dough is too cold, let it warm just a bit until it rolls without cracking.

  5. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pan. Working around the circumference of the pie plate, ease the dough into the pan corners. Trim the dough edges to extend about ½ inch beyond the rim of the pan. Fold the overhang under itself and flute the edges. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes or freeze about 20 minutes.

  6. Fill the pie shell and bake according to the recipe instructions.