Basic Pie Dough for a Flakey Pie Crust


This recipe was adapted from one found in a Williams Sonoma cookbook (I substituted margarine for half the butter called for in the recipe.) Follow this recipe and your crust will turn out flakey every time. Taste testers of this crust have labeled this crust better than a professional pie crust. After taste testers have bit into this crust I have been asked how I learned to make such a fantastic pie crust and what the secret is to this crust.

Well, I learned how to make a serious pie crust from a lot of trial and error. Also from reading cookbooks and blogs and taking tips from my friend Micah, a fellow foodie living in Portland. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in terms of what my idea of the ‘perfect’ pie crust is! Read on for the secrets of how to achieve the perfect crust.



  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1/2 c. margarine, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 7 to 8 T. ice water



  1. Freeze the butter and margarine at least 15 minutes. The longer the better. (I froze mine overnight.)
  2. Place the flour and salt into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter and margarine cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times. Then add the other half of the butter and lard cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter and margarine pieces the size of peas. (You can do this without a food processor by using two knives to cut the butter and margarine into the flour mixture. This is not easy to do by hand when working with frozen butter/margarine but it is doable and, actually, I would recommend this over the food processor method.)
  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of ice-cold water to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. (To get the water really cold I put it in a cup in the freezer when I’m just starting to prepare the dough.) Then add more  water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to come together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If not, add a little more water and pulse again. Note: Too much water will make your crust tough.
  4.  Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a very clean, smooth surface. Press the heel of your palm into the mixture, pressing down and mushing the mixture into the table top. Do this 4 to 6 times to help your crust get extra flakey. Then press the crumbly dough together and shape into two discs. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter and margarine peppered in the dough. When these bits of butter and margarine melt as the crust cooks, they will help separate the dough into flakey layers. You should aim for visible pieces of butter and margarine in your dough.img_2431
  5. Sprinkle the discs with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (I refrigerated overnight.)img_2430
  6. When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the discs from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to take just enough of a chill off of it so that it becomes easier to roll out. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disc. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If you’re making a double crust pie, roll out your second pie crust now too and return both (covered in plastic wrap) to the refrigerator. (I like to refrigerate my rolled out dough until I’m ready to assemble the pie.) Or save the remaining disc of dough for another pie.img_2429
  7. Fill and bake your pie according to directions. If baking your crust before filling the pie, trim and flute the edges.img_2428-1
  8. Also if baking your crust: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prick the prepared pie shell with a fork in a rapid motion all over the bottom and sides, approximately 100 times. (This prevents the pie shell from puffing while it bakes.) Press two layers of tin-foil into the bottom and sides of the pie shell so that the pie retains its shape. Bake about 8 minutes, until the edges of the dough are beginning to look dry. Remove the foil and bake 6 to 10 minutes longer. The pie shell is done when the dough is light brown and looks crisp. Set aside to cool before filling.

Note: You can use all butter, all vegetable shortening, all margarine or a combination of these ingredients to make this crust. (I’ve used just about every method/combination there is.) The flakiness of your crust is dependent upon small (visible) chunks of butter/shortening/margarine in your rolled out pie dough – which is most easily achieved when you’re working with cold (frozen) ingredients.

Notice in all of the pictures of the uncooked crust you can see bits of butter. Also notice in pictures of the cooked crust that you can see the flakiness!

Recipe rating: 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s