Written By

Renee Dalton


Nov 10, 2023


Tips for the Perfect Pie Crust

10 Tips for the Perfect Pie Crust


A delicious pie is a true culinary masterpiece; the key to a perfect pie lies in its crust. The ideal pie crust should be flaky, tender, and flavorful. To help you achieve pastry perfection, we’ve compiled 10 tips to elevate your pie game. From choosing the right fats to rolling techniques and baking methods, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive into these tips for the perfect pie crust.


Start with Well-Chilled Butter or Fat:

The foundation of a great pie crust is cold fat. Whether using butter, shortening, lard, or oil, make sure it’s as hard as possible. Cut it into small pieces for a flakier crust, and keep it cold to prevent overworking it into the dough.


Maintain Some Fat Chunks:

Don’t be too quick to eliminate all fat chunks in your dough. Leaving a few larger pieces of fat is essential for achieving a flaky texture. As these chunks heat up in the oven, they create steam pockets, contributing to that delightful flakiness.

  • When making pie crust, it’s essential to consider the size of the butter pieces you use, as it significantly impacts the final result. The general guideline suggests that smaller butter pieces will yield a crust with a mealy texture that can withstand custard fillings. On the other hand, larger butter chunks will produce a flakier crust, ideal for fruit fillings. However, be cautious when using larger butter chunks, as they may lead to pools of melted butter in your pie dough as it bakes. Despite these differences, the visual contrast between the two crusts may seem relatively minor once they are baked.
  • If you’re new to making pie dough or lack confidence in your skills, I recommend using smaller pieces of butter. It will make the dough much more manageable and easier to work with.

Use Minimal Water:

Water is essential for binding the dough, but avoid overdoing it. The more water you add, the more gluten you develop, leading to a more rigid crust. Add enough water or liquid as the recipe specifies to hold the dough together without overmixing.

  • When crafting the perfect pie dough, gauging the correct water quantity can be challenging. Various factors come into play, including the environmental conditions in your kitchen and the type of flour you’re using. This is why the recipe offers a range for water measurement. To begin, add half of the total specified amount. Combine it into the mixture by hand or with a few quick pulses in a food processor.
  • Take a small piece of the mixture and pinch it between your fingers. It should hold its shape. If it crumbles apart or appears excessively dry and floury, it’s time to introduce more water. At this stage, I like transferring the mixture onto a work surface and pressing it together until it forms a messy dough lump.


Shape into a Disk:

Before chilling or rolling out the dough, shape it into a smooth 1-inch thick disk. This step makes rolling it out more manageable and helps prevent cracks in the crust as you work with it.

  • Once you have achieved a reasonably cohesive mound of dough, flatten it into a disk and fold it onto itself while gently kneading. Repeat this process several times to “laminate” the dough, with each fold yielding more flaky layers. Be sure to handle the dough delicately and work it until it comes together into a smooth, cohesive disk. When you cut the mass in half, as you would for a double-crust pie, you can visibly observe the butter layers resulting from the additional folding step. These layers will bake into delightful, crispy, tender, and flaky goodness.


Chill the Dough:

Proper chilling is crucial for pie crust success. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, and in hot weather, consider freezing it for around 10 minutes before rolling. Keeping the dough cold prevents it from becoming too soft and sticky during the rolling process.


Roll and Turn:

Turn the dough a quarter after each roll on a floured surface when rolling out your pie crust. This technique helps prevent sticking and ensures an even fat distribution throughout the dough.


Roll Away from Yourself:

Roll the dough away from you, starting from the center, with even pressure. This technique ensures an even thickness and helps you control the dough as you work with it.

  • For a 9-inch pie pan, aim for a 12-inch diameter pie crust. Remember that the depth of your pan may vary, so consider this when rolling out the crust. Regardless, ensure that the crust’s thickness is approximately 1/8-inch. Going thinner may cause tearing, while a thicker crust may not cook evenly and become flaky.
  • This is my favorite Rolling Pin to make pie crust.


Let Dough Fall into the Pan:

When lining your pie plate, gently let the dough drape into the pan’s creases rather than forcing it. Stretching the dough can lead to retraction during baking, resulting in an uneven crust.

Chill the Pie Crust Lined Pan:

After lining the pie pan (and adding any top crust), refrigerate it briefly. This step helps maintain the pie’s shape and size during baking, preventing shrinkage and misshapen crusts.

Bake Until Brown:

Finally, don’t settle for a merely golden crust when it’s time to bake your pie. For the perfect pie crust, bake it until it turns entirely brown. This will ensure that your crust is tender and flaky, the ultimate hallmark of a well-executed pie.

1. To blind-bake the pie crust, bake it at 425°F until it turns golden for 17 to 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans, and continue to bake until the crust is evenly browned and looks crisp, which should take another 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Line the pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the dough begins to brown and feels dry to the touch.

2. If you’re making a pie that the crust cooks along with the filling, follow the baking instructions on the pie recipe.


In Conclusion:

With these ten indispensable pointers, you’ll be on the path to creating a flawless pie crust. Whether you’re a seasoned pastry chef or embarking on your pie-making adventure, these strategies will enhance your pie-making skills. Remember that perfection lies in the finer points, and achieving the ideal pie crust is all about mastering those subtle intricacies. Enjoy your baking journey!


Watch this VIDEO to see me making Pie Crust.


This is Renee’s Kitchen Reality

Renee Dalton

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