Classic Desserts/ Fundamentals/ Pies, Tarts & Crumbles

Perfect Pie Crust

August 8, 2014

Buttery, crisp and flaky, this is a good old-fashioned pie crust recipe, also known as pate brisee.

Scroll down for step-by-step recipe with photos and a short printable version.

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Everyone has their own favorite pie crust. I like mine buttery, crisp, and flaky. This one is an old, simple recipe that I’ve been using for as long as I can remember and it never fails me. When it comes to pies, I use this recipe almost all the time (although there are occasions where I like to mix it up a bit).

Pie Crust

Some recipes contain shortening in addition to butter, which results in a flakier crust, but I use all butter in my recipe for the best flavor. I don’t like to take shortcuts when it comes to my pies 🙂

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I use this recipe more for pies than tarts. If you’re not familiar with the difference between a pie and a tart, then let me explain: pies have a crust on both the top and the bottom, while tarts have no crust on top. The recipe I use for tarts has a more cookie-like taste and crisp texture (don’t worry – that recipe will come soon 🙂 ).

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It’s important to use very cold ingredients when making the dough. Cut the butter into small cubes, then put it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Same for the water and flour – measure the amount you need and place in the freezer to chill. For the water, you could alternatively add some ice cubes, but keep in mind that if you’ve already measured the water, ice cubes melt and will add more liquid.

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Cold ingredients are important because the longer you work with the dough, the warmer and stickier it gets, the more the butter melts, and the harder it will be to work with it. That’s also why you must chill the dough for at least 30-60 minutes before rolling it out, and to be as quick as possible whenever you’re working with the dough.

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Also, be careful not to over process the dough. The more you mix it, the more gluten is formed, which results in a tougher crust. We don’t want that; we want a dreamy, flaky, crisp texture.

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Here are a few photos of the process to show you how the dough is made. No fear, my friends!

Start by processing flour and sugar in a food processor for a few seconds until combined (Instead of food processor, you can do the whole process by hand, using a pastry cutter). Add butter and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles coarse meal (different size of butter pieces or some large pieces is fine), about 15 pulses.

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Add 1/4 cup water and keep pulsing, adding more water as needed, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough isn’t dry and starts to clump together. Do not process to the point that a large ball of dough is formed, rather the dough should be quite crumbly with large clumps. Another way to check if it’s done, is to take a piece of dough and press it between your thumbs – the dough should stick well together without feeling dry or crumbly.

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Turn the dough to a floured surface and form into a ball. It should come together easily without being sticky.

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Divide ball to half.

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Flatten each one slightly with your hands to form a 1-inch thick disc.

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Wrap each disc with a plastic wrap.

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Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding with your pie recipe. If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it or for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month, then thaw it overnight in the fridge.

 

Perfect Pie Crust
Yields: 2 9-inch pie crusts, enough for 1 double-crust pie
 
Buttery, crisp, crumbly, and flaky, this is a good old-fashioned pie crust recipe, also known as pate brisee.
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups (350 grams/12.3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/227 grams) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ – ½ cup (60-120 ml) very cold water
Instructions
  1. Process flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor for a few seconds until combined (Instead of food processor, you can do the whole process by hand, using a pastry cutter). Add butter and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles coarse meal (different size of butter pieces or some large pieces is fine), about 15 pulses. Add ¼ cup water and keep pulsing, adding more water as needed, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough isn’t dry and starts to clump together. Do not process to the point that a large ball of dough is formed, rather the dough should be quite crumbly with large clumps. Another way to check if it’s done, is to take a piece of dough and press it between your thumbs – the dough should stick well together without feeling dry or crumbly.
  2. Turn the dough to a floured surface and form into a ball. It should come together easily without being sticky. Divide ball to half, then flatten each one slightly with your hands to form a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap each disc with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding with your pie recipe.
  3. If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month, then thaw it overnight in the fridge.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
    August 9, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Great photos!
    You can’t beat homemade pie crust. I am craving apple pie now.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 9, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Thank you Dannii!

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ The Local Taste
    August 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    This pie crust really does look perfect! I’m sure it tastes just as good…Yum!

  • Reply
    Julie @ Lovely Little Kitchen
    August 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial! I really have trouble with pie crusts. The photos are beautiful, and I can’t wait for your tart recipe!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 10, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Sure! I’m here in case you need any help! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lilli @ Sugar and Cinnamon
    August 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Wow it literally does look perfect! Thanks so much for all the tips I can’t wait to try again using this recipe 🙂 By the way I love your blog!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 11, 2014 at 8:32 am

      Thank you so much Lilli! I love your blog too, it’s so pretty 🙂

  • Reply
    Katie
    December 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Hi! I’m actually about to start making this dough for your Caramel Apple Pie (canNOT wait to taste it!!!), but I’ve never made my own dough before… or a pie. ever. Anddddddd I don’t have a food processor.

    I like to think I’m quick on my feet in terms of coming up with plan B’s, but I’m kind of stuck. =/

    Any quick ideas, or than just driving to the nearest (not near) mall & grabbing a food processor?

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 23, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Hi Katie! Food processor makes things easier, but of course you can make the dough by hand. Here’s a great video showing you how to do it. Just follow the technique shown there. Hope this helps 🙂 This pie is amazing and so worth it! Good luck!

  • Reply
    Elina
    June 30, 2016 at 4:27 am

    Hello,
    I have read both of your recipes the “lemon tart” and “apple pie”. My question is why the apple pie crust is different than the lemon tart. Can I use them interchangeably?
    P.S. I tried the tart dough. It was very delishh. i made it in small tart pans. Pierced the dough all over with a fork but didn’t weigh it with anything

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 6, 2016 at 5:54 am

      There’s a difference in texture between the two. You can sometimes use them interchangeably but I suggest to stick to the recipes because the crust should complement the filling. Tart crust is crispy with a cookie-like texture, so it complements the lemon tart perfectly. Apple pie, however, goes better with the pie dough which is buttery and flaky.

  • Reply
    Bernice Mosteller
    August 11, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Do you have a crust recipe for hand held apple pies, that will hold together for deep frying. Every one that I try is too crumbly and falls apart when you put it in the oil.. I had a recipe at one time that turned out perfect and I lost it. Everyone that I have experienced with now does not hold together…Certain can biscuits can be used,,but they just don’t have the same taste…I would greatly appreciate any help that you can give me ! Thank you

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

      Hi Bernice, I use my recipe for pie dough and it works fine. I’ve tried a few different recipes in the past, but the pies didn’t fall apart, so I can’t say for sure why it happens to you. You’re right, biscuit recipes are also great for this. You can try using shortening instead of butter which is more foolproof, or refrigerate the pies so they’re not too soft, and make sure that the oil is very hot.

  • Reply
    Bernice Mosteller
    August 17, 2016 at 10:56 am

    THANK YOU !!!

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