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10 Secrets for Making Great Pie Crust

10 Secrets for Making Great Pie Crust

March 14, 2017
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perfect pie crust

In honor of Pi Day, a holiday we fully support, we wanted to repost one of our first ever blogs and one of our most popular too! Creating a delicious, memorable pie starts with the crust. Follow our 10 tips for a perfect, flaky pie crust, and people will be sure to leave room for dessert.

1. Keep all ingredients cold to inhibit the development of gluten in the flour. Use butter right out of the refrigerator and add ice-cold water to the dough.

2. Use the least amount of water possible, just enough to make the pie crust hold together. The recipe usually gives a range for the amount of water – start with the least amount.

3. If the recipe does not call for it, add an egg yolk. This adds more fat, as well as natural lecithin, which makes the dough pliable and easier to handle.

4. If the recipe does not call for it, add some acid, about 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Acid interferes with the elasticity of the gluten and makes the crust more tender.

5. Do not over-handle the pie crust; overworking develops the gluten and toughens the dough. It’s okay to see flakes of yellow from the butter and egg yolk. Also, when working the dough, use your fingertips instead of the warmer palms of the hand.

6. When ready to roll out the dough, lightly flour the countertop or other surface (pastry cloth, silicone rolling mat, parchment or waxed paper). Position the rolling pin in the center of the disk of pie crust dough. First, imagine a face of a clock, roll away from you toward the 12 o’clock position, easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep it from becoming too thin. Return the rolling pin to the center and roll toward the 6 o’clock position. Repeat rolling toward 3 o’clock and then toward 9 o’clock. Continue this process until the dough reaches the diameter needed for your pie pan. 

7. If the pie crust is soft, chill about 30 minutes. Flatten the pastry disk, wrap and chill. Roll out pie crust on a lightly floured cutting board or roll out dough between two sheets of waxed paper. Lift paper and crust into the pie pan and gently peel the paper off. 

8. Use a heat-resistant glass pie pan for the flakiest results.

9. Follow baking instructions. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven. Generally, bake the pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350° and bake until the filling is cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes more. Insert a knife tip to test if the pie is done. 

10. To prevent excess browning of the edges during baking, cover the pie edge with a 2- to 3-inch wide strip of aluminum foil, and mold lightly around the edge of the pie. Bake as directed, removing the aluminum foil 15 minutes before the end of the baking time. If pre-baking ("blind baking") a pie crust making a cream pie, line the unbaked crust with foil or parchment paper and fill it with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake until the edge just begins to color. Remove the weights and carefully prick the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent air bubbles.

Need a little filling inspiration to compliment your perfect crust? Here are a few of our favorite pies on the site! 

Mixed Berry Sheet Pan Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie

They say that to make a good pie, you have to start at the bottom. With these tips, whatever pie you make is guaranteed to brighten your Tuesday.

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Best compilation of pie dough tips. Thanks!

Posted April 11, 2017 by June Compton

awesome tips

Posted September 28, 2016 by Maddie

My son is using my mother-in-law's pie crust recipe The recipe calls for lard. Does lard need to be chilled as well? Does the egg and vinegar also need to be chilled?

Posted July 30, 2016 by Shelly
Test Kitchen Comment
Thanks for your questions, Shelly! We would recommend keeping the lard and egg chilled. The vinegar does not need to be, but it certainly wouldn't hurt anything if it was chilled. We love legacy recipes, but would be remiss if we didn't recommend that your son-in-law try making the crust with our Land O Lakes® Butter some time in the future. Happy baking!
Posted August 02, 2016
Test Kitchen Comment
Thank for your questions, Shelly! We would recommend that the egg and lard are chilled when making the dough. The vinegar does not need to be, but it would not hurt anything if it was chilled. We love legacy recipes, but we would be remiss if we did not recommend that your son-in-law try our Land O Lakes® Butter sometime in the future when making his pie crusts. Happy baking!
Posted August 02, 2016

My family loves pumpkin pie. However, the bottom crust never completerly bakes. Someetimes it taste's raw. I would appreciate any suggestions Thank you. Suzanne Siem

Posted July 15, 2015 by Suzanne
Test Kitchen Comment
From: mallory
Hi Suzanne, sometimes it helps to bake the crust slightly before you add the filling. We'd suggest baking at the listed temperature for your recipe for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned, then add the filling and bake the remainder of the time listed in your recipe. Hope this helps!
Posted July 17, 2015

I made a homemade pie crust (apple crumb filling), and I don't thnk my crust got baked all the way! Can I put it back in the oven, and at what temperature, since the filling and topping is done already! HELP!

Posted December 02, 2014 by Sharon
Test Kitchen Comment
From: mallory
Hi Sharon, in the future if this happens again, you can cover the top with foil and put back in the oven until the crust is browned. Hope this helps!
Posted December 04, 2014

I really enjoyed reading this! I'm always so intimidated when it comes to making a pie -crust. I often will just flat out avoid it and make something else. Well, I'm off to try making a crust, using all the tips listed here . Thank you for such a well written Baking Tip. Khadi

Posted November 29, 2014 by Khadi C.

Here's some hints about pie crust. Enjoy!

Posted November 10, 2014 by Jill

sounds easy enough, going to give it a try! Hope I remember the egg yolk. Which is best, the vinegar OR the lemon juice? Wouldn't you beable to taste them in the crust?

Posted October 09, 2014 by Pam

This is the first time that someone explained what to do and why do it. Thank you I will follow the secrets you gave and I hope I will make a good pie crust. I live in Greece and I cant get a ready frozen pie crust.

Posted March 15, 2014 by francesca

I haven't printed this out yet but am in the process now.

Posted March 15, 2014 by Joyce

Why do glass pie dishes produce more flaky crusts? I hear it is because they conduct heat more evenly, but I would have thought metal pie plates result in a flakier crust. Reasoning: Metal conducts heat more quickly than glass. With puff pastry, you need the butter veerryyy cold (and folded/rolled into the dough in very thin layers) so that when it hits the oven, the cold butter can produce steam - which makes the pastry 'puff'. I thought part of the reason the butter needs to be so cold in pie crusts was for the same reason. So, if you use a glass pie dish, the heat doesn't transfer as quickly, which means your butter would take longer to heat, which would produce less steam, which would result in a less flaky pie crust. Right? Any thoughts on where my logic went wrong would be appreciated!

Posted November 24, 2013 by s
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
I follow your logic but... how the butter is incorporated into the flour mixture is important in how flaky the pie crust will be. YOu want the butter to be cold in the dough before you bake it so it takes longer for it to melt as it bakes.
Posted December 03, 2013

Just wondering why LandOLakes would post these suggestions without adjusting their recipe to accommodate it. No egg? No acid? What's up with that? Land . . . please give us a better recipe.

Posted November 19, 2013 by Ann
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
The Classic Pie Crust recipe referred to here is the traditional pie crust recipe we have used for many years. There are other pie crust recipes on the web site and some have an egg and vinegar which are equally as flaky and tasty.
Posted November 25, 2013

Thank you for the great tips. Will try them today. I am making two Chicken Pot Pies.

Posted March 29, 2013 by Johnnie
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Excellent! I am glad I could help!
Posted March 29, 2013

Does receipe change when adding egg yolk, in any way

Posted March 13, 2012 by Richard
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
The recipe should be just fine. You might need to add a small amount of flour since the dough may be slightly more wet.
Posted March 14, 2012

Ok, Ok, Ok. Will somebody please run a "SCIENTIFIC" test and tell me exactly what temperature the butter should be when it hits the flour? Not "out of the refrigerator", not "in the freezer for a few minutes"., etc. WHAT is the exact temperature a small range is acceptable the butter should be? Thank you!

Posted December 25, 2011 by Anne

Ladies: When making the butter pie crust, if I decide to add the vinegar should I decrease the amount of water? Thanks.

Posted December 02, 2011 by Rosemary
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Rosemary - Yes, basically you will decrease the amount of water you add. The amount of water is usually given in a range such as 5 to 7 tablespoons of cold water. I would add the 1 tablespoon white vinegar and then slowly add the cold water, being carefule to not add too much water. .
Posted December 04, 2011

You say to add an egg yolk and vinegar, Just wondered why the recipie for butter pie crust on this site does not have egg yolk or vinegar in it?

Posted November 21, 2011 by Susan
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Susan - we have a butter pie crust recipe on the web site which is a very basic butter pie crust that I use for my pies all the time. It works very well. We have another pie crust recipe that is part of a pie recipe that does use an egg and vinegar as ingredients. Thanks for bringing it to my attention because I could add a recipe to the site for just the pastry with an egg and vinegar as a second pie crust for you to use and find on the site. Thanks.
Posted November 21, 2011

I have 10" pie pans, how do I adjust the recipe for a larger crust?

Posted November 17, 2011 by Jamie B.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Jamie - Pie pans come in different sizes and usually I have not seen a recipe for the 10-inch pie pan. My recommendation would be to follow the instructions on the 9-inch pie crust recipe but use 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup butter and 6 to 7 tablespoons cold water. You may need to use 1 to 2 tablespoons more cold water if necessary only. I have not tested these new proportions but I am quite sure it will work just fine in the 10-inch pie pan.
Posted November 21, 2011

What is the rule for "blind-baking"? When baking a sweet potato or pumpkin pie, I have seen recipes that say blind bake and some that don't. Also, what is the rule for baking a quiche?

Posted November 17, 2011 by Angela C.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Blind baking is typically done if you are making a pie with a refrigerated cold filling. You bake the pie crust cool it and then fill the pie crust with the filling. I have seen articles that state to blind bake a crust such as for pumpkin pie without the filling for a short time to "set" the crust somewhat. Our recipe for pumpkin pie on this site does not include this. It is the pumpkin pie recipe I use and it is always a success so I have not ever blind baked the crust for that pie. Regarding baking a quiche, the most important thing to do is to follow the recipe. Some recipes call for blind baking the crust slightly and some do not. There really is not a rule.
Posted November 18, 2011

When I roll out my pie dough it splits around the edges and sometimes does not fully cover the pie plate. Suggestions appreciated. I chill the dough as recommended and it is hard to roll at first.

Posted October 17, 2011 by Betty
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Here are some suggestions to help you as you roll out pie crust. It is good that you chill the dough. You may need to let the dough come to room temperature for about 15 minutes or so before rolling it. Otherwise it will be too hard to roll. I roll my dough until I have a circle that I think is large enough. I check the size by placing the glass pie pan upside-down on the dough. If the dough is about 2 inches larger than the the pie pan, the size should work out "ok" and not be too small. The dough should cover the pie pan and over the edges. If there are uneven areas on the pie crust edge, you can place a small amount of cold water on the dough and press some extra dough into place. Hope these tips help - if you have other questions, please ask me.
Posted October 19, 2011

thank you how long do i bake a apple pie at what tempreture/

Posted July 20, 2011 by B. J. Tucker
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
We are just now entering apple-picking time and apple pies are the perfect recipe to bake. Follow these general tips for pie crust and then bake your apple pie at 400 degrees F. for 35 minutes with the edges of the pie covered with aluminum foil. Remove the foil and continue baking at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes until the pie tests done. I can taste the apple pie now!
Posted July 24, 2011

I am a total rookie at making pies and this will be my first attempt at making the crust from scratch, these helpful tips make me feel as if I can succeed!! Thanks, A Novice Pie Maker

Posted June 24, 2011 by Donna
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Thanks for your comment. Making pie crust is not difficult if you follow these baking tips. Let me know if you have any questions about baking pie crust. I'd love to help!
Posted June 28, 2011

will I get the same results if I mix the dough in a food processor?

Posted May 26, 2011 by sue
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
This is a great question! Yes, you will get the same results. I do want to caution you, though, to "pulse" the food processor blade. Mixing pie crust in a food processor goes very fast and so be careful that you do not over-mix the dough.
Posted May 27, 2011

From the Test Kitchen... I am glad if these tips can help you. The Land O'Lakes Butter Crust recipe is so easy to handle. your pie will be a great holiday dessert!

Posted December 20, 2010 by Cindy

all great tips that I will use on my pumpkin pie for Christmas

Posted December 18, 2010 by joan j.

Barbara - Thanks! There are 10 tips here but I appreciate your tips, too. Each cook has tips to make baking easier. It is great to share!

Posted November 17, 2010 by Cindy

Great tips. I also use a grater for the cold butter and plastic wrap is also good for rolling out the crust. Barbara from Fort Lauderdale

Posted November 17, 2010 by Barbara L.