How to Make Pie Crust That Never Fails

So… here’s how I learned hot to make the easiest Pie Crust That Never Fails!

I was born and raised in Arizona, so you can imagine my shock when winter came rolling around that first year I moved to Minnesota. Yikes! I had never seen -25Β° on my car thermometer before, and the idea of using a credit card to scrape an inch thick sheet of ice off my window seemed completely ridiculous.

How to Make Pie Crust

And let’s not talk about the “snotcicles” that dangle off the end of one’s frozen nose. But I was determined to fully embrace it. So I invested in some great cold weather running gear (breathable face mask, thermals, ear muffs, and all), fully outfitted my kids with a hefty winter wardrobe, and made sure to have plenty of snow-melting salt and a snowblower nearby.

Despite my best efforts, however, the bitter cold and I just don’t get along. In the end, I decided to find indoor things to do with my free time (that’s a tough realization for a very outdoorsy person…)

How to Make Pie Crust

So I baked and baked. And baked. I baked cookies and cakes and bread (lots of bread) and dessert bars of all types. It was great! The aromas wafting through the house, combined with the warmth of the oven that was nearly always on put me in a happy place. But the one thing that constantly eluded me was how to make pie crust.

I’m not talking about one that crumbles and falls apart, or one that’s a big doughy mess coagulating on the countertop (I’ve made lots of those). I’m talking about a light, flaky, rich, hearty, melt-in-your-mouth pie crust. Hard as I tried, mine never worked. I was hell-bent on cracking the code of how to make pie crust that always works.

How to Make Pie Crust

I tried any number of combinations of butter, shortening, lard, various types of flour, and an array of techniques. My determination paid off! I finally got it right. Follow these tips and the recipe below and you’ll be good to go! (It’s the perfect crust for my Homemade Apple Pie! Yum!)

Tips and Tricks for How to Make Pie Crust That’s Perfect Every Time

  • The colder the better – the fat in the crust needs to be very cold to properly cut into the flour. This makes a huge difference!
  • Don’t be afraid to knead the dough, but DO NOT overwork it or it will become too dense and tough.
  • Use lard! Yes, I know many of you won’t want to do this, but the results I get from using lard (for half of the fat) are amazing!
  • Once the disc of dough is made, put it in the fridge for at least an hour before attempting to roll it out.
  • Use a French Rolling Pin – I find this gives the best results for a consistent crust thickness.
  • Roll out the bottom crust first, then place it in the pie dish and poke holes in the bottom, then return to the fridge for 30 minutes before adding the filling.
  • Use a food processor to cut the fat into the flour. I’ve never had much luck doing it with a hand pastry blender, but I’m sure that works for many. I just never figured it out!
  • Don’t give up! Once you get the hang of how to make pie crust, you’ll find that it really isn’t that hard. And it’s SO much better than store-bought.

After fighting with the frozen weather of Minnesota for six years, I finally gave up and returned to my beautiful, warm home state of Arizona. Don’t get me wrong… Minnesota is a very beautiful state; I’m just not built for the cold. But I will always be thankful for the baking skills I acquired in my attempt to deal with it. I hope you benefit, as well.

Whether you’re making a fresh, cinnamon-y, tangy apple pie, or a cool, summertime fruit tart, or even a comforting beef pot pie, this crust won’t let you down. Comment below to let me know what type of pie you’re making with it! And when you make it, don’t forget to take a picture to post on Instagram! Tag me @ The_Spicy_Apron!  (as always, if you know someone in desperate need for a fail-proof pie crust recipe, please share this with them. They’ll thank you for it!)

Here are some tools I use to make this pie crust!

French Rolling Pin (love this!)

Food Processor to cut it all in the flour. Works like a champ!

And, seriously, make sure to check out the recipe for my Homemade Apple Pie here! It’s really delish!

How to Make Pie Crust

This recipe makes enough dough for a two crust pie. If you only need one crust, cut all the ingredients in half.

How to Make Pie Crust

How to Make Pie Crust That Never Fails

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

If you need to know how to make pie crust that always works, you've come to the right place!

Ingredients

  • 8 Tablespoons Lard, I highly recommend using lard, but solid shortening can be substituted if desired
  • 8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup Cake Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 10-12 Tablespoons Ice Cold Water

Instructions

  1. Cut the lard and butter into 1/2 inch chunks and freeze for 20 minutes
  2. Put flour and cake flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a food processor. Pulse two or three times to blend. Add frozen lard and butter and pulse 10 more times. Add ice cold water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing once in between each tablespoon. Stop at 10 tablespoons to see if you have enough liquid. The ingredients should look crumbly, but hold together when pinched. If it doesn't easily hold together, then add one or two more tablespoons of ice water and pulse again.
  3. Empty the food processor contents onto a clean flat surface, such as your counter top. Knead the ingredients together (approximately 8-10 kneads, more if necessary to form a solid dough. Divide the dough into two equal parts.
  4. Working quickly so the dough doesn't warm up, mold each part into a ball, then flatten to a 5 inch disc that is one inch thick. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes before rolling it out. Use dough as instructed for whatever pie recipe you are making.

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30 Comments

  1. Do you have any suggestions for a gluten free recipe? I have always been great with pie crust but ever since i was diagnosed with celiacs and went gluten free i cannot find a good recipe that will work. Everyone i try i end up with a dough that just falls to pieces.

    1. Hi Ash! I wish I could answer this question for you, but since I don’t know much about gluten free, I don’t really feel like I’m in a position to give advice. I hope you’re able to find an answer!!

  2. I have a different recipe for pie crust. It always works great for me. My son even said recently, that I have to teach him my secret for the pie crust so it will not be lost when I’m gone. Lol. I also bake my Apple pies in a Brown paper bag. The crust comes out golden brown and light and crispy. I am a designer so it has to be decorative. I cut out a Apple , leaf and stem from the left over crust, put red and green sugar on the Apple and leaf and put it in the middle.Dada. a designer pie. Bake at 425 for 1 hour in Brown bag. Fold up and staple bag. Put rack down in oven so the bag does not touch the element.

    1. That sounds fabulous Judy! I’ve never heard of baking a pie in a paper bag. I’ll have to give that one a try! And I’m sure you designer pie is absolutely stunning!!

    2. Could you please send me your pie crust recipe?

  3. Is crisco a substitute for lard

    1. Hi Susan! The answer to that is… yes, and no. Lol. A lot of people use Crisco instead of lard, but I really do believe that it is the lard in this recipe that makes it so wonderful. Feel free to substitute if you’d like, but I don’t think it will be as flaky. It will still work for you, though!

  4. How can you measure butter or lard with a spoon, surely just weighing is easier especially if the fats have been refrigerated?!?!

    1. Hey Chris! I actually use butter and lard sticks that have the measurements on the outside of the package. Makes it super easy… especially if it’s cold! πŸ™‚

  5. This is just the recipe I have been looking for: part lard, part butter. I live in Ohio and I get leaf lard from nearby meat markets and render it myself. I have loved baking since my introduction to Home Economics class in seventh grade. However, I have not been able to master pie crust. Hopefully this will be my redeeming recipe! Thanks for posting.

    1. I’m so glad you found it too! Let me know how it works for you. I’ve truly never had it NOT work! πŸ™‚ Happy Baking!

  6. Fyi I have put my flour in the refrigerator then everything is cold

    1. Yes, I actually also do that with my flour. I probably should have said that in the post! πŸ™‚ I’m excited for baking season!!

  7. Do you add one table spoon of vinegar to recipe suppose to make crust flaky. I always watch expiration dates stores don’t care anymore they sell expired food I put my lard in refrigerator when I get it home . I also take a scoop and do balls of lard and keep in refrigerator so always have cold shortening. Do you precook you crust for any recipes I see sometimes it says put flat item or something heavy and cook for 10 minutes

    1. Those are great tips Barbra! I’ve never done the vinegar thing. I’ll have to try it. I do pre cook it for some tarts or pumpkin pie. Works well!

  8. Hi Heather
    We moved forward to Arizona from the UK 2 years ago and I have been struggling to make decent pastry ever since! I always used half lard, half butter and plain flour with just a pinch of salt and it worked like a charm every time but since moving here I cannot get the same results at all! What type of lard are you using? In the U.K. it was always stocked in the fridge section net to the butter but the only lard I can find here is ‘Snowcap’ which is on the shelf in the supermarket next to all the oils?? Is this the same thing? If so, why does it not need to be refrigerated? Secondly, when I did use this my pastry had what I can only describe as a ‘chemical’ flavor – reminded me of petrol … yuk! As you mentioned you are in Arizona can you perhaps recommend what I should buy here? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Bev. Thanks for your question. I had the same issue when I moved back to AZ from MN! In Minnesota, all the lard was refrigerated, but back here in AZ it is only on the shelf, and I found that strange. In the 8 years that I’ve been back here in AZ I’ve only found it refrigerated once (and I Can’t remember where that was!!). I don’t know why the stuff here doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but apparently no one does here. Having said that, I do use the Snowcap brand and have had good luck with it. If you got a chemical taste out of it, it’s possible that the one you bought was close to expired. It will go bad after awhile if not refrigerated. I keep mine in the fridge and then I do freeze the cubes I’m using in my recipe. Perhaps that makes a difference? I guess try that and see if you get better results. And by all means, if you happen to find it refrigerated here in AZ please let me know!!

  9. I live in Australia what is cake flour?

    1. Hi Sandy! Cake flour is readily available in the United States. It is a very, very fine flour and makes things come out a little “lighter” than just using all purpose flour alone. Although I’ve never done this, I imagine you could put a cup of flour into a food processor and turn it on high for a minute or so. That would whip some air into it and make it similar to cake flour. Let me know if you try that!! It really should work well.

    2. 1 cup AP flour – 2 Tablespoons AP flour + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour

    3. Julie Sadler says:

      @Maria,
      I’ve been under the impression that you take two TBLS of flour out of the cup of flour and replace it with two TBLS of cornstarch?
      Perhaps I read that incorrectly.

  10. can you freeze it and for how long?

    1. Yes you can freeze it! Form it into a disc first, then wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, then toss in the freezer for up to a month!

  11. Maybe I’ll try this when it gets cold again!!! I’ve been using store bought (shhh!), but I know I should learn to make my own!
    And I totally understand about the cold weather running gear- I tried so hard, but ended up getting a gym membership for the winter lol

    1. I ended up with a gym membership, too, Sarah! Better than nothing… πŸ™‚

  12. why put sugar in unless for sweet pastry??

    1. That’s a great question, Lindsey! I’ve found that the small amount of sugar in this pastry dough counteracts any hint of “gamy-ness” that very rarely, but sometimes occurs with certain brands of lard. It is still an all purpose crust that can be used for either sweet or savory dishes. I use it for both!

  13. Dusty Moore says:

    You left the butter and lard in the freezer

    1. OMG! That’s embarrassing!! Thanks for the heads up… I just fixed it! πŸ™‚ (I owe you one πŸ˜‰ )