The Best Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

The Best Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

This pie crust recipe is as easy as three, two, one with a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt — It’s also perfectly flaky and works well for either sweet or savory pies.

If you’re looking for the best buttery flaky pie crust recipe, look no further. It’s surprising just how easy it is to make, too. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know how much I love my small kitchen appliances. They usually make things so much easier and faster to make. However, when it comes to pie crust — simpler is better. You can make this pie crust recipe without a food processor or stand mixer.


It comes together very easily in a large bowl using just your hands, or with something like a fork or masher if you’d rather not get so personal with your dough.

Why Make Pie Crust By Hand?

The reason that you want to make pie crust by hand is that you have better control over mixing the ingredients and being able to tell when the dough is at the ideal stage of mixing. When you make pie crust from scratch you can easily over-mix the dough whereas by making it by hand you can see that the dough is how it should be. Food processors and stand mixers work too quickly for this. Don’t get me wrong, you can still make a decent pie crust with these appliances. Though, for the best flaky pie crust you should make it by hand.

What Happens If You Overmix The Dough?

When a pie crust is overmixed, it is usually very easy to tell. The dough will lack the marbled consistency that it should have, and it will start to look more smooth and become more elastic. To ensure that your pie crust does not become overmixed it is important to mix it just until it comes together into a marbled dough then stop mixing, cover it with plastic wrap, and then chill it.


How To Tell That The Dough Is “Marbled”

A photo showing pie crust dough that is properly marbled with lines of fat for a flaky pie.

The best way to tell that the dough is marbled beautifully and that you’re done mixing is to look closely at the dough after mixing the ingredients together. Once the ingredients come together into a ball of dough, you will see lines of lighter-colored dough all mixed throughout. This is what you want. These lighter lines are lines of fat, which melt when baked and make the flakiest pie crust. Making a flaky pie crust is like stirring together two colors of paint – you want to create a marbled effect by gently folding the ingredients together, but not stirring too vigorously to blend them so that you can still make out the individual colors.

What Is The Secret To Flaky Pie Crust?

Other than making sure you don’t overmix the dough, I suggest using vegetable shortening because it makes a flakier crust, as well as cold water. The colder, the better. This is because when you add the water it firms up the fats while you mix it in to form the dough. I also recommend chilling the pie just before baking.


I like to put my pie in the freezer for fifteen to twenty minutes while the oven is preheating. This helps to firm up the fats in the pie crust, which also helps to make it flakier.

Some people suggest using vodka in place of water because of the alcohol content. Since vodka is typically around forty percent alcohol, and alcohol has a lower boiling temperature than water, this in theory should help make the pie crust flakier. I haven’t personally tried that yet myself but you’re welcome to. If you’ve tried it, let me know how it turned out in the comments.

Why Use Vegetable Shortening Instead Of Butter?

It’s better to use vegetable shortening instead of butter because butter has a lower melting point at around 90°F. It’s more likely to melt while you’re working with it since our hands are around the same temperature, and it’s quicker to melt in the oven.


Shortening on the other hand has a melting point of around 117°F, so you can mix the dough with your hands without it melting. Using a fat that doesn’t melt while you work with it because it has a higher melting temperature helps to make a more pronounced marbling in the dough, which makes a flakier crust.

What Does Egg Wash Do For Pie Crust?

To give the golden flaky crust a nice shine, you should brush the pie crust with egg wash before baking. An egg wash is very simple to make: just crack an egg and add a tablespoon or two of water or milk and whisk. Then, brush this mixture over the pie crust. As the pie bakes, it will develop a nice shine to it.


For a vegan alternative to an egg wash, you can use aquafaba. You don’t even need to whip it, just brush it right on.

After applying egg wash you can also sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar. Larger sugar granules work best, like this demerara sugar. Adding a sprinkle of sugar gives the pie crust an extra sweet crunch and helps with browning.

How To Get A Buttery Flavor In Pie Crust That Uses Shortening

To get a buttery flavor in a pie crust that uses shortening, you can accomplish this in two ways. One way is to use butter-flavored vegetable shortening, which works great, and another is to add powdered butter flavor or butter-flavored salt like Flavacol. Either option adds a nice buttery flavor to any pie crust made with vegetable shortening.

For this recipe, I used Flavacol. It’s a flavored salt used for making movie theater popcorn. It also works really well in things like mac and cheese and pizza dough.

How To Prevent The Crust From Burning

Since things that are baked in the oven cook from the outside in, the crust of the pie tends to cook first. To prevent the crust of the pie from burning or cooking more than you would like, you can wrap the crust of the pie with aluminum foil halfway through baking or once the crust is baked as much as you’d like it to be.

There are also these handy reusable pie crust edge shields if you don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of tearing and shaping the aluminum foil. You can just plop this right on top.

Is Pie Crust Vegan?

The pie crust that you often see in the store isn’t always vegan — or even vegetarian for that matter. Many brands use lard as the fat in their dough. Lard is a lot like vegetable shortening, but it comes from an animal instead. Fortunately, this recipe is vegan already, so you don’t have to make any substitutions or changes except that mentioned above for an egg wash if desired.


At A Minimum, You’ll Need:

  • A kitchen scale like this gram scale to weigh the flour and shortening for best results, but you can also use measuring cups.
  • A large mixing bowl to mix together the ingredients.
  • Plastic wrap or baggies to wrap it up for refrigeration.

How To Make Pie Crust

The standard pie crust formula that you learn in culinary school is 3-2-1. That’s three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part water by weight. It’s the perfect formula for making a flaky pie crust and is the base formula for this recipe.

Gather all your ingredients and weigh them out. You’ll need 3/4 lb of all-purpose flour, 1/2 lb of vegetable shortening, 1/4 lb of cold water, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1/8 tsp salt.

A photo showing a salt, flour, and fat mixture for making homemade pie crust.

Add the salt to the flour, then add the shortening and cut the shortening into the flour until loosely crumbly. You still want reasonably large strips of shortening, so don’t crumble it too small. Once it looks similar to the photo above, move on to the next step.

A photo showing how to add water and vanilla extract to the pie crust.

Add the vanilla extract to the water and stir, then add the water to the bowl with the flour and shortening mixture. Mix just until it comes together as a dough and there are no more loose floury crumbs, then shape into a ball. Cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least 6 hours.


How To Roll Out Pie Crust

A photo showing how to roll pie crust.

Rolling out the dough for a pie crust is easy. You’ll want to start with chilled pie dough that’s been in the fridge for several hours or overnight. First, you’ll want to dust a clean surface with flour. Place your pie crust on the floured surface, then dust it with more flour and use a rolling pin to roll it to your desired thickness.


Typically, a pie crust is rolled out to be about an eighth inch to a quarter inch thick for pies. I typically prefer my pie crust a bit on the thicker side, but roll it out as thin or as thick as you like.

A photo collage showing how to transfer pie crust to a pie dish.

For this stage, a bench knife or dough scraper is extremely helpful for lifting the pie crust from the counter. You just slide the bench knife between the dough and the counter as you lift.

Fold the dough in half and then in half again, then transfer the pie crust to your pie dish, placing the corner of your folded pie crust in the center of the pie dish. Unfold the pie crust and it should be perfectly centered. Doing it this way helps to prevent stretching or tearing the dough when you transfer it to the pie dish.

A photo showing how to dock and fill a homemade pie shell.

Use a fork to poke little holes in the bottom of the crust to allow steam to escape, then fill the pie with your desired pie filling. Place another rolled-out pie crust on top, then trim the excess and pinch the sides; or move on to the next section to learn how to make pie crust designs like a lattice or a flower-style crust.


How To Make Pie Crust Designs

A photo showing an example of a lattice crust.

To make a lattice crust, roll the pie crust out to your desired thickness and cut the dough into long strips that are long enough to span the whole pie. Pick a spot on the edge of the filled pie and place a strip horizontally and a strip vertically. Add another horizontal strip and another vertical strip next to the first ones.


If the strip goes over the first one, have it go under the second one and repeat this process over again as needed until the pie is completely covered, lifting up the ends of already placed strips as needed to feed others underneath to create an over-under-over-under pattern. One thing I like to do to make a really beautiful lattice pie is to braid a few of the long strips of pie crust together to make a larger braided pie crust strip that you can add to the lattice for a nice accent.

A photo collage showing before and after baking a crust with a flower design.

To make a flower-style crust, use a round cookie cutter and cut the pie crust into circles. Place the pie crust circles around the pie, making sure they overlap and starting from the outside and then working your way toward the center. For the very center, take a pie crust circle and pinch four sides together with your index and thumb fingers to make a stamen, then place it in the middle.


Helpful Gadgets For Cool Pie Crust Designs

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, at no additional cost to you. This just allows me to continue sharing great recipes with you guys.


The Best Flaky Pie Crust

Makes enough dough for a bottom crust and a top crust for one pie.


  • 3/4 lb of all-purpose flour, a little less than 3 cups
  • 1/2 lb of vegetable shortening, about 1 1/4 cups
  • 1/4 lb of cold water, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional; omit for savory pies)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions To Make The Dough


Add the flour to a bowl. Add the shortening, then cut it into the flour to make a loose crumbly flour and fat mixture.


Add the vanilla extract to the cold water and stir, then pour this liquid mixture into the flour and fat mixture.


Mix to combine just until it forms a loose and crumbly dough. Shape it into a smooth ball of dough and cover it with plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight or for at least six hours before rolling and shaping it into a pie crust.

Instructions For Rolling Out And Baking


Divide the chilled dough in half, then dust a clean surface with flour. Place one of the dough portions on the floured surface and dust with more flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as thin or as thick as desired or between 1/8″ to 1/4″.


Line a pie dish with aluminum foil. Then, transfer the rolled-out dough to the lined pie dish. Press the pie crust into the bottom edge of the dish to remove any air between the dish and the crust, then poke a few holes into the pie crust with a fork to allow for steam to escape. Fill with desired pie filling, and top with another pie crust or your favorite design, making sure to cut a few holes as vents if needed. Apply an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired.


Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Place the pie in the freezer while waiting for the oven to preheat. When finished preheating, place the pie on a baking sheet and bake on a lower rack in the oven for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake for another hour. Check halfway through, covering the edges of the crust with aluminum foil to prevent burning if necessary.


Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool for at least forty-five minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

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