At a Glance

Prep
15 mins.
Bake
Total
45 mins.
Yield
2 crusts, 8 servings
There are probably as many pie crust recipes out there as there are bakers. Many of us struggle with pie crust; this crust is a good go-to recipe for those of you who haven't yet settled on a favorite. Easy to roll, buttery-tasting, and somewhere between flaky/crumbly, it's like an old friend: reliable and forgiving. This recipe makes two crusts, enough for a double-crust pie or two single-crust pies.

Baking gluten-free? For great results, substitute King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the all-purpose flour in this recipe; no other changes needed.
Volume Ounces Grams

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Pastry Flour Blend
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons ice water**
  • *Reduce the salt to 1 teaspoon if you use salted butter.
  • **Use the lesser amount of water if you use Pastry Flour Blend.

Topping (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sparkling sugar

Directions

  1. Weigh your flour; you’ll find its weight by toggling to “grams” at the top of the ingredient section above. Or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  3. Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly; you want to thoroughly combine everything here.
  4. Cut the butter into small (about 1/2") cubes.
  5. Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don't be too thorough; the mixture should be quite uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones. People get nervous about pie crust, and in their anxiety they tend to work the dough too much. Working the butter in completely makes a mealy crust rather than a flaky one.
  6. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of water over the flour mixture, tossing gently to combine.
  7. Add enough additional water to make a chunky, fairly cohesive mixture. It should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand. Beware of kneading the pastry too much and/or adding too much water, as this will toughen the crust. (For an ultra-flaky crust see "tips," below.)
  8. To make a double-crust pie, divide the dough into two pieces, one about twice as large as the other; the larger piece will be your bottom crust. To make two single crusts, divide the dough in half. Gather each piece into a rough disk. Smooth the disks; it's OK if they have a few cracks in the surface. Smooth their edges by running the disks along a floured surface like a wheel.
  9. Wrap the crusts in plastic or your favorite reusable storage wrap. Chill for 30 minutes, or up to overnight. Or wrap in aluminum foil over the plastic, and freeze for up to two months.
  10. When you're ready to make pie, remove the crusts from the refrigerator or freezer, leaving them wrapped. Allow to thaw (if frozen) or warm a bit (if chilled longer than 30 minutes), until softened enough to roll but still cold to the touch.
  11. Place the crust on a floured work surface; our silicone rolling mat is a fine choice. To make a standard 9" pie, roll the larger piece of pastry into a 12" to 13" round. Move the crust around on the work surface occasionally to make sure it's not sticking; add extra flour underneath as needed.
  12. Lightly grease the pie pan with non-stick spray; this will make taking the slices out of the pan easier later. Fold the crust in quarters and place it in the pan. Or you can simply pick it up with a large spatula and move it that way.
  13. For a single-crust pie, fold the edges of the crust under, and gently squeeze them together. Crimp as desired. It's nice to make a tall crimp, as the filling for a single-crust pie is usually fairly liquid (think pumpkin or custard), and it's good to have that tall "dam."
  14. For a double-crust pie, leave the edges of the bottom crust as is (no folding or crimping). Once you've added the filling, roll the top crust to the top diameter of your pan, and place it over the filling.
  15. Bring the overhanging edge of the bottom crust up and over the edge of the top crust, pressing the two together. Crimp as desired; a simple fork crimp is fast and easy. At this point, it helps to return the pie to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes; this chills the fat, which ultimately increases the crust's flakiness.
  16. Make a series of cuts in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Three or four simple parallel cuts are fine, but feel free to do something more decorative if you like.
  17. Brush the crust with milk or water and sprinkle it with coarse sparkling sugar, cinnamon-sugar, or granulated sugar, if desired.
  18. Bake according to the pie recipe's directions. Enjoy!

Tips from our bakers

  • Be sure to use cold butter and ice water when making the crust; it helps keep the butter and shortening from dispersing throughout the dough, which in turn helps keep the crust flaky. Also, resting the dough in the refrigerator, both after mixing and rolling out, will dramatically increase the quality of your results. This "time out" both allows the gluten in the dough to relax (making the crust more tender), and firms up the fats in the dough (helping it stay flakier).
  • A tip for creating ultimate flakiness: When the dough is almost moist enough to hold together, pour the shaggy mixture out onto a piece of parchment paper. Use a spray bottle to moisten the dry parts of the dough (without soaking it). Then fold the dough over on itself like a business letter. Repeat the process until all the dry bits of dough are evenly moistened. This will create extra layers in the dough, which will translate to increased flakiness.
  • To keep the bottom crust from getting soggy, try brushing it with egg white and chilling before adding the filling. You can also use melted butter to create a barrier between the fillings moisture and the crust.
  • If you're using an odd-sized pan, here's how to determine what diameter to roll your crust. Measure the pan's bottom diameter, then up the sides. If your pan is 7" across the bottom, and 1 1/2" up each side, that's a total of 10". This means you should roll your bottom crust to a diameter of about 12", which gives you enough extra for crimping the edges.
  • Looking for a pie crust recipe that doesn't use shortening? Try our All-Butter Pie Crust.