A perfect pie crust

This article was originally published in November 2015

With just three required ingredients, pie crust is one of the simplest things to bake. However, its very simplicity means that the proper execution is the key. Chilling the fat and liquid is critical, as is the technique: the goal is uniform pea-sized pieces of butter with no big chunks. If you don’t have a food processor to do the mixing, your fingers will work just fine.

Find our recipe for Classic Butter Pie Crust.

3 appealing pumpkin pies

These three pies offer something for different kinds of pumpkin lovers: the classic is made with fresh cream and milk; the vegan has a silky-smooth texture thanks to condensed coconut milk, and the gingersnap crust offers a spicy crunch that offsets its creamy chiffon filling for a modern take on the American tradition. View recipes >

Fat

Butter and shortening are the most flexible choices; lard and coconut oil have stronger flavors which are excellent if matched with the filling or blended 50/50 with a second fat. All fats should be chilled firm, cut into very small pieces and chilled again.

Flour

Fresh-tasting flour is a priority, so if you don’t bake often, smell your flour first to make sure it hasn’t picked up off flavors from pantry storage. All-purpose is great, or mix in up to 50 percent whole grain (spelt and kamut are both good choices).

Liquid

Ice water is all you need! Use just enough for the dough to hold together. Not enough and it will be difficult to roll; too much and it will be sticky to roll (and not bake up crispy). Chilled vodka can be used in place of some of the water — there’s test kitchen proof that it slightly improves the flakiness of crusts as it is baked.

Options

Salt isn’t truly necessary, but can improve the flavor, particularly for a savory pie. All-shortening crusts don’t brown as well as butter, but a pinch of sugar can help.

Tips and Techniques for the Ideal Dough

Let the good dough roll with an online cooking class! You’ll learn everything you need to know to craft the season’s go-to dessert.

Classic
Work with longtime baker Lisa to whip up two traditional comforts — Pumpkin Pie and Apple-Cranberry Pie — in our Holiday Pie Cook-along class. Sign up >

Vegan & Gluten-free
Reimagine familiar favorites with two vegan takes — Gingered Apple Pie and No-Bake Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie — made with alternative sweeteners and grains in our Grain-Free Baking: Holiday Pies class. Sign up >

Love leaf lard?

Ours is as high quality as our other meats, sourced from Pure Country Pork in Ephrata, Wash. Find it in the meat department freezer case in most stores, or ask for a special order if you can’t find it. To render it, just follow our recipe.

Revised November 2020

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