If you’re a pie enthusiast, you need this simple recipe for all butter homemade pie crust by hand. Use it to make double-crusted pies, hand pies, and even galettes!
Once upon a time, this girl was very afraid of making pie dough from scratch. It just seemed like such a daunting, difficult task.
Now, it’s something that I absolutely love, if you couldn’t tell from my strawberry hand pies recipe, my peach hand pies recipe, or my ricotta galette recipe. The foundation for all of these treats is a flaky all butter pie crust that will knock your socks off!
So, I use this lightly adapted recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Today, I am walking you through every step of making delicious pie dough by hand. It’s truly easier than you think. Plus, with a little practice, you’ll be making beautiful lattices and braids in no time.
Is homemade pie crust worth it?
It absolutely is, or else I wouldn’t be writing this post for you today!
Honestly, I’ve never used store-bought pie dough because I’m obsessed with making pretty much everything from scratch (hence the blog name). You’ll be surprised how few ingredients and little time you need to make your own delicious and flaky pastry.
Plus, that proud-of-yourself feeling that comes from learning a new kitchen skill never gets old!
Pie dough ingredients
One of the thing that makes this recipe so awesome is the fact that you only need 5 ingredients. And you probably already have them sitting in your pantry:
- All purpose flour – This common flour is the foundation and structure for the dough.
- Salt – For flavor.
- Granulated sugar – I use 4 tablespoons in this recipe because I like a slightly sweeter crust, but you can reduce the amount if it’s not your taste.
- Unsalted butter – Some people use shortening, but I’m a butter gal. And the butter has to be cold. The flaky texture of your favorite pie crust is the result of the cold butter melting from the heat of the oven, creating air pockets and layers. If the butter is room temperature or warm, it will be difficult to work with and cause a tough crust. For this reason, I like to freeze the cubes of butter the night before I plan on making the dough, then set it in the fridge for about 30 minutes before I’m ready to use it.
- Ice water – What brings the dough together! This step can be a little finicky, because some recipes will call for a certain amount, but you may find that you need a little bit more or less. Water prevents the butter from warming any further. The catch is, if you use too much water, your crust could come out leathery. It’s all about judgement and being observant.
How to make homemade pie crust without a food processor
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Fill a measuring cup with ice, then add cold water and set aside.
- Add the butter.
Add the very cold butter to the mixture. Like I said, I prefer using partially frozen butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it’s completely coated and it’s about the size of lima beans. Conventional wisdom will say pea size, but I like to go a little bigger so the butter doesn’t melt easily.
- Add the water.
Pour in about two tablespoons of water at a time. Mix it into the flour-butter mixture with a fork, until the dough starts coming together and forming clumps. To test if the dough is hydrated enough, take a piece and squeeze it with your hands. If it holds its shape, you’re good to go. If it’s still crumbly, add more water. I usually end up using about a 1/2 cup, plus about 2 tablespoons extra, of water.
Gently knead the dough in the bowl. Use lightly floured hands to shape the dough into a ball. It should hold its shape and feel moist, but not very sticky.
- Cut, shape, and chill the dough.
Cut the dough ball in half (for the top and bottom crust) and flatten them into a disc shape. Cover each in plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Do not skip the chilling step, as it allows the gluten to settle and prevents the dough from shrinking when baked.
- Roll, shape, and chill again.
You can roll the dough out on a floured countertop,or you can use my little trick: take a silicone baking pat or pastry slab and put it in the freezer about 30 min before you’re ready to roll out the dough. Take it out, then flour it, then roll the dough out. We do this to the prevent the butter from getting too warm during the rolling process.
To properly roll dough, you’ll first want to sprinkle it with flour and start in the center, then slowly and gently roll out with a floured rolling pin. Then, lift it, give it a quarter turn, and roll again. Repeat this process until you have a circle that is just a bit bigger than your pie dish. Trim, shape, and chill again for about 15-30 minutes for extra insurance against shrinkage.
Pie Crust Troubleshooting
Even though there’s only 5 ingredients, dough can be so tricky sometimes. Let’s talk about some common issues you may run into and how to solve them:
If the dough is crumbly when you try to roll it out, this means it’s dry. Sprinkle a little cold water over it, and gently work it with your hands until it comes together. You can avoid this problem altogether by using enough ice water when you make the dough.
This is the result of overworking the dough, one of the things that makes this process so tricky. Be sure to work gently with your pie dough. A tough crust can also happen if you add too much water.
You didn’t add enough flour! Be sure to flour your surface, the dough, and your rolling pin. Remember to lift and turn the dough as you roll it out, sprinkling more flour if necessary.
Beat one egg and a splash of milk together in a small bowl. Brush the edges and top (if making a double crust pie) lightly with the egg wash. This helps get that golden brown color. Also, be careful not to under-bake your pie.
A good trick is to use your rolling pin: place the rolling pin on one side of the dough, then fold the dough onto it. Lift the pin and gently unroll it over the dish you’re using.
You can add a small amount of vinegar, lemon juice, or vodka when making the pie dough to help prevent over development of gluten.
Extra tips for perfect dough
Here are some extra, pro tips for fantastic homemade pie crust:
- Use high quality butter and flour. Since we’re working with so few ingredients, their quality really matters.
- I’ve found metal pie pans to be the best to bake in. Glass is slippery and might cause shrinkage; ceramic pans tend to be much bigger than they claim.
- Freeze your butter to make it extra cold before starting.
- If you don’t have a pastry slab or baking mat, you can roll the dough out between two large sheets of parchment paper.
- Seeing the little bits of butter in your dough as you roll it out is a good thing!
- Let the dough sit out of the fridge for about 15 minutes before rolling it out. This makes it less likely to break.
- Sprinkle brown sugar over the pie crust before baking for a sweet crunch.
And that’s pretty much it!
I hope I’ve given you enough confidence to ditch the store-bought dough. Go forth and bake!
All Butter Homemade Pie Crust
- 2 and 1/2 cups (300 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter partially frozen and cubed
- 1/2 cup ice water plus more as needed
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Fill a measuring cup with ice, then add cold water and set aside.
- Add the cold, cubed butter to the mixture. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it's completely coated and it's about the size of lima beans.
- Pour in about two tablespoons of water at a time. Mix it into the flour-butter mixture with a fork, until the dough starts coming together and forming clumps. To test if the dough is hydrated enough, take a piece and squeeze it with your hands. If it holds its shape, you're good to go. If it's still crumbly, add more water. I usually end up using about a 1/2 cup, plus about 2 tablespoons extra, of water.
- Gently knead the dough in the bowl. Use lightly floured hands to shape the dough into a ball. It should hold its shape and feel moist, but not very sticky. Cut the dough ball in half (for the top and bottom crust) and flatten them into a disc shape. Cover each in plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or a maximum of 48 hours.
- When ready to use, roll the dough out according to the instructions in the blog post. Use for the pastry of your choice.
- Store prepared, covered pie dough in the fridge for at most 2 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months.
- Nutrition facts are only an estimate.