If you’ve ever been intimidated by pie crust, I’ve got a simple no-fail recipe, perfect for pies, cobblers, and other sweet treats. In this post I’ll show you how it’s done. I’ll even give you suggestions for other ways to use it!
The Different Ways to Bake Crust
I would be remiss if I didn’t start this post by discussing the various ways pie crusts are baked. They’re not the same. If you’re adding a ready-to-go filling to your crust (like you would in a chocolate pie, for instance) you’ll want to blind bake your crust ahead of time. So, let’s start there.
What Is Blind Baking?
Let’s begin with a definition:
All blind baking means is partially, or sometimes completely, baking a pie crust before you add a filling. You might wonder why we don’t just throw the crust in the oven as it is. The purpose of blind baking, aside from partially cooking the crust, is to prevent the pockets of steam in the dough from puffing up, which makes it easier to add the pie filling. The sides of the crust may also sag before they start to crisp, leaving you with a not-so-attractive slouching effect. The pie weights help to weigh down the crust and keep its shape. (kitchn.com)
The process of blind baking is also known as par-baking a crust. You can fully blind bake or partially blind bake, depending on the type of filling.
Is Blind Baking a Pie Crust Difficult?
I used to think so, but now I know better. It took a few years to discover just how easy it really was. Well, years. . .and one other small trick: pie weights.
I used to wonder why my crusts would shrink up. Little did I know that pie weights were the answer to creating a perfectly shaped crust.
What are pie weights?
Pie weights are ceramic balls that hold the crust down as it bakes, keeping it from shrinking too much. They can make a huge difference in your baking. Without them, you’re liable to open the oven and discover your crust is about 2/3 of the size it was when you put it in the pan!
Some folks use dried beans as pie weights (and this is fine) but I purchased my FurRain Weights from Amazon. I needed something that could be used repeatedly and I was a little worried about the smell of the beans getting into my crust.
Blind baking worked perfectly and gave me the courage to try this method again and again.
Other Ways to Bake a Pie Crust
If you’re baking a pie like my Apple pie, Blackberry pie or even a cobbler, there’s no need to blind bake. Place the pie dough down into the pan, add your fruit filling, and then top with additional crust.
My dough recipe offers the right amount of dough for both a bottom and top crust, so it’s perfect for fruit pies.
Bake the pie until golden brown.
If you’re using a pre-cooked pie filling from a can, you might opt to partially bake the bottom crust before adding the filling, but I haven’t found that to be necessary.
PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS
Now that we’ve covered the ways to bake, let’s break down my recipe, starting with the ingredients. This was my Mama’s recipe and I know she would be tickled to know that I’m sharing it with you!
You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need. You will likely have all of these simple ingredients on hand already.
- all-purpose flour
- cold shortening (can substitute butter for half or all of the crust)
- granulated sugar
- ice cold water
Most pie crusts start with butter and flour, but not Mamas. Her starts with Crisco. It took me a minute to get past the “Shortening. . .really?” thoughts rolling around in my brain.
Then I remember something I posted in my Snickerdoodles post. (That recipe is also my Mama’s, by the way.) Shortening gives those cookies their light, flaky texture. If it works for Snickerdoodles, it’ll work for pie crust, too!
So, yes. My homemade pie crust is shortening based. And I’m not even remotely embarrassed to share that little tidbit. You can use butter if you like. Your choice. But I’m planning to use Crisco every time.
How to Make a Good Pie Crust
Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) in a large bowl.
Chop up the shortening (or butter) and work it into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or large blending fork. I grated mine. You can find a good pastry blender on Amazon.
It’s going to form a crumb-like texture.
It’s time to add the water. Work it in a bit at a time. You want it to be moist enough to come together but not too wet.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour. If you’re in a hurry you can place it in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes.
Roll into discs, about 1/4 inch thick. (As mentioned above, this recipe will make two discs. If you’re making a single crust you can freeze the rest.)
For a 9-inch pie dish use a 12-inch circle.
How Long to Bake Your Crust:
To Blind Bake:
Place in preheated oven 375 degree oven and bake for 15 – 16 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment paper. Use the tines of a fork to poke holes in the crust then place back in the oven for an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
To Bake a Filled Pie:
Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.
Secrets to an Amazing Pie Crust:
There are several things you can do to ensure a great crust with flaky layers. Here’s my master list:
- Use cold shortening or butter: This is critical to help avoid shrinkage to work the fats into the flour mixture.
- Use ice cold water: no exception. Cool won’t do. You want icy-cold water.
- Prep your work surface by lightly flouring it.
- Don’t overwork your pie crust dough.
- Don’t roll your dough too thin. This is a flaky crust and you don’t want to scrimp on it.
- Use shortening for at least half of the fat. Shortening makes a flakier crust because it has a lower melting point.
Fun Ways to Use this Great Pie Crust:
I use pie crust for so many things. Obviously, I use it for the pies I’ve already listed above.
Decorative Pie Crust:
Sometimes I take it up a notch and create a decorative crust for my pie. This is especially fun during the holidays. I made a really pretty pie crust using Fondant Plunger Cutters. I keep these molds on hand because I bake so many cakes. I’m happy to have a second use for them.
Whether you’re using molds, cutters, or working the dough by hand (for example. . .braiding) there are a plethora of ways to make your pie pretty.
Cinnamon Sugar Pie Crusts
When I’ve got leftover crust I use it to make cinnamon sugar pie crusts. I roll out the dough, cover it in cinnamon and sugar, and bake until golden. You can bake it in one piece and break it apart after-the-fact, if you like.
My family loves these sweet treats! They’re more pastry than cinnamon roll, but loaded with a luscious cinnamon and sugar flavor.
This is a quick, easy recipe that will give you the flavor of pecan pie but the texture of a pie crust cookie!
You can fill pie crust will pie filling and fold it over, forming a pocket pie. Delicious
Chicken Pot Pie (or Turkey Pot Pie)
After Thanksgiving I made a delicious turkey pot pie and used this pie crust recipe on top. It was delicious!
There are so many ways to use a flaky pie crust recipe like this one. Use your imagination!
Questions People are Asking about Pie Crust:
Can I freeze pie crust?
Absolutely, friends. If you want to freeze your dough, here’s what you’ll do. Prep the dough (according to my instructions above), wrap discs in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. They should be good up to two months.
If you want to freeze an unbaked pie crust, you can roll it out in advance and place it in a pie pan that’s freezer safe. Store in airtight container.
You can even freeze a baked crust. Blind bake according to directions. Allow to cool fully, then store in airtight container in the freezer up to two months.
Should I use both cold butter and shortening in my crust?
Butter adds flavor and fat. Shortening adds flakiness. I often use both in my recipes and you should, too!
Can I use bread flour in my pie crust?
I wouldn’t. The protein level is too high and will leave you with a dense crust. I use all-purpose flour for my crust.
Why do some people add vinegar to their pie crust?
A dash of vinegar makes for a flakier crust.
Should I brush the top of my pie dough with egg or milk?
If you’re making a double crust pie (like my apple pie, for instance) you’ll want to brush it with milk or egg wash to make a crisp, golden crust.
Should I flour my rolling pin?
Yep. Sprinkling your crust with additional flour and flouring your rolling pin with flour are the best ways to keep your dough from sticking while rolling. Working on a lightly floured surface will help, too.
Why should I use ice water in my dough?
Cold water prevents the cold fat from melting. You want cold ingredients throughout.
Can I use a food processor to process my dough?
Absolutely, though it’s not necessary. Just don’t overwork the dough.
Should I grease my pie dish?
No, this isn’t necessary. In fact, adding that extra fat might be detrimental, as it could burn the bottom of the crust.
Why do some people put aluminum foil around the edges of their pie as it bakes?
Foil will prevent the edges from getting darker than the rest of the crust. I used foil around the edges of my blackberry pie during the final ten minutes of the bake.
That’s it for this post, friends. I hope you enjoyed this easy pie crust recipe. If you have any special crust tips, share them in the comments below! And please let me know your favorite pie filling!
See this recipe at
About the Author
Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.
Note: this post contains affiliate links.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold shortening (can substitute butter for half or all of the shortening)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup ice cold water (more or less)
- Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees..
- Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) in a large bowl.
- Chop up the shortening (or butter) and work it into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or large blending fork. I grated mine.
- It's going to form a crumb-like texture.
- It’s time to add the water. Work it in a bit at a time. You want it to be moist enough to come together but not too wet.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour. If you’re in a hurry you can place it in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Roll into discs, about 1/4 inch thick. (As mentioned above, this recipe will make two discs.)
- How Long to Bake Your Crust: To Blind Bake: Place in preheated oven 375 degree oven and bake for 15 - 16 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment paper. Use the tines of a fork to poke holes in the crust then place back in the oven for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- To Bake a Filled Pie: Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 135mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g
The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.