I am not one to claim perfection in life, but I feel like this pie crust deserves it. Let me tell you all the reasons I love it:
- It is super quick! Once you get the hang of it, you can get a pie crust ready in under 5 minutes. That's less time than it would take to go to the store and buy a pre-made crust.
- This recipe calls for staple ingredients that I almost always have on hand (butter, flour, water, salt, sugar). This makes it so easy to whip one up whenever a pie craving strikes!
- It doesn't require any special equipment. It's super easy to make in a food processor or with a pastry blender, but can also be done using two knives or even your hands!
- You know how sometimes in recipes for pie crust, you end up with an amount that is way too big for a regular size pie pan, so you have to trim a lot off and you don't have anything to do with it so you throw it out and you feel wasteful for the rest of the day? Not so with this one! One recipe makes the perfect amount of crust for a 9" pie pan. Better yet, the numbers are easy to double if you are making a double crust pie, or if you want to freeze some to use later.
- It works for sweet or savory pies. Life is so much simpler when you can use the same crust for your chicken pot pie and your chocolate tart.
- It is delicious! The perfect, buttery, flaky crust that's easy to work with and far tastier than the store-bought kind.
Before we get to the recipe, I have a confession to make... I have major pastry struggles. Probably 90% of the pie crust attempts in my life have ended with me on the floor, having been pushed to my wit's end by an uncooperative pile of flour and water. But after 9 years of becoming irrationally upset with sticky blobs of wet flour, I finally figured out how to do it! Here are my best tips for success:
- Cold is key! This is probably the most important element to a successful pie crust: Cold butter, and cold water. I like to fill a big bowl or cup with ice water, and take tablespoons out as I need them. For the butter, I chop it up and pop it in the freezer while I measure my dry ingredients. If at any point the dough starts to get too warm, place it in the fridge/freezer to firm up a little.
- Don't use the food processor to incorporate the water. A lot of recipes suggest doing this, but your butter pieces will be too small. You need big globs of butter to have a flaky crust, so I like to use the food processor to quickly get the butter into pea-size pieces, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl to add the water. It's also easier to gauge how wet the dough is with your hands than it is with a machine. This means you're less likely to end up with a sticky mess!
- Pay really close attention to how wet the dough gets. This was my #1 problem with pie dough. Stop adding water when the flour is consistently moist and able to hold together when you pinch it. This almost always is 8 tablespoons for me, but rely more on how your mixture feels than a measurement. At this point, transfer to a clean surface and knead lightly until it forms into a smooth ball.
- Patience! To prevent shrinkage, it's important to give the dough a little bit of a rest between rolls. This prevents it from getting temporarily stretched out instead of truly rolled out (a major cause of shrinkage!).
- Practice! There's no way around it, this can be tricky to get just right, but it gets easier as you get a feel for it. Trust me -- If I can do it, you can do it!
Perfect Butter Pie Crust
Yield: 1 pie crust for a standard 9" pie pan
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 6-8 tablespoons ice water
- Place flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until butter is the size of peas, about 10-12 times.
- Transfer contents of the food processor to a large bowl. Slowly add in the water, beginning with just 4 tablespoons, and mix together with fingers. Add more water as needed, stopping when mixture just begins to hold together. The flour should be moist but not wet and still slightly crumbly.
- Dump dough mixture onto a clean, dry surface and lightly knead it with hands until it forms a cohesive ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. (At this point, you may also place the dough in the freezer where it will keep for 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.)
- When ready to use, roll the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface. Turn and flour every couple of rolls to prevent sticking. Transfer to pie/tart pan, fold over or trim off excess, and bake according to recipe directions.
You can use a pastry blender, two knives, or even your hands instead of a food processor to get the butter to the right size.
This recipe yields the perfect amount for a 9" pie pan, but can easily be doubled for a double crust pie, or if you want to make extra and freeze one crust for later. Store in freezer up to 3 months, wrapped tightly. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.