How to Make a Flaky Pie Crust
The holiday season is upon us, which means we’re also in the midst of another season: pie baking season. (Though, we’d argue that every season is pie baking season!) From apple to pumpkin, sweet potato to pecan, there are many pies to be devoured during all the family festivities, which might tempt one to stock up on pre-made crusts. But with this all-butter pie dough recipe, there’s no need. It yields a consistently flaky, sturdy crust in under 10 minutes with a little help from the food processor — and it works for pretty much any dish that calls for pie dough.
For the most part, all pie doughs are made with flour, salt, water, and fat. (In this case, we use butter, and boy is there a lot of it!) Since the ingredients are so basic, the key to making an exceptional pie dough lies in the method and technique — like making sure the butter doesn’t melt or that you don’t overwork the dough. That’s true here too, but this recipe makes it effortless.
With the food processor, all it takes is a few quick pulses to get the dough to come together. And as long as you don’t get pulse-button happy, there won’t be any melted butter in sight, and the dough will be just combined, with a perfect, sand-like texture. Even the most involved technique in this recipe is quite simple, like a kindergarten paper folding project: before refrigerating the dough, we fold it over itself a few times to create some lamination (that’s baking speak for alternating layers of dough and butter), thus ensuring a wonderfully flaky crust.
Baked up, the dough is fantastically buttery — it adds a subtle saltiness and a melt-in-your-mouth richness to sweet and savory pies alike. We’d happily eat it sans filling if our families weren’t anxiously awaiting a slice of their favorite pie.
This recipe makes enough for two 9-inch pie crusts, so you could make a two-crust pie (like apple, cherry, or chicken pot pie) or double down and bake a couple of single-crust pies (like pumpkin, pecan, or even a quiche). And because the pie dough is so sturdy, you can easily cut it into strips for a lattice top or maybe some festive fall leaves for a decorative border. You do you! No matter how minimalistic or ornate you get with this dough, it’ll give all your pies a rich, buttery exterior — and make them feel so, so homey and rustic.
Our tip: If you can get European or cultured butter, use it! It makes for a supremely flavorful crust.
Yield: 2 9” pie crusts
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, diced into ½” pieces, chilled and firm to the touch
6 Tbsp ice water
Add the flour and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined.
Add the butter and pulse 5 times, or until the butter is broken down into slightly bigger than pea-size pieces.
While pulsing, drizzle in the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to come together. It should look like coarse, wet sand.
Turn the dough onto a clean, flat surface. Using a bench scraper, gently press it into a rough rectangle. Fold the dough over itself into thirds like a letter.
Pat the dough back into a rectangle and repeat the folds one more time. If the dough gets too warm and sticky, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.
Cut the dough in half. Working quickly, gently press each half into a thick disc and wrap it with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough, pressing it into the edges of the plastic and rub the edges with your fingers until they’re smooth. This will remove any impurities in the texture, making the dough easier to roll into a perfectly smooth circle. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight. The dough can also be placed in a ziplock bag and frozen for up to 30 days.
When you are ready to use the dough, lightly dust a clean, flat surface with flour. Roll out each disc of dough into a ¼”-thick 12” circle, frequently turning the dough 90° to prevent sticking. Brush off any excess flour and your crusts are ready to use.