Favorite Pie Crust Recipe


Our favorite butter pie crust recipe yields flaky pie dough every time. Our recipe is below, along with a simple video demonstrating how we prepare it. We demonstrate both manual and food processor methods for making the crust.


In our kitchen, we’ve been making pie crust the same way for years. We cut butter (or other solid fat) into flour until it looks crumbly and the butter pieces are the size of peas. Then we add just enough water to make a ball of dough. That is, until we discovered a better way. A homemade pie crust recipe, or rather a pie crust method, that produces consistent dough that is easy to roll out.

Our previous method did not fail us. We just discovered another way to make it. Cooks Illustrated recently reworked pie dough.

You’ve probably heard of it: they added vodka to their recipe. (We don’t use vodka — I’ll explain why in a moment.)

Cooks Illustrated investigated the science of pie crust — and it made sense. Our science teachers in high school would be pleased.

Here’s everything you really need to know: Gluten is a pie crust’s worst enemy. Some gluten is fine and even necessary for structure, but too much can be disastrous.

So keep this in mind: less gluten formation = flakier, more tender pie crusts.

Returning to the vodka. That’s what got all the attention — and why wouldn’t it? The vodka replaced some of the water in their recipe.

According to the theory, vodka does not promote gluten formation, whereas water does. So, by substituting vodka for some of the water, the pie crust becomes flakier and more tender.

Read Also: Pie Crust Recipe (Free Gluten)


This pie crust recipe yields consistent dough that is easy to roll out. The use of a food processor in this recipe eliminates variation. Use it if you have one. Having said that, you can do this method by hand. Instructions for using a processor and by hand are provided below.


  1. 2 ½ cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon kosher salt or use 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  4. 1 cup (230 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
  5. 4 to 8 tablespoons ice water


  1. Combined
    Add 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar (optional) to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined. The remaining cup of flour will be added later.
  2. Scatter butter
    Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour)
  3. Scrape bowl
    Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
  4. Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle ice water over mixture
    Start with 4 tablespoons and add from there. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 2 to 4 more tablespoons of water and continue to press until dough comes together.
  5. Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface
    Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut the ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using it).


To make a pie crust ahead of time, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. (I wrap everything in plastic wrap.) Pie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days and in the freezer for up to three months if properly wrapped. When you’re ready to use the frozen pie dough, place it in the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. Dough straight from the refrigerator can be difficult to roll out. If it is, leave it on the counter for a few minutes to warm up before rolling it out again.

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