How To Make Pie Crust From Scratch


Pie crusts aren’t all that hard to make, but they can be a bit time consuming. So if you’re already busy with a big meal, it’s tempting to just get a pre-made crust and add some filling.

With this trick, you can easily do the crust a day or more ahead of time. You’ll save lots of time on cleanup, too.


080517-194621_Lg1 1/3 cups flour
1½ tablespoons sugar
¼ pound (one stick, eight tablespoons, ½ cup) butter
1 dash salt
3 tablespoons cold water


Sift the flour, sugar and salt together.


Don’t know what “sifting” is? Watch this quick video.

Oh, and how much is a “dash” of salt? I’m not sure, I just use the measuring spoon.


(Okay, it’s about a quarter-teaspoon. If you’ve got “normal” measuring spoons you’ll have that one.)

Now cut the butter into small chunks. Make sure it’s nice and cold or it will stick to your knife.

080517-195221_Lg 080517-195305_Lg

This next step is much easier if you have a pastry cutter. If not, you can make do with a pair of butter knives. Cut the butter into the flour and sugar until coarse crumbs form.


If you don’t have a pastry cutter and want to get one, get the kind with blades like in the link above. Don’t get the wire kind that I used in the photo. Cold, hard butter pushes the wires to the side, and you want the butter to be cold and hard for this.

Don’t overwork it or let the butter get too warm. You should have little lumps of butter coated in flour and sugar. These bits of butter will flatten out when you roll it, leaving little pockets when cooked. This is what gives pastry its light, flaky texture. If the butter melts, you’ll end up with the consistency of al dente pasta.


Add the cold water and quickly form it into a dough. If the butter has gotten warm by this time, or if it’s especially warm in your kitchen, you might want to put the flour/butter mixture in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before adding the water and making the dough.


Once you’ve made the dough, transfer it to a one gallon zip-top bag and put in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. You need this time for the water to soak into the flour. Otherwise it will just steam out when you bake it.


Take the dough out and roll it into a circle, still in the bag. Most one-gallon bags are just about nine inches across, which is exactly how big you want the crust to be. This also saves you from having to put flour on the table and rolling pin, and dealing with the cleanup afterwards.


After it’s rolled out, you can put it back in the refrigerator for two to three days, or freeze it and keep for several weeks.


When you’re ready to use it, make sure the dough is nice and cold so it doesn’t stick to the bag. Rip the bag open along the seams and pull the crust out.

And that’s it.

One more day until you see what is made from pie crust and apples but isn’t (quite) apple pie. Subscribe via the link in the column to the right to make sure you don’t miss it. It’ll make a great finish to your Memorial Day cookout, I promise. 

Pie Crust

Pie Crust


  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ pound (one stick, eight tablespoons, ½ cup) butter
  • 1 dash salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold water


Sift the flour, sugar and salt together. Cut the butter into small chunks. Make sure it’s nice and cold or it will stick to your knife. Cut the butter into the flour and sugar until coarse crumbs form.

Add the cold water and quickly form it into a dough. Transfer it to a one gallon zip-top bag and put in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. Remove from the fridge and roll out into a circle, still in the bag.

Cut the bag open and use immediately, or return to the fridge for two to three days, or freeze for several weeks.


  1. Frank Smith says:

    Why do you use butter for your fat?
    I find that lard gives a flakier crust.
    This is a great blog.
    Thanks, Frank

    • Hi! Great post, thanks. I’ve needed pie crust enough times from the store, to have come to the realization that it would be MUCH easier and cheaper to make. I’ve had your blog here bookmarked for a long time, now it’s time to get down to business. Lard – ehhhh..I don’t think I’ll ever use lard again. I agree about the flaky bit – that is definitely the plus. I made pasties and bridies – and I couldn’t get past the greasy, nasty taste of the lard. I just love butter too much! :) – but hey, to each his own – we all have our preferences. Happy baking everyone!

      • I have found that using the butter flavored lard is the best way to go. If you you use ice cold milk rather than water it lends itself to a better butter flavor and the crust comes out flaky.

    • i truly agree with u lard dose make a better pie crust.

      • Don’t you just hate when you try to get a backlink with some comment spam and you mess up the link on your name? That must really suck.

  2. Excellent illustration. I’ve never made a pie crust but you make it look quite easy. I can’t wait to see your final pie crust and apple creation.

  3. Frank, you’re right about the lard. I wasn’t able to make a trip to the West Side Market last week, and my local grocery store only had the fake lard that’s mostly hydrogenated vegetable oil. Next time.

    Andy, you don’t know how nervous I was while doing it! My wife is the baker in the family, so I’ve always let her deal with the pie. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

  4. Kristin says:

    I’m glad you’ve conquered your fears. Maybe I’ll follow your sterling example. Or not. I have never and will never make pie. Know why? Because my mother-in-law WON A PRIZE AT THE COUNTY FAIR for her apple pie, and who wants to compete with that? Plus, she lives with us and so can make all the pies we need. And she uses lard. That we render ourselves from the kidney fat of a pig we bought for slaughter last fall. Hard core, right? And yes, a little gross. But the pie crusts made with that lard sure are good.

  5. Now come on, Kristin, you’ve got to post some pics of that. I’ve rendered my own tallow, but I haven’t done the lard yet. If my experience with the tallow was any indication, there will be at least one or two ways I can mess it up. I’d rather learn from your mistakes. (I don’t need any more burn scars on my forearms.)

  6. Kristin says:

    Oh not to worry–we should be rendering some more lard soonish, as we are currently out, and I will definitely be posting about that. I like to gross people out with my blog posts sometimes. Last time my mother-in-law did it, she came upstairs to tell me that the fat was kind of pretty, all pink and white. And I thought at that moment that I will never be country enough to think a pig’s kidney fat is pretty.

  7. I have a picture my daughter made me take of the turkey giblets as she was helping Nana make the stuffing. There was a fat glob that, from the right angle, looked like a little white poodle. I’ll see if I can find that one.

  8. Carol Worthington-Levy says:

    Thank you for suggesting that pastry blender. i had no idea there was one with blades instead of wire, and i would have bought the wrong kind.

    I am having a big party in december and was planning to buy some big chicken pot pies for the crowd. last year i got them at Costco and they were not bad but way too salty. I was thinking of making my own this year and feeling a bit ‘out to sea’ regarding the chore of making four pies from scratch. Now i am feeling a bit more courageous. Any suggestions for a tasty inside for these chicken pot pies? thanks so much.

  9. Carol, I’d go with the turkey soup recipe I did a while back, but with two changes. First, substitute cubes of potato for the noodles. Second, after cooking the thighs and removing them from the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of flour to the fat and stir over low heat to make a roux. (This means you have to get the thighs with the skin still on or you won’t get enough fat.

    The roux should thicken everything up nicely.

  10. Mike Stockman says:

    Great article. And as long as you’ve renewed the discussion with your pastry cutter link, I’ll add a few things:

    1) I agree that pastry cutter blades are much better than wire.

    2) I always use butter instead of lard or Crisco, because the flavor and mouth-feel of the butter is superior. Lard-based pastry always makes my mouth feel grainy.

    Cook’s Illustrated suggested 1/2 butter and 1/2 Crisco, something about making it easier to keep flaky while still having butter flavor, but butter’s best.

    3) The more paranoid you are about handling the dough (because too much handling makes it tough), the better. Being too careful of this up front gives you leeway later when you mess it up and have to re-roll it.

    4) I really, really like pie. It’s really the perfect food.

    Thanks again for a great posting.

  11. Mike, Crisco could give better mouth feel than … well, I shouldn’t use the line I’m thinking of, because this is a public place. But anyway … I still wouldn’t use it. That stuff is axle grease.

  12. Mike Stockman says:

    I still wouldn’t use it. That stuff is axle grease.

    Agreed. I only mentioned it because Cook’s Illustrated did a bunch of testing and came up with their version of “perfect” pie dough that was part butter and part Crisco. I personally won’t use Crisco and stick to butter. So to speak.

  13. I made this crust and it turned out very nicely. One question, if you ever get a chance, is how the heck to roll a round crust?

  14. I’ll probably be showing this again soon. Basically, you want to form it into a ball and press down with your hands so it is flattened out some but still round.

    Then work from the center out. Keep turning the crust a little at a time. This takes a little practice, but you can get pretty good at it after one or two tries.

  15. Well, the pie was so good that my seven year old ate a chunk of it before I woke up this morning so I will get some practice rolling out a circular pie crust again today. It seems I need to slow down and not be so impatient. Thanks for the help, Drew, and have a happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones. You have a great food blog.

  16. The pie that was supposed to be for today? Ooh, I’m sorry you had to kill your 7-year-old on Thanksgiving. :-)

  17. My Grandmother doesn’t have harry arms….

  18. Mine did. But then she was Italian.

  19. souvenir kattunge says:

    I thought this howto was great. It’s next to impossible to find a recipe that doesn’t require a food processor or electric mixer. Can’t wait to try out your other recipes.

  20. I forgot to add that rolling the dough in the ziplock bag is a fantastic idea. Even Martha Stewart hasn’t thought of this one.

  21. I don’t have anything against food processors. I just don’t have one.

  22. Hey Drew. How about proper baking tips? I'm also curious about frying dough. Can you give tips on fried pies, etc..?,..

  23. John, my wife is more of a baker than I am. A couple of my most popular posts were her. I'll tell her people are asking for more.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Your recipe was very quick and convenient i love love love the idea with using the ziplock bag..thank you…but for the top crust do i need to double recipe??

  25. Yes, this just makes a single crust. You'd have to do another batch for a top crust.

    And by the way, I wouldn't try to just double the recipe and split it in half. Way too hard to divide it evenly, in my opinion.

  26. I can't wait to try this. Does it really make a difference if I sift the flour and sugar and salt?

  27. Ally, the important thing is to make sure the sugar and salt are very evenly distributed throughout the flour. Sifting does that, and also makes sure there are no lumps in the flour.

  28. To make the BEST pie crust ever, use cold whole milk instead of water. Old family secret (thanks mum) and for the past 20 years my requested contribution to the family holiday dinners are the pies!

  29. Elizabeth, I’ll definitely try that next time. Thanks.

  30. I’m definately going to try this crust recipe. Can you also advise us how to cook the crust in the oven when using fresh apple slices? My crust always falls down around the edges and sides and the bottom of the pie crust is raw and too moist.

  31. Carol, two things you can try. First, make sure you roll it out a good inch-and-a-half to two inches larger than your pie plate. Then crimp it down on top of the rim, maybe even a little bit over the edge.

    If that doesn’t work, you could try pre-baking it a little bit until the top crust is set before adding the filling. You can see in this version of pre-baked pie crust that I didn’t crimp it as well as I should have on the top edge. But with the coins I filled it with holding it in place (you can also use rice or pie weights — yes, they make little weights just for this) it only slipped down a little way and then stopped.

  32. Hi Drew! How would you make this a chocolate pie crust? Thank you so much for your help! =)

  33. Cheyenne, the only chocolate crusts I’ve done were crushed cookies. I’m sure you could just add cocoa powder to this, but I’d be guessing at the amount. My first try would be one tablespoon and see how it comes out.

  34. All the way from Jamaica….Great recipe….We have family challenges, where each member of our household is challenge to make a dish. My challenge this pass Sunday was to make a pie.I did using your recipe it and came out great. Thanks

  35. So which pie did you do?

  36. Ben Johnson says:

    Can you please tell me how to make a crust that will not soak up the filling, like the coconut creat pie that I just made. The crust stuck to the baking pan and I could not get out whole pieces. Thanks for your answer or a reference where I can read about this. bcj

  37. Ben, did you bake the crust before the coconut went into it? If it’s not completely dry on top before adding the filling it can soak through. Also, you might want to coat the crust with fat before adding the filling so liquid doesn’t penetrate, like brushing with a little melted butter.

  38. I tried this recipe with apple pie and it taste wonderful!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Danielle says:

    wow this was so helpful. Thanks! I love to cook and i never got a chance to ask my nan to pass down her recipes before she passed away, so many of her recipes are not written down. So this recipe was very helpful. Do you have any suggestions for pumpkin pie? That’s another one of the recipes she never wrote down and i would love to try and make one that could come out tasting like hers did.

  40. Danielle says:

    oh and another thing, i read your page for that book, and it was very touching. The thing about the beef stroganoff and true…those are things my nan jus knew how to make and didn’t bother writing down footnotes. I am defintaly thinking about buying this book, it would be so helpful on gaining some of her recipes back.

  41. Danielle, I’d love to help you with the pumpkin pie but I actually don’t like it, so I can’t recommend a good one. I’ll ask around, see what my wife likes.

  42. One of the grandparents at the annual family reunion tried my apple pockets that I made with this pie crust and she said that she hadn’t tasted this great a pie crust since her grandmother’s pies. Wow! Now that was a compliment! I made sure to handle the crust as little as possible.. the plastic gallon bag was a big help.. i made 6 batches and stacked them in the freezer until I was ready to make the apple pockets. I also was sure to keep everthing as cold as possible. I even made a small bowl of water with icecubes in it to have the coldest water possible. I was in a house that didn’t have a pastry cutter.. i tried using a couple of knives but was exhuasted after the 2nd batch.. i broke down and used a small electric food chopper/processor… it worked great! I will be mass producing pie items all week now..THANKS FOR A GREAT RECIPE!

    • A grandparent’s grandmother?! Wow, now that’s going back a ways.

      That’s an awesome story, can I quote you on that?

  43. Cornfed 528 says:

    I am trying this recipe it looks good, and the ziplock idea looks extremely helpful! I have some peaches that need to be put to good use. However I am not using an old cook stove, don’t have any corncobs to start a fire! LOL!

  44. You mention water being used but you don’t say how much water, I have ruined many try-outs by using too much or not enough water and it seems to me the water amount in just as important as anything else….

  45. Jerry, that’s something that just takes practice. Professional bakeries measure the temperature and humidity in the air and have tables to convert exactly how much flour and how much water to add. At home you just start with the least amount of water that will make a difference, then add more a tiny little bit at a time.

  46. my newly discovered method for cutting butter into the flour-
    take your cold butter to a cheese grater. i shredded it right into the flour mixture, so much easier than a pastry knife!

  47. Alison, that’s a good one. I’m afraid my hands would be too warm, though. I’ve tried making truffles, for instance, and they turned to mush long rather than roll like they were supposed to.

  48. thank you for helping a sister out my husband wanted a sweet potatoe pie for sunday dinner and he loves my cooking and me too.

  49. Bridget says:

    I made this today and your recipe is spot on! I used it to made apple dumplings and it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  50. carolann thomas says:

    how does one make a more liquid chix pot pie and try to put the crust over it without it soaking in the liquid/////

    • Carolann, you can pre-bake the bottom crust until it is slightly browned before adding the filling, then just put the crust over the top and it should be fine. I can’t imagine making a pot pie that’s so thin it wouldn’t hold up a crust.

      But just to be sure, brush the bottom of the crust — the part that will lay against the liquid — with butter before putting it on. The fat will keep the liquid from soaking into the crust.

  51. alex webster says:

    just wanted to say thanks i don’t really bake at all its just not my thing when it comes to cooking. but i have been making lots of pies and this was really helpful.

  52. What’s the best thing to brush on a pie before baking to make the crust golden? I’ve heard milk or egg wash (is that with water or just egg?). Never tried either before and my crusts are okay looking but I’d like to make them shiny and golden.

  53. Mix one egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush that on. Milk is good for browning and a little flavor, but won’t give you that shiny finish.

  54. This is really great. Thanks! But I’ll find one way or another to mess it up.

  55. This is the best crust I have tried. So tasty! It was so easy. I like to make pie pops with this recipe.

  56. What temp. do you bake the crust at? And do you know how long to bake an apple pie for?

  57. I have wanted to make my own pie crust, pizza dough and home made biscuits for years. Thank you for your easy directions, off to the kitchen for trail and error.

  58. I tried making this pie crust tonight. It seemed like there was not enough water. My “dough” ball kept falling apart (very powdery). Did anyone have this problem.

    • Patty, you want to add the smallest amount of water that will get the dough to hold together. But if it doesn’t hold, you do need to keep adding until it holds.

  59. Hi. I made 3 of these crust today. The dough seemed wet so I did use some additional flour for rolling. The dough was sticking to everything no matter how cold it was. The crust looked absolutely beautiful when I put in in the oven and then I looked in the oven. The crust was shrunk down into the middle of the pan, nothing on the sides. I decided to fully bake the 3rd to taste. This pie crust is delicious. I have never had a pie crust do this in my 20 plus years of baking. Back to my original recipes using some things I learned here with me.

    • Lynda, with crust you have to start with a tiny amount of water and add it a little bit at a time until it just barely holds together.

      If you don’t use shortening — which is what most recipes call for — you’ll get more shrinkage. Doing it with just butter, like this one, you absolutely have to use pie weights to hold everything in place.

  60. Thank you, Drew! This recipe and method is fantastic. Using the ziplock bag is genius and solves one of my most hated chores of cleanup after making and rolling out dough. The only thing I did differently was that I pulsed the butter and dry ingredients together in a food processor, which takes only seconds to do. The crust is delicious and I will never buy pie crust from the store again!! :o)

  61. Thanks so much for this easy recipe. I am in Europe and can’t find story made pie crust here. So I tried your recipe for making pumpkin pie and it tasted amazing. I brought the pie to a friend’s house and everyone loved it. Thanks again!!

  62. forks work better than knives!

  63. Dear, Drew.
    Thanks for posting the recipe in such detailed manner! I searched on Google, this morning, for ‘pie crust’ and it retrieved your website, I cooked it for lunch (to use up as filling six different tiny bits of leftovers I had in the fridge), it worked and we loved it!
    I hope you don’t mind I added the link to your website on to my blog.

  64. Allison, I think that is a great idea to use a cheese grater as a substitute for pastry knives. I had never thought of that before. Speaking of improvising, i use a mesh strainer to sift my dry ingredients when I am baking. It works too. I found off of a website.

  65. lalalindsey says:

    this recipe didn’t cook, and it came out very doughy, so we put it back in, but it was still very doughy and absolutely digusting.

  66. Drew is full of him self / Just get to bakeing !!!

  67. Precious obaji says:

    Nice recipe I’m a teenager and I love baking this really helped me Keep up the good work! And I love pie


  1. […] So what did I go there for? The pastry cutter I’ve been looking for since I made pie crust. […]

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