All Butter, Really Flakey Pie Dough

I’m 35 years old and I’m intimidated by making pie.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you’ll understand why there is such a paucity of pie recipes on this site.  Oh sure, there was this strawberry rhubarb pie a few years ago and this sour cream apple pie as well.  There were also a few things I’ve made with homemade pie dough: galettes, hand pies, empanandas, and tarts.

But pies themselves…I don’t know.  I feel like it’s a two-fer that can go wrong – both the filling and the dough need to be great, right?

All Butter, Really Flakey Pie Dough

So that’s where this pie dough comes in.  After all of the dough I’ve made in the past, this one was, by far, the best.

It’s an all butter dough made with cold water – no vodka here – and now that I’ve seen the super flakey results of this dough, you’ll never be able to convince me that shortening in pie dough is better.  This dough yields such a flakey crust that my mom thought I made dessert with puff pastry over the weekend.

And she’s been around the dessert block once or twice.

All Butter, Really Flakey Pie Dough

Pie crust that looks like puff pastry?  Heck yes, friends.  The reason is the big chunks of butter suspended throughout the dough, a result that can only happen from making pie dough by hand.

Use your fingers, two knives, a pastry cutter – whatever.  Just skip the machine, as tempting as it is.  Not only do I find it amazingly gratifying to make such a simple and timeless kitchen staple by hand, but I have complete control over how big I leave the chunks of butter; whereas machines often over process the butter.

Bigger chunks of butter = really flakey pie dough.

All Butter, Really Flakey Pie Dough

The only other thing to consider, which you would already know if you’ve ever made any kind of pie dough, is to keep the dough extra cold before you bake it. If that means that you stick your unbaked pie or tart in the freezer for a couple minutes before baking it to chill a warmed dough that you’ve just rolled the heck out of, then do it.

When the oven heat hits the cold butter, water in the butter evaporates, creating pockets in the dough and that gives you your flakey crust.

So go on.  Make a few batches of this dough for your upcoming holiday celebrations. Even if you make it now and freeze the dough for your Christmas pies, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Which means you’ll have more time to bake cookies. And nobody ever complained about having more time to make cookies, have they?

How I’ve Used this Pie Dough:

apple slab pie
Apple Slab Pie

All Butter, Really Flakey Pie Dough

Ingredients

2 ½ cups (315 grams) flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and kept very cold before using
½ – ¾ cup very cold water

Instructions

  • 01

    Measure the flour into a large, wide bowl.  Whisk in the sugar and salt.  Toss in the butter cubes and coat them all with the flour.  Using your first 3 fingers of both hands, mash up the butter into smaller pieces, just bigger than the size of peas.  You can also do this with two knives or a strong pastry blender.  I prefer using my fingers.

    Once the mixture looks sort of uniform, slightly crumbly, and the butter is broken up, stir in a ½ cup of water with a rubber spatula until the water is absorbed and the dough starts to come together.  If the dough is still dry and crumbly, add the remaining ¼ cup of water.  Bring the dough together with your hands until it forms a soft and almost loose ball.

  • 02

    Divide the pie dough in half and transfer one half to a sheet of plastic wrap and mold it into disk, about 1-inch thick.  Use the plastic wrap to help bring the dough together, if needed.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

  • 03

    Chill the dough disks in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before using.  You can keep this dough in the fridge for up to a week or up to 2 months in the freezer before using.

  • 04

    Roll the dough directly from the refrigerator (do not allow it to come to room temperature – remember you need to keep the butter really cold) or if frozen, allow the dough to rest in the fridge for one day before rolling.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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  • ellysaysopa
    November 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    This is the pie crust recipe I’ve been using for years (from Joy of Baking, though) and it’s SO good. I love it and wish I could just make the crust and sit down with a fork and eat it. No filling needed. 😛

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    November 12, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    SO FLAKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar
    November 12, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Mmm this DOES look perfect! Yum!

    • taraliptak
      November 14, 2013 at 6:32 AM

      Thanks, Katrina!

      • Crystal
        October 4, 2017 at 9:16 PM

        What temperature should this bake at for a fruit pie and for how long?

  • Ashley
    November 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I can’t wait to try this! It looks beautiful.

    • taraliptak
      November 14, 2013 at 6:32 AM

      Thanks, Ashley!

  • Tracey
    November 13, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Wow now that’s a flaky pie crust!! I usually use my food processor but I think you’ve convinced me to try it by hand at least once.

    • taraliptak
      November 14, 2013 at 6:32 AM

      You must try it by hand, Tracey! Also, Deb talks about not wanting to wash the food pro parts and I couldn’t agree more – this uses 1 bowl (if you weigh the flour – no measuring cups), a couple measuring spoon, and a knife.

      • Renata Gerwin
        April 16, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        I am going to try this for Easter. Love that NO shortening is involved. Hope I do a good job!

        • taraliptak
          April 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

          It’s a really simple recipe, Renata – you’ll do great! Just be sure that you don’t break up the butter too small. You want to see “visible butter” (aka small pieces) when you roll out the dough.

  • Alacia
    August 15, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    This is my first attempt at a butter pie crust. What temperature should I cook it at? I have little experience with pie, I’m a cake girl usually. Fingers crossed

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      The recipe you use for the pie will tell you what recipe to bake the pie at.

  • November 13, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Yay! So happy to hear this went over so well! And what’s up with the apple pie nay-sayers of this world anyway? 🙂

  • November 13, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    I think it would be great for either sweet or savory but would probably reduce the sugar to 2 tsp. Enjoy!

  • Jenn Richards Wilkinson
    November 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Is that apple pie? Is your filling recipe somewhere?

  • December 20, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    […] Find the recipe at smells-like-home.com […]

  • January 26, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    I hope you love it! And thank you!

  • January 26, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    It really depends on what kind of pie you’re baking. Can you be more specific?

    • Melanie Althea Moore
      February 13, 2016 at 3:07 AM

      I had the same question, I wanted to use it for a French Silk pie. The recipe calls for a pre-baked bottom crust, but once the filling is in, the pie is chilled, not baked.

      Is there a time and temperature for baking the crust on its own, for when a recipe calls for a pre-baked crust?

      Thank you in advance. 🙂

      • February 13, 2016 at 10:07 AM

        I pre-baked this crust last year when I made a chocolate cream pie and honestly, I didn’t love it. I think it got a little tough being baked on its own. For a pre-baked crust, I would go with a pate brise – either Martha Stewart’s or Cook’s Illustrated pie recipes would be perfect for this.

        • Melanie Althea Moore
          February 13, 2016 at 4:34 PM

          Thank you for the quick reply! I will use something else this time then, and keep this recipe in mind next time I make a fruit pie.

  • Cat L
    February 9, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    I have never had any luck making a pie crust. Don’t know why. I think I will try this in the next couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

    • February 13, 2015 at 9:31 PM

      Best of luck to you! Pie crust can be a maddening adventure and I hope you love this recipe! Please do come back to let me know how it turns out for you.

  • […] Read more here […]

  • March 25, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    You’re welcome! 🙂

  • […] smells-like-home.com – Get the recipe […]

  • Kayla Thlang
    May 13, 2015 at 10:50 PM

    can i use this for a chicken pot pie?

    • DeAnna Wine
      September 21, 2015 at 3:38 PM

      Did you try it for chicken pot pie? I made the crust, currently chilling in the fridge with the plan being to make pot pie…we will see how it goes.

      • Nancy Foster Keely
        November 28, 2015 at 1:34 PM

        i bet it was delicious. am i right?

    • Penny
      October 12, 2017 at 7:16 PM

      I made this today 10/12/2017. And used it to make Chicken Pot Pie. It is Fabulous! !!! SO YES you can use it for Chicken Pot Pie. I baked mine for 37 minutes exactly as my recipe called for and it’s Perfect.

      • Tara
        October 13, 2017 at 10:46 AM

        So so great to hear, Penny!! I’m totally putting chicken pot pies on our menu for next week just because of this!

  • Stevie H Noneofyourbussines
    February 17, 2016 at 3:39 PM

    im going to test this out. but i bet i wont have to wait a day to use it if i rool the disks thin and put them in the freezer <3

  • belle129
    July 27, 2016 at 1:40 AM

    should i double the recipe for a slab pie? this looks delicious!

  • […] All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough Recipe […]

  • Vickie
    November 21, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    Can you use this for pumpkin pie

  • November 22, 2016 at 12:07 PM

    Sorry to hear this. Sounds like maybe the flour/dough was overworked. I haven’t had this issue with this recipe.

  • Allyssa S
    November 24, 2016 at 9:15 PM

    This crust looked really good, flaky and buttery…but everyone said it was thick, tough, and chewy.. I don’t what it was, but something was off. I am not a beginner at baking. Probably won’t use this recipe for sweet pie ever again. Might be better for a savory dish. Thank you.

  • Sherry Heim
    March 23, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    I have been making all butter pie crust ever since I moved out of my mother’s home. Mom liked a variety of pie crusts, lard, shortening and oil as well as butter but for me, butter was the only one I really liked. The other pie crusts are fine, but when you make a butter crust, instead of the pie crust just being there, kind of tasteless on its own, you are bringing the extra flavor of a flakey and baked buttery goodness to the party, something you can savor all on its own if the filling disappears quicker than the crust. All butter crust is always the pretty girl at the party and in any taste test, I know I could pick it out. It is dessert…go ahead, have the best, have the all butter crust.

    • Tara
      April 3, 2017 at 10:03 PM

      Haha! The pretty girl at the party – SO true!

  • Rose
    March 28, 2017 at 9:24 PM

    Over working dough will make it tough. I use water that I have placed icr cubes in to make sure it’s super cold water. I only roll in one direction also. Never roll back and forth. You will be rolling dough twice. Roll it to 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Should work out great for you. Hope this helps.

  • Lynn
    June 10, 2017 at 1:08 AM

    Could this be made with gluten free flour?

    • Tara
      June 13, 2017 at 11:49 AM

      Hi Lynn! You could try but I’ve never used gluten free flour so I can’t attest to how this dough would turn out. Let me know if you decide to try it!!

  • Toni
    June 10, 2017 at 4:54 PM

    Sounds Delish i cant wait to make it

  • Tracey
    July 2, 2017 at 6:32 PM

    My grandmother was the pie queen and although I watched many times I’ve never attempted myself. Well Grandma has bern gone since the 80’s, but I remember her cherry pies. I found this exact recipe on another website and decided to give it a try! It came out PERFECT! Yes I did it all by hand, tried the pastry cutter, nope, I prefer to use my hands as I’ve always believed you should ‘feel’ your dough. I also believe that Grandma was over my shoulder coaching me on. It really was super easy and is wonderfully flaky. I’m ashamed to say, I make chicken pot pie regularly, alwats with frozen pie crusts, NEVER AGAIN!! Thank you

    • Tara
      October 7, 2017 at 7:35 PM

      I can’t believe I missed your comment, Tracey! I’m so sorry!! But also so so happy to hear you loved this dough and that it was a success for you on your first try! I also prefer to make my pie dough without a pastry cutter – your hands are the best tool for making dough! I love having control over how large or small I want the butter pieces, even if it does take some extra time. I haven’t tried this dough on chicken pot pie but ’tis the pot pie season! Thanks for the suggestion!!

  • Pearlene
    July 27, 2017 at 5:54 PM

    Can this be used to make peach cobbler?

  • Lisa carter
    August 22, 2017 at 10:13 PM

    It looks so yummy but how long do you bake for?? There is no direction oh temperature to bake at and how long.

    • Tara
      October 6, 2017 at 9:32 AM

      Baking time and temperature will depend on the pie recipe you use and the size of the pie.

  • Helen M
    August 27, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    recipe might add the how to roll out the finished dough

    • Tara
      October 6, 2017 at 9:29 AM

      You’ll roll out the dough to the specifications of the recipe you’re using for the pie you choose to make.

  • Dawn
    October 1, 2017 at 7:31 PM

    Have u ever thought if adding orange juice instead of cold water it’s is ever better.

    • Tara
      October 6, 2017 at 8:34 AM

      I have not thought of that but it sounds delicious especially when making an apple pie!

  • Fonda
    October 7, 2017 at 4:34 PM

    Never made homemade pie crust ever! So I hope mines turn out at least eatable????😐 … But I have a question?? Do we have to leave the crust in the refrigerator for a whole day??? What if I want to make the pie same day???😖

    • Fonda
      October 7, 2017 at 4:43 PM

      Does the dough need to be in the refrigerator for two hours? What will happen if we take it out sooner than that?

      • Tara
        October 7, 2017 at 7:29 PM

        Hi Fonda! Pie dough needs time in the refrigerator to allow the butter to re-chill and for the gluten molecules in the flour to rest.
        1) butter – cold butter is what creates the flaky layers in pie dough (the water in the butter evaporates in the oven and creates pockets of air and the flaky layers) and it is necessary for the dough to hold its shape while in the oven. If you assemble your pie and put it in the oven when the butter has warmed even a little, the dough is at risk for “slumping” or sliding off the pie plate/baking sheet either into the pie or out and into the oven.
        2) gluten – the gluten molecules in the flour “activate” when the flour is worked from making the dough. At the point when you wrap the dough to put it in the fridge, it is really hard to roll the dough out without it bouncing back to the center because the gluten molecules have tightened up. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours allows the gluten molecules time to relax and rolling the dough will be much easier. Tight gluten molecules also create a tough dough and thus, pie crust, which nobody wants!

        I hope this was helpful! Just remember that you want the dough really cold when you put the pie in the oven. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  • Fonda
    October 9, 2017 at 4:13 PM

    Yesssssssss!! What a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I did it 😊😁…. This is absolutely the best crust I have ever tasted and made! Hands down! Simple ingredients simple instructions , and ummmm….ummm. yummy 😋! Thanks for sharing this recipe with me and yes I left the dough in the refrigerator for the whole 2 hours? My fb friends and family members are so jealous of me right now? And I think I like it 😊😜

    • Tara
      October 11, 2017 at 11:35 AM

      SO AWESOME TO HEAR!! I’m so happy for you, Fonda! And I love that you’re showing off your pie to your friends and family! That’s the sign of a great pie!

  • Penny
    October 12, 2017 at 7:26 PM

    This is my goto Pie Crust. I absolutely love it. So easy to make and the taste is off the charts!!! I made this today for a Chicken Pot Pie and it turned out Fabulous! !!! Thank you for a awesome recipe. I’ve said before I will never use oil or shortening for a pie crust again.

  • Kate
    October 14, 2017 at 2:05 PM

    I am always hesitant to try new recipes because they don’t always turn out, but this was truly an amazing recipe!! Absolutely the best pie crust I’ve ever tried! So flakey and bakes perfectly! Will keep this recipe forever and will pass down to my kiddos. Thanks for the best pie crust recipe ever!!
    This deserves 10 stars!!

    • Tara
      October 15, 2017 at 10:06 AM

      Awww yay!! So great to hear, Kate! These are the types of recipes I truly love – tried and true that can be passed on to friends and family. I’m so glad this was one of those types of recipes for you.

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