7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (2024)

It's pie season and here is the perfect recipe, and all the tips and tricks you need to know to create the best pie crust for all your pie needs!

If you're intimidated by pie doughs and struggling to make pies, I've listed for you the 7 best tips and tricks for a perfect flakey pie crust every time, with a bonus tip and recipe at the bottom!


7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (1)

I can't deny that I've had a lot of trouble with pie doughs in the past. I've had ones that are too soft, or ones that were too hard from overworking.

I've had ones that are too crumbly and fell apart as soon as you cut into them, not making for a clean removal from the dish, and ones that were undercooked and soggy even. I've experimented and tested a few from trusted sources, made my own tweaks here and there until finally, after much trial and error, I've made my favourite dough for all my pies - my No-Fail Pie Crust recipe which you'll find below.

But before making the dough, you'll need some helpful tips so you can no longer feel intimidated by making pies, and you can have a successful outcome every time. It's fool proof , and delicious!

7 Tips and Tricks for a perfect pie crust:

1. Flour - fat - water ratio.

Although most pie doughs only use 4 main ingredients which are flour, fat, water and salt, you'll need a good ratio of the ingredients to be able to make a good one. In most cases, its 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part water. Though you'll need to be careful with adding the water, and start with less, then add more if your dough is too dry. Add just enough so its malleable, but not wet.

2. Pick your fats.

I've learned a lot about the different fats for pie doughs and how best to work with each kind. Almost all recipes use butter, with good reason - it has the most flavour. Other recipes use a combination of butter and lard or shortening.

Though it doesn't have as much flavour as butter, lard can be used because it chills nicely, is easy to work with, and it doesn't break down as fast as the butter when baked.

The butter and lard combination has enough moisture that when baked, evaporates, then leaves pockets of air which then gives you those flakey layers, yet not making it too crumbly.

Shortening can also be used, which is usually the choice fat when making pie crust. It's easy to work with, and works similarly to lard, though it has little to no flavour. All of these are great choices to work with.

3. Keep ingredients COLD.

Regardless of what kind of fat you use, the main trick is that your ingredients need to be COLD. This ensures that when rolled out, you still have those pockets of fat that evaporate when baked and creates layers.

7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (3)

4. Do NOT use your hands.

In keeping with tip #3, use a food processor or pastry cutter to incorporate the fat. The warmth from your hands can melt the fats into the dough. When incorporating the fat, you want a crumbly texture, but not too fine that its mealy, and you'll want some slightly larger pieces (about the size of a pea) as well. These pieces when baked, melt and their moisture evaporates which makes those flakey layers.

5. Add some vinegar or vodka!

An unusual ingredient, but essential. Both the vinegar and vodka have elements in them that adds moisture, without the addition of water (water encourages gluten development through binding the proteins in the flour, and you don't want that!).

Vodka evaporates, while vinegar is distilled and doesn't encourage gluten development. Either one of them helps with tenderizing the dough, making it much easier to work with. When baked, they lead to a flakier (and tastier) crust.

Use them interchangeably, and no, you will not taste it.

7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (4)

6. Don't overwork your dough.

Combine the dough just enough until it comes together, is malleable, but doesn't fall apart. The more you work it encourages the gluten development and will result in a tough dough. You will be breaking down the fats further thus not getting the flakey layers. So work quickly and don't overwork it!

7. Egg wash the bottom!

What?! Yep. This may be one of the more important tips I can ever give you. Once you've placed your rolled out dough into your dish, egg wash the bottom and sides then refrigerate while you prepare your filling. Not only does the dough chill once more, but the egg wash dries and forms a barrier from your filling. This helps so the juices don't seep into the bottom crust, and you'll never have a soggy bottom crust ever again! Instructions for blind baking can also be found in the recipe.

7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (5)

Pie crust with egg wash

Bonus: Sweet or savoury?

Most pie doughs use only 4 main ingredients, but if you want, you can add flavour to your pie crust as well. I've added 1 tablespoon of sugar to add a bit of sweetness, but you can omit the sugar or use a combination of herbs and spices to make a savoury pie dough! Sometimes I like to add a teaspoon of garlic powder to my dough when I want to make a savoury quiche or meat pie.

All in all, my recipe below is quite easy to make, and with the tips and learnings I've listed above, I'm sure you'll be able to get that flakey pastry that will be perfect for whatever flavour pie you'll be making!

7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (6)
7 Tips for Perfect Flakey Pie Crust and recipe for No-Fail Pie Crust (2024)


What are the six ways to ensure a tender flaky pie crust? ›

7 pie crust tips for tender, flaky results every time
  1. 1Keep the dough ingredients cool.
  2. 2Use a light touch.
  3. 3Hydrate the dough (but not too much)
  4. 4Chill the dough.
  5. 5Keep the dough from sticking.
  6. 6Roll the dough out evenly.
  7. 7Relax.
Nov 4, 2022

What is one of the most common mistakes bakers make when preparing a pastry crust? ›

Whether you use a food processor, a stand mixer, or your hands to incorporate the ingredients together, overmixing is a common mistake that leads to a chewy crust. It's tempting when baking to combine the ingredients completely, but the texture should resemble a coarse meal before adding your liquid.

Which fat is best to use to make a flaky crust? ›

Vegetable Shortening

As shortening is able to withstand higher temperatures and does not melt easily, it creates flaky and crisp yet tender pie crusts when used alone or in combination with butter.

What is the best flour to use in flaky pie crust? ›

What kind of flour makes the best pie crust? Well, not high-protein bread flour! Use that for your chewy bagels. What you want for pie is flour that yields a tender, flaky crust, which means medium-protein all-purpose flour or low-protein pastry flour.

Why isn't my pie crust flaky? ›

One universal truth when making crusts is that you need to keep everything cool, particularly the butter. Warm butter will be absorbed by the flour instead of coating it, resulting in a tougher, less flaky crust. Once you take the butter out of the fridge, work quickly to make the pie crust.

What is the best fat for creating flaky texture in a finished pie? ›

Another advantage of butter is that it creates a flaky crust. Butter“gives you the flakiness that no other fat can give you,” De Sa Martins said. That's because “during the baking process, the water found in butter releases steam and separates the layers within the crust,” she explained.

Should you poke holes in bottom of pie crust? ›

With docking, the holes allow steam to escape, so the crust should stay flat against the baking dish when it isn't held down by pie weights or a filling. Otherwise the crust can puff up, not only impacting appearance but also leaving you with less space for whatever filling you have planned.

Should I bake the bottom pie crust first? ›

You do not need to pre-bake a pie crust for an apple pie or any baked fruit pie really, but we do freeze the dough to help it stay put. Pre-baking the pie crust is only required when making a custard pie OR when making a fresh fruit pie. you should probably get: Pie weights are super helpful to have for pre-baking.

What are 3 common baking mistakes? ›

Here is a rundown of the 11 most common baking mistakes people make and how you can avoid them as best as possible.
  1. You Forget To Add A Key Ingredient. ...
  2. You Don't Measure Your Ingredients. ...
  3. You Open The Oven Far Too Often. ...
  4. You Use The Ingredients At The Wrong Temperature. ...
  5. You Don't Sift Your Dry Ingredients.

What happens if you don't chill pie crust before baking? ›

Non-chilled crust is fairly crumbly and less smooth, which makes it harder to roll out and means it may not look as polished. It will brown more quickly and the final product will likely be tougher, heavier, and more doughy – none of those in a bad way. It will likely have a more intense, butter flavor.

What are 4 rules to follow when making pastry? ›

General rules

Keep everything as cool as possible otherwise the fat may melt which would spoil the finished dish. Introduce as much air as possible during making. Allow to relax after making to allow the fat to harden. Handle the pastry as little as possible.

How does a pie crust get its flaky texture? ›

Shortening gives you better flakes because it melts so slowly that the dough surrounding the piece of shortening has more time to cook before the fat melts. This leaves you with bigger pockets or flakes in your pie dough. Butter gives you flavor and tenderness, shortening gives you flakes.

Does butter or shortening make a flakier crust? ›

Shortening is better at crumbly crust, butter is better at flaky. But you can get either from both. There are obvious differences in flavor, and butter can give you a very nice chewiness in a crust while still being tender. Butter also tends to shrink and lose shape/detail more when it bakes.

What does adding vinegar to pie crust do? ›

Vinegar is very acidic, and that acidity is thought to slow the development of gluten in dough.


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