How to Make Pie Crust

How to Make Single- & Double-Crust Pie Pastry

Step 1

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in shortening until dough is crumbly (about the size of small peas).

Step 2

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice-cold water over mixture and toss gently with a fork. Repeat until dry ingredients are moist and mixture forms a ball.

Step 3

On a floured surface, shape dough for single-crust pie into a ball. For a double-crust pie, divide dough, with one portion slightly larger than the other, and shape into balls. Flatten balls into a circle, pressing together any cracks or breaks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for easier handling if desired.

Step 4

On a lightly floured surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a circle from center of pastry to edges. Shape it 2 in. larger than the pie plate, and about 1/8 in. thick. For a double-crust pie, use the larger of the two balls for your bottom crust.

Step 5

Roll pastry loosely around rolling pin. Position dough over edge of pie plate and unroll. Allow the pastry to ease into the plate. Do not stretch it to fit. With kitchen shears, trim pastry 1/2 in. beyond edge of pie plate for a single crust, even with the edge for a double crust, or 1 in. beyond edge for lattice crust.

Step 6 (for a double crust pie)

Roll second portion into a 12-in. circle about 1/8 in. thick. Transfer pastry as in step 5. Unroll dough over filling. With a knife, cut slits in top to allow steam to escape while baking.

Step 7 (for a double crust pie)

With kitchen shears, trim top pastry 1 in. beyond the edge of the plate. Fold top pastry over bottom pastry.

Step 8 (for a double crust pie)

Position thumb on inside of rim. Position thumb and index finger of other hand on the outside edge and pinch pastry around the thumb to form a V shape and seal dough together. Work your fingers around the entire crust to seal it completely.

Pie Crust Basics

How to Make a Tart Crust

Step 1

Place dough on a piece of waxed paper. Lightly flour the dough, and roll it into a circle.

Step 2

Carefully invert the dough into a prepared tart pan, and gently peel off the waxed paper.

How to Press a Crumb Pie Crust

Press crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. A measuring cup keeps hands clean.

Pie Crust 101

Problems with pie? Here are answers to all your crust questions.

Q: My pie crusts are falling apart! My recipe includes 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup shortening and 3 tablespoons water. What can be done?

A: For a single-crust pie shell, these proportions are all good except for the water. Try adding another 1/2 to 1 tablespoon cold water and you should have a perfect pastry. Chill the pastry dough 30 minutes before rolling to make it easier to handle. Simply shape it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Q: How do I prevent the crust from bubbling up into the filling of a custard pie?

A: Pre-bake the crust at 450° for 5 minutes before you add your custard. Place foil over the crust and pour several cups of dried beans or raw rice over it. This will weigh down the crust and keep it from rising during the partial baking process. Remove the foil with the beans or rice before adding the filling, then bake your custard at a lower temperature, which will give you a smooth, perfectly set filling.

Q: What are some tips for getting a crispier graham cracker crust?

A: When making a pie with a graham cracker crust, keep the bottom from getting soggy by using only butter or regular margarine, not low-fat spreads, which add water. Bake your crust to make it crisp, but make sure it is cooled before adding your filling so moisture will not form between crust and filling.

Q: My recipe calls for a 9-in. graham cracker crust. How do I make one from scratch instead of using a store-bought crust?

A: Begin by crushing 24 graham cracker squares to yield 1-1/2 cups crumbs. In a mixing bowl, combine the crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar. Melt 1/3 cup butter; add to crumb mixture and blend well. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before filling.

Q: How do I keep the edges of my pie crust from burning?

A: To keep a pie crust's tender edges from burning, fold a 12-in. square of foil into quarters. Make a mark on the two folded sides about 3-3/4 in. from the closed corner. Holding the closed corner in one hand, use scissors to cut an arc from one mark to the other. Discard the center. Unfold the remaining foil. When the crust's edges are nicely browned, place the foil shield over the pie, crimping it around the edges. Then return the pie to the oven to finish baking.

It's also easy to make a foil cover that can be washed and reused. On a 12-inch disposable foil pizza pan, draw a 7-inch-diameter circle in the center. Cut out the circle and discard. Then simply center the foil over the pie to cover the crust.

More Pie Pastry Tips

Quick and easy tips to remember.

  • Classic pie pastry recipes are prepared with solid shortening, but lard or butter-flavored shortening can be substituted for plain shortening if desired

  • Measure ingredients accurately, using the measuring tools and techniques called for in the recipe

  • Use all-purpose or pastry flour

  • Combine flour and salt thoroughly before adding the shortening and water

  • Before you measure out the flour and shortening, place about 1/2 cup water in a glass measuring cup and some ice cubes so the water is ice cold when you measure it

  • Avoid overmixing when adding the water to the flour and shortening mixture to prevent tough pastry

  • Chill pie pastry dough for 30 minutes before rolling to make it easier to handle

  • To make pastry ahead, shape dough into a flat disk and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; store it in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days

  • A floured surface keeps the dough from sticking when rolling out pastry

  • Pastry can be rolled out between two sheets of waxed paper—roll it out, peel off the top sheet, invert it into the pie plate and peel off the remaining waxed paper

  • Stretching the pastry will cause it to shrink during baking

  • Use dull-finish aluminum or glass pie plates for a crisp golden crust (shiny pans can produce soggy crusts)

  • Do not grease the pie plate unless the recipe directs

  • Do not prick the bottom of a pastry crust when the filling and crust are to be baked together or your filling will leak

  • Preheat the oven

  • Bake pies in the center of the oven

  • Cool pies on a wire rack