5 No-Stress Secrets to Rolling out Pie Dough

Rolling out pie dough can be tricky, even with the perfect recipe. Find out how to roll out the best crust every time.

The idea of rolling out homemade pie dough can be intimidating. I get it. From cracks and holes to the precarious transfer between the countertop to the pie plate, there are lots of ways to err when making America’s favorite dessert. But let’s be honest, has a crumbly crust ever turned you away from a piece of homemade pie? I think not.

So, at the start, let’s all agree on one thing: Even bad pie is good. Worst case scenario, you have to top it with your favorite vanilla ice cream. You’ve created dessert nirvana regardless of the cracks in your crust.

Just start with a tried-and-true classic pie crust recipe and follow my five secrets. You won’t need to count on the prepared stuff—unless you’re crunched for time. Then try our favorite brand.

Secret 1: Use copious amounts of flour

rolling out pie doughPeggy Woodward/Taste of Home

To start, use a generous amount of flour on your countertop and right on your pastry dough. This goes against all conventional wisdom and recommendations for working with pastry, but it makes everything so much easier! Will it make your pastry dough be tougher than if you had skimped on flour? Yes. Will anyone notice that it’s not as delicate as your usual crust? No, but they would notice your bleary, bloodshot eyes and patch of missing hair from crying and pulling your hair out over your mess of a pie crust. So, flour away.

Secret 2: Stay ahead of the cracks

dough cracksPeggy Woodward/Taste of Home

As you roll, stop periodically to crimp together any cracks that form, especially around the edges of the dough. Catching small cracks early will prevent them from becoming large cracks or holes later in the process. It takes extra time to do this, but it’s essential!

Give the dough a quarter of a turn as you roll it out to help create an even thickness and symmetrical shape. Turning the dough also helps loosen the dough from the counter to prevent sticking.

Secret 3: Keep it clean

dough rolling pinPeggy Woodward/Taste of Home

Your rolling pin, that is! As you take breaks to flour the counter and turn your dough, rub your hand over the rolling pin to scrape off any little bits of dough that have gotten stuck to the pin. Those bits will stick to your dough, especially as it softens, and pull up dough in chunks, leaving infuriating holes and divots.

A good rolling pin is a pastry-making must have. So are these other pie-baking tools.

Secret 4: Try this spatula trick

use-spatula-turn-pie-crustPeggy Woodward/Taste of HomeUse a long-handled spatula with a thin head to occasionally loosen the dough from your counter. This is especially handy as the dough gets thinner (and warmer) and is more likely to stick to your counter.

You can also use the spatula to help turn the dough as it gets more delicate. Look at those thin pieces of butter! That’s pastry goodness waiting to puff into flaky layers in the oven.

Does butter make a superior pie crust? We had to find out.

Secret 5: Invest in a pastry brush

brush off dough, flourpeggy woodward/taste of home

Even though I’m a fan of rolling out dough with a generous amount flour, I also remove excess to prevent a floury taste and minimize any negative effect it might have on the texture of the crust. Before I transfer the pastry to the pie plate (I like this classic design), I brush off the excess flour. I also carefully brush off as much flour as I can from the under side of the dough before I make the transfer. A pastry brush with natural bristles works better than one with silicone bristles.

Now all you have to do is trim and flute the edge and your blank canvas is ready for filling. One last secret: Be sure to put the unfilled crust in the fridge while making your filling. Cold butter will hold the shape of the fluted edge better than soft butter. It will also be better at creating flaky layers in your pastry as the pie bakes.

Sure, I said no pie is bad pie. But your pie? Stick to these secrets and it’s gonna be great.

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Peggy Woodward, RDN
Peggy is a Senior Food Editor for Taste of Home. In addition to curating recipes, she writes articles, develops recipes and is our in-house nutrition expert. She studied dietetics at the University of Illinois and completed post-graduate studies at the Medical University of South Carolina to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Peggy has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s a mom, a foodie and enjoys being active in her rural Wisconsin community.