Ready to make the easiest pie crust? All you need is 3 ingredients, and you will have a delicious homemade pie crust. Following this recipe, you will make two 9-inch pie crust doughs.
I have heard there is such a thing as "pie season," but pie is good year-round! Granted, making a pie in the fall when fruits are at their peak is nice. However, this is also the same time that fruits are frozen, which makes pie season year around in our home.
Using this recipe, you can make two simple 9-inch pie crusts, yielding one double-crusted or lattice pie or opening two pies. Fill the pie with your favorite pie fillings; I find that simple ingredients taste best.
Using Plant-Based Butter
I made this pie crust several times to test the results using traditional animal and plant-based butter. I found that this recipe works perfectly with traditional animal butter. However, if you use plant-based butter, you must make one adjustment. Instead of using 1 cup of butter, use ½ of plant-based butter and ½ of shortening. This will yield a perfect vegan pie crust.
Equipment You Will Need
You will need minimal equipment to make a 3-ingredient pie crust; a mixing bowl, a rolling pin, pie weights, and plastic wrap. If baking a pie, you will need a pie pan.
Mixing Bowl -I like to use a medium-sized bowl with a wide rim. The wide rim makes it easier to cut the butter into the flour.
Rolling pin - Use your favorite rolling pin. You have many choices if you are looking for a new rolling pin. I have five different rolling pins, but I only use one -- and I swear by it -- the French rolling pin. It is light and agile. As a bonus, it is the least expensive style and runs about $5.
Pastry cutter (optional) - This simple tool is worth its weight in gold. It cuts the butter into the flour quickly and efficiently while avoiding heat from your hands.
Pie weights - These are a must-have when making a crust. However, don't buy expensive weights; instead, use dried beans, lentils, or rice. The same weights can be used repeatedly (my pie weights are beans, and I have been using the same ones for five years!)
Plastic Wrap -You must use this to wrap the dough between resting periods. If only using half the dough, you will also need plastic wrap to save the other half.
Flour - This is the foundation of this recipe. Depending on your filling, you might consider two different flours, all-purpose flour and pastry flour.
- All-purpose flour (ALP): I typically use ALP for everything. This flour is strong enough for pies, cakes, and doughs. It is easy to find and affordable.
- Pastry flour: has a slightly lower protein content than ALP, which results in a tender and flakier crust. This flour is a good choice for delicate fillings but is not required.
Unsalted butter - Use your favorite brand. European and plant-based butter is higher in fat and adds more flavor. Also, I always recommend using unsalted butter in baking because it allows you, the baker, to control how much salt is in your recipe. Now with that said, I have used salted butter because it was convenient, and I did not notice a difference.
Vegan modification - Swap regular butter for vegan butter/ vegan shortening combination at 1:1. (equal parts vegan butter and vegan shortening to the one part butter)
Ice Water - Fill a cup with water and add a handful of ice cubes. This is more water than you will need, but the extra cold water is helpful to dip your fingers in while working with the dough.
- Salt - to add a little extra flavor, whisk 1 teaspoon of salt into the flour before adding the butter.
- Sugar - To create a sweet pie crust, whisk two tablespoons of granulated sugar into the flour before adding the butter.
- Salt and Sugar - Add ½ a teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of granulated sugar to this recipe.
How to Combine the Butter and Flour
There are four easy ways to combine the butter and flour together; using your fingertips, sheeting, pastry blending, or food processor. All methods create the same result. Note that when blending butter into flour for the dough, the dough should be loose with small bits of butter.
- Finger Tips - Use only your fingertips to blend the butter into the flour. Using your fingertips, you transfer as little heat from your hands as possible to the butter.
- Food Processor - This is a popular method because it is easy. Place the flour and the clubbed butter into the food processor and pulse no more than six times. It is also easy to over-blend the butter into the flour, resulting in a tough dough.
- Pasty Blender - This tool allows you to cut the butter into the flour in a downward-rotating process. I like the pastry blender because it limits the amount of heat coming in contact with the butter, and the result is consistent.
- Sheeting - Snap the butter and flour between your fingers to create longer sheets of butter. I like this method because of how the butter stretches through the flour.
Step One: Combine the Flour and Butter -
Add two and a half cups of flour and one cup of cold cubed butter in a mixing bowl. Use your fingertips, a pastry blender, or a fork to cut the butter into the flour. The flour should be coarse and loose with small, pea-sized bits of butter.
Food Processor Method:
Add two and a half cups of flour and one cup of cold cubed butter in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture starts to form bean-size pieces.
Step Two: Add the Ice Water -
Gradually add the ice water to the flour and butter mixture, stirring with a fork until the dough comes together. Toward the end, you must use your hands to form the ball. Try to use your hands as little as possible to keep the butter cold. and forms a ball.
Food Processor Method:
Using the feed tube, slowly add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and then pulse. Continue until the dough starts to come together. The dough should be moist but not wet, and you should see bits of butter in the dough.
High Altitude Adjustment:
Prepare the dough as normal. If it is not coming together, add drizzle additional cold water in 1-tablespoon increments. If the dough is dry in sports or breaks apart easily, continue to add additional water.
Did you know: Replacing half of the water with flavorless cold vodka creates a flakier crust? That is because alcohol evaporates quicker than water, leaving behind less moisture, which can result in a flakier crust.
Step Three: Form the Dough -
*Steps going forward are the same for both the hand and food processor methods.
Once the dough has come together, form it into a ball. If you have been using a food processor, remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a ball.
Using a sharp knife or pastry scraper, cut the ball in half. and loosely wrap it in plastic wrap. Flatten the ball to form a disc shape and gently over it with your rolling pin (pre-roll). The plastic will help keep the dough together while you pre-roll. This simple step makes for a faster prep time and better results.
Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 - 90 minutes to rest. During this time, preheat your oven to 375°F.
Place the dough in the refrigerator for 60 minutes or up to three days. Use the dough to make your favorite pie, tart, quiche, etc.
Different types of Crusts
|Pie Crust Style||Description||When to Use|
|Blind Bake||Pre-bake the crust without the filling.||When the filling requires less time to cook than the crust, an example of this is a quiche.|
|Decorative Edge||Create a decorative edge of the pie plate using a fork, fingers, or a specialized tool.||Popular with custard pies or pumpkin pies.|
|Double Crust Pie||Place a top crust on the pie filling and seal it to the bottom crust.||Common with fruit pies and meat pies.|
|LatticeTop||Weave strips of dough over the top of the pie to create a decorative lattice pattern.||The decorative tops are popular with fruit pies. They create a country feel.|
|Par-baking||The crust is baked until it is set but not yet golden brown.||Best with pies with a filling that requires less cooking time than the crust. This method helps prevent soggy bottoms.|
|Pre-baked||Thoroughly bake the crust before adding the filling.||For no-bake fillings such as cream pies.|
Different Ways To Top a Pie
|Pie Top Styles||Description|
|Classic||A whole top crust covers the pie filling with crimped or fluted edges.|
|Crumble||A crumbly mixture of flour, sugar, and butter is sprinkled over the pie filling and is often used for fruit pies.|
|Cutout||Using cookie cutters or knife creates shapes in the top crust, such as stars, hearts, or leaves. It adds a playful touch.|
|Lattice||Weaving strips of pie dough over the top of the pie filling to create a decorative lattice pattern. Often used for fruit pies.|
|Open-faced||Leaving the top of the pie filling exposed, with no top crust. Often used for pies with a custard or cream filling.|
|Streusel||A mixture of butter, sugar, and flour is crumbled over the pie filling instead of a top crust and is often used for sweet pies such as apple or pumpkin.|
- Keep the ingredients cold: The first rule of pastry is old butter = a flaky crust. The butter creates pockets of steam while baked, making a flakey crust. If the butter becomes too warm, it becomes fully incorporated into the dough. To avoid this, always keep the butter cold. A few tricks of the trade include:
- Keep the butter in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
- Wash your hands in cold water before working with the dough.
- If the butter becomes too warm, put it back in the refrigerator. I often have to do this when making dough in the summer.
- When combining the butter and flour, only use your fingers. Your palms will create more heat and have a larger surface area, which gives the butter more time to warm.
- Do not overwork the dough: What does overworking the dough really mean? All those pea-sized bits of butter you see in the dough are desired. Conversely, overworking the dough and thoroughly combining the butter so you no longer see those chunks. The result is a tough dough with no flakes.
- Mix the dough by hand: I recommend mixing the dough by hand instead of using a mixer or a food processor. While using a mixer or food processor sounds easy, it is easy to over-mix the dough. When that happens, the becomes too blended, and the dough becomes flakeless and touch.
- Protect the edges: In the baking process, the edges of the cust can over-brown or burn. This often happens when making a crust high in sugar, butter, or both. You can buy a pie crust shield or make one at home. To make one at home, use a sheet of tin foil large enough to go around the pie crust,
- Transferring the dough: Doing this in one move ensures the dough stays on one long sheet. I prefer the rolling pin method. However, I included both for you to choose which method you are most comfortable with.
- Rolling pin method: Move your rolling pin to the end of the dough. Gently roll the pin backward, wrapping the dough around your pin. Then lift the dough and move it to your baking dish. Once in your baking dish, use your fingers to shape the dough into place. Once placed, roll over the top of the dough with your rolling pin to remove the extra dough.
- Quarter method: Once you have rolled the dough out, gently fold it into a semi-circle and fold it in half again. Once folded, pick up the dough and place it in the center of your baking dish. Unfold the dough and press it into shape. Once established, roll over the top of the dough with your rolling pin to remove the extra dough.
Frequently Asked Questions
I do not recommend using a high-performance blender to make pastry dough. The butter will become too small, so you will not have a flaky crust.
How do I modify this recipe for high altitude?
According to the Colorado State University Extension, "Although not generally affected by altitude, slightly more liquid may improve the texture." In my experience, I would interpret slightly more liquid as a tablespoon or less.
Note: As long as I can remember, they have been the best resource for baking at altitude adjustments, and I always check their site before adjusting any recipe.
Yes, but I do not recommend it. Rolling the dough in sugar seems like a good idea. However, the sugar is only on the surface, can burn, and is not evenly mixed into the dough. Instead, I recommend adding one tablespoon of sugar to the recipe and whisking the sugar into the flour as you would when mixing dry ingredients for a cake. This will ensure even distribution.
How to Store Pie Dough
Refrigerator Instructions - Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and store it for 3 days. Before using, let the dough come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. I like to store dough for as long as I can, up to three days, for a flakier crust.
Freezer Instructions - Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag or an airtight container for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use it, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then let it come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before rolling it out on a floured surface.
How to Store Pie Crust
Refrigerator Instructions - let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store for up to 3 days.
Freezer Instructions - Allow the baked crust to come to room temperature. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a resealable freezer bag. Label the bag with the date and type of crust, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
3-Ingredient Pie Crust Recipe
- Rolling Pin
- Medium bowl
- 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup butter (cold and diced)
- ½ cup water (cold)
- Step One: Combine the Flour and Butter -Hand Method:Add two and a half cups of flour and one cup of cold cubed butter in a mixing bowl. Use your fingertips, a pastry blender, or a fork to cut the butter into the flour. The flour should be coarse and loose with small, pea-sized bits of butter.Place the flour and butter in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture starts to form bean-size pieces. Food Processor Method: Add two and a half cups of flour and one cup of cold cubed butter in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture starts to form bean-size pieces.
- Step Two: Add the Ice Water -Hand Method:Gradually add the ice water to the flour and butter mixture, stirring with a fork until the dough comes together. Toward the end, you must use your hands to form the ball. Use your hands as little as possible to keep the butter cold.Food Processor Method:Using the feed tube, slowly add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and then pulse. Continue until the dough starts to come together. The dough should be moist but not wet, and you should see bits of butter.High Altitude Adjustment:Prepare the dough as normal. If it is not coming together, add cold water in 1-tablespoon increments. If the dough is dry in sports or breaks apart easily, continue to add additional water. Food Processor Method:
- Step Three: Form the Dough -*Steps going forward are the same for both the hand and food processor methods.Once the dough has come together, form it into a ball. If you have been using a food processor, remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a ball.Using a sharp knife or pastry scraper, cut the ball in half. and loosely wrap it in plastic wrap. Flatten the ball to form a disc shape and gently over it with your rolling pin (pre-roll). The plastic will help keep the dough together while you pre-roll. This simple step makes for a faster prep time and better results. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 60 minutes or up to three days. Use the dough to make your favorite pie, tart, quiche, etc.
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