This is your ULTIMATE guide to making a perfect pie crust! It has 4 great recipes – traditional, whole wheat, graham cracker, & chocolate cookie crusts.
I’ll be the first to admit that I used to be totally intimidated by pie crust. I felt like there were too many rules, too many recipes, and too many differing opinions on what makes one crust work and another one flop. Do you use shortening, butter, or lard? For how long do you chill it?
I thought that if I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, I’d ruin hours worth of work because pie crust was fussy and hard. But after a full 12 hour day of making pie crusts, I’m here to tell you that pie is awesome and the crust is totally doable. I tried 8 different crust variations, made at least 20 different crusts, and used everything from a fork to a food processor to make them. YOU CAN MAKE A HOMEMADE PIE CRUST, friends, and I’ll be your guide to all things pie crust. Whether you are new to pie-making or you make it weekly, you’ll find this post interesting.
Few things are more rewarding than pulling a hot homemade pie from the oven. It makes you feel like a domestic ninja goddess. I did all the work and research so that you can make homemade pie crust at home with confidence. Trust me on this one – learning how to make pie just might change your life.
I tested recipes using a fork, a pastry blender, and a food processor to combine the flours and fat. I made pie crust using all butter, all shortening, half shortening and half butter, all lard, gluten-free flour, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, graham cracker crumbs, and chocolate cookie crumbs. I also did 6 different washes on top of the pie crust to see what produces the best browning while baking. If that doesn’t cover 99% of your pie crust needs, then I don’t know what will!
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Combining Flour + Fat for Perfect Pie Crust:
NOTE: In my research and through my experience, I noticed that butter needs to be combined much less than shortening does. When you are mixing your flour and shortening together, you want the pieces to be as small as peas to bread crumbs. When you are combining butter, you want the butter to still have chunks the size of peas, but not smaller.
Using a fork is the simplest way to get the job done. All of us have a fork in our house, so no extra tools are needed. This method takes the longest because a fork is a pretty small area to work with, but it does work. I’d also note that if you have wrist/grip/arthritis issues, it’s a little more taxing on your wrist and hands (I’m a chronic carpal tunnel sufferer, so this mattered to me).
Pastry blenders were built for this job and they work great! I felt like the pastry blender worked well for all of the crusts, though it was a little harder to use for the all-butter recipe (cold butter is really hard!). This is a pretty inexpensive single-use gadget that I feel is worth owning if you plan on making pie a few times a year. I also use my pastry blender to chop up eggs for egg salad, and the kids use it to mash bananas for banana bread.
Did you know that you could use a rolling pin to get the fat and flour together? I sure didn’t, until I saw this post from Annalise of Completely Delicious. I have used this method to cut butter into flour many times and I love it. Take a look! It’s a little messy, but it works very well. I think this is the best option for the all-butter recipe (besides the food processor). It does not work very well for any of the other recipes though, because the other fats stick to the rolling pin.
This worked very quickly, but you need to know the best ways to use it. I already own one and use it all of the time to make my favorite energy bites. If you only want it for pie crust, it probably isn’t worth the expense, but once I got one I found myself using it often. If you have one, I thought it was worth washing it to use for pie crust. I recommend that you only combine the fat and flour in the food processor, then dump the mixture into a bowl to stir the water in by hand. I have found that I overwork the dough when I try to add the water in the food processor, and my dough comes out tougher than I’d like. The food processor was also definitely the best option for crushing graham crackers and chocolate cookies into crumbs for those crusts.