How to Make a Pie Crust | The Basics

Pie is an iconic American dessert, and there are few kitchen projects as rewarding as baking one. The best pies start with a flaky homemade crust, which is a lot easier to make than some people fear. We’ll teach you how to make a Pie Crust here!

After then go off and explore our pie recipes – any filling can be paired with this crust, which is yet another reason to master it.

Before You Start

  • You’ll need a 9-inch pie pan, a rolling pin and pie weights (or use dried beans).
  • Your butter must be cold; even frozen butter works as long as you cut it into cubes before freezing.
  • Be sure to factor in at least one hour to let your dough chill before rolling it out.

Rolling Out Dough

  • Lightly dust flour onto a clean counter and onto a rolling pin. (Alternatively, you can roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap; no flour required.)
  • Put the dough on the floured surface and, using the pin, roll away from you, applying pressure evenly.
  • Rotate the dough clockwise as you work so it’s uniformly thin and isn’t rolled irretrievably into the counter. Lightly dust the counter with flour as you work. But don’t overdo it with the flour. Too much flour all at once makes a tough crust.
  • Continue to roll the dough in all directions until you have a 12-inch circle. (If your rolled dough doesn’t end up in a neat circle, you can trim it, and use the trimmings to patch up any rips, holes or bald spots.)
  • Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie pan by gently rolling it up onto the pin, then carefully unfurling it into the pan. Fold over any excess dough. If you’re not making a top crust, then the crimp edges now.
  • Prick crust all over with a fork, then chill crust for 30 minutes. Your crust is now ready to fill or blind bake.

We’ll show you how to make a pie crust step by step, with lots of tips along the way. You’ll learn how to make pie dough, how to roll it out, and how to put it in your pie pan.

Blind Baking

Blind baking is partially baking a pie crust before you add the filling, which helps keep the crust crunchy. After filling it, you return the pie to the oven to finish baking. It’s a particularly good method for custard pies, like pumpkin and pecan, that are prone to sogginess.

Blind baking can be done up to 24 hours before filling; cover the crust loosely with a dish towel and store it at room temperature.

  • Begin with the chilled, rolled-out dough in the pan. Line the dough with parchment paper or foil. Fill the parchment or foil with pie weights, uncooked rice or dried beans. Transfer to a 425-degree oven.
  • Bake the crust until it firms up, about 15 minutes. It will still be very pale at this point. Remove the parchment or foil and weights, then return crust to the oven to brown slightly.
  • Bake the crust 5 to 7 minutes more, until pale golden brown. Let it cool on a rack before filling.

Top Crust

Custard pies don’t usually have tops, but fruit pies just about always do, and it’s something you can play around with. Start with any fruit filling you like, pile it into your pan, and then choose one of the top crusts, or the crumble, below:

Lattice Top

To make a lattice top, you’ll need to double your pie dough if it’s not already a recipe for a double crust. Roll out the chilled dough and cut it into 1-inch thick strips.

Place half the dough strips parallel to each other across the top of the filled pie. (Reserve some of the longer strips for when you weave the lattice.) The longest strip should be in the center of the pie.

Flip up every other strip on the pie. Place another long strip perpendicular to the others across the center of the pie.

Flip those strips back down, then flip up the other strips. Weave in a second strip of dough. Repeat process on one side, and then the other, until you have fully covered the pie with woven strips.

Gently press lattice strip edges into the bottom crust, then crimp the edges to seal the top and bottom crusts together. Or, if you’ve blind baked the bottom crust, simply tuck in the edges of the lattice so the strips don’t hang over the side of the pan. Brush lattice all over with milk, cream or an egg wash (a mix of egg and water or milk) to encourage browning. You can sprinkle the top with sugar or cinnamon sugar if you like.

Whole Top

To cover the top of the whole pie, you’ll need to double your pie dough if it’s not already a recipe for a double crust. Roll out the chilled dough, then lay it out over the top of the filled pie.

Crimp the edges to seal the top and bottom crusts together. Or, if you’ve blind baked the bottom crust, simply tuck in the edges of the top crust so it doesn’t hang over the side of the pan.

Slash the top of the pie with a knife to allow steam to escape. Brush top crust all over with milk, cream or an egg wash (a mix of egg and water or milk) to encourage browning. You can sprinkle it with sugar or cinnamon sugar if you like.

Cut-Out Top

To make a top using dough cutouts, you’ll need to double your pie dough if it’s not already a recipe for a double crust. Roll out the chilled dough and use decorative cookie cutters (circles, leaves, etc.) to cut out shapes from the dough.

If you haven’t blind baked the crust, use a paring knife or scissors to trim any dough that is hanging over the edge of the pan. The dough should be flush with the edge of the pan.

Arrange a ring of cutouts around the outer edge of the filled pie (the cutouts should be touching the crust, coming flush to the edge).

Continue adding cutouts to fully cover the top of the pie. You can overlap the cutouts (or not) as you see fit.

Brush cutouts all over with milk, cream or an egg wash (a mix of egg and water or milk) to encourage browning. You can sprinkle the cutouts with sugar or cinnamon sugar if you like.

Crumble Top

To make a simple crumble for a standard 9-inch pie, combine 3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon (5 grams) cinnamon, a large pinch of salt and 5 tablespoons (71 grams) softened butter in a large bowl.

Use your hands to mix the ingredients together, pinching the mixture until large crumbs form. The crumbs should be on the larger side, a bit bigger than a lima bean. Do not make small crumbs.

Scatter crumbs over the top of the pie. It is nice, but not necessary, to mound more of the crumbs in the center of the pie and fade them out toward the edges so that some of the filling can show.

Step-by-Step Guide

1. There are four ingredients in a standard piecrust: flour, fat, liquid, and salt. Flour forms the structure and bulk of the crust, fat adds flavor and creates a flaky texture, liquid binds the dough and keeps it pliable, and salt enhances the flavor and helps brown the crust. See below for more info about the four basic ingredients.

2. Always chill the fat (butter, margarine, shortening, or lard) and liquid before you begin. This prevents the fat pieces from getting creamed into the flour.

  • Stir the flour, salt, and sugar (if using) together in a large bowl.
  • Cut the chilled butter or shortening into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands.
  • You can also use a food processor: pulse the flour with half the shortening until it’s the texture of cornmeal. Add the remaining shortening or butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas.
  • Turn the mixture into a bowl.

3. Add the chilled water one tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Handle the dough as little as possible; overworking will make it tough.

4. Split the dough in half. Pat the dough into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap.

  • The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in discrete pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it’s baked.

5. Generously dust a clean, dry surface with flour; remove and unwrap one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator.

  • Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin.
  • Start rolling at the center of the dough and work outwards. If you’re a beginning pie-maker–or prefer easier cleanup–you can roll out the dough between sheets of waxed paper.

6. Working quickly, roll the dough into a circle ¼-inch thick or thinner.

  • As you roll it out, lift up an edge or move the dough to ensure it’s not sticking to the counter. Add flour as needed.
  • The dough round should be two to four inches wider in diameter than your pie pan. Use a dry pastry brush to sweep away any excess flour.

7. Gently fold the dough in half, and then into quarters.

  • If it seems too brittle to fold, try another bakers’ trick: roll up the pie crust around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie plate.
Pie Crust

8. Carefully pick it up and place the dough into the pie plate so the center point of dough is in the center of the pan.

9. Unfold the dough, letting the weight of the dough settle it in the bottom and edges of the pan. Without stretching the dough, press the pastry into the pan with your fingertips.

10. Use kitchen shears or a paring knife to trim the dough to about a half-inch overhang. Save the scraps; you can use those to bulk up thin areas of the crust when you’re fluting the edges.

11. If you’re making a single-crust pie, fold the dough under itself onto the flat rim of the pie plate. Flute the edges of the crust, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.

  • For a double-crust or lattice-top pie, refrigerate the bottom crust while you roll out the top crust. Transfer the top crust (it doesn’t have to be a perfect circle) to a parchment- or wax paper-lined sheet pan. Cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

12. Once the pie is loaded with filling, lay the top crust over the top.

  • Trim it to leave a half-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself and crimp to form a seal.
Cut vents into the pie crust

13. Cut vents into the pie crust with a sharp paring knife, or use a fork to prick a decorative pattern on the top crust. Small cookie cutters are especially nice when baking apple pies: these need to be well vented so that the crust doesn’t end up as a solid dome over the cooked-down fruit.

Pie Baking Tips

  1. Always bake a pie on a rimmed baking sheet to contain any overflow. A baking sheet also makes removing the pie from the oven easier.
  2. You can freeze a whole, unbaked fruit pie. Then bake it while still frozen, adding about 15 minutes onto the baking time. Do not thaw it first or you could lose flakiness in the crust.
  3. For the best-looking crimped crust, or to avoid having your crust shrink in the oven, freeze the unbaked pie dough before filling and baking (or blind baking). The colder your dough when you get it into the oven, the better it holds its shape.
  4. You can store your baked pie at room temperature, covered, for up to one day. After that, the crust will become irretrievablysoggy.