The Best Pie Crust Recipe - Light & Flaky

(4 votes)
4 minutes
October 20, 2022
Carole JonesJump to Recipe

Homemade Pie Crust with Shortening – it can be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner or a complete disaster!  I have the BEST recipe for homemade pie crust you will ever make.  I found this one years ago from Cooks Illustrated and it change my fear of making my own pie crust into a love for it.  It turns out light and flaky every single time. I make the pie dough days ahead of time, keep it in the refrigerator and roll it out when it is time to bake my pies for holiday dessert.

homemade pie crust with shortening and butter - flaky every time

The Secrets to Flaky Pie Crust

I know there are homemade pie crust purists out there that believe the dough should only be made using real butter.  While that may give you a great flavor, only using butter in your crust will result in a pretty dense end result.  

You need a pie crust with shortening AND butter.  You get the killer flavor from the butter, while the shortening gives you the flaky, individual layers of pastry.

secret to flaky pie crust

Can you see the individual pieces of butter and shortening in my dough? That’s because I didn’t overwork the dough! Touch it and work it as little as absolutely possible.

secret to flaky pie crust

Do you see how this dough hasn’t formed into a ball? It is still fairly crumbly and then once it is wrapped in the plastic wrap, I will form it into a disk before putting it in the fridge.

As it rests in the fridge, the glutens relax and the flour absorbs the moisture so it will be perfect by the time you roll it out.

Another key element to the perfect flaky crust is keeping the dough cold.  Touch the dough as little as possible and when you do, use your fingertips instead of the palm of your hands which are hotter.  

Don’t be afraid to put your assembled pie into the fridge to chill the dough before putting it into the oven.  Remember, cold butter and shortening = light and flaky crusts!

Can I Make Pie Crust a Day Ahead of Time?

Not only can you make it a day ahead, you should make it a day ahead…if not two. Allowing the dough to sit, wrapped tightly in the fridge, will allow the flour to absorb the moisture in the dough, let the dough completely relax, and keep the butter and shortening very cold.

For Thanksgiving, I make all my pie crust dough on Monday and pop it in the fridge until Wednesday when I make all my pies. Pies are definitely better on day two so don’t hesitate one bit to make them early.

slice of traditional dutch apple pie

My favorite use of this amazing pie crust is my authentic Dutch Apple Pie recipe! Makes an appearance year-round at Casa Jones.

Homemade Pie Crust with Shortening & Butter Video

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pie crust with shortening and butter

Flaky Homemade Pie Crust with Shortening and Butter

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

A perfectly light and flaky pie crust recipe from scratch that is easy to handle. If you need a double crusted pie, just make a double recipe! If you don’t have a food processor, this recipe works well using a pastry cutter as well.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 single pie crust 1x


  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening, chilled – (stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes)
  • 6  Tb unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 3 Tb ice water


  1. Process flour, salt and sugar in food processor.
  2. Add shortening and pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds.
  3. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and cut into the mixture until butter pieces are no bigger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses.
  4. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture and pulse until small dough balls just begin to form, about 10 – 1 second pulses.
  5. Turn out onto two pieces of plastic wrap forming an X on the counter. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk shape. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.
  6. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface, turning often to keep it from sticking to the counter. Roll it about 1 1/2 inches wider than your pie plate.
  7. Transfer to your pie plate by rolling it onto your rolling pin
  8. Cut off any excess and turn under the edges. Then place in the freezer for 20 minutes before using in your recipe.


If you need a pre-baked shell, after it comes out of the freezer, line the inside with two pieces of aluminum foil lightly greased with nonstick spray, greased side on the dough. Add beans or pie weights to the foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil, then bake for another 5-6 minutes for a partially baked crust, or 12 minutes for a fully baked crust.

  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 209
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 147 mg
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 7 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Cholesterol: 23 mg

Step by Step Process on How to Make Homemade Pie Dough

Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.


Maureen Moehr
6 years ago

I Love this Crust recipe it’s easy to make !!! Thank You

6 years ago

I’m so glad you love it as much as I do Maureen!

Maureen Moehr
6 years ago


6 years ago

Never added sugar to my crusts…what does that do?

6 years ago

Hi Sharon! It is for the flavor. Just a bit of sugar really does a great job rounding out the flavor and helps it brown well.

6 years ago

Could someone PLEASE tell me how to avoid cracks in pie dough when it’s rolled out? Every time I chill the dough, when I take it out and try to roll it – CRACKS. All over. Big cracks. How do I avoid this? Just let the dough warm up? I’m confused! HELP.

6 years ago

Hi! It could be two different reasons. Your dough could be too dry, or it could be a bit too cold. You do want your dough to be as cold as possible for the flakiest results so if you do let it warm up a bit, I would say no more than 10 minutes on the counter. If I had to guess, it is just a bit too dry. Try adding a bit more water next time.

5 years ago

Hi I was wondering if i can use salted butter in this recipe and omit the salt.

5 years ago

You bet Joanne – but I would reduce the salt instead of omitting it completely.

5 years ago

Thank you. How much would u suggest to use?

5 years ago

I wouldn’t use any less than a 1/2 tsp of salt. If you don’t have enough salt, your dough will be very bland.

5 years ago

Thank you. How much would u suggest to use?

5 years ago

Made homemade pumpkin pie (from real pumpkins!) last thanksgiving and I loved everything about this recipe. I’m wanting to make some wild blueberry tarts with it now, and just wondering how many tart shells the recipe might make? Also, have far ahead have you made your pie shells before, or do they not last unbaked in the fridge very long? Thanks!

5 years ago

Hey Alaina! So glad you loved this pie crust recipe 🙂 If you are going to make your dough ahead of time, you should keep it wrapped up tightly as a ball instead of rolled out into shells. The shells will dry out pretty quickly. As far as tarts, that depends on what size your tart pans are so I can’t give you a specific number.

Paula Abell
5 years ago

I was excited to try this until I saw you needed a food processor. I don’t have one. Rats . Was gonna make an apple pie fr Thanksgiving this year . .

5 years ago

Hey Paula! While you don’t need a food processor, it definitely makes the process way easier! You can get the same results with a pastry cutter.

4 years ago

How many days can I keep the dough in the refrigerator?

4 years ago

Hi Kimberly! If you keep the dough ball wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the fridge, it will keep for at least a week. Good luck! Would love to hear how it turns out for you!

4 years ago

Oh well every since I found this recipe last year it is my go to crust. Love it. Icve made apple,butter chess,buttermilk and lemon pies with it. Tonight it is gonna be fried pies! Thank you so much!

3 years ago

Can you just double this recipe for a double piecrust?

3 years ago

Hi Kathy! Yep 🙂

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