Standard Pie Pastry

Deceptively tricky to make. Achieving a tender flaky pie crust is all about not overworking the dough and managing to keep the fat dispersed in small particles. Some recipes substitute vodka for a portion of the water but it seems to create a bit of a granular texture. This makes enough dough for a two crust pie. For a single crust, cut in half.
Prep Time40 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Desserts - Pies
Servings: 2 crusts
Author: Catherine Christiano


  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter frozen (if using salted butter, use only 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoons margarine
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/3 cup flour to roll dough


  • Prepare a work surface to roll dough. Gather pie plate, rolling pin, scraper, and about 1/2 cup flour. To cut decorative shapes in top crust, gather a sharp knife or some small cookie cutters.
  • Grate frozen butter onto wax paper, place in a small bowl, and store immediately in freezer. 
  • In medium bowl combine flour and salt. Add butter, shortening and margarine. Use either a pastry blender or large-tined fork to cut fats into flour until about the size of small peas. Add grated butter from freezer and toss with fork to evenly distribute. Add water gradually, tossing with the fork to distribute. Add only enough water to moisten the dough so that it can be gathered with the hands into a ball. More or less water may be necessary; too much water will result in a tough crust. Be careful to not overwork the dough. If too sticky to roll, add a bit more flour.
  • Once a ball is formed, cut in half with a sharp knife.  Liberally flour work surface and rolling pin. Working with one half of dough, form an even ball, dust with flour and press down and begin forming a circle first with the hands and then following with the rolling pin taking care to maintain an even thickness and circular shape. If dough begins to split at edges, pinch back together. Roll until dough is a bit larger than perimeter of pie plate.
  • Use floured scraper to carefully separate dough from work surface. Fold in thirds, like a business letter, check that dough is not stuck to work surface, then carefully lift and place in pie plate. Fit into form of plate. Dough should overhang  edges.
  • Add filling.
  • Use same method to roll top crust. Cutting shapes with a cookie cutter is easier to do when dough is on work surface. Care must be then taken when transferring dough to pie. Decorative vents can be cut into top crust, using fork or sharp knife, once dough is on top of filling. 
  • Trim overhanging dough leaving about a half inch all the way around. Use fingers to form a fluted edge. To prevent edge from browning too soon, wrap with a 2 - 3 inch strip of aluminum foil and remove it during last 15 minutes of baking.


  • Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Cut recipe in  half and follow above instructions for rolling dough. When forming edge, overhang dough slightly over pie plate to prevent shrinking in oven. Prick bottom and side with fork. Bake until light brown, 8 - 10 minutes.


Crust can be prepared ahead, if wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator. To do this place the bottom crust in the pie plate and roll the top crust in a sheet of wax paper.