How to Make a Pie Crust

Finally, I bring you the pie crust recipe to go with our pumpkin pie recipe.  The following photos are from my Thanksgiving pies, and I’d hoped to get this posted sooner, but fortunately we have more pie-eating holidays coming up.  I find it so extremely satisfying to make a pie crust from scratch, even though it takes some time.  You can buy pretty good premade ones, including locally made ones, available frozen at the coop.  But if you want to try a basic, easy, pie crust recipe, this one is pretty tried and true.

Katie and Lottie, 2009Baking pies always reminds me of my grandmother, Lottie Painter.  She and my grandfather were the proprietors of a small restaurant for years, where she baked some very popular pies.  The restaurant had already been sold by the time I was a child, but I have wonderful memories of trying to learn to duplicate my grandmother’s pie crusts.  To be fair, this wasn’t her original recipe.  She used lard, which is a little harder to pull off, but delicious.   But the technique is hers.  In her later years, she too used pre-made crusts sometimes.  When I was a graduate student in Florida, I used to drive down to her Gulf Coast condo to visit her, and she would often serve me a meal of entirely pie: a meat and potato filled pie for dinner, and apple pie for dessert.  This is us in 2009.

The basic pie crust recipe I use is as follows.  It’s much more about the technique than the recipe though, so check the photos.

  • 4.5 c flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¾ c Crisco
  • ½ c cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp vinegar.

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add Crisco and mix until crumbly.  I recommend using a pastry cutter, makes it much easier, but you can also use a fork or your hands.  At this point, you can’t overmix and want the Crisco to be completely worked in.


Next, mix the water, eggs, and vinegar in a separate bowl.  Make a well in the center of your flour/Crisco mixture and pour your wet ingredients in.  At this point, it’s very easy to STIR TOO MUCH.  So, carefully blend the dry into the wet, I usually use a fork.  You want to get it to the consistency just where it will stick together, then make four relatively equal sized balls with your hands.  There will be some scraps of flour left in the bottom, don’t worry about these and don’t try to force them to stick to the balls.


Wrap the balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least half an hour, until firm enough to roll out with a rolling pin.  You can use the freezer if you’re in a hurry, but don’t let them freeze too hard.  At this stage you can freeze them for later use, but they’re best used right away.

When they’re ready, you will roll them out on a clean, dry surface covered with flour.  I like to start with a lot of flour underneath my ball of dough, because you can’t add more to the bottom later, and it tends to stick to your rolling out surface if you don’t use enough. First use your hands to flatten the ball into a pancake shape.  Using a rolling pin, roll from the center toward the sides, and allow the dough to slowly stretch.  Add more flour on top or on the rolling pin as needed.


Next, get a flat spatula and carefully loosen the crust from the rolling surface.  Fold it in thirds.  This makes it easy to get it into your pie shell, where you can unfold it again.


On this day I was making just a one-crust pie, so I crimped the edges with my fingers and then trimmed off the extra.  (You can use this extra to patch a hole or crack if needed).  For a two crust pie, fill the pie, place the second crust on top, then crimp them both together with your fingers or a fork.  Some of our favorite pies are pumpkin, apple, and peach.  What’s your favorite?

— Katie



One thought on “How to Make a Pie Crust

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s