Day 3: Never Fail Pie Crust

by Dana on December 3, 2011

Whenever I make Christmas pies at my Inlaw’s house my mother-in-law thinks I’m some sort of genius. “You make your own crust?!”
Yes (sometimes). And thank you. I love having a clever reputation!
But in reality…the cat’s out of the bag. Pie crust is super easy to make.
I’m no different than your 18th century mom.
Of course there are many different ways to make pie crust. Some use cold butter, some shortening, some must be chilled, and some even use oil. If you have your own tried-and-true method I’m not here to sway you another way.

But I will say this…
My mom has been making pie crust with this recipe for years.
It doesn’t require any cold ingredients.
It doesn’t require you to chill the dough for an hour before rolling it out (I hate waiting for stuff).
And it never fails. Works every time!
So pick your filling and let’s get started.
Never Fail Pie Crust
(makes 4 single crusts)

4 cups flour
1 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup vegetable shortening (non trans fat, such as Crisco or other). You can substitute butter or a mixture of both. Shortening makes the crust a bit more flaky and is easier to work with.

1 Tbl vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Mix flour, sugar, and salt. Cut-in the shortening with a fork or cutting tool (or you could give it a whirl in your food processor for a bit).

In a separate bowl mix vinegar, egg, and water. Add it to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork until moistened. Use your hands to mold into 4 equal balls. The dough may be frozen and thawed for future use.

When ready to bake a pie, flour your surface and roll the crust starting from the middle and moving out, till it’s about 2 inches larger than the size of your pie dish. Remember when working with pastries to handle it as little as possible so the gluten doesn’t become overworked and tough.

Gently roll your dough into a loose log or around your rolling pin (this is the easiest way I’ve found to transfer it into the pie pan). Lay it in the pan, unroll the crust, and gently fit it in-place–don’t pull or tug on the crust. Use a knife to trim the uneven edges, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under on the edge of your pan. Then use your fingers to pinch the edges for a decorative finish.
And you have a beautiful pie shell ready to bake!
Pie shells can be baked “blind” or filled.
Blind means baking the shell without anything inside of it (so you can later fill it with creams, puddings, fresh fruit, and yummy goodness). If I’m lazy, I simply poke holes in the bottom of my crust (to keep it from puffing up), toss it in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, and then let it cool completely before filling. But sometimes one of the sides will sag a bit during baking.

So…the proper way to blind bake is to place a large piece of parchment or wax paper in the crust so it covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Then fill it with baking weights, dried beans, or rice. This holds the crust in place as it bakes.
When baking a filled pie such as pumpkin, apple, pecan, or raspberry, I recommend covering the edges of your crust with long strips of aluminum foil to keep them from burning as the pie bakes. Or you can buy a handy metal crust-cover to protect the edges. Remove it during the last 5 minutes of baking so the edges will brown.
And there you go. Simple pie crust.
Now it’s your turn to impress the mother-in-law.

I’ll get you started with my favorite Lemon Cream and Pumpkin Pie recipes.
Of course chocolate pudding with cool whip and candies on top is a simple crowd- pleaser.
Happy Baking!
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Check out the Sweets and Treats archive page HERE.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lorie Bock February 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Yea!! Thank-you so much~~~~

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2 Melissa M April 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Looks like all be using this pie crust this year for the fall ! I tend to bake more pies around that time ! Or I may just try it sometime soon bc it look really easy to make ! And here I thought I was the only one to use MC pie tins lol .. I always ask for them back ! There always good to bake with !

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3 Hollie April 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I am just wondering if you use all-purpose or self rising flour?

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4 Valerie April 29, 2012 at 2:11 am

Yes, this is THE best pie crust recipe ever! My mother-in-law shared it with me. Now I LOVE to make pies!

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5 Jillian June 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I am an avid reader of your blog – I just love it! Thank you for so many fun tutorials and projects!! I just HAD to tell you that I grudgingly decided to try this recipe (I felt like I already had a pretty solid pie crust recipe) but honestly, you are SO RIGHT!

This dough was so quick to make and easy to work with and, as you said, turned out GREAT! Thank you!!

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6 Janna@littlemagnoliakitchen July 9, 2012 at 12:00 am

I found this recipe on Pinterest. Cannot wait to try my hand at making homemade pie crust. Thanks for the step by step instructions…I think I can…I think I can! Haha!

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7 Sheri July 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I have been making this recipe for years (my mother-in-law gave it to me). It is the best!

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8 Carrie July 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm

My Mom and all my aunts have used this recipe for the better part of 75 years! It ALWAYS turns out well. ENJOY!

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9 Ideas Woman July 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Americans love their pies and I can see why! I can never get the bottom to cook without the top crust burning. I now know the tricks!

Thank you for this tutorial.

Gayle
Australia

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10 Amazed! September 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm

This is amazing. Things that call themselves ‘never fail’ usually leave me suspicious, but as it was Dana I decided it would be ok. But really it’s awesome! I’m in England so used butter not shortening and I quartered the recipe because I have a little pie dish. But it works every time. I have always been a massive failure when it comes to pastry and always buy a case if I want it to taste nice. But not any more! This really is fool proof. Thank you Dana, again!!!

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11 Leeann lang September 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Ive used this same recipe for years and I must say it is a big hit with my family, too!! WOrks every time!!!!

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12 jamileh September 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I used this recipe for the first time to make mini apple pies … The crust came out completely amazing. This time I will be attempting mini peach cobblers and I think using some butter and some shortening instead of all will give me that richer taste I am looking for.

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13 Carolyn Thornley September 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I forgot to tell you today when we were talking that I tried your mom’s no fail pie crust recipe yesterday. Yummy—we finished off the apple pie tonight.

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14 Kim October 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Oh my I have been searching for the pie crust I made in home ec class a million years ago in high school and you have it. Everyone looks at me like I am an alien when I say it had vinegar and an egg. I am so excited its the best ever

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15 April October 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Thank you for this post. I just made crust about 2 hours ago and used another recipie, next time I am going to give this on a try. It looks great. Thank you

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16 Danielle October 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Does this recipe make enough for on 9-inch pie crust for just the bottom or enough for a 9-inch top and bottom for apple pie or say 2 pumpkins?

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17 Dana October 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm

It makes 4 crusts altogether….so either 4 single crusts, or 2 tops and 2 bottoms for apple or cherry type pies.
yummy!

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18 Connie October 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

What *type* of vinegar? Apple cider, white?

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19 Dana October 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm

any kind works. I think I used apple cider.

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20 Connie October 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Thank you thank you for posting this recipe! After MANY failed attempts in the past I finally succeeded in making good crust with your mom’s recipe! (Ps I used apple cider vinegar also)

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21 Rachel Pope October 24, 2012 at 2:01 am

My mom made all her pies with this recipe. Instead of using vinegar though, I like using lemon juice.

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22 Margriet November 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

This is, hands down, the best pie crust tutorial I have read. All of my adult life I have struggled to make pie crust and failed miserably. Reading through your blog and seeing the pictures have given me the courage to try again. I can bake just about anything else, but pie and pie crust have been my nemesis.

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23 Leah November 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I am curious, I have never seen a recipe for pie crust with egg and vinegar.
What are the benefits? I don’t make pie crust because I can never get it
to turn out!

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24 Wendy November 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Usually when I see a pie crust recipe, I look at it, and then discard it because “why would I replace my mom’s fabulous crust recipe with that?” This time, though, your mom’s crust IS my mom’s crust! :) I will totally vouch for the fact that this is wonderful pie crust! (and I usually use regular white vinegar because I know its going to be in the cupboard)

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25 lisacng @ expandng.com November 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Sounds awesome, I’m ON it!

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26 Miriam November 19, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I found your recipe on Pinterest, and I tried it tonight, and I don’t know what happened, but it turned into a soupy mess. :( Gonna have to try something else. Oh, well.

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27 Tiffany November 20, 2012 at 11:20 am

What do you mean by tbl? Sorry I am fairly new to baking!

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28 Tiffany November 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

Nevermind I got it, it’s tablespoon!

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29 Amanda November 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

I’ve been making pie crusts for a long time using chilled shortning and it’s always such a crap shoot to get the exact right amount of water so the crust isn’t too wet or too crumbly. This thanks giving I was making several pies so I tried your recipe and it is THE BEST! Thank you so much. The crust is delicious and it’s easy to make and I love it! Thank you!

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30 Mish November 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Sorry, didn’t see any answer for the use of egg and vinegar?

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31 Marcia November 29, 2012 at 12:14 am

All my experience with making pie crust involves icy cold water and lemon juice. I’m interested to see how this one will turn out. I wanted to add a tip from a dear lady at our church. We were sitting by each other at a Pampered Chef party discussing their products when we came to the pie shield. She told me to just take a disposable pie pan and cut the bottom (the part that would normally sit on the counter) out. Then invert it over the pie while cooking. It works like a charm!

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32 Jewel November 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

I use this recipe and agree that it could not be easier. You mentioned your recipe using oil. Could you share that, please. I used to have it and liked not using hydrogenated shortening.

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33 Irina November 30, 2012 at 5:05 am

Dear Dana! Thank you very much for sharing this method. I’ve tried many ways of making pie crust but your recipe is the best! It doesn’t take much time but results in a bunch of pastry. I’ve baked all week through :) The crust is cool for any type of pie I guess: I tried it for a cheese cake and my favorite apple tart tatin. The crust is very tender, light, tasty and crispy. And your Lemon Pie is awesome!
I’m happy to find your blog and become your true follower :)))
I wish you all the best!

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34 elisebakes December 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Looks delicious; thanks for sharing your recipe! I’ll definitely be using this next time I make a pie!

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35 karen peterson December 10, 2012 at 12:00 am

I have used this recipe for 40 years and itis the only way to make crusts. I even freeze the dough and it still works.

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36 Laura Avram December 23, 2012 at 11:52 am

Greetings from Romania. The recipe is great! I baked 4 pies wirth delicious fillings for Christmas. Though i didn’t use enough shortening and the crust became really hard, i could barely cut it with a knife. But considering it was my first attempt at baking cakes, these pies turned out delicious. Again, thank you very much, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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37 Jessica December 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

I have been baking pies for years, and this is by far the easiest and most time-friendly one I’ve tried (and it tastes fabulous)! Thank you for the recipe, I will share this with others. Excellent blog!

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38 naomi December 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

What Ican use instead of Crisco? Dont have and dont want to use it.

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39 Jen December 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm

If you use butter, how much do you use?

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40 Rachel January 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I have used this recipe several times now and I love it! It freezes great too! I used all butter instead of shortening (the same amount) and it’s delicious.

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41 briana April 3, 2013 at 9:34 am

:) my nana gave me this exact recipe on the original recipe card. A treasure of mine. The recipe works very well!

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42 Katie sprague April 8, 2013 at 3:05 am

My Grandmother was a pastry chef at a Maine Resteraunt that is known far and wide for their pies. She used this recipie and it truly is a wonderful crust!!

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43 Liz April 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

First of all, just tried your crust recipe this afternoon and OH MY GOD! It’s amazing! Second, you’re seriously blowing my mind with the crust cover, did not know something like that excisted… :)

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44 Seberina June 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

So, I completely SUCKED at making pie crusts until I came across this recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it!! I was just wondering how long it can be refrigerated for? I made some yesterday (Sunday) and used 1/2 of it. Will the other 1/2 be ok in the fridge until Friday or Saturday? Or should I pop it in the freezer?

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45 Ellen July 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Can you use this recipe for meat /chicken pies as well?

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46 Cheryl April 1, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Yes you can. This is a wonderful recipe. I’ve added a bit of celery seed to my crust when making a chicken pot pie.

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47 Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting July 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Bookmarked and about to pin this, yes! Thank you! Awesome!

Wanted to let you know, though, I (finally) found you after searching hi and low after seeing your gorgeous images on another website, knowing they were stolen. You might want to issue a DMCA takedown on these two sites for stealing/scraping your content:

http://pie-pictures.tumblr.com/post/53363435295/pie-crust
http://www.pincookie.com/never-fail-pie-crust/

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48 Anna July 22, 2013 at 1:10 am

Could you please please please put your measurements in weight as well as cups. Cup size varies depending on what country you and your reader are in. I SO want to try this recipe but don’t know which cup sizes you are using. I’m in Australia and am guessing you are using American cup sizes. Thank you!! Anna x

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49 Anna July 23, 2013 at 1:19 am

I have the same question as Ellen – can you adapt this for savoury pies?

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50 Miss Messy July 31, 2013 at 10:39 am

Ahh Pinterest what would i do without you.. Love that this makes 4 so i can freeze some. How great it that for when i’m being a crazy lazy blogger who quickly needs to make something pretty to post! Love love love it.

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51 SMum September 16, 2013 at 12:35 am

Is it really 1 tablespoon of salt? My pie is in the oven and I just tasted a bit of the dough — thought it was a little on the salty side. Maybe the cherry filling will cancel t out!

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52 Sylvia Adams September 25, 2013 at 7:35 am

I must tell you I love your pie crust recipe! I’m not much of a crust person and usually I end up just eating the filling, not with this crust, and the easiness of it just makes it that much better! I found you through Pinterest, so you now have a new stalker……. I mean “follower”!

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53 Helen November 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I tried this recipe and was surprised it called for 1Tbls of salt unlike most recipes that only require 1 tsp of salt. I followed the directions (against my instincts though that I was over salting the dough) Sure enough, I found it tasted too salty when I was done. Next time I will cut back on the salt to only 1tsp.

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54 elly December 31, 2013 at 9:42 am

Must try this at home! That looks just amazing.

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55 Shawn January 14, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Great crust. I cooked for 15 minutes because I thought ten was a little short. I am not a baker except for cookies and bread. Sorry to say that my crust was not done. It was flat and dense. I checked out a few other sites and baked the second crust at 350 for 45 minutes until crust was golden brown. Awesome!!! Flaky crust full of flavor. It was the same batch but I will admit the first one was in a 10 inch pie plate and the second was the 9 inch. I may have rolled it too thin to get it to cover. What ever the cause was, this was the bomb! It will be my go to recipe as it was as good as any crust I have eaten.

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56 Nora March 12, 2014 at 9:49 am

This looks great! I’m surprised! Thought I had tried all recipes I could find!
Really! After years of failure, I came up with a yummy, easy to work with
Crust. Two heaping cups of flour, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar. Cut in a level cup crisco till very fine with pastry cutter.
I add boiling water & carefully fold. Wrap in plastic & cool in fridge
Just till ready to work with, an hour or so. Makes one pie (two crust)
Take half & put on parchment paper. I add more flour to roll & try not to
Work with dough at this point, will make it tough. I gently add flour
Roll between two pieces parchment paper. So easy! So good!
In the past I tried recipes with egg, vinegar, cold water never worked
For me. Love parchment paper! Lay circle on pie crust to bake, works
Great!

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57 Crystal Rose March 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

We used the leftover dough to make “sugar cookies.” I just tasted one- WAY too salty! Next time I would cut it down to 1 tsp as suggested in the comments (wish I had read them first. =/)

Otherwise the crust is perfect though. I’ll be making this again- with the change in salt.

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58 Diane September 8, 2014 at 8:08 am

Thanks so much for the recipe……it was so good! Very easy to make, roll out and bake….and was delicious!

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59 talie September 24, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I just made this crust today for a chicken pot pie. I mixed it in my bosch until well blended, divided into 4 balls and rolled eack ball between sheets of plastic. This was an EXCELLENT crust. Very very easy to make, very flaky and light. I did need to add a bit more flour because the dough was too wet, but that was my lack of measuring skills. Thanks for a great recipe. Will be making it again!

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60 Jana September 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm

What kind of flour do you use?

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