Basic Pie Dough

Knowing how to make a basic pie dough or pastry is part of every cooks repertoire. A food processor makes the job very easy, although you can make it by hand as well.

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Basic Pie Dough

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Resting Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 45 m
  • Servings:
    1 (10-inch) pie crust circle


  • cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting the work surface (7½ ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter cut into cubes and well chilled (1½ sticks)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water as needed


  1. This recipe makes pastry for one 10-inch pie circle, so if you are making a pie and want both a bottom and top crust, double the recipe and divide into two disks.

  2. By hand: Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour, or pinch the butter in the flour with your fingers, until it has the consistency of coarse meal.
  3. Add the lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of water, drizzling it as evenly over the flour as possible. Fold the dough together with your hands until you are able to collect it into a dough ball. You may need to add more water in order to get to this stage.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before proceeding to step 7.

  5. Using a food processor: Freeze the butter cubes for 15 minutes before starting. Blend the flour, sugar and salt together in the food processor bowl. Add the semi-frozen butter cubes and pulse together with the flour until the butter chunks in the flour are about the size of peas.
  6. Add the lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of water, drizzling over the flour as evenly as you can, and pulse the mixture again to get the dough to come together. You may need to add more water in order to get to this stage.
  7. Transfer the dough to a counter dusted with flour, and shape the dough into a disk. You may need to knead the dough a little or add a little more water to get the dough to come together as a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least thirty minutes before using.
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Comments (30)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I just but together the dough I can tell it is the best I ever made now where can i get this in a recipe book

  2. 2 stars
    Help!!! As happens most times when I try to make pastry I cannot get the dough to come together…….just crumbles as I try to pull it in. This time…full disclosure…..I had the butter chunks in the freezer for about 3 hours (interruption). I used ice water, I think I was up to 8 tbsp before I finally gave up. HELP if you can! Thanks

    1. Sorry you had so much trouble, Connie. Freezing the butter cubes to thoroughly will make it a challenge to get the flour to absorb liquid and fat and come together. Pastry can be finicky that way. If that happens again, let the butter defrost a little before trying to get it to blend into the flour or start with refrigerator cold butter and pulse the food processor carefully. Hope your next batch works out more easily.

  3. hi I am having 16-18 people for Thanksgiving dinner and want to make my pie crust now. At what stage can I freeze them and then how do I proceed when I am closer to dinner day? Thanks

    1. Paula. I’m so sorry I missed your question in time for the big day, but the answer is that I would freeze the dough after making it and forming it into a disk. Wrap it well and pop it in the freezer. Defrost the pastry in the refrigerator overnight and then let it sit out on your counter to come to room-ish temperature for about 30 minutes before you try to roll it out. If you’ve forgotten to defrost it overnight, let it sit out on the counter to defrost for a couple of hours. If it defrosts quickly (will depend on your home/kitchen temperature), pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

    1. Hi Paula. You can free the dough once you shape it into a disk. Wrap it well with plastic wrap and freeze. When you need to use it, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for several hours.

  4. Ater I let the dough rest for 30 minutes, then I roll it out, do I let it rest on counter another 30 minutes before putting into the pie plate dish or do I put into the dish and then put back in the refrigerator to rest again? Mine always shrinks and looks bad but taste good. I want I pretty pie crust like yours looks.

    1. Hi Sandy. I would put the rolled out dough right into the pie pan and then let it rest in the refrigerator. As you put it into the pie dish, make sure you don’t stretch it to make it fit. Give it some relaxed slack and press it gently into the corners of the pan.

  5. I made this pastry to use in a pie for a lunch at church and everyone wanted to know if I made the pastry,many comments on how buttery it tasted.This is the recipe I will use from now on.Thank you for posting it.

  6. 5 stars
    Perfect for Canadian Butter Tarts!

    I made this recipe EXACTLY as prescribed. I used good butter – cultured butter with 85% butterfat. Cold is key. Prep your butter into chunks and refrigerate until you are ready to mix it into your dry ingredients. Prep your water… in a glass with ice. Once your butter/dry ingredients are mixed to a coarse texture, add the liquids. I needed exactly 4 Tbsp of water.

    Perfect! (This recipe made 14 – 4 inch tart shells approximately 3/8ths in thickness)

  7. 5 stars
    I do a lot of baking, but I bake many pies. I made the pie dough yesterday and today I made a pecan pie. This is the first pie dough that I didn’t have any trouble with. I t handled beautifully the pie looks great. Thanks for all of your recipes.

  8. 5 stars
    I do a lot of baking cakes and cookies, but the only pies I make are on Thanksgiving. Pie dough makes me nervous. I made this pie dough yesterday and it came out great. Today I made a Pecan Pie and had no trouble rolling out the dough or putting it in the pie pan. The pie looks beautiful especially the crust. Thanks for the video it helped.

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is by far the best pie crust recipe that i have ever eatten! It is so easy to make and so yummy! I was always so afraid to make my own – no longer now that I found this one. I did use the instructions for the food processor. thank you so much for helping me get over my fear of making a pie crust!! I have been following you since your QVC days, and so happy for you that now you can do your own thing. Keep it up!

  10. Can I use white vinegar instead of lemon juice? I have baked pies for 55 years and did not know about resting the dough. Most times my pies were fine. Occasionally though I had pies shrink. Usually at the holidays when the family gatherings were large and I was baking eight or more pies at a time. Now I know why and will have to make sure I don’t rush the process too much. Thank you for all the tips you give us with your recipes!

    1. Hi Janice. I always use unsalted butter in baking and most cooking recipes because it allows YOU to control how much salt is in a dish and how you season it. If you only have salted butter on hand, decrease the amount of salt you add BY hand.

  11. 5 stars
    Meredith, this pie crust is delicious! I never had the confidence to make homemade crust and relied on store bought roll-out ones from the dairy case. No more! I now have a reliable and easy recipe, thanks to you. I am just getting around to posting this after making homemade pumpkin pie (from butternut squash) for Christmas. It was a hit thanks to your crust. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  12. Hi Meredith, I’m about to make your delicious looking butter tarts.
    I don’t have corn syrup, but lite syrup from formerly named Aunt Jemima. I’m hoping that is ok to use.
    Also, where in the oven do you bake these on? Bottom rack or middle?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Dianne,

      Using maple syrup will give you a very different result than using just corn syrup (if that’s what you’re referring to). I would hold out until you have corn syrup. Then, I bake them in the middle of the oven.

    1. Most pies can be baked at 350°F. Many pies can be baked at 425°F for 30 minutes and then the temperature lowered to 350°F for the duration of the baking time.

  13. Omg! The pie crust is awesome! Flaky will be awesome making my cherry, apple pies etc.

    However, I made a single pie crust that I had to cook first for a banana cream pie. When cooking it fell down inside 🥲. This is everything I did…..

    I used a glass pie plate ( high sides/lock & lock) I let is sink in, then trimmed it , pinched the dough around the rim. Then I poked holes with a fork on the bottom and sides and brushed with eggs whites

    I didn’t put a cover on the rim. Should I have pinched the crust over the rim? Or used a medal crust cover to keep it from falling into the pie pan? Thanks

    1. Hi Judi. It’s a good idea to chill the pastry once it is in the pie dish before baking – in the refrigerator or better yet, in the freezer. This allows the butter in the pastry to solidify, making it take a little longer to melt in the oven. The goal is to have the proteins in the pastry (in the flour) set before the butter melts. It can be a challenge to keep the pastry up on the sides if the filling doesn’t have some structure to hold the pastry to the sides. You certainly could create a rim for the pastry to help keep it up the sides (if you do this, make sure you put a baking sheet under the pie pan when baking to catch any butter drips).

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