Tender Pie Dough Recipe - This has been the tried and true method that I've used for a buttery, tender, and flaky pie crust for about 23 years. If you follow this recipe carefully, and try not to over think it, I'm sure that it will become your favorite also!
A lot of in depth scientific articles are all over the internet devoted to the perfect pie crust. The truth of it as I see it is; it's a very simple six ingredient recipe. There are a few rules to follow, and it will turn out perfect. I love learning about the science of cooking, but over thinking things almost always messes up the final dish.
If you are interested in pie dough science, this post from Serious Eats sums it up best, we feel.
We use this for the caramel apple empanada recipe, but it's the all purpose dough that we default to for just about all pies.
The building blocks of this tender pie dough recipe are few, and humble. The way that they all interact is what makes the finished product special.
- flour - all purpose, this ingredient makes up the vast majority of the ratio here.
- butter - fat is flavor.
- salt - just a little bit goes a long way in this recipe.
- sugar - not quite enough to make it really sweet, but like the salt, enough to make the flavor pleasant.
- oil - a mild and light oil, like sunflower or canola, is ideal.
- water - very cold water, more about that below.
See recipe card for quantities.
Step One - Combine Dry Ingredients With Butter
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, and cut your very cold butter into small pieces.
Using a pastry cutter, combine the butter with the flour. This is referred to as "cutting" the butter in. The cold butter needs to be mixed in, but not melted. Notice the finished consistency, course like sand, and easily clumped together.
Step Two - Adding Oil and Water
Drizzle in vegetable oil and using your hands mix it in, being careful not to overmix it.
Add cold water a little bit at a time. Place ice cubes in the pitcher to ensure the water stays chilled.
Step Three - Forming the Dough, Chilling
Mix in the water until the dough just comes together, being careful not to over mix or to add too much water.
The first shot shows the dough once it is out of the bowl, just barely homogeneous. Carefully using your hands, push the dough together. The finished lump of dough should look like the second picture. Wrap this finished dough immediately with plastic and refrigerate.
Any heat at all during this process is the enemy. The butter in this recipe should only melt when the crust is cooked. Keeping the butter cold as possible keeps the resulting dough tender and flaky. After cutting the butter into small chunks, hold it in the freezer before starting the recipe to make it cold enough.
For optimal results, prepare this dough at least a day in advance and store it in the cooler.
You can freeze the finished recipe for up to two months. Make sure that you pull it to thaw with enough time for it to thaw overnight in the fridge.,
When you mix flour with water it forms gluten. This is what gives elasticity and firm structure to things like bread, pizza dough, and batters. Elasticity equals chewiness and density, which we don't want in pie crust. We need a little gluten for dough to hold together, but not any more than that. Therefore, make sure not to over work this dough. Work it just long enough to come together, not a second longer.
Tender Pie Dough Recipe
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Chef Knife
- 1 Kitchen Scale
- 1 Measuring Spoon Set
- 1 Mixing Bowl
- 1 dough blade
- 1 pastry cutter
- 1 liquid measuring cup
- 1 lb. Flour
- 8 oz. Butter unsalted, cold
- 4 tbsp. Vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. Sugar
- ¼ cup Ice water You may need a bit more, that's ok. Ambient moisture my be different where you live
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Cut the very cold butter into small pieces.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles wet sand.
- Add the oil to the mixture, and using your hands mix it in, being careful not to overmix or warm up the cold butter.
- Add the ice water, and mix with your hands creating a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board or counter top. Using your hands push the dough together, again being careful not to over work it.
- Once the dough is formed, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using it in your favorite pie recipe.