What makes a good pie great? Easy—a buttery flaky pie crust that leaves you wanting another slice. In this article, I outline how to make a foolproof and flaky food processor pie crust that will hit the spot, every single time!
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Butter or Shortening, which is better for pie crust?
Shortening was the go-to choice of fat for pie crust in the 50s and 60s. The reason grandma loves it so much? Shortening is 100% fat, and has a high melting point, which makes it ideal for creating flaky, tender layers.
The high melting point of shortening makes it easier to work with the pie dough when rolling it out. The downfall to shortening is that it does not offer the same flavor as butter.
Butter, on the other hand, is about 80% fat and 20% water. That water content helps to create a flaky texture through evaporation during backing.
The tricky part of using only butter in a pie crust is that it has a lower melting point than shortening. If the pie crust gets too warm, it will become too soft to handle and break. If it’s too cold, it will be too hard to roll out.
My favorite type of fat to use in pie crust achieves the best of both works. I prefer a combination of shortening and butter, the result is a supremely flaky, buttery crust.
Ingredients Needed for this Food Processor Pie Crust
- unbleached all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- kosher salt
- chilled vegetable shortening
- chilled unsalted butter
- ice water — bubbly water or vodka also work
Food Processor vs By Hand
When making homemade pie crust there are several methods that can be used to mix the dough. The classic way is by mixing the ingredients by hand using a pastry cutter. But everyone mixes pie crust by hand differently. It’s more likely that dough will become overworked when made by hand,which is why we prefer the food processor method.
To avoid this from happening, I recommend using a food processor to make pie crust. It standardizes the process, and creates the same great pie crust, every single time!
How to Make Food Processor Pie Crust
Store-bought pie crust does not compare to homemade. The following steps simplify the task of impressing your guests and can be made ahead, saving you time.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, pulse until they are combined.
- Add the chilled shortening and pulse until combined.
- Add the chilled butter and pulse until the butter is broken into small, pea-sized pieces.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and, using a spatula, add the ice water. Mix to combine just until the dough comes together. The mixture should be able to be pressed into a dough but still be fairly dry and crumbly. Small pockets of fat are also incredibly important—don’t overwork the dough.
- Press the dough into a flat disk and chill for at least 1 hour. You can also make your dough several days in advance and store it in the fridge.
- Roll the dough out until it is about ¼-inch thick and use as desired.
Why Temperature is Important to Flakiness
It’s incredibly important to use cold butter, cold shortening and ice cold water to make homemade pie crust. If warm butter or shortening is used, the fat will blend cohesively into the dough instead of creating a dough speckled with fat pockets.
Those fat pockets are important for creating flaky layers in the crust once baked. Similarly, that’s why it’s so important to work quickly when mixing the ingredients together and rolling out the dough. Keep the dough as cold as possible while working with it.
If the dough gets too warm while rolling it out, transfer it to a baking sheet and chill in the fridge before continuing.
FAQ & Test Kitchen Tips
To create a flaky pie crust I recommend you chill both the butter and shortening. Chilled butter and shortening will break apart into small pieces that will melt when baked and create flaky layers.
Using room temperature butter and shortening will fully incorporate the fat into the dry ingredients, resulting in a cracker-like crust.
Whole-wheat flour is surprisingly ideal for pie crust, it develops less gluten in the cooking process than all-purpose flour. Gluten formation is undesirable in pie crust because it will make your crust tough. Try subbing out ⅓ of the total amount of flour for whole-wheat flour to create a deliciously tender and flaky crust.
Some recipes will call for bubbly water or vodka in their recipe because they evaporate quicker than water. Quicker evaporation means less gluten development. And less gluten development means a tender—not tough—pie crust.
Try subbing using 2–4 tablespoons of club soda or vodka for a more tender pie crust. Don’t worry about the crust tasting like vodka, the flavor (and alcohol content) will evaporate out during baking.
This pie dough can be used in a regular pie plate or a deep dish pie plate. To make a double crust pie simply double the crust recipe.
You definitely can use this recipe for pumpkin pie. Simply blind bake the crust before adding the pumpkin filling and baking.
How to Store Homemade Pie Crust
Form the pie crust dough into a disk then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Store pie dough in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you freeze the pie dough, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Rolling Out the Dough
You may need to let the dough sit at room temperature for 5–10 minutes before rolling out. When you’re ready to roll, lightly dust the counter with flour then lightly dust the top of the dough with flour.
Gently roll the dough out into a 1/4-inch thick round using a lightly floured rolling pin. Transfer the dough to the pie plate by gently rolling the dough around the rolling pin then unrolling it over the pie plate. If the dough feels pretty strong, you can fold the dough in half, then in half again to form a triangle. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and unfold.
Use this Food Processor Pie Crust in These Pie Recipes
- When you’re in charge of pie for Thanksgiving, use this pie crust recipe to make Bourbon Pecan Pie or Pumpkin Pie.
- Our Blueberry Crumble Pie is packed with both flavor and texture.
- Pumpkin Pop Tarts are a fun way to use pie crust.
- Rhubarb Blueberry Pie is the perfect sweet-tart treat.
- Or make the best apple pie!
- If you’re looking for a whole-wheat pie crust, check out this recipe. Light, tender and buttery. It’s also a great alternative to this recipe if you’re looking for an all-butter crust.
- We’ve also got a great gluten-free pie crust.
- 1 ¼ cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening, cut into ¼ inch pieces, chilled
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in ¼ inch pieces, chilled
- 4 tablespoons ice water
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine.
- Sprinkle shortening over flour mixture and process until flour resembles course cornmeal, about 5 pulses. Sprinkle butter over flour mixture and pulse until crumbs are slightly smaller than pea-sized, 15–20 pulses.
- Transfer dough mixture to a large bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over dough.
- Using a rubber spatula, mix water into dough, pressing the dough together. If the dough doesn’t come together add remaining tablespoon of ice water and mix until dough is cohesive.
- Turn dough out onto a clean, flat surface, flatten into a 4-inch disk and wrap with plastic wrap; transfer to refrigerator and chill 1 hour.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling out using a rolling pin. Use to make desired pie or galette.
- To make a double pie crust, just double the ingredients.
- This recipe fits both a regular and deep-dish 9-inch pie pan.
- Remember to keep the dough and ingredients as cold as possible as you work with them.
- If making a pie with a double crust, top the crust with some turbinado or demerara sugar to create a sweet, crunchy outer crust.
Keywords: food processor pie crust
This recipe and article was originally published on November 1, 2014. It was most recently updated on December 15, 2021.