How to Make an All-Butter Piecrust

Make a pie crust using only flour, salt, butter, and water for a light and flaky end result that tastes bakery-worthy.

We've always got plenty of butter in our fridge, especially during the holiday baking season, so Erin McDowell's All-Butter Piecrust recipe came in handy. You'll need only four ingredients to make this simple piecrust recipe, and, as the name suggests, the only fat it uses is butter.

If you're wondering about the difference between butter and shortening, we'll explain. Butter usually has around 80% fat, while shortening is 100% fat, which can make a difference in how flaky your crust is. Butter generally contains some water, which evaporates while you bake, and can result in a flakier crust. Shortening, on the other hand, usually makes a crust that's a little less flaky but can hold its shape better when you're adding decorations. But if you want to use all butter and add decorations to your dough, fear not—our instructions include tips for how to make your butter crust a little stiffer.

How to Make an All-Butter Piecrust

Pick your favorite pie and follow these step-by-step instructions. You can use this piecrust dough recipe to whip up a pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate pie, or almost any other flavor you're craving.

Mixing water into dough
Blaine Moats

Step 1: Toss the Butter and Flour

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1¼ cups all-purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt (Morton Fine Sea Salt, Walmart). Cut a ½ cup of cold, unsalted butter (one stick) into ½-inch cubes. Add the cubes to the bowl and, with your hands, toss them through the flour until each piece is well-coated.

Step 2: Cut the Butter into the Flour

Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the butter pieces between your fingers and thumbs, flattening the cubes into big shards. Continue to toss the butter with the flour as you work, recoating the flattened pieces. For a flaky crust for fruit pies, mix until the butter is about the size of walnut halves. For a sturdier crust for custard pies and decorated piecrusts, mix until the butter is about the size of peas.

Test Kitchen Tip: Instead of using your hands, use a food processor to combine the butter and flour (Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor, Walmart). Pulse the flour and salt briefly to combine them, then add the cubes of butter. Pulse until the butter is roughly the desired size (peas or half walnuts). Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Add Water and Mix Dough

Make a well in the center of ingredients and add ¼ cup of ice water. Have more water ready in a nearby cup; you'll need it. Toss the flour gently, rather than stirring, to moisten it uniformly. (Doing this mixes the water in without overworking the dough.) Continue to add water, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together. It shouldn't be wet or sticky, or dry and crumbly. It should hold together easily without feeling wet to the touch.

Mixed pie dough
Blaine Moats

Step 4: Chill the Dough

Form the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before using.

Make-Ahead Tip: The tightly wrapped dough can be chilled up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then heavy foil, and freeze up to 3 months. Let the dough thaw overnight before rolling it out and using.

Step 5: Roll Out the Dough

Once your dough has been well chilled, it's ready to roll. Roll it on a lightly floured surface to about ⅛ inch thick (10-inch Beech Wood Rolling Pin,Target). Press firmly and evenly and rotate the dough while you work. This helps prevent the dough from sticking, without the need for too much extra flour, and helps to maintain a circular shape. Getting the correct thickness is the most important part of this recipe, but once it's rolled out, ideally the dough will also be about 1 inch wider than the pie plate.

Rolling pie crust into pie plate
Blaine Moats

Step 6: Transfer the Dough to Your Pie Plate

Use a rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate (2-pack Pyrex Easy Grab Pie Plate, Amazon). Starting at one end, wrap the rolled dough around the rolling pin. Gently transfer the rolling pin to the edge of the pie plate and unfurl the dough onto the plate.

Step 7: Press the Dough into the Plate and Trim

Gently lift the edges while pressing the dough into the base of the pie plate. Once the it's touching the pie plate evenly on the base and sides, trim the excess dough so that there's only ½ inch excess around the edge of the pie plate. The dough can be left like this for double-crust pies and chilled while you stir up the filling and the top crust.

Step 8: Tuck in the Edges and Decorate

For single-crust pies, tuck the dough under its edge so it meets flush with the outer edge of the pie plate—creating a thicker edge will make it easier to crimp. Finish the edges in any decorative style you choose, then refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Step 9: Prick Crust and Add Pie Weights

To prebake the crust, use a fork to prick the base and sides of the dough. Cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the pie plate and press it into the base of the chilled dough. Fill the dough with pie weights (dried beans also work great) to the brim of the pie plate, making sure the weights are flush against the sides.

Step 10: Bake

Place the pie plate on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake on the bottom rack of a 425°F oven (preferably on a heated baking stone) for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the outer edge starts to brown. Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the bottom crust appears to be set. If the crust puffs up at any point, prick the air bubble with a fork to deflate it. Let the crust cool completely before adding your filling.

Five pies with slices on plates
Blaine Moats

Create a Flavored Crust

Plain crusts are traditional, but why not give yours a little extra flavor? You can make a pumpkin spice crust by adding 1½ tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice to the flour. For a cinnamon crust, add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to the flour—perfect for giving your apple pie extra fall flavors. And to make a gingerbread crust, add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves to the flour.

Pie season, here we come—with this crust in your repertoire, you can make almost any pie recipe. A homemade crust adds extra love to your favorite pies, and it's hard to argue with the delicious flakiness of this all-butter recipe .

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles