Bake

5 of the Best Pie Crust Recipes for a Flakier, Better-Tasting Slice

From shortening to sour cream, find out which pie crust recipe is the best.

July 28, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

Are you the type who breaks into hives the minute you think about making the perfect pie crust recipe? Or are you the one who stays calm and cool as your pin glides across the pie dough like a Ferrari down the Italian coast? (Or are you the type who's really in it for the eating, not the making? You're welcome here, too. Come one, come all! We've got a slice for you.)

For me, there's no "common" dessert (as in, let's take croquembouche and Baked Alaska out of the running here) that makes me so frantic: The fear is deep-seated; I suspect I was born that way. I will freeze every utensil, every ingredient, that might possibly come in contact with the cantankerous butter; I will stick my hands in an ice bath if I need to! All for the sake of an easy-to-roll, hard-to-flub, guaranteed-flaky-and-buttery pie dough recipe.

I am here to ruin your life.
Says my pie dough to my psyche

But some pie doughs—and my anxiety is primarily dough-related (will it sog? will it shrink? will it altogether implode?)—promise to be more forgiving than others: quick to come together, with minimal guesswork; easy to roll and transfer; and, of course, guaranteed to yield flaky, shattering, crisp results. They call themselves "foolproof," "go-to," "be-all, end-all." Are they?

I've come to favor Rose Levy Beranbaum's cream cheese pie crust (and I crooned its praises last summer), but I was curious about how pie doughs bolstered with other ingredients—like vodka, shortening, vinegar, or sour cream—would compare to a 100-percent-butter classic pie crust recipe.

So I tested five different pie dough recipes to see which one was the best—all-butter, all-butter with the addition of vinegar, butter plus shortening, vodka-spiked, and sour-cream-boosted.

When testing the best pie crust recipe, I wanted to determine:

The ease of assembly and of rolling: How quickly and seamlessly did the dough come together? The flakiness and the flavor: Was this a crust I'd like to munch on sans peach or rhubarb filling?

I cut 4 small rounds of each type of pie dough, brushed two of every batch with egg wash (those are bottom two rows of the baking sheet—which are across-the-board more appetizing), and baked at 425° F for about 15 minutes, until the dough circles were golden-brown and completely cooked-through. Then, we tasted.

Disclaimer: For my test, I baked the pie crusts as freestanding rounds, but obviously this doesn't take into account how they would have interacted with various fillings—juicy fruits, creamy custards—or, as our resident baking expert Erin McDowell has pointed out, that you might be looking for a mealier, more crumbly crust for a custard pie (pumpkin, lemon cream but flakier, laminated-esque quality for a juicy one. For me, I wanted flaky. It is fruit pie season, after all!

Which is the tastiest—and what happened to that weirdo on the right???

Putting the Best Pie Crust Recipes to the Test

First, what is the best type of butter to use for pie dough? Unsalted or salted? European or Amish or Irish? That's...a complicated question, but luckily one we've happily tackled. The takeaway here is that it doesn't really matter for this test—I just stayed consistent with my brands of butter throughout. (The only criteria? It had to taste good, and be pretty cheap. I was baking a lot.)

1. All-Butter (& Nearly Nothing Else):

These all-butter discs rose so much higher than the shortening pucks. (Egg washed, left; naked, right.)
  • The recipe: Melissa Clark's All-Butter Pie Crust
  • What makes it different: There are no "magic" add-ins in this recipe—you need only flour, salt, butter, and ice water. The distinction comes in the technique, as this dough is made entirely in a food processor. Since you use the food processor first to break the butter into lima bean-size pieces and then to incorporate the flour, the butter is ultimately chopped into very small pieces. Would this counteract flakiness? Many pie bakers say you want to see flour-coated butter pockets when you roll out the dough.
  • How easy was it to make and work with?: The dough came together quickly and without issue; since the process happens within a matter of minutes in the food processor, it's easy to keep the temperature of the ingredients cool and to shuttle the finished dough to the refrigerator before the butter has a chance to misbehave. The chilled dough was a bit firmer than some of the other batches pre-roll out but ultimately gave me no trouble at all.
  • Texture and taste: If you use good-tasting butter, you're going to have a good-tasting all-butter pie crust—there are no additional ingredients to mute or overshadow its flavor. Still, I ended up preferring the butter-vinegar dough and the sour cream dough, each of which had a nuance of tang that cut a bit of the richness and was even flakier than the all-butter crust.
  • The verdict: The flavor was good, though the dough fell a bit flat in comparison to the others—perhaps this was because the butter was pulverized by the machine rather than left in larger chunks. I'd be curious to try an all-butter dough that doesn't rely on the food processor, though in the past, I've found these the most difficult to get right.
Look closely and you'll spot butter streaks in the dough on the left—but it's hard to see any in the dough on the right. Photo by Mark Weinberg

2. Shortening + Butter:

The flattest and toughest of the bunch. (Egg washed on the left, and plain on the right.)
  • The recipe: King Arthur Flour's Classic Double Pie Crust
  • What makes it different: A quarter-cup of vegetable shortening is mixed into the flour before you work in the butter using your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a stand mixer. Why shortening? As Erin explains in her pie fats briefing, shortening has a high melting point, which means it's not going to turn to liquid as you work it into the flour—and this should translate into reliably flaky layers. But as Kenji López-Alt writes on Serious Eats, it's actually easy to inadvertently overwork shortening, and end up with a crumbly crust, precisely because shortening remains soft at so many temperatures. (An all-butter crust, on the other hand, will be more blatantly too-far-gone—the butter starts to melt and you have a gooey mess.)
  • How easy was it to make and work with?: I had difficulty forming the dough into cohesive discs when I used my hands to mix it, but when Allison Buford used a stand mixer (and a bit more water), she had more success. (This guessing game with the amount of necessary liquid? I'd rather skip it.) Once the dough was chilled, it was noticeably firmer than the others—I had to bang it more aggressively before rolling it out, but once I got going, I didn't have a hard time rolling it into a large, thin circle.
  • Texture and taste: This was the flattest, toughest dough of the bunch (neither flaky nor particularly tender), and it scored lowest in the flavor category, as well. I was surprised by just how big of an impact only 1/4 cup of shortening could have on the overall taste. I thought the crust had a vaguely artificial flavor—a fake butteriness that might be distracting when paired with a pie's fillings.
  • The verdict: I have no plans to use shortening in future doughs. Since these discs did hold its shape very well, with minimal puffing and spreading, I do wonder if a shortening-butter crust might actually be better for making intricate lattices and decorations, however.
From this angle, you really can see that the sour cream dough was remarkably tall and flaky—the layers are visible! The shortening dough was the clear loser.

3. All Butter + Some Vinegar:

A winner, in my book. (Egg washed, left; bare, right.) Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • How easy was it to make and work with?: I loved making this dough, even though the recipe does call for dirtying a bench scraper and a pastry blender. While there is value in using your hands to feel the texture of the dough, I find it easier to keep the temperature under control when I'm not warming up the ingredients with my body heat. The dough rolled out easily, cracking in only a few areas.
  • Texture and taste: Again, I was surprised by the impact of a small amount of an ingredient (here, it's vinegar, not shortening)—but this time, pleasantly so! The pie crust had a tang I was not expecting, and was one of the highest-rising doughs in the group: The discs look like biscuits in miniature!
  • The verdict: It might very well be myth that vinegar makes pie dough more tender, but based on these results, if I have vinegar in my pantry, I'll surely be adding it to my pie dough, if only for the very subtle zing it added. The success of this recipe is likely a combination of the ratio of ingredients and the technique. I'd definitely rather fish out my bench scraper and pastry cutter than lug out the food processor—it's nearly as fast, and there's less of a chance of obliterating the butter chunks.
Pie dough carpets. Photo by Mark Weinberg

4. Vodka:

Drunken pie dough. (Egg washed, left; naked, right.) Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • The recipe: Cook's Illustrated's Foolproof Pie Crust (as featured in Genius Recipes)
  • What makes it different: Instead of adding 4 tablespoons of water, you'll use 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of vodka. The vodka inhibits gluten formation—making for a tender, more malleable dough—and it evaporates in the oven, which means it leaves no boozy taste behind. And the technique, not just the ingredient list, is convention-bucking: In a food procesor, you'll blend the butter completely into a portion of the flour; then, you'll break those curds up with some additional flour and use a spatula to press in the liquid. As our Creative Director Kristen Miglore wrote in 2013, "this means that the dough is more predictably tender and flaky (since it's based on a more homogenous flour-butter paste rather than jagged bits of cold butter) and easier to roll out too."
  • How easy was it to make and work with?: This rolled out like a dream ("supremely easy!" according to my notes—the best of the bunch). The dough is a bit tacky—I'd recommend rolling it between sheets of lightly floured parchment paper, and allowing it to chill for the full 45 minutes before attempting that endeavor.

  • Texture and taste: While the addition of vodka made for a dough that was flakier than its all-butter, food processor-made counterpart, I didn't notice a big difference between this crust and the butter-vinegar one. I couldn't detect any vodka (obviously), but I did think these discs had a sort of raw, floury taste—I preferred the flavor of the butter-vinegar and the sour cream pie dough circles.

  • The verdict: I wouldn't rush out to buy a bottle of vodka to make this crust, since I preferred the flavor of the butter-vinegar recipe and found the texture to be nearly the same. But if you are having trouble achieving flakiness, give this a try: Many of our commenters have had great success, even if they had been heartbroken by other pie crust recipes in the past. I think it's likely that this dough will provide flaky results to nervous beginners—it seems less volatile than an all-butter dough, be it made by hand or in a machine. And yet, all-butter doughs still have their advantages.

5. Sour Cream:

You can practically count the number of layers. (Egg wash, left; naked, right.) Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • What makes it different: You don't have to sprinkle in any water or liquid—at all! Instead, you'll cut the butter into the flour using your hands, then stir in 1/4 cup of sour cream with a fork. There's no machine and no uncertainty, and straight-from-the-fridge sour cream can help keep your other ingredients cold.

  • How easy was it to make and work with?: I had to add a couple tablespoons of sour cream (two more than the recipe called for) in order to get the dough to come together, and I used the plastic wrap to help maneuver the mixture into a cohesive ball. After the dough chilled, however, it was much easier to work with and presented no issues during the rolling process. I saw that there were streaks of sour cream in the rolled-out round, which I took to be a sign of flakiness to come. (Spoiler alert: I was correct.)

  • Texture and taste: The sour cream rounds were incredibly flaky—perhaps the highest-rising of the bunch. We also liked their flavor—a distinct, but enjoyable, sourness. The dough rounds, however, were inconsistent. Check out that strangely brown specimen in the third row of the rightmost column: What happened there?

  • The verdict: I love this pie crust—distinct layers and big flavor for such little effort—, but it's definitely suited for particular circumstances. Elise of Simply Recipes doesn't recommend par-baking it (the sides will slump and shrink) and the flavor is noticeably tangy—which is something to keep in mind depending on your filling. I'll save this crust recipe for particular circumstances where a bit of tang would contribute to the final result, like cider caramel pie in the fall or a brown sugar peach pie in August.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

And in the end?

The butter-vinegar crust, for its ingredients and its technique, is my winner. It produced consistently tall, flaky results, and I liked the subtle zip that the vinegar lent to the final crust. It's also easy to turn to this as my go-to: I almost always have apple cider vinegar around. Vodka, sour cream, or my beloved cream cheese? That would probably require a special trip to the store. I'm also inclined to skip the food processor—it's so much harder to control the chunks of butter (and so much easier to take the dough just one pulse too far) when you're involving a powerful machine. My preference is for a combination of tools (they stay cool! they provide more coverage!) and hands.

If I do happen to have sour cream—or I'm baking for a special occasion—I'll make Simply Recipes' version. Shortening, see you never (though commenters, if you'd like to make the case otherwise, my ears are open!). And vodka? I'd suggest that recipe and technique to those who have struggled with all-butter pies in the past. The Genius recipe will enable you to use a food processor without overworking the dough—perfect for those looking for a hands-off, very reliable method.


Best Pie Recipes

Now that we’ve tested the best pie crust recipes, it’s time to bake a pie! For Thanksgiving, make a classic like pecan pie, pumpkin custard, spiced apple, or sweet potato using our favorite pie crust made with a combination of butter and vinegar. Come the Fourth of July, make a fruit pie recipe filled with berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries), stone fruit like peaches and nectarines, or even a light and creamy lemon meringue pie.

Of course, you can feel free to use the pie crust recipe included with each of these fruity pies. Or conduct your own test and determine which is the best pie crust recipe based on your taste preferences.

1. Heda's Mostly Blackberry Pie With Hazelnut Crumb Crust

This pie's base is a take on the butter and vinegar crust we talked about above, but with a secret ingredients to give it crunch and a ton of flavor: ground hazelnuts! The filling is a simple, age-old combo of blackberry and blueberry, and on top goes some more hazelnutty pie dough crumbled up with rolled oats.

2. Third-Generation Peach Pie

Flaky, buttery pie crust is laden with mounds of spiced fresh peaches, then scattered with a nutty, oaty crumble topping. The recipe's been in community member Rhonda35's for three generations, so you know it's gotta be good.

3. Rose Levy Beranbaum's Fresh Blueberry Pie

Cookbook author and baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum's done it again—this time, with a dead-simple and highly impactful blueberry pie. The crust is a vinegar–butter number we all know and love, and the filling is pretty much just fresh summer blueberries.

4. Cider Caramel Apple Pie

When autumn rolls around, you obviously need a go-to pie recipe—so why not this cider caramel rendition? It's got tart-sweet Honeycrisp apples, just a hint of sugar, and plenty of butter to add creaminess to the filling as it bakes. All this gets swaddled in a double-crust of all-buttah pie dough—yes, even more butter.

5. Cranberry Sage Pie

Puckery cranberries and woody, earthy sage are paired in this wintertime wonder, and a sweet apple (like a Northern Spy) joins the party, too. An all-butter crust lays the perfect groundwork.

6. Meta Given's Pumpkin Pie

Start with fresh cooked pumpkin purée or the good stuff from a can, then dress it up by caramelizing it in a pan on the stovetop. Add ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and sugar for sugar, spice, and everything nice, plus an ultra-silky mixture of eggs, cream, and milk. Pour the filling into your chosen favorite pie crust and bake.

7. Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate lovers will adore this over-the-top pie. Recipe developer Kenneth Temple prefers using egg yolks exclusively, rather than eggs, for a silky-smooth pudding to fill the chocolate graham cracker crust. Don’t forget the light and airy whipped cream topping!

8. Craig & Kathleen Claiborne's Mississippi Pecan Pie

Our editors call this pecan pie “sweet but not too sweet” and note that it has a “less jiggly filling than most.” The combination of dark corn syrup and dark brown sugar ensures that the filling will have rich caramelly notes.

Okay, your turn: What's your favorite pie dough recipe? And what part gives you most the trouble? Tell us in the comments below.

This article was originally published in July 2017, but we're sharing it again because you can never have enough pie.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • DDT47
    DDT47
  • bonnieful
    bonnieful
  • Lily
    Lily
  • Susanna
    Susanna
  • JaniceB
    JaniceB
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.

239 Comments

DDT47 October 31, 2021
So many comments, so many recipes, so many variations... we all have different tastes and different outcomes with the various recipes. Experimenting is a good thing, but I will stick with my grandmother's and husband's aunts recipe for pie crust - both the same, simple and delicious. Flour, lard or Crisco, pinch of salt, and cold water. Handle it as little as possible! My grandmothers pies were fantastic and my husband's aunt ran a restaurant and with every meal, they got a generous piece of apple pie, which they raved about! Why fix it if it isn't broken???
 
bonnieful August 1, 2021
Lard?? I make a great pie crust with butter, lard and vodka.
 
harrisson August 2, 2021
Perfect...works every time
 
Lily August 1, 2021
As others noted, this falls short of being a test of best pie crust recipes for the purposeful omission of Crisco/shortening dough and all-lard dough. Come on Food52, dare to test your own prejudices and spend more time on the ease of rolling out the dough then you'll have a truly best pie crust evaluation.
 
Susanna August 1, 2021
I can’t believe you didn’t test at least one crust with lard.
 
JaniceB August 1, 2021
I have been using the Bravetart / Stella Parks all butter dough and technique on Serious Eats and with a little practice, have totally nailed it. Easy to work, all by hand, holds its shape, flaky and delicious!
 
Donna W. August 2, 2021
Stella’s recipe was a success the first time and gave me the confidence I’ve lacked for 50 years of pie making, the Anti Anxiety recipe!
 
Cathy J. July 28, 2021
I use equal portions of thoroughly CHILLED butter and LARD. And ice water. Makes a wonderful pie crust.
 
c. June 24, 2021
How can you call this a fair test? All of those recipes have different ratios of fat to flour. Of course the King Arthur recipe is going to taste the worst of the bunch, it has the lowest ratio of fat to flour. Control for mixing methods? Apparently, you've never heard of that either.

You also completely ignored lard as a fat. This is was the gold standard for pastry making until Proctor & Gamble started spreading lies about animal fats being "unhealthy" in an effort to scam people into buying Crisco in the early 1900s.

One should keep in mind that you don't eat pie crust on its own. It's just packaging for whatever you're filling it with, whether it's sweet or savory. I find it highly unlikely that you're going to taste that vinegar you think is so great or any other flavoring differences in a normal situation: it's all about the texture.
 
Smaug October 31, 2021
That sort of thing- a really rather arbitrary sampling and lack of meaningful controls, as well as dubious criteria- plagues most of these Food52 tests, and those of a lot of other food writers. I would like to say, though, that small additions can make a big difference in a pie crust- a pinch of sugar, a few grains of cinnamon, a tsp of rum- things like that will make a very noticeable difference in the taste of the final product, and so will a bit of vinegar.
 
Linda M. March 12, 2020
My favorite, always works, is pioneer woman perfect pie crust. I tried for years to make my moms crust recipe. It never worked. But now my pies are delicious,,, thx Ree!!!
 
Leslye B. March 15, 2020
Which recipe do you use to make the perfect pie crust?
 
Kim A. October 14, 2019
Thank you so much for this article. I am always trying to up my flaky game with pie crusts so love your article and the commentary.

I also use vodka but read where some only use ice cold vodka instead of any water. I am going try that to minimize the gluten formation.

I also use leaf lard. My husband buys the pork fat and we render the lard and freeze in 4 oz blocks. I use half leaf lard and half butter and get a more flaky and tender crust. But when I’m in a hurry I go for the all-butter crust.
 
AlwaysLookin October 3, 2019
I'll stick with Melissa Clark's recipe, it's served me well for 20 years ...
 
Gloria R. October 3, 2019
I USE SHORTENING. I make at least a dozen pies (mostly fruit) every year. I have been using the following recipe (from Betty Wason's The Everything Cookbook) for almost 50 years. My crusts are flaky and tasty--and the best thing is, I don't have to chill the dough!
For a 2-crust 9" pie: 2 C all-purpose flour, 2/3 C Crisco shortening, 1 1/2 T real butter, 1/4 C water. I ALWAYS mix the dough by hand, using a pastry blender and my fingers, and add the water a little at a time, depending on how humid the day is.
 
Smaug October 3, 2019
That's much like what many of us grew up with- the 3/1 flour to fat (by volume) ratio was long the standard, though chefs frequently use more fat now in the interest of "ramping it up". I learned with half Crisco/ half butter (I am campaigning to resurrect the original meaning of "shortening"- i.e. any fat used to shorten a dough- too bad that Crisco co-opted the word for their own use), never measured liquid etc., but in truth once you have the feel of making it by hand, there's no problem experimenting with different fats, different liquids etc.
 
Kathi October 3, 2019
Very interesting comments. My mom was a master pie baker. Flaky, tender pie crusts each & every pie. Her secret: she added a pinch of cream of tarter to her flour. We begged for extra pie crust dough so we could cut it into strips, cover with a cinnamon/sugar mixture, and eat them like cookies. Really miss her and her pies.
 
Smaug October 4, 2019
Adding acid is yet another longstanding practice- lemon juice, vinegar and sour cream are the most common, but there are other possibilities; I made an experimental crust for a quiche this morning using a pureed tomato for liquid.
 
AlwaysLookin March 13, 2020
Thanks for the tip, I'm gonna try that! My Irish mother-in-law adds it to her Soda Bread recipe.
 
Granny S. August 1, 2021
KATHI: OMG! we used to do the very same thing as kids. That's how my mom taught us to bake. Give us pie dough and we put a light layer of butter (prob that icky margarine back then..) and sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and baked them. She would have us girls watch the oven so we would learn. I wonder if it was a "midwest" thing.... but they were sooo good and made the house smell yummy!
 
Colleen September 24, 2019
I recently made a leaf lard/butter version of pate brisee in the Joy. However, my butter was FROZEN hard. I missed half the butter in with the leaf lard until it was pretty well broken down. Then I added the last half of the butter, I had only quartered lengthwise the sticks, threw those into the processor. Immediately added the water. The dough barely together, I turned it out, and gathered it by hand in the bench. I then did several book folds to work the butter shards into the flakiness I wanted. Adding flour as necessary to keep from sticking. Chilled it overnight, rolled out, par baked for both quiche and apple pie(RLB Fresh Ginger Apple)
Bottom line, I got a beautiful dough, flaky, tender but stood up to the quiche filling without weeping, and fork tender even at the edge on the double crust apple.
As with another commenter, I add flavor to my crusts with herbs, spices, citrus zest as appropriate to the filling.
 
Babs June 18, 2019
The sour cream pie crust was a dream! My 93 y/o dad wanted an apple pie for father’s day, and I needed a great crust. This one was easy to make, roll and was very flaky. It will now be my go-to pie crust!
 
Kallan June 16, 2019
Butter-vinegar does taste great and is easy to work with. I’ve made it for my last 4 pies — both savory and sweet. But in my experience, it shrinks a TON! Disappointed that this review didn’t cover shrinkage even though it was mentioned at the beginning. Any tips for that?
 
Smaug June 16, 2019
Avoiding overworking the dough, keeping hydration to a minimum, using a low protein flour- all of which are aimed at keeping gluten formation to a minimum. None of these will prevent it, but will help. The vodka crust (replacing some of the moisture with alcohol, which won't raise gluten) allows a moister crust, which does handle more easily. Rubbing in some of the shortening (a generic term for whatever fat you use) will help some. Or you can look up an old pie book by Pamela Azquith- she claims that her crusts never shrink, though her recipe seems unextraordinary. Mostly (in my experience), you just learn to adjust for it.
 
Bea August 24, 2019
I find to prevent shrinkage is to chill the pie crust after it's in the pan at least 30 minutes in the freezer . Also adding a tbsp of lemon juice to the dough works well.
 
AlwaysLookin October 3, 2019
As George says, please don't mention shrinkage ...
 
Amy S. February 21, 2020
What is a low protein flour? I have never heard of it before. Is it a certain brand of flour?

 
Smaug February 21, 2020
Different types of wheat have different protein percentages, and flours are milled for different characteristics using this. Of what's readily available, generally bread flour is highest, then unbleached all purpose, then bleached AP, then cake or pastry flours. Non wheat flours are mostly low or no protein.
 
Cynthia May 28, 2019
I’ve become a convert to weighing ingredients instead of measuring. I don’t want to have to add more sour cream to make an acceptable dough. I just want it to magically happen.
 
Michelle J. May 10, 2019
An elderly friend, born in the 1800s and the best cook I ever knew swore by baking powder. She added just less than 1/4 tsp for a flakey cream every time.
 
cosmiccook February 11, 2019
I forgot to add the WORST part of pie-dough (for me) is the rolling and shaping. I'd HOPED Santa would have brought me Food 52's rolling pin (I'm pining for) and the board with diameters sizes on it. Now those are GENIUS!
 
cosmiccook February 11, 2019
I use Stella Parks easy butter dough recipe. Admittedly, for all my years of baking and cooking pie doughs are my nemesis! Stella gets me the closest. One thing I do w pie doughs--I add flavor in the flour & liquid. citrus zest, Chili powder, herbs Provence or other baking spices depending on the filling. I add bitters to the water, Liquours etc. I get a lot of compliments despite my dough not coming as flaky as I like. I can't seem to find the sweet spot of when to STOP working the dough!
 
Greg February 11, 2019
Just mix your fats and you’ll get the flakey crust you want. Butter for flavor and shortening for the flakey factor. They work differently when it bakes and you’ll get the result you want.

The other secret about pie dough is to NOT work it a lot. That’s what develops the gluten and toughens it up. My grandmother swore by never using her thumbs on the dough since they were stronger and more likely to wire the dough harder.

So get by with as little mixing as possible and roll it out from there.

I use the vodka recipe because they say it makes it even more tender and I can’t dispute that — my crusts are very tender.
 
Sally B. January 16, 2019
I still think you cannot beat butter and Lard crust !
 
harrisson January 16, 2019
#1 choice here too.
 
Dick M. May 10, 2019
I switched to lard sever years ago when Crisco changed its ingredients. lard worked well and then about a year ago someone on his site wrote about how good butter it. I tried butter and like it very much. Most call for unsalted butter ant then add salt. That makes no sense to me. I use good salted butter and it is great. Just add less salt to taste.