5 Ingredients or Fewer

Stella Parks' No-Stress, Super-Flaky Pie Crust

August 15, 2017
17 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

This is the flaky pie dough recipe that stands to make the biggest difference for a budding pie baker—because have you ever thought about what “till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs” means to a first-timer? Not much. This recipe proves an unexpected path that’s easier for us all to understand without prior knowledge or intuition. Recipe adapted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017). —Genius Recipes

Test Kitchen Notes

To learn more about Stella's technique, see the original article This Genius, Super-Flaky Pie Crust Changes Everything in Piedom, and check out our 5 tips for success as well as this video of Stella making the dough herself over on Serious Eats. Happy pie-baking! —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Stella Parks' No-Stress, Super-Flaky Pie Crust
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes two 9-inch (23cm) single pie crusts or one double crust
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon (8 ounces/225g) all-purpose flour, preferably Gold Medal bleached flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
  • 8 ounces (225g/2 sticks) very cold unsalted American-style butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.3cm) cubes
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) very cold water
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. To make the dough: Before your hands get messy, gather all your ingredients, plus a medium bowl, a whisk, a rubber spatula, a rolling pin, a 9-inch (23cm) pie plate (preferably glass; aluminum or other metal is also fine—heavy ceramic and stoneware are not recommended), and a bench scraper or offset spatula (or other thin spatula-like thing). A ruler and a pair of kitchen shears will help, too.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl, then add the butter. Toss the butter cubes in the flour, separating any stuck-together cubes with your fingers, then pinch each cube flat with your fingers, to about 1/4-inch (6mm) thick—don’t work the butter in more! Stir in the cold water with a rubber spatula and press and knead together until the dough comes together in a ball. Dump the ball onto a heavily floured work surface, sprinkle the top with more flour, and use a rolling pin to roll out a rectangle that’s roughly 10 x 15 inches (25 x 38cm), with the longer side closest to you, adding as much flour as you need along the way to keep it from sticking. (If your kitchen is very warm or, at any point, the butter gets melty and sticky, gather the dough onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge till it firms up a little, 15 minutes or so.)
  3. Slide an offset spatula under the dough to loosen it from the counter, then fold each 10-inch (25cm) side toward the middle so the edges meet, then close the packet like a book. Fold the book in half, top to bottom, then slice the dough in half horizontally, so you have two roughly equal-sized rectangles of dough. (If it’s warmer than 72°F (22°C) in your kitchen, you might want to refrigerate the dough for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.)
  4. Wrap one portion of dough in plastic wrap and chill it while you get to work on the other one, or freeze for later it if you don’t plan on using it right away. Roll the remaining portion out 1/8-inch (3mm) thick, into a 14-inch (36cm) round. Feel for sticky patches on top and underneath as you go, smoothing flour over them if needed. Brush off any excess flour, then drape the dough over your 9-inch (23cm) pie pan and lift the edges of the dough to drape the sides down into the corners without stretching the dough. Trim the excess to a 1 1/4-inch (3cm) overhang all around, then fold it under and press to seal it well, creating a 3/4-inch (2cm) border. If making a single-crust pie, crimp with your fingers or a fork into whatever decorative edge you like. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Alternatively, the crust can be frozen for up to 3 months and thawed overnight in the fridge before baking.
  5. To make a double-crust pie: Roll the remaining dough into a round as before to make your top crust, or, for a lattice-top pie, roll into an 1/8-inch (3mm) thick rectangle that's approximately 9 x 5 inches (23cm x 38cm). Transfer the entire sheet, uncut, to a baking sheet. Wrap both the bottom crust and top crust well in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Use as directed in your favorite recipe.
  6. To blind-bake for a single-crust pie (and have one portion of dough left over): Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack positioned in the lower-middle. Line the chilled crust with a 16-inch (40cm) square of foil (not parchment or wax paper), pressing it against the dough and letting the excess hang over the sides. Fill the crust to the brim with sugar, a no-waste alternative to traditional options like rice or dried beans (once cool, the roasted sugar can be stored and used in any recipe in place of granulated sugar).
  7. Set the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is cooked through and lightly browned, about 1 hour (using a glass pan makes it easy to check the underside to make sure it’s nicely browned). Remove the crust from oven and carefully lift out the foil with both hands and set aside on a plate until the sugar has fully cooled. Cool the crust to room temperature and use within 12 hours. Once cool, store the roasted sugar airtight at room temperature. To use the other half of the dough if frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight first.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

84 Reviews

Sarah V. November 25, 2020
If making this ahead of time, is it best to put it in the refrigerator after folding and before rolling out?
 
mudd November 25, 2020
That’s what I would do. Divide in approx half-larger piece for bottom crust. Wrap both tightly in plastic wrap
 
Sarah V. November 25, 2020
Thanks!
 
Prathima January 11, 2021
Stella suggests rolling out the bottom first, putting it in the pan and then refrigerating, but I always make batches ahead of time, so I just split it after folding and refrigerate or freeze until I need It.
 
Marina January 26, 2021
I have done it like this and it worked great for me. Afterwards, I let it chill for a while to let the gluten relax before baking to prevent shrinking.
 
Karleen November 22, 2020
These instructions are not good, they have been adapted. I’d recommend the book or a different site. Or maybe Food52 can update them!
 
Kristen M. November 23, 2020
Hi Karleen, would you mind sharing which parts of the instructions didn't work for you?
 
Karleen November 24, 2020
Hi Kristen,
So, if you read them carefully you'll see discrepancies in the method throughout. I suggest citing the original instructions precisely, they can be found on the Serious Eats website and in Stella Parks' book. These read like one person made the recipe once, wrote a post, did not edit. First of all, specify a temperature range for the dough. Price specifies 65-70 degrees F. "Smash butter cube" method is not clear. If you do more than flatten each 1/4" cube of butter - your dough will have issues. Book fold/layer method is not described well - at all. Requirement to chill/rest the dough at a couple stages is not emphasized, again that would lead to serious issues. I'm sorry to be blunt but it's a shame that Price's recipe is cited and paraphrased poorly. I printed this and actually started circling edits and corrections, then realized that was silly and found Price's original recipe. Success! I'm an experienced baker, coming from a family with professional and stellar home bakers. Thanks for asking - I know this can be improved!
 
BlueberryOtter August 9, 2020
Not sure why this didn't give the link to Parks' original video and post; they are both excellent. (Make sure to use the US-style, lower fat content butter, as she calls for). https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/06/old-fashioned-flaky-pie-dough-recipe.html
 
Kristen M. November 23, 2020
Thanks for your note! I added a link to the video above.
 
Rita M. May 25, 2020
I love making pastry crust ...I’ve done it all kinds etc. and was excited to use this method. However, it didn’t turn out at all and was by far one of the hardest things I’ve tried. I used the right kind of flour, measured everything etc. abut the whole thing kept melting and turing into a mess. I’ve made puff pastry with success several times, so I be experience and understanding of a similar process. this one is very unstable. I used Puglia butter, so maybe that was a factor but other than that was very unstable. Open to suggestions as to what could have been done differently
 
Diane May 25, 2020
Rita, I had the same results as you and I tried it twice. Very unstable and melted away into a puddle. I've gone back to my old standard recipe and it comes out perfect every time. Sometimes these 'new' ones aren't quite what we hope they may be.
 
mudd May 25, 2020
Ms Parks specifies American style butter like landolakes
 
Rita M. May 26, 2020
Thanks, that's what I thought. Puglia is what I had on hand and the recipe above didn't specify a brand of butter in the ingrediants list, I only read that and started.
 
mudd May 26, 2020
You are welcome. For anyone having trouble with this crust, check the Serious Eats web site, Stella Parks is their baking person. Recipe is pretty specific-American style good butter and Gold Medal bleached ap flour (which is milled to a specific protein percentage) I also have her book. Recipes work
 
Rita M. May 26, 2020
Thanks again to clarify!
If someone is only going by what is written on Food 52, I can see how it's lead to issues.. Not sure why they didn't suggest in this version of this recipe ingredients to use that specific kind/brand of butter( which in baking pastry make a difference) as they listed brands of other ingredients.
 
Kristen M. November 23, 2020
Thanks for your comments here and I'm sorry for the confusion—I added a note to the recipe that Stella uses American-style butter for this recipe, as on Serious Eats.
 
briankling December 24, 2019
OMG I was so looking forward to making a crust like my grandmother so effortlessly did. I doubled the recipe for a deep dish pie. Rolling was fine, kept it outside in the cold air while I prepared the filing. I didn't pre-bake. When I put it in the oven the crust totally lost it's shape and turned to formless goo, and now it is swimming in butter. I know I got the proportions right...

Signed, still a pie-crust challenged Baker :-(
 
Diane May 25, 2020
Brian, it's not you -- it's the recipe. I've been successfully making pies for decades and this recipe is just not what it should be.
 
pab November 28, 2019
I made the dough yesterday, and it was fun and easy. However, when I blind baked the crusts, the butter bubbled up and melted all over the oven and smoked up the kitchen.

I made the pumpkin and pecan pies afterwards but we haven't eaten yet, so I don't know how the crusts turned out. But why did the butter melt all over?
 
Prathima January 27, 2021
At what temp did you blind bake? Over on seriouseats, Stella recommends blind-baking (with the crust lined with foil and filled with something heavy, like sugar) at 375F for 45 min to an hour. It has come out perfectly for me like this. Never a soggy bottom.
 
Diane October 14, 2019
I finally made this particular pie crust and it has turned out very, very good. Crispy but flaky and delicious too. I'm amazed at how this method makes such a difference. Oh, and I used half butter; half lard for mine. Flaky and my husband loves it.
 
student E. October 13, 2019
This is the best pie crust recipe I've found. I've made it twice, both times I needed more water. Delicious buttery flakiness.
 
Gretchen G. September 24, 2019
Just curious, why does this specify bleached four?
 
Christopher M. October 21, 2019
The bleached flour has less gluten, producing a more tender crust.
 
mudd April 27, 2019
This is very similar to a recipe by Jim Dodge that I’ve made a number of times
 
N V. December 26, 2018
This is a terrific sturdy crust. If booked two or three times it is also basically a rough puff pastry not a short crust pastry. It made a great pastry for mince tarts. It also leaks butter so don't put it in a spring form pan.
 
Lana B. December 25, 2018
I have struggled with pie crusts and decided to give this one a try. As usual, my dough didn't hold together and was ragged and fell apart as I was rolling it. Ended up throwing out the whole mess. I did exactly what they said to do. Did I not mix the dough and water together enough? Using a food processor is the only way I've been able to be modestly successful in the past - I'll go back to my fav Ina Garten's recipe.
 
Kristen M. January 2, 2019
Hi Lana, I'm so sorry to hear it. Here are the things I think could have gone awry. If you measured by volume and not weight, you might have ended up with more flour than needed (try stirring the flour in the container, then spooning it lightly into the cup before leveling off with the back of a knife or other flat edge, if you measure by volume and don't do this already). If you used unbleached flour instead of bleached, that can also suck up more water as it's forming gluten. And finally, maybe you didn't knead and press together quite enough in step 2 to get it to form a ball (it will be a shaggy ball, but should mostly hold together as you're rolling it out). With any pie dough, if this happens again, you can lightly flick more water onto dry areas of the dough as you're rolling out until they come together. Good luck!
 
Deedledum December 13, 2018
This recipe appeared earlier in Serious Eats (see . https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/06/old-fashioned-flaky-pie-dough-recipe.html and https://www.seriouseats.com/2018/11/pie-dough-troubleshooting.html. Because Stella is so generous with her time, there's lots to learn within those articles and comments. She's a real gem!
 
Patricia F. November 22, 2018
This seemed pretty interesting. I thought the mixing method was pretty simple, but I question the baking method for blind baking. I followed the directions exactly, and at 350 (yes, my oven is accurate; I check it) my crust took about 1 hour and 20 minutes before it got brown. It was the hardest crust I have ever made (and I used to make pies for a living). I will try it again with a more traditional, hotter, and shorter bake to see if that helps. Otherwise, I'll probably stick with my regular all-butter recipe and conventional rolling method, which I can whip up in the food processor, mixer, or by hand.
 
Kristen M. January 2, 2019
Hi Patricia, I'm sorry for the delay here—sorry to hear it wasn't as fabulous as it could be. My guess is that the hardness could have come from using an unbleached flour like King Arthur, which includes a lot of hard red wheat (high protein, high gluten, relatively) and that the longer baking time could have come from using a heavier pie dish like a ceramic or stoneware, instead of quick-conducting glass or metal. If you try it again, I'd recommend checking out the 5 tips for success article linked above in the "Food52 Review". I'll also link it here: https://food52.com/blog/23402-genius-no-stress-flaky-pie-dough-recipe-tips
 
Patricia F. December 24, 2019
Sorry, I followed the recipe to the letter, using bleached flour and a regular glass pie plate (as I did the first time I made it). I like a lot of Stella's recipes and ideas, and I love most of your genius recipes, but this pastry dough seems to have caused a lot of people problems of various kinds.

By the way, I'm a former restaurant pastry chef and baker, so I'm not completely clueless in the kitchen. I think I'll just pass on this particular recipe for the future.

But keep up the excellent content! Thanks.
 
jenncc November 21, 2018
Stella Parks is baking genius, I however must not be:( Despite my being an experience baker this was a failure. The whole thing just melted to the bottom of the pie pan wether it was filled with pie wights for a blind bake or filled with pumpkin for my Thanksgiving pie. Needless to say the latter was a much bigger mess! Even baked from frozen it shrank so much it practically disappeared under the filling. I would love to blame this on my technique (but I followed the video as well as my instincts from previous pie making) or my ingredients, but I think I used pretty good stuff and definitely butter/flour that I have worked with before. I love Stella's book and have enjoyed many of her recipes but this didn't work for me.
 
Kristen M. November 21, 2018
Hi jenncc, I'm so sorry to hear it—have you seen the article I published earlier today with 5 tips for success? These sound like issues that have come up for others, and I gathered Stella's and my advice for preventing them. Might be worth checking out to see if anything rings a bell: https://food52.com/blog/23402-genius-no-stress-flaky-pie-dough-recipe-tips
 
Candice September 21, 2018
This pie crust recipe is not for a beginner or "budding pie baker." It is also not "no-stress." As others have said, it is not enough for a double crust pie. Because of all the butter in it, it becomes very soft and difficult to work with. I did not want to add a lot of extra flour to it which would cause it to become too tough. I have made other recipes which are flaky and tender without all the hassle this one has. Ugggh!
 
Kristen M. October 5, 2018
Hi Candice, I'm so sorry it was a frustrating experience for you. I wonder if not having enough for a double crust pie depends on how deep your pie pan is, and how thinly you roll your dough. I tend to roll mine 1/8-inch thick, but I know others go closer to 1/4 inch. Stella uses a glass pie pan, so it's likely shallower than some. The number one pie dough tip I have, for this or other doughs, is to just stick it back on a baking sheet and into the fridge (or freezer) briefly if it starts getting too sticky or soft, which I mentioned at the end of step 2.
 
Ashdoes December 29, 2017
I have found this to be barely enough for two 9in pumpkin pies. This makes my pies look ameturish, because I cannot press the edges in anyway. Generally I’ve been rolling the ends in, wherever there is a tiny bit extra.
With that said, this crust is fantastic tasting, and people notice the difference. I’ve been tempted to up all but the butter, and see how it goes. Any suggestions?
 
msmely December 29, 2017
I suspect the recipe expects you to incorporate a substantial amount more flour in the rolling and shaping, which may help bulk up the dough somewhat. I found this recipe to be acceptable for 2x10" square galettes, and then for 3 double crust pies made in 1lb aluminum takeout containers. I had to be strategic with the double crust pies, using the bigger pieces for the bottom. I agree that one will not end up with tons of extra dough.
 
Ashdoes December 30, 2017
I watched her make the crust in a video, and she did addquite a bit more for rolling. I bake a lot of bread, where adding more or too much more flour can change the end result. Maybe I’m being overly cautious. As with all baking, trial and error is the way of it...I’ll just make more pies :)
 
Elizabeth N. August 9, 2018
Do you blind bake your crust for pumpkin pie? I never have and was wondering if that would keep the crust from getting mushy.
 
Ashdoes August 9, 2018
I only ever blind-bake if the recipe calls for it. My current Pumpkin pie recipe does not, and it comes out fantastic with this crust.
 
Caren B. December 21, 2017
Hi I just read recipe for blind bake crust. You really Baked the crust at 350 degrees for an hour? That seems way too long. Recipe sounds great but didn’t want to burn a crust.
 
Kristen M. December 21, 2017
Yes, it works! Stella explains why in great detail here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/10/how-to-blind-bake-a-pie-crust.html
 
Loreal November 24, 2017
Wonderful proportions, but the method is waaaaay too fussy. I've had success a number of times just cutting in the butter with a pastry blender until the butter is evenly cut into pea-sized chunks, stir the water in with a fork until it you're incorporated all the dry ingredients, turn the mixture out onto a floured counter, knead it into a smooth ball, divide the ball into 2 parts. Voila--dough for two pie crusts!
 
msmely December 29, 2017
I didn't find it fussy at all, the folds finish off the incorporating of the dough which eliminates the kneading step. You end up only barely working the dough and ending up with a perfectly homogenized crust that folds together neatly in a perfect rectangle. No kneading involved and you end up with the perfect amount of gluten development. The gluten you do get is from stretchy well hydrated dough that's laminated between layers of butter. This displaced my favourite (food processor) method precisely because it requires no tools and achieved even better results! Once the very cold water was added I used my finger to mix it together just barely like a dough hook. Her advice about using an abundant amount of flour to roll it out is spot on, and also applies to the serious eats food processor method.
 
Monica T. April 30, 2019
Thats exactly how I did it...Works perfectly!

 
Sarahpeaches November 23, 2017
This recipe did not work at all for me. I usually make shortening crusts, but I was hoping this would help make the butter crust flaky. It was terrible! Rolling out the dough twice made it way too tough and chewy, I don't understand how this works for everyone else.
 
msmely December 29, 2017
I wonder if perhaps once the water was added the dough was worked too much before rolling out. The trick is to dump it on the counter before it's fully homogenized, the rolling and folding steps finish off the mixing and then there's less toughness. I did find a final chilling/relaxation step was very necessary to let the gluten relax. She prefers to do the incorporation and shaping in one step and then chill the shaped crust. I made a galette, so I chilled and then did the final roll before assembly and returned my galette to the fridge. I suspect this helped to make sure the gluten was well relaxed before baking.