This pie crust recipe is the test kitchen’s favorite for its balance of favor, texture and eye appeal. The butter gives an incomparable rich flavor and golden color and the texture will be flaky if the dough is handled well. The key is cold ingredients, not working the fat into the flour too thoroughly and adding just enough water and not a drop more. After years of making it by hand, with a mixer and with a food processor, we have come to rely on the food processor as our approach of choice. The blade is so quick that there is little time for the butter to heat up, which helps create the flaky end result. Hand mixing is a close second, so we give you both as options.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water (or more or less as needed)
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 to 3 tablespoons ice cold water (or more or less as needed)
- Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse to combine. Add half the butter and pulse on and off just until the bulk of the mixture resembles a very coarse meal and there are still pieces of butter the size of grapes. Add remaining butter, pulsing on and off until you have a mixture with pieces of fat ranging in size from small peas to large raisins.
- Drizzle in the smaller amount of water through the feed tube and pulse until the dough is moistened and just holds together if squeezed between your fingertips. The mixture will be loose and will only come together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary.
- Dump the mixture out onto your work surface or into a bowl. Gently gather the mixture together using your fingers and palms. You can press it against the work surface or sides of the bowl to help compress it and bring it together into a solid mass. Take care not to overwork it too much with your hands; the heat of your hands might overly soften the butter and create a mealy textured dough.
- Gather into two balls for double crust or one ball for single crust and flatten into disc(s). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. The dough may also be frozen for 1 month double wrapped in plastic and placed in a heavy zip-top bag with air removed. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Pie crust made with all butter will be very firm when chilled. Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
- We always make a double crust whether we need it or not, as pie crust freezes so well. See instructions for freezing in recipe.
- If you have the time and space, freeze the food processor bowl or your mixing bowl with the flour inside it for 15 minutes before beginning.
- If the room temperature is particularly warm, we will use butter straight from the freezer. Cut it into pieces at the beginning of your preparation time.
- To make the ice-cold water, pour a generous amount of water in a measuring cup, add some ice cubes and let it sit for a few minutes. Remove the cubes, re-measure the water and proceed.