12 Essential Pie Crust Tips and Tricks

POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Delicious homemade pie that begs for seconds begins with exceptional pie crust, and to get there, you'll need to know the hacks and baking tips that will lead you toward crust nirvana. You know what I'm referring to — crispy, buttery, flaky perfection.

Measure Out the Dry Ingredients
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Measure Out the Dry Ingredients

The most effective way to avoid baking mishaps is by measuring out ingredients using a scale and not relying on measuring cups and spoons. Pictured here is 12 1/2 ounces (or two and a half cups) of all-purpose flour.

Get the how-to: how to make pie crust

How to Keep the Butter Cold
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

How to Keep the Butter Cold

Cold butter is really the key to great pie crust. Keep the butter refrigerated up until the minute you are ready to work it into the flour. If, after it's cut into small cubes, it becomes soft again, pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it back up. Another way to keep the butter colder for longer is by putting the ingredients in a cold bowl and by cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry blender. A food processor, while easier, heats up the butter faster.

Get the recipe: all-butter pie crust

Butter Versus Shortening
POPSUGAR Photography | Anna Monette Roberts

Butter Versus Shortening

While butter is often used in homemade pie crust, shortening is another viable option. Butter crusts will cook up golden brown and will puff up slightly due to the water content in the butter creating steam and causing the crust to rise as it bakes. Shortening crust, as pictured, is lighter in color and denser as it doesn't puff up. The flavor will also be more neutral.

Get the recipe: apple pie with shortening crust

Wrap and Chill the Dough
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Wrap and Chill the Dough

This is an important step! After the dough is made, it needs to be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least an hour to allow the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that's easier to roll out.

Get the recipe: all-butter pie crust

Add Baking Powder to the Dough
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Add Baking Powder to the Dough

If you're worried about your pie crust shrinking or slouching while baking, add a little baking powder, which will help the crust expand as it bakes.

Get the recipe: Mario Batali's butterscotch pie

Freeze If You're Not Using Within a Day
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Freeze If You're Not Using Within a Day

Plan to use the dough the day you make it or the following day, otherwise the dough will discolor and blacken. Yuck! If you're not using the dough within that time frame, then wrap dough discs in plastic wrap, then tinfoil or inside a heavy-duty resealable bag, and freeze until needed. Thaw in the fridge overnight before use.

Get the recipe: all-butter pie crust

Add Vodka For the Easiest Crust to Roll Out
Cook's Country

Add Vodka For the Easiest Crust to Roll Out

According to Cook's Country, too much water and too much mixing can lead to "excessive gluten development and toughness." This means crust that is difficult to roll out! Replace some of the water in your recipe with vodka, and you'll "produce a moist, easy-to-roll dough that won't toughen." But don't worry, the alcohol burns out when it bakes.

Get the recipe: pumpkin-pecan pie

How to Transport the Dough to the Pie Plate Without It Breaking
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

How to Transport the Dough to the Pie Plate Without It Breaking

Loosely wrap the rolled-out dough around a rolling pin for easy transport from the countertop to the pie plate.

Get the how-to: how to make pie crust

Crimp the Rim
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Crimp the Rim

The mistake most people make when crimping pie crust is they don't tuck the dough under itself. This creates a thick, double-layer of dough so that it's easy for the crimp to hold its shape. Another tip is to make sure the pie crust is chilled. Simply pop it in the freezer for a few minutes once it's in the pie dish. Once it's ready to go, crimp the edge all around by firmly pressing the dough between the thumb and pointer finger of one hand and the thumb of your other hand. Return the pie crust to the freezer for another few minutes before baking so the pie crust sets.

Get the how-to: how to crimp pie crust

Use a Ribbon and a Pizza Cutter For Perfect Latticing
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

Use a Ribbon and a Pizza Cutter For Perfect Latticing

Watch the video (linked below) to learn how to lattice a pie. The trick to it turning out perfectly is to start with evenly shaped pie crust strips, which can be achieved using a ribbon and a pizza cutter.

Get the how-to: how to lattice pie crust

Par-Bake the Crust
POPSUGAR Photography | Anna Monette Roberts

Par-Bake the Crust

If you've ever been the victim of soggy pie crust, you should consider par-baking the crust. That way, it has time to crisp up in the oven once the filling goes in.

Get the recipe: Mark Bittman's pecan pie

How to Semi-Homemake Graham Cracker Crust.
POPSUGAR Photography | Nicole Perry

How to Semi-Homemake Graham Cracker Crust.

Upgrade store-bought graham cracker crust by pulsing in a little salt and salted butter with the crumbs. Then press the mixture back into a pie pan.

Get the recipe: easy pumpkin pie