Love baking pies but in a quandary looking for the best pie crust recipe? Search no more! Our traditional pie dough master recipe — adapted from Art of the Pie — is a fast, fabulous, fail-proof pie dough that transforms into an unforgettable flaky, golden crust.
What makes this pie dough recipe so special? We use rendered leaf lard — the highest grade of lard. Though this secret pie dough ingredient isn’t readily available in the baking aisle, you can track it down at your local butcher or meat counter. You can also make your own (see baker’s note below). The moisture content and mild flavor of leaf lard translates into flavorful, flaky pie crusts that make pie-ophiles giddy with pie-eating pleasure. Butter is good, but a butter and leaf lard combination is the best!
Another reason you’ll love this master pie dough recipe is the reliable yet streamlined dough-making technique. Simply toss the ingredients into a food processor and pulse your way to a perfectly mixed dough. The sharp blades of the food processor expertly cut through the butter and lard, quickly cutting the fat into the flour, then quickly blending in the water. The only hands-on work you have to do is gather the mixture up into a dough and divide it in half before chilling in the refrigerator. The food processor is key for easy-peasy pie dough-making.
Baking tip: You can also make this pie dough without a food processor. Simply cut cold lard and butter into the flour and salt mixture until it looks crumbly. Mix in ice water and bring the mixture into a dough. Knead a few times, divide in two, and refrigerate the dough until ready to use.
A food processor makes this pie dough a quick and easy job. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, butter and lard. Pulse 20 times to cut the fat into the dry ingredients.
Add ice water
Ice-cold water keeps the fat cold as the pie dough ingredients come together. Sprinkle cold water over the flour mixture and pulse 15 times. Squeeze a handful of the dough to see if it holds together. If it doesn’t, add a bit more water and pulse a few times, then retest.
Divide the dough in half
Dump the dough into a bowl and use your hands to bring the dough together. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 5-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough
Set the dough on the countertop and allow it to warm up just until the dough is soft to the touch and is easy to roll out. Place 1 disk on a lightly floured pastry mat or board and remove the plastic wrap. Sprinkle the disk with flour and roll the dough from the center out in all directions. Avoid using a back and forth rolling motion. When the dough is 1 to 2 inches larger than the pie pan, brush off the extra flour.
Fit the dough in the pie pan
Fold the dough in half and lay it in the pie pan, gently pushing it down to fit snugly in the pan. If it tears, repair the tear by adding a bit of water and flour and pressing over the area. Trim the overhang of the dough, leaving enough dough to crimp around the edge of the pie pan.
Fill and bake as directed
Fill the pie pan with your pie filling. If you’re making a double-crust pie, roll out the second dough and use it as a top crust. Set the dough over the filling, trim as necessary, and crimp the dough edges together. Bake your pie as directed.
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces*
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) rendered leaf lard (see note), cut into small pieces*
1/2 cup ice water plus 1–2 tablespoons more, as needed
Additional flour for rolling out dough
In the food processor bowl, combine flour, salt, butter and lard. Pulse 20 times.
Sprinkle ice-cold water over mixture and pulse 15 times.
Squeeze handful of dough to see if it holds together. Add in more water if necessary.
Divide dough in half and make equal-size disks, about 5 inches across.
Wrap disks separately in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to warm up slightly until dough is soft to touch and easy to roll out.
Place 1 disk on floured pastry mat or board. Remove plastic wrap.
Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll your rolling pin from the center out in all directions. Do not use back and forth motion.
Once the dough is 1 to 2 inches larger than the pie pan, brush off extra flour.
Fold dough in half and lay it in pie pan carefully.
Gently push the dough down into the pan to fit snugly. If it tears, add a little water and a small amount of flour pressed over the area to repair.
Trim overhang of dough from around pie pan, leaving enough to be crimped around the edge.
Add pie filling.
If making a double-crust pie, roll out second dough and use it as the top crust. Crimp edges of dough together. Bake as directed.
Makes 1-double crust or 2-single crust pies
Baker’s note: Rendered leaf lard can be purchased from speciality butcher shops. If they only have unrendered, you can render it at home by placing cubed pieces (approximately 2 inches in diameter) in a shallow pan in the oven or electric skillet and cooking on low heat at 250F for several hours until it melts. Strain it through a cheesecloth and a strainer, and place it in a container in the refrigerator until it sets up. Divide and weigh the leaf lard into equal portions of 4 ounces each. Wrap and chill or freeze until ready to use. The lard will last 3 months in the freezer.
*14 tablespoons (7 ounces) of butter may be substituted for the leaf lard and butter combination.