How to Make a Butter Pie Crust by Hand

I prefer to make my butter pie crusts with a food processor—it’s so quick and easy—but if you don’t have a Cuisinart or other food processor, you can also make a fine butter crust by hand.

Pie crust ingredients: flour, water, butter, salt
Pie crust ingredients: flour, water, butter, salt

I make one recipe for a single crust, 1-1/4 recipes if I want to do pie crust art, and 1-1/2 recipes for a covered pie or for pie crust art.. Here are quantities for all three:

Ingredients (US measures) 1 recipe 1-1/4 recipe 1-1/2 recipe
Chilled butter1 stick (4 oz/8 Tb/ 113g)1-1/4 stick (5 oz/10 Tb/142g)1-1/2 stick (6 oz/12 Tb/170g)
Flour1-1/3 cups (175g)1-2/3 cups (215g)2 cups (260g)
SaltDash (1g)Dash (1g)Dash (1g)
Ice water2-2/3 Tb (40ml)3-1/3 Tb (50ml)4 Tb (60ml)

(Tb = tablespoon)

Cut the butter into 8 to 12 pieces and place in a bowl. Add the flour and salt and use a pastry blender to mix the butter with the flour until the dough is the size of small peas. (If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two forks or your fingers.)

Using your fingers, mix in the ice water, 1 tablespoon (15cc) at a time. Mix just until it holds together, only a few seconds. Press the dough into a flat disk with your hands.

Sprinkle a little flour on a cool, dry surface and place the dough on it. (Note: if you’ve made the larger recipe, take about 2/3 of the dough for rolling the bottom crust.) Rub a little flour onto the rolling pin so it won’t stick and roll the dough in a rough circle a little larger than the diameter of your pan. If the dough sticks, sprinkle on a little more flour. The dough should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3.2 to 6.35 mm) thick. 

Use a spatula to loosen the dough from the surface, and fold it in half and then quarters to make lifting it easy. Place it in the pie pan and press it into the pie pan, shaping it to fit. Use your fingers, a fork, or a pastry wheel to make a pretty edge on the crust. Trim off the excess dough. (It can be used for the top crust or for  pie crust art.)

Making the top crust: Shape remaining dough into a flat disk and roll out as above. Determine how big to make the crust based on how much fruit you’ve piled in the pie. 

Making the Top Crust

Weaving a lattice pie crust
Weaving a lattice pie crust

If you’d like to have a top crust or lattice crust on your pie, shape the remaining dough into a flat disk and roll it out as above.

Place the filling (fruit) into your pie plate. Determine how big to make the top crust based on how much fruit you’ve piled up in the pie. Place the crust on top of the fruit and seal the edges by squeezing the top and bottom crusts together with your fingers.

If you want to make it fancy, cut out some shapes from the top crust before you put the crust on top of the fruit; otherwise, cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to come out, or use a cute pie bird for this purpose.

Tips from Jane

— You can also make this pie crust in a food processor.

— Many people recommend chilling the dough for an hour before rolling. I usually don’t remember to do this, but if you have time you might want to.

— Pie crust is very forgiving. If yours tears or splits, as mine often does, just patch it together with your fingers or a little bit of dough. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little bumpy or uneven—after all, it’s going to be covered with yummy filling! You don’t want holes in the crust, however, as that could allow the filling to seep underneath.

— Crimping the edge to make it look nice isn’t hard. Just use your fingers to shape small indentations, working your way around the crust. You can also use the back of a fork or a pastry wheel to make an edge.