No Fail Healthier Pie Crust Recipe

No Fail Healthy Pie Crust Recipe
Years ago, I posted a "no fail" pie crust recipe on this blog, but recently I removed it. Yes, it really was "no fail," and yes, it tasted great, and yes it was the recipe my mother used and that I used, also, for many years. But it included vegetable shortening (like Crisco), which I have since learned is terrible for our bodies. Even so, I thought that as rarely as my family eats pie, it was probably okay for us to eat once in a while. But in fact, I've come to believe this attitude is probably what that caused me to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (No fun!) So many of the fats that are popular in the U.S. are really hard on our livers.

So, I experimented with a number of other pie crust recipes, and eventually landed on one that I'd used years ago, but had forgotten about. It's made with real butter - which not only is healthier, but makes a flakier pie crust. It's also the flour based pastry crust recipe featured in my cookbook Easy As Pie, and it really is easy! There are just a few little tricks you need to know in order to make this truly a "no fail" recipe:

1. All the ingredients must be cold before you start. It's most important to have ice water and thoroughly chilled butter, but I recommend chilling the flour, too. And if you use a pastry blender, chill it, also! For the butter, cut it into chunks (see the photo on the right) and wrap in a single sheet of plastic wrap. Place this package in the fridge or the freezer until thoroughly chilled (but not frozen). For the water, start with cold tap water, then add a few ice cubes to the measuring cup.

2. Never use your hands to mix the dough. Your hands will warm the butter, and result in a tough crust. Instead, use a pastry blender or - my favorite "no fail" tool - a food processor. 
No Fail Healthy Pie Crust Recipe 

Makes one crust for a 9 in. pie plate. For a double crust pie, simply double the recipe.

¼ cup pastry or all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup butter, diced and chilled thoroughly
¼ cup ice cold water

1. Put the flour, salt, and butter into a food processor and pulse until it looks like coarse crumbs. (Or, in a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.)

2. Add the very cold water a tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together. (You may not need all the water.) Shape dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (If you're doubling the recipe, divide the dough in half and place each piece in its own piece of plastic wrap.)

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. To check that it’s the right size, set the pie plate on top of the rolled out dough. The dough should be 2 – 3 inches wider all the way around the pie plate. Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate. (One popular way to do this is to wrap the dough around the rolling pin and carefully unwrap it over the pie plate.) Press the dough against the sides and bottom of the pie plate. If the crust tears, simply take a small amount of dough from the edges and press into the tear, creating a patch.

4. Refrigerate. (This helps the dough relax so it doesn't shrink when it's baked.)

To pre-bake: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Keep the pie plate in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. Using the tines of a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the crust all over. Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and line the pie plate with pie weights, uncooked rice, or dried beans. This step helps the crust retain its shape. Place the pie plate in the preheated oven and bake for 15- 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and very carefully remove the paper and weights. (They will be hot!) Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and bake another 10- 15 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling the crust.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this with us! I am hoping to find your new book in my Christmas stocking..! I hope its ok that I linked to this post on a blog post for Christmas Pies: as it really is the best way to make a flaky pastry that I have ever come across. Thanks again x