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Pie Crust without Shortening

Skipping the shortening makes the dough a little more challenging to shape, but the result is a lighter, delightfully crunchy crust.

See also: traditional and vegan pie crusts

Video Instructions:

This recipe was updated on 1/30/2018.

Ingredients for a 9-inch pie crust (all the ingredients must be chilled in advance):

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (130 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons cold water


  1. In a bowl mix well:
    • 1 cup (130 g) all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  2. Add butter and cut into small pieces:
    • 2 tablespoons cold butter (or vegetable oil)
  3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons vegetable oil.
  4. With a pastry blender, cut the butter and oil into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are roughly pea-sized.

    The dough becomes darker when the vegetable oil is mixed evenly.

  5. Sprinkle 1.5 tablespoons cold water evenly.
  6. Cut a sheet of plastic wrap that is 2 inches bigger than the pie pan. You may need to use two sheets overlapping in the middle to make it large enough. Lightly sprinkle flour over the plastic wrap and place the dough in the center. The flour will prevent the dough from sticking. With a fork or knife, you can break up the lumps of dough that formed from the water and spread it over the rest of the dough, allowing the moisture to spread evenly. Do not mix the dough, however.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and gently form it into a ball.
  8. Unwrap the dough leaving it on the plastic wrap and cover with another sheet of plastic warp that has been lightly sprinkled with flour.
  9. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough into a circle that is 1 inch wider than the pie pan and about an 1/8 inch thick. Do not overwork the dough because it will become like shortbread instead of being flaky.
  10. Working without shortening is more challenging, so it the edges may crack when you roll out the dough. To fix them, fold the edges of the bottom plastic wrap over the cracked edges. Roll out the dough with the rolling pin perpendicular to each crack you are correcting. To see a demonstration of this technique, you can see it here: Technique for smoothing the edges of the pie dough.
  11. Once you are happy with the shape, remove the top piece of plastic wrap. Place the pie pan upside down on the flattened dough. Put one hand under the plastic wrap and hold it against the center of the pie. Put another hand on the bottom of the pie pan and quickly flip it over.
  12. Center the dough on the pie pan. Remove the plastic wrap slowly.
  13. Press the dough lightly to make sure there are no air bubbles underneath. Take the overhanging edge of the pie crust and fold that under itself and very gently crimp the edge of the pie crust with your hands. If pieces of the crust break off, gently press them back onto the pie crust. Again, try not to overwork the dough to keep the crust flaky. If the crust is to be baked without a filling, cut a few slits in the bottom of the dough. This will stop large bubbles from forming.
  14. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the pie crust in the refridgerator until the oven is ready. If it is a hot day and the butter is melting, you may need to chill it for at least 1 hour before baking. You can refridgerate the dough up to 12 hours before baking if you are planning to bake the crust later. Chilling the dough will keep it from shrinking when it is baking. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edge and the bottom of the crust are nicely brown.

1/30/2018 Update:

  • Increased 1.5 Tbsp butter to 2 Tbsp butter to give better flavor.
  • Reduced 3 Tbsp water to 1.5 Tbsp water to keep the pie crust light and flaky. Because water and flour produces gluten, too much water can make the crust dense and hard.
  • Increased the baking temperature from 400°F to 425degF.
  • Simplified the directions to make the recipe easier to follow.
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