I don’t mind making pie crust. I actually kind of like the thrill, if you know what I mean. There’s always the possibility that you mixed it too much and it ends up being tough. Or a hundred other problems and issues, like a wall keeping you from your perfect pie. I know that it took me quite a few years and failed pie crusts to get it right. For a long time I relied on a go-to recipe for no-roll pie crust that requires ZERO advanced skills. Sure, you can go to the refrigerated section of any grocery store and pick up a pre-made pie crust. But I still think homemade is better. Plus it’s easy to tweak depending on what you’re making. Want to add nuts? Great. Want to use part whole wheat flour? Fantastic. Want to use all butter or all shortening? Do it. Need to leave out the sugar? Go for it. It’s such a versatile recipe. I’m betting it will become one of your go-to recipes.
This recipe is good for tarts or any single crust pie. I often use this for fruit pies with a streusel topping and pumpkin pie. It can be made in a food processor, but I’m showing how to make it completely by hand.
No-roll pie crust. 1 of 13
A no-roll pie crust is super easy to make and tastes just as great as a rolled crust.
What you need: 2 of 13
The ingredients for no-roll pie crust are pretty basic - flour, sugar, salt, one egg yolk, ice water (not pictured), and cold butter. You can substitute vegetable shortening or non-dairy vegan buttery sticks for the butter.
The importance of cold ingredients. 3 of 13
It's important to use ice cold ingredients when making pie crust. Freeze butter, shortening or vegan buttery sticks. This helps the fat you use stay in small pieces, which makes the crust flaky, rather than mixing into the dry ingredients completely, which can make the pie dough greasy.
You can also chill the flour too. The ingredients and the resulting dough are much easier to work with if cold.
Cut butter into dry ingredients. 4 of 13
First, use cold butter or shortening. You don't want it to melt as you're cutting it into the dry ingredients. Cutting the butter simply means breaking or cutting the butter into smaller pieces and incorporating the butter into the flour, so the pieces are coated with the flour. It should not be completely mixed together like cookie dough. The small pieces of butter or shortening coated in flour is what makes a crust flaky. This is done with a pastry cutter (pictured), two butter knives, with a food processor, or by hand. I prefer the pastry cutter or food processor because it's quicker and leaves my hands a bit cleaner. You push the pastry cutter down through the butter and press it against the sides of the bowl. The butter will be quickly cut into smaller pieces.
Otherwise, butter knives can be held parallel to each other in one hand or one in each hand, making opposite "cuts" through the butter. When using a food processor, the dry ingredients are pulsed together, then the butter is added and pulsed again until the butter is in small pieces. Cutting the butter by hand involves using your fingers — press and rub the butter between your fingers and break the butter into smaller pieces. Use whichever method is the most comfortable for you. See the next slide for how it should look.
It looks like cornmeal…kinda. 5 of 13
You can see how the butter is in mostly small pieces with some larger pieces. The popular turn of phrase is that it "looks like cornmeal." It's good to have some larger pieces of butter. They'll create flaky pockets when the pie crust is baked.
Adding the liquid. 6 of 13
For this no-roll pie crust, I've included an egg yolk which helps give the crust a little extra strength that it misses out on when it's not rolled. It is an optional ingredient, but I always use it in my no-roll crusts.
Stir gently with fork. 7 of 13
A fork is a good mixing tool here. The goal is to be gentle. We want the crust to just hold together without being too dry or too wet. If the egg yolk didn't provide enough liquid, which it probably won't, then you'll want to start adding ice cold water a tablespoon at a time. Again, avoid vigorous mixing.
Stir until it looks "shaggy." 8 of 13
After you've added the liquid ingredients and carefully stirred, the dough will start to come together. Test with your hands to see if it holds together. Gently start to squeeze it into a ball. If it's too dry, sprinkle with a little more water. It is better for the crust to be too dry rather than too wet.
Start pressing dough into pie plate. 9 of 13
One bonus of making a no-roll pie crust is that there is no chilling involved either. You press it right into the pan and bake it.
Grease a pie plate with butter or shortening. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and start pressing it evenly up the sides, following with the bottom. I tend to leave the sides a little thicker because it makes for cleaner cut slices. Make sure to push the crust up a little higher than the sides of the pie plate because it might shrink a little bit and also helps when making a decorative edge.
Finsh pressing and give it a decorative edge. 10 of 13
Use the palm of your hand and fingertips to make sure the dough is even all the way around and on the bottom. Decorate the edge as desired. It's easy to use a fork to flatten it all the way around, or do a simple fluted edge. This is done by pressing inward with thumb and forefinger of one hand along the outside and pressing inward with the forefinger of the opposite hand.
Prick the bottom. 11 of 13
If your pie recipe calls for a partially or fully baked crust, prick the bottom evenly with a fork and bake it. This will help keep it from shrinking.
Brush inside of baked crust with egg white. 12 of 13
Some pie fillings can really make a crust soggy. To prevent this, particularly if you'll be using a cream filling, simply brush the inside of the pie crust with beaten egg white and place back into the oven for a few more minutes, or until golden.
All baked! 13 of 13
Here's the pie crust, all ready to be filled!
No-Roll Pie Crust Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into small pieces
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, divided
2-4 Tablespoons ice water
1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, two butter knives, or your hands. There should be some larger, but mostly smaller pieces of butter remaining.
3. Drizzle the egg yolk over the dry ingredients and start mixing with a fork. If the mixture seems too dry, start adding water 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 4 Tablespoons. Continue mixing until the dough starts to come together. It will look “shaggy.”
4. Use your hands to lightly press the dough together into a ball.Mix all of the ingredients together just until combined and press together into a ball. If it’s a little too dry, sprinkle a little more liquid over the top and press together.
5. Grease a pie plate. Place the dough into the pie plate and start pressing the dough evenly around and up the edges of the pie plate, followed by the bottom. (If you are using a deep-dish pie plate, the crust will be slightly thinner than a regular pie plate.)
6. Flute the edge of the pie crust.
1. If your pie recipe calls for a prebaked or partially baked crust, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes for a partially baked crust. Use as your pie recipe directs. (This is good for baked fruit or custard pies where a crust might not fully bake otherwise.)
3. For a completely baked crust, remove from oven and brush the bottom with lightly beaten egg white to seal it. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
4. Let cool completely before filling. Good especially for cream pies that do not require baking.
-for a nut crust, substitute 1/2 cup finely ground nuts for an equal amount of flour
-for a flavored crust, add in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground spices or dried herbs.
-for a savory crust, omit most of the sugar (a little won’t be too sweet)
-for a cheese crust, to the dry ingredients after butter has been cut in, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of finely grated cheddar, Gruyere, parmesan, romano, or other firm grating cheese.
-for a whole wheat crust, substitute half whole wheat flour
-for gluten-free, use a high quality all-purpose gluten-free flour blend and add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (if the mix doesn’t include it)
Check out the slide show for step-by-stop pictures and some helpful hints and tips.