The BEST Pie Crust Recipe
Is it really November already?! I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just three short weeks from tomorrow! That means we need to start talking about Thanksgiving food, and other than the turkey and mashed potatoes, what is more Thanksgiving than PIE?!
Are you a traditionalist and bake up loads of pumpkin pie? Do you sprinkle in some fall pie staples like pecan and apple? Do you go rogue and serve up things like coconut or chocolate cream pie?
Whatever your favorite Thanksgiving pies are (and we’ll be talking more about pie varieties tomorrow!), there is one prevailing issue many people have with their Thanksgiving pies – the dreaded crust. It can be super finicky, am I right?
It took me YEARS and countless recipes to finally find that one perfect pie crust recipe. It’s the one I use exclusively now – it’s perfect for double crust pies, for blind baking, for literally any type of pie you want to make. THIS is best crust recipe I’ve found. It’s easy to work with, unbelievably tender and flaky, and it has one surprising, secret ingredient.
It’s astonishing that some pie crust recipes can be foolproof while others turn into a mess when they’re all made with mostly the same ingredients – flour, a little sugar, a little salt, butter and/or shortening, and water. It stands to reason, then, that the trick lies in the ratios and the technique.
I had done all butter pie crusts, all shortening pie crusts, using a food processor, mixing by hand, and I was still having mixed results until I tried this recipe from none other than Cook’s Illustrated. Their recipe has a super ingredient that always shocks most people – vodka.
Crazy, right?! Why vodka?
Here’s the deal… when water mixes with flour (as it does in a pie crust), it forms gluten, and too much of it can create a tough crust, which affects the final texture, and can give you fits when trying to roll it out. Using vodka, which is only 60% water, gives the dough the moisture it needs, creates less gluten, and vaporizes in the oven, which means a super flaky pie crust.
Here’s the kicker though – you cannot leave out the vodka or replace it with more water – it just won’t work with this recipe. You can use another 80 proof liquor instead of the vodka, but if you want to avoid alcohol altogether, a more traditional pie crust is probably what you’ll need to go with.
Don’t be surprised at how soft and supple this pie crust is – it’s much softer and malleable than others you’ve likely tried. It’s okay to add quite a bit more flour when rolling it out (up to a ¼ cup or so), as it’s factored into the recipe.
So there you have it – my hands-down favorite pie crust recipe with its one magic ingredient. It makes ALL the difference! This is the only pie crust recipe I use nowadays, and there will be an abundance of it making an appearance in preparation for Thanksgiving.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I hope you’ll give it a go and love it as much as I do! I cannot WAIT to dig into some homemade pies in a few weeks!
One year ago: Monster Cookie Bars
Five years ago: Leftover Halloween Candy Bark
The BEST Pie Crust Recipe
- 1¼ cups (156.25 g) all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
- ¼ cup (51.25 g) chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
- 2 tablespoons vodka, cold
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- Process ¾ cups of the flour, the sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process until a homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 7 to 10 seconds (the dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the bowl. Add the remaining ½ cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to a 12-inch circle. Roll the dough loosely around a rolling pin and unroll into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with other hand. Leave the overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
- Trim the overhanging dough to ½ inch beyond the lip of the pie plate. Fold the overhang under itself; the folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute the dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against the rim of pie plate. Refrigerate the dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes. Proceed with pie recipe as directed.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
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Best pie crust ever. How do I defrost your frozen pie crust! I froze a double recipe for later use. I need it for st. Patrick’s day.
Thank you Michelle! Your recipes are the best. My family loves all that I make!
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How would you adjust for a 10 in single or double crust?
Only one recipe I use now
Hi Michelle, for a lattice-top pie, would you make the same amount of dough (double the recipe) as you would for a double-crust pie? Thank you!
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I have made this countless times over the past 7 years. It’s flawless and better than more intensive crusts even when compared side by side! I also use this crust (omit sugar) for chicken pot pie.
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I am making the pie crust for a cream pie, how much would I heat the oven and how long I will bake it?
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Can pastry flour be used (some or all) in this crust?
Hi Lorraine, I haven’t used pastry flour, so I could not say for sure.
Could I substitute with 1for1 gluten free flour?
Hi Jessa, I haven’t experimente with gluten free flour for this pie crust; if you give it a go, let me know how it turns out!
I used to use this link for a pie crust recipe that had directions to create it by hand… and it did not include vodka (an ingredient that I never have around). Is that recipe still available? It was so delicious and I would like to be able to create it again!!
I have always made pie crusts in my KitchenAid mixer because I don’t own a food processor. Will a mixer work with this recipe?
Hi Linda, I’ve never used a mixer for pie crust, but if you’ve always had success with it, it should work!
Want to try this recipe. Can I use only unsalted butter? I will be waiting for your response. Thank you!
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This crust is amazing!!
You used to have another pie crust recipe on your site and I can no longer find it. It did not contain vodka. There were step by step instructions/photographs for mixing it with a food processor and then mixing it by hand. Can you point me in the right direction – I can’t find it now when I search. Thank you!
Hi Marika! Is this the pie crust recipe/instruction you’re referring to?
Best pie crust I’ve ever made. So flaky. Thanks for sharing.
The pie crust with vodka is fabulous. Forming less gluten makes a lot of sense. The joy is that the pastry is so malleable that if you mess up getting it into the pie plate, it is really easy to pat it into shape. May never make a different pie crust again. *****
I can not find vegetable shortening so could i swap it for butter? Im in a Rush to try this pie crust cos I never made a really good one thanks :)
You can use all butter – it will be more flaky and you’ll lose some of the tenderness, but it should still work.
Hi! I made 2 batches of your pie crust. I was wondering if I could freeze it til I need it for next week!
Hi Cindi, Yes, it freezes exceptionally well!
This recipe is a revelation to a long time baker! Excellent results on the first try. The only downside I can see that it could be a bit intimidating to someone who is not experienced with pastry. The instructions though do make it clear that the dough will be very wet and that adding a generous amount of flour during rolling will not be a problem as it ordinarily would. I actually added a small amount of the liquid while the dough was still in the food processor and I think it may have it sped things up a bit but the time I then had to spend getting it out of the bowl probably was a wash. Great flaky crust, even the bottom on my lemon chess pie. Thank you!
Why isn’t there cooking time and temperature listed for the crust.
Hi Jim, It will depend on the type of recipe you are using the crust for, which is why you should follow the baking temperature and times for a specific pie recipe.
Absolutely the best pie crust ever! Everyone raves about the crust. Easy to deal with. Thank you!
I didn’t have vodka so I used Tequila. Best pie crust ever! So flakey and fluffy at the same time. Even my kids noticed the difference.
Best crust ever! Thank you for sharing!
I made this crust tonight. It’s a good crust but I didn’t feel that the vodka made a huge difference in the taste of the crust. It was ok.
The first time I made this crust, I made the single recipe and it turned out perfect. Today I doubled the recipe with exact measurements and the dough seems dry and not together as well. Will let you know when I roll out!
Would 40% Vodka work just as well? What would the difference in the pie crust be?
Hi Sheila, I think it would still be okay. The difference is that 40 proof vodka contains half as much alcohol as 80 proof, meaning it contains more water. Water contributes to the creation of gluten (too much of which can cause crusts to be leathery), while the alcohol simply evaporates in the oven, leaving the crust light and flaky.
Now how to keep it from getting soggy when making lemon meringue pie?
Oh bummer! I’ve never had this crust get soggy! Maybe try blind baking a bit longer to get it crisper before filling?
I make this with a slight difference. I freeze the butter and shred it in the food processor, change to the mixing blade and finish the same way you do. It is so easy and makes a big difference.
Can this crust be frozen?
This was fantastic will never use another
Does 100 proof vodka work in this recipe, or does it have to be 80 proof? I ask because you mention that another alcohol could be substituted if it were 80 proof.
Hi Marilyn, I think 100 proof vodka would be fine.
I made this pie crust for my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and everyone loved it. The dough was very easy to work with and it was definitely more flaky. I would leave a pic but my edges were a little wonky to say the least! Thanks for the recipe will use again.
I wanted to follow up! I made this for a chocolate pie and it was amazing. It looked far from amazing because my technique stinks but I’ll keep working on it. I also needed to blend it more in the food processor because my butter chunks were too big and left little pools of butter after it baked. I do have a question. I used beans to keep the crust flat when it baked, it seemed like the crust didn’t cook as much under the beans. I didn’t use a lot, just enough to cover the bottom. I had to cook it longer after taking the beans out. Any thoughts? Thank you for the recipe!
Hi Beth, Hmm I’ve never used beans so I can’t say for sure. This is the pie weight that I use – http://amzn.to/2fqwvmV – and I’ve never had any issues.
Hi! I forgot to buy shortening, can use all butter?
Hi Crystal, You can, the texture just may end up a little bit different.
I used this recipe this Thanksgiving and, after baking pies for over thirty years with a traditional recipe, this was the absolute best. I had tried the vodka method a while back and wasn’t impressed but this combination of sugar, butter and shortening was outstanding. I will need to adjust and shorten the cooking time as it browned a little faster than expected, but, as my family said, “make sure you overcook it again next time”- it was that good. Thanks, Michelle!
You’re so welcome, Barbara! I’m thrilled to hear you and your family loved it as much as I do.
How long do i cook the crust for?… i don’t see it anywhere. I’m not planning to add the rest of my ingredients yet… Can you let me know?..
Hi Sandra, You should just follow the instructions for whatever pie recipe you’re planning to make.
Ok, I think I may have solved my problem! I made another batch (I am doubling recipe for double crust pies) and didn’t process the flour/butter as long the first time or after adding the remaining flour. This definitely made the “dough” dryer and crumbly and then when I added the liquid it worked fine. I must’ve just been getting a little too heavy handed on the food processor!!
Hi Juli, Awesome to hear!!
Ah! Maybe that was part of my problem, too. Thanks!
Only have salted butter. Is that ok to use?
Hi Gina, Yes, that would be fine, just omit the salt in the recipe.
Thanks for sharing! I attempted this recipe without a food processor and used a dough blender. Everything went well until I baked the crust, I experienced major shrinkage (sad face). Any advice on how to prevent this from happening? Thanks!
Oh no! This is the recipe I’ve never had a shrinkage issue with. I use this pie weight and love it – http://amzn.to/2fqwvmV
I’ve read others’ comments about the stickiness of the dough. Once I put all the liquid in, the mixture is literally in a pool of it! I’ve had to add at least a couple TBL of flour just to get it together. Is yours like this??
That is how mine was. I kept folding it over and eventually it seemed to not be sitting in liquid however very sticky and wet. I did not have saran wrap so sprayed foil with non stick spray lol. They turned out great, it gives you the chance to use ample flour when rolling it.
Hi Juli, I’ve never had a pool of liquid, but yes, it is a much wetter, stickier dough.
My dough seems very wet and sticky is it supposed to be? I made it tonight to make pies tomorrow. Also I only have aluminium foil so that’s what I covered it with and put it into a Ziplock. I have never made homemade pie crust before and hope it turns out well.
Hi Amanda, It will be a little sticky when you first mix it together. Just use as much flour as you need tomorrow when rolling it out so it is workable.
Well I made them and I tasted a bit of crust it is very good! My problem is that the crusts shrank in! I feel I needed more dough I rolled it rather thin but could not obtain a 12 in circle. Also I am terrible at fluting it. All in all, not bad for a first time.
See the comment I just posted….
Hi Michelle. I made this crust last night, to try out ahead of time for Thanksgiving. I let it chill about an hour. It was very sticky, and hard to work with. I ended up pressing in the pie plate. I did use the extra 1/4 c flour. I do not have the mat, to roll the crust on. I always roll my crust on my granite counters and I have no problems. My crust literally stuck to counter, but the crust was delicious, so light and flakey. What can I do to keep it from sticking? I am going to buy a pastry mat today, but I’m not sure if that is going to solve my problem! What did I do wrong?
Hi Chris, I would use as much flour as you need to make it workable and not sticky. It is definitely a softer dough, which can take some getting used to, but that’s why the extra flour is factored in.
Hi! I had the same problem. I wondered if the measurements may have been off in the post, but maybe it was just something I did. I doubled the ingredients, and it was almost a paste. It was so gooey that I had to add enormous amounts of flour, and it still ripped. Any thoughts on what I may have done wrong? Should I chill the shortening as well as the butter?
Hi Shana, Yes, the shortening should also be chilled (it’s stated in the recipe). If you’re finding that the dough is paste-like and gooey, I would recommend only pulsing in the food processor (instead of letting it run, so you have more control) until just combined, not letting it get to a paste consistency.
I just practiced this today to use for Thanksgiving next week and it turned out great! I’ve always used your other pie crust recipe (all butter one) and while it tasted great it was always difficult to work with. Thanks so much for posting this just at the right time and helping me find my new go to crust :)
I’m planning on making the Apple slab pie for Thanksgiving. Shall I use this pie dough recipe for it? I’m guessing the recipe may need to be tripled. Or do you recommend using the one with the Apple slab pie?
Hi Toree, I would use this one and, yes, I would triple it!
Thank you very much for your response!
When making a savory pie, should I remove the sugar from the crust recipe?
I love your blog! When searching for a recipe, you are my go to site. Thank you! Can’t wait to try the pie crust.
Hi Marcia, Thank you! I wouldn’t remove the sugar; it helps to balance out the flavors. It does not make a “sweet” crust.
I was wondering if you could replace the shortening with an extra quarter cup of butter? Thanks!
Hi Katherina, I’m not sure how that would affect the crust’s texture both before and after baking.
Do you find that one kind of pie pan works better for this crust? For instance glass vs metal? I love to make pies, but what keeps me from making them more often is that I’m “crust challenged “. This one looks easy, good, and probably the one for me.
Hi Donna, I’ve only ever used glass or ceramic pie plates, never metal. I personally like glass the best!
Hi- I prefer to use lard rather than shortening in my pie crust. The newest studies indicate that it is a healthier choice than vegetable shortening. If I substitute lard will the recipe produce the same perfect crust?
Hi Kim, I think lard would work just fine in place of the vegetable shortening. Enjoy!
The perfect pie crust is so elusive. I come from a family of pie making geniuses and the pie making gene somehow skipped me. I have friends who swear by the addition of vodka to their crust as well. I will have to try this one! I love pie and am frustrated with some of the crust results I have tried. Fingers crossed!
Nice idea! I love it!
Michelle, did you see this one?http://recipes.177milkstreet.com/recipes/pie-dough
I did just see that (got the inaugural issue) – need to give it a try!
I need a recipe without dairy- would this work if I substituted vegetable shortening for all the butter?
Hi Karen, I do know of people that use all shortening, but I much prefer a crust with some butter. I’m not sure how the altered fat content would affect this particular crust recipe.
Thanks! I will let you know if I try it.
I also use this recipe but I do have a problem with the pretty edge losing its definition when it bakes! It’s great to roll out and so easy easy to work with but that’s my only complaint.
Looks fabulous! Definitely trying for my apple pie this weekend.
On another note, when I try to print the recipe (and others), it prints out as a series of boxes rather than words. I tried on different computers and printers, and still the same. I’ve not had a problem before, so I wanted to let you know!
Whenever I see pie crust recipes, I think of the bloopers from the Dysart’s restaurant commercial–“Baked in a buttery, flaky crust.” Makes me laugh every time. :)
Hi Michelle, I can’t wait to try this crust recipe. I was just looking at the many pies you have listed on your site today (salted caramel, maple apple, etc) and see that you use different crust recipes. I was wondering if you would recommend using this “best pie crust recipe” for any and all pies?
Hi Juli, Yes! I use this for all of my pie recipes now!
Wow can’t wait to make this, thanks!
Yes, this Cook’s Illustrated is the best. This is my favorite pie crust recipe And if I should space it and use a different recipe, my family definitely notices!
Hi! I was wondering if all the alcohol evaporates while baking? Thanks and I love your blog!
Hi Fatima, Yes it does evaporate.
This is quite interesting! I have never heard of using vodka in a pie crust recipe. And I have always read, and therefore thought, that the way to a flakey pie crust is to not overwork the dough. Overworking the dough is what causes it to be tough. And I found by coincidence once, that using a bit of butter to make up the total amount of shortening called for makes it even flakier (I ran out of shortening and used butter to finish out the required amount.).
But you say it’s the vodka that creates the flakiness? I may have to give this a comparison try. Thanks for the info. Your crust looks perfect!
Hi Michelle, Butter definitely makes it flaky! And shortening makes it tender, which is why I like the combination of the two. But the vodka helps to keep the dough from becoming tough AND it aids in the flakiness.
This is the recipe I use! One thing though. When I try to decorate the edges it almost seems too soft. It’s hard to make them look nice. Any suggestions? I’m actually making this crust tomorrow to use for sweet potato pie!
Hi Lisa, In step #4, if the dough seems too soft after you fold the dough underneath itself, then I would refrigerate again for a little bit until it’s a bit firmer and you feel you can work with it easier.
I was kicking myself after reading your comment. OF COURSE I should stick it back in the fridge. FYI, I did this for the pie I made for Thanksgiving and my pie turned out beautiful. Thank you!!!
Michelle I would love to know if this dough has worked really well for you when it comes to blind baking, specifically regarding side slump. I’ve been on a mission lately trying to find a recipe/technique to eliminate the slump (using ample pie weights). My previous go-to recipe was Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Easy Pie Dough (he was the one who developed the vodka crust recipe for CI but then came up with the Easy version after that) but I primarily use it for things like pot pie that don’t involve blind baking. My most recent attempt (Bravetart’s Old Fashioned Pie Crust) was the most promising so far but if this one doesn’t slump then it’s the next one on my list to try!
Hi Emilie, I don’t have any issues with slumping (FINALLY!). I will also add that I use this Chicago Metallic pie weight when I blind bake.
Thanks for the reply, Michelle, I know you’ve got your hands full these days! :) I’d wondered about that pie weight when it came out — do you leave it in the entire time you blind bake?
I do! Unless the recipe says to remove foil and weights at some point.
What is slumping?
When you blind bake a pie and the crust shrinks and slides down the sides of the pie pan.
Last year when I was unemployed for a brief time, I decided to make a study of pie and perfect my technique and recipes. I made MANY over the course of 3 months and tried several recipes with vodka. But in the end I liked Martha Stewart’s the best and found it most reliable. (Who am I to argue with Martha??) so if you haven’t tried hers, I recommend it.
Is it the all-butter one? If so, I have made it and I think it’s DELICIOUS! However, I still think this one is the most consistent and by far the easiest to work with.
Yes-all butter. Sometimes I think the shortening gives it an ‘off’ taste. I guess it’s all in the balance. I also recommend the Pie Academy website by Ken Haedrich for all things pie. And the Hoosier Mama cookbook (the chapter on desperation pies is a hoot!). As I said, I made quite a study?
Ditto on the Pie Academy website. His book Pie is a great resource too.
I have to second Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe! I used it for years and it came out perfect every time! Last year, I decided to try a half shortening/half butter recipe and it was a disaster (the ratio of fat to flour was waaaay off)! I have been wanting to try the vodka recipe for a few years now, so maybe this year I will give it a go. If not, back to the no fail Pate Brisee for me!
I love this most reliable pie crust since Cook’s Illustrated discovered the value of adding vodka with the water to the dough to produce the easiest pie dough to shape & then the tastiest and flakiest perfect pie crust ever!
I don’t have a food processor? What would work as an alternative?
Hi Stacie, You can whisk together the dry ingredients, then use a pastry blender to work in the butter and shortening, then proceed as directed in the recipe.
WOW! I cannot wait to try this recipe. I have a fave go-to pie crust recipe that never fails me but I always like to try new ideas because I hate to miss out on something AMAZING. I will be checking back to see if you are able to respond to some of the questions posed by other commenters. Thanks for sharing this!
YES!!! I Love using vodka!! Also I always put the water/vodka mixture in the freezer so it gets super cold to match with the other super cold ingredients. Vodka doesn’t freeze so the mixture gets extra cold and I don’t have to worry about leaving it in there too long! Love this recipe!
Thank you, Catherine. I just made and froze 8 crusts using my usual recipe. But I look forward to trying out this “vodka on the rocks” recipe!
My trick is.. cold vinegar…gives the same flaky results,
Can the dough be frozen if it has the alcohol in it?
I’m going to try this recipe for my first homemade crust this Thanksgiving! Do you think trying one of the flavored vodkas would add any taste? Like the Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie or other flavors for other pies? Just curious.
Hi Beth, I don’t think they really do. I’ve substituted citron vodka when I’ve been out of regular, but haven’t been able to pick up on any flavor.
Have to try the Vodka, I have one pie crust recipe that uses egg yolk and vinegar, its the most moist flaky crust I have ever made and not a bit dry.
Is it possible to come back to this recipe again and show us–step by step, close up photos, for the technique you use to flute the crust with your fingers. I never know where to put my thumb and how to press the crust to make it look like that. Your final result is gorgeous. I love to make pies from scratch, especially Pumpkin, but my crust is never very appealing. Oddly enough, people always know my pie IS homemade just from the appearance of the crust. LOL. ?
My remedy is to make a double crust and use the second crust for “leaf” cutouts from Sur La Tab. I then use up the entire second crust with the cut outs and cover my ugly duckling flute job with the leaves!! Or in Winter, I use their snowflake cookie cut outs. The mini size.
I have to say, there are times where I would just like to “flute” a beautiful crust and present my pie as is. Simply Gorgeous !!
Also, I see you use the KAF mat. Does it lay nice and flat for you?
I have a similar one, not the KAF name, and I literally have to tape it to my counter to stay flat. It wants to roll back up on me. I spend more time fighting with the mat than I do rolling the crust.
Thank you for your help!
PS. Congrats on the KAF Guest Baker !! Nice Post !!
Hi Brenda, I will work on a tutorial, thank you for the suggestion!! And thank you!
I second this poster’s request! Haha!! I do the exact same thing with the cutouts to hide my embarrassing flute job! I use this recipe for my pies and after years of failure, I finally have a crust whose flavor I am proud of, but presentation, not so much ;)
Try YouTube for fluting instructions. They have tutorials on just about everything!
Can this be done without a food processor? I don’t have one, but am looking for a pie crust recipe.
Yep, I don’t have a f.p. either. Can I just use 2 forks? I remember reading to use Vodka before (and I’m Russian so the Vodka thing should come natural) but didn’t because I didn’t know why and never have any in my house. But my neighbors will have some. I spent one day over 2 hours surfing youtube to find the perfect crust recipe! I cannot wait to try this. Not only great for fruit pies, but chicken pot pie!!!
Hi Lisa, Yes! Just whisk together the dry ingredients, then use a pastry blender to work in the butter and shortening, then proceed as directed.
Thanks for posting. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. The edge on your crust is perfection. I really need to get the patience to be able to do that.
My favorite as well.
Do you think this will work with gluten free AP flour? Thanks!
Hi Lisa, I’ve never worked with gluten-free flour so I couldn’t say for sure. If you experiment, come back and let us know how it worked!