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Very Easy 3 Ingredient Pie Crust with Butter

This Very Easy 3 Ingredient Pie Crust recipe is made entirely by hand using only butter, flour, and salt so there’s no food processor required. It’s a simple, no-frills recipe that is perfect for both sweet and savory pies. Buttery, tender, and flaky, this double crust pie dough will become your new go-to recipe for all of your holiday pie baking needs.

An heirloom tomato galette, made using a 3 ingredient pie crust, on parchment paper prior to being baked.

A basic pie dough really only consists of flour, fat, salt, and water. And while some recipes like to get fancy by adding vodka, vinegar, or even sour cream, I like to keep my homemade pie dough as simple as possible. In fact, I don’t even like using any special equipment when I make my pie dough at home. Just a mixing bowl, a rolling pin, and my hands.

This 3 ingredient pie crust is my go-to, favorite pie crust recipe that I use to make apple pie and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Made using just all-purpose flour, salt, butter, and water, you likely have all of the ingredients to make it at home right now since they’re all pantry staples.

Scratch-made pie crust dough is one of those recipes that intimidates a lot of people. If you’re a beginner, try not to stress too much. Even if your pie crust doesn’t turn out perfectly the first few times, it’s still going to be a heck of a lot tastier and better than any store-bought pie crust you’ll find on grocery store shelves.

I encourage you to give this simple, no-fuss 3 ingredient pie crust recipe a try next time you plan on baking a pie. It’s a simple, easy-to-make pie crust recipe that will impress all of your family and friends at your next holiday gathering.

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What’s the Secret to the Perfect Pie Crust?

When making pie dough from scratch, especially an all butter pie dough, one of the most important rules to remember is to keep everything as cold as possible. In fact, cold butter truly is the difference between a flaky pie crust and a pie crust that falls flat – quite literally.

I like to put the cubed butter, flour, and even my mixing bowl in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before I make my pie dough just to make sure everything is nice and chilly. Then, I work quickly, using just my fingertips, to work the butter into the flour.

Another important piece of the perfect pie crust puzzle is limiting gluten formation. Too much gluten is the enemy of a tender, flaky pie crust. Gluten is formed when flour is mixed with liquid. So, adding the water one tablespoon at a time and taking care not to over-mix the dough at this stage will help tremendously with inhibiting the formation of gluten.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Only 3 Ingredients- Seriously! Just flour, butter, and salt (plus a little water) and you can make this simple pie crust recipe. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
  • No Special Equipment- All you need is your hands, a mixing bowl, and a rolling pin and you’re good to go. No food processor or pastry blender required.
  • Perfectly Flaky and Tender- Using only butter means we end up with gorgeously flaky layers once the crust is baked. And doing everything by hand helps up keep the dough super tender.

Ingredient Notes

Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.

  • All-Purpose Flour- A common ingredient found in most kitchen pantries, all-purpose flour is perfect for making a tender pie crust.
  • Butter- An all-butter pie crust is flavorful, light, and flaky. Since butter is 15-20% water, it steams as the pie dough bakes, creating wonderfully airy layers in your pie crust. Make sure your butter is very cold when incorporating it into the flour.
  • Salt- A pinch of salt helps elevate the flavor of the pie dough.
  • Ice Water- Ice water is used to keep the butter as cold as possible throughout the process of making the pie dough. You want to add just enough cold water to the pie dough for it to form a soft, easy-to-handle dough ball. Too much water and your dough will be sticky, too little water and you’ll have a crumbly mess on your hands.
  • Sugar (optional)- For sweet pies, such as apple pie or pumpkin pie, adding a little sugar to the pie dough is a nice way to compliment the filling. However, it is entirely optional and not needed at all.
The ingredients to make 3 ingredient pie crust displayed in glass bowls on a butcher block countertop. There is text labeling each ingredient. The ingredients include all-purpose flour, salt, butter, and water.

Step by Step Instructions

Here is how to make this 3 ingredient pie crust.

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar (if using) until thoroughly combined.

Step 2: Cut in the butter. Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Using just your fingertips, pinch and squeeze the cubes of butter, almost as if you’re snapping your fingers. This creates little flat sheets of butter throughout the dough that will turn into flaky layers when baked. Work the butter into the flour until pea-sized crumbs begin to form and the mixture holds together when pressed. There should be a few larger pieces of butter still remaining.

A clear glass bowl filled with flour and salt. On top of the dry ingredients are cubes of butter.
A clear glass bowl filled with pea-sized pieces of butter coated in flour.

Step 3: Add water. Measure out and drizzle ¼ cup of ice water evenly over the dough mixture and, using your hands or a rubber spatula, gently mix the dough until all of the flour is moistened, being careful not to overwork it. If the dough is not easily forming a dough ball at this point, mix in more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together.

A clear glass bowl filled with pie dough.

Step 4: Form the dough balls. Turn the pie dough out onto a lightly floured surface and separate it into 2 even mounds. Use your hands to pack each mound into a dough ball, then flatten each mound out into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap each dough disc tightly in plastic wrap and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days, prior to using. Allow the pie dough to warm up back up to room temperature before attempting to roll it out.

A disc of finished pie dough on a butcher block countertop.
A rolled out circular pie dough on a butcher block countertop. In the center of the dough, there are four little diamond shapes cut out.

Pie Dough Tips

  • Use ice cold ingredients. I can’t say it enough – keeping the butter as cold as possible is the name of the game. Since butter has a low melting point, it’s important to keep it refrigerated until just before adding it to the dry ingredients. Using ice cold water to bind the dough is another trick to prevent the butter from melting too much.
  • Measure the flour accurately. Flour is one of those ingredients that is super easy to add too much of when measuring by volume (cups). If you have one, I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh out the flour in grams so you don’t end up with tough, dry pie dough. Here is the food scale that I use and love.
  • Take care not to overwork the dough. Gluten formation is the enemy of a tender, flaky pie crust. Over-mixing the pie dough, especially once the water has been added will lead to a tough, dense pie crust.
  • Fill in the gaps. If you’re rolling out your pie dough and the edges are less than smooth, cut off some of the longer pieces and use them to fill in the gaps. Gently press the piece of dough into the spot you want to cover before using your rolling pin to smooth it over.
  • Use a pizza cutter for a smooth edge. Once your dough is rolled out to your desired thickness, a simple trick to help create an even, smooth edge is to cut the dough with a pizza cutter. Just place your pie plate down on top of the dough and cut the dough a few inches beyond the edge.
A finished dutch oven chicken pot pie. The pie crust is golden brown with small cuts in the center for ventilation.

What is Blind Baking (Par-Baking)?

Blind baking is a method used to fully or partially bake a pie crust before you add filling. For certain recipes, like a quiche, pudding pie, or no-bake pie, this is an important step that helps you achieve a crispy pie crust without having to overcook the filling.

You can either fully blind bake or partially blind bake a pie crust. Fully blind baking a pie dough is used when making no-bake pie recipes like banana cream pie or coconut cream pie. A partially blind-baked crust is used for recipes like quiches or custard-style pies.

How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Par baking a pie crust is simple, in theory, as long as we keep a few things in mind. Chilling the pie dough before baking helps prevent it from shrinking. Additionally, weighing the bottom of the pie dough down for the first part of baking, then docking it to finish baking helps prevent the bottom from puffing up.

Here are the steps I use to blind bake pie dough.

Step 1: Chill the dough. Once your pie dough is rolled out and situated in the pie plate, place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes prior to baking. This helps prevent the edges of the pie crust from sinking while baking.

Step 2: Bake with weights. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the chilled pie dough with parchment paper and fill the bottom of the pie dish with baking weights, dry beans, or uncooked rice. Bake the weighted pie dough until the edges are beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Then, carefully lift the parchment paper and weights out of the pie dish.

Step 3: Dock the pie crust. Using a fork, poke several holes all across the bottom of the pie crust. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes for a partially baked pie crust or an additional 15 minutes for a fully baked pie crust.

How to Use 3 Ingredient Pie Crust

There are endless uses for a basic pie dough recipe. This 3 ingredient pie crust is perfect for making both a stunning apple pie for the Thanksgiving dessert table and a classic homestyle chicken pot pie for a cozy winter dinner.

Here are a few of my favorite sweet and savory ways to use this pie crust recipe.

Sweet

Savory

A slice of chicken pot pie on a white plate.

Storage and Freezing

A basic pie crust is one of those ingredients I love to have in my freezer at all times. They come in super handy for throwing together a quick and easy dinner or dessert. Have leftover chicken? Shred it and make a chicken pot pie. Garden overflowing with tomatoes? A tomato galette would make a delicious, summertime treat.

Here are my tips for storing and freezing this 3 ingredient pie crust.

  • Refrigerator- Store freshly made pie dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Making pie dough a few days ahead of time is a fantastic way to get a jump start on food preparation for the holidays.
  • Freezer- Whenever I go through the trouble of making pie dough, I usually double the recipe and freeze the extra. Homemade pie dough will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months and is a fantastic way to easily create a delicious meal out of leftover meat, vegetables, or beans. Just be sure to double wrap it in plastic warp or store in a freezer-safe bag or container to prevent freezer burn. Thaw for a day or so in the refrigerator before using.
A finished disc of pie dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pie crust better with butter or shortening?

It depends. Butter creates a deliciously flavored pie crust with beautiful flaky layers. However, it can be harder to work with because of its lower melting point. On the other hand, shortening is easier to work into the flour and, because of its higher melting point, is better for creating decorative pie crusts. But, the trade-off is a crust with less flavor and one that may leave a greasy film feeling in your mouth if eaten at room temperature.

What is the best type of flour to use for pie crust?

I used all-purpose flour in this recipe because it’s in nearly everyone’s pantry. All-purpose flour contains a moderate amount of protein (i.e. gluten) and, therefore, it works well for making pie crust. However, if you make pie dough often, I recommend trying out pastry flour. It is lower in protein than all-purpose flour, which means it should yield a more tender finished pie crust.

Can I make this pie crust in a food processor?

Yes, you can certainly make this pie dough in the food processor. First, pulse the flour and salt together until well combined. Then, add the cubed butter and pulse 3-5 times or until the butter is broken up into pea-sized pieces. Finally, add the water and quickly pulse a few more times until the mixture begins to form large clumps (some remaining crumbs are okay). It’s important to take care not to over-mix the pie dough in a food processor.

Why did my pie crust shrink when it was baked?

There are a number of reasons why a pie crust might shrink in the oven. The type of pie plate, the rest time, and the oven temperature all play a role in how much a pie crust will shrink. Generally, metal or ceramic pie pans are best as glass can be slippery. Giving the pie dough adequate time to rest before baking and making sure the dough is nice and chilled when it goes in the oven can also help.

More Recipes You May Enjoy

3 Ingredient Pie Crust

This Very Easy 3 Ingredient Pie Crust recipe is made entirely by hand using only butter, flour, and salt so there's no food processor required. It's a simple, no-frills recipe that is perfect for both sweet and savory pies. Buttery, tender, and flaky, this double crust pie dough will become your new go-to recipe for all of your holiday pie baking needs.
Course Appetizer, Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Rest Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 9″ pie crusts
Calories 1402kcal
Author Ashley Petrie

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar optional (for sweet pies)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) very cold unsalted butter cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ¼-½ cup ice water

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar (if using) until thoroughly combined.
    2 ½ cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Using just your fingertips, pinch and squeeze the cubes of butter, almost as if you’re snapping your fingers. This creates little flat sheets of butter throughout the dough that will turn into flaky layers when baked. Work the butter into the flour until pea-sized crumbs begin to form and the mixture holds together when pressed. There should be a few larger pieces of butter still remaining.
    1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) very cold unsalted butter
  • Measure out and drizzle ¼ cup of ice water evenly over the dough mixture and, using your hands or a rubber spatula, gently mix the dough until all of the flour is moistened, being careful not to overwork it. If the dough is not easily forming a dough ball at this point, mix in more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together.
    ¼-½ cup ice water
  • Turn the pie dough out onto a lightly floured surface and separate it into 2 even mounds. Use your hands to pack each mound into a dough ball, then flatten each mound out into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap each dough disc tightly in plastic wrap and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days, prior to using. Allow the pie dough to warm up back up to room temperature before attempting to roll it out.

Notes

  • Store unbaked pie dough discs wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • See post for blind baking (par-baking) instructions as well as other helpful tips.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pie crust | Calories: 1402kcal | Carbohydrates: 124g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 93g | Saturated Fat: 57g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 243mg | Sodium: 976mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 0.5g | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 7.6mg
Did you try this recipe?Let me know! Comment below, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @enwnutrition.

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