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Grandma’s All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe

4.6 stars (80 ratings)

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Millie’s Perfect Pie Crust is an all-butter pie crust recipe that hasn’t failed me yet. I’ve successfully tested it with a stand mixer, a food processor, and my bare hands, all with great results. It’s an adaptable, easy recipe that can be used for both sweet and savory pies. Use it for holiday celebrations or any time you are making homemade pie. Read on to learn about three methods, understand why the butter temperature is important, and learn my tricks for rolling and transferring your crust.

An square image of rolled out pie crust in a pie pan next to a rolling pin and kitchen towel.

Millie’s Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

What do apple pie, blackberry crumble pie, and homemade chicken pot pie all have in common? They all taste better with homemade pie crust.

While it may take a bit more effort than using frozen pie crust, once you’ve mastered pie crust from scratch, store-bought just won’t compare. All you need is confidence, patience, and a recipe that works every time (that’s this one!)

This pie crust recipe comes from my grandmother, who got it from her friend Millie. In my family, it’s known as “Millie’s Pie Crust”. It has now been in my family for three generations and will be passed on for generations to come.

As I never got the chance to meet Millie, I don’t know where she got the recipe. Maybe she created it, maybe her great-grandmother created it, or maybe they found it in an old cookbook. What I do know is that this pie crust turns out perfectly every time I’ve made it. So, I now call it Millie’s Perfect Pie Crust, and I’m happy to share it with you.

An overhead image of a ball of pie crust next to a rolling pin, dusted with flour.

Making Homemade Pie Crust

Making pie crust from scratch is not nearly as complicated as some people would have you believe. That said, the more you know before you start the better your results will be. Warning: this post contains a LOT of information. If you just want the recipe, scroll back to the top and use the jump button, or scroll to the bottom to find the card.

Here I’ll cover ingredients used, why temperature matters, three methods for making this pie crust, plus tips for rolling out and transferring the crust, single vs double crusts, pre-baking, and freezing. If you have additional questions I haven’t covered, leave a comment and I’ll get you the info you need.

Ingredients

Like many pie crusts, the ingredients here are pretty straightforward. Flour, butter, salt, egg, vinegar, and water. They each have their purpose and if you want perfect results stick to the formula.

The butter and flour form the bulk of the crust. The salt and vinegar add in a subtle flavor that will enhance any baked good you make with this crust. Grandma always used plain white vinegar, but I prefer apple cider or a white balsamic vinegar. I save the white stuff for cleaning.

The egg and water are important for texture. They help bind the dough together, creating flexibility that makes it easier to handle.

Ingredients for Millies Perfect Pie Crust: water, egg, vinegar, salt, butter, flour.

Butter Temperature

Most experienced pie makers know that using cold butter is a basic tenant of pie making. Which is true. If you want the flakiest pie crust possible use the coldest butter you can find. However, when this recipe was first shown to me it had minimal instructions and didn’t specify cold or room temp.

Not knowing the difference, I made this crust for years using my KitchenAid stand mixer and room temperature butter. While the crust isn’t the flakiest it could be, it was still flaky, still included high quality ingredients, and tasted better than anything mass produced for the grocery store. 

Since first posting this recipe, I’ve invested in a food processor and learned about the virtues of cold butter. Since our goal is perfect pie crust, I’ve updated the recipe to reflect these changes. I’ve also included some tips on how to use cold butter no matter which method you choose. Afterall, at the end of the day it’s always faster to use the butter straight from the fridge where most of us store it.

Just remember, if your butter isn’t cold and your want to use it anyway, go ahead. You’ll still get a buttery crust, it just won’t be quite as flaky as it would be with cold butter. If you want a more scientific explanation as to why it works, Kenji Lopez-Alt over at Serious Eats best explains it in Myth #2 of The Science of Pie

While you are at it, use cold water and a cold egg as well. Using cold supporting ingredients will help the butter maintain it’s solid state.

Two sticks of cold butter stacked, next to an egg cracked into a measuring cup.

Three Methods for Making Pie Crust

As I’ve mentioned, you can make this pie crust in a food processor, stand mixer, or by hand. My go to method is the food processor, but each of these methods have their own virtues and the choice of what’s best is up to you.

Food Processor Pie Crust

As a food processor owner, I often find it a pain to get out, a pain to clean, and a pain for taking up space on my counter top to dry. When it comes to making pie crust (and puff pastry dough) it’s totally worth the mess and all the extra effort. 

Unlike the stand mixer or hand power, a food processor has two major benefits: a sharp cutting blade and a contained environment. It makes very quick work of cutting the cold butter into the flour without warming the ingredients or making a mess. The faster this step is done, the colder your butter stays, and the flakier your end results.

When using the food processor for pie crust, you want to start with the butter as cold as possible. If you have a professional grade food processor, it may be able to handle an entire stick of butter at once.

If yours is a standard household version like mine, it may help to chop the butter into smaller chunks before you process it. I cut each block of cold butter into quarters, then quarters again, making sixteen chunks. It speeds up the process time and prevents the butter from melting into the flour.

Pulse the flour and salt to combine, pulse in the butter. Beat together the egg, water, and vinegar, then slowly pour into the food processor while running on low. It will quickly form into a solid ball, which should be wrapped in an airtight container and refrigerated prior to use. While plastic wrap has been my go to in the past, I now use resealable glass or plastic containers.

Stand Mixer Pie Crust

Prior to owning a food processor, the stand mixer was my go to method for making pie crust. It was especially effective back when I was using room temperature butter. As with all recipes made in a stand mixer, the attachment you use will depend on the machine you are using. The goal for this recipe is to use the attachment that will cut through the butter.

If you have a KitchenAid use the single whisk attachment. Using a Bosch mixer, you’ll want to use the sturdier wire whisks. If you are using a hand mixer, the standard beaters will suffice. 

Regardless of your machine, you can’t just toss in cold butter and expect to get the job done. You can cut the butter into chunks by dividing it into quarters then quarters again, as recommended for the food processor version.

Even better, use the coarse side of a box grater to grate the butter into much smaller pieces. The smaller the pieces to start, the less work the mixer has to do. For a really flaky crust, grate the butter while it’s frozen.

Mix together the flour and salt, grate in the butter then mix to combine. Beat together the egg, water, and vinegar, then slowly pour into the mixer while running on low. It will form into a solid ball, which should be wrapped in an airtight container and refrigerated prior to use. Again, plastic wrap has been my go to in the past, but I now use resealable glass or plastic containers.

Close up shot of the texture you should have when mixing the flour, salt, and butter for Millie's Perfect Pie Crust.

Pie Crust by Hand

Pie crust by hand is the way I imagine Millie originally made her crusts. It’s simple and straightforward, but you still need the right tools to do the job, which in this case is a pastry cutter, box grater, or two forks.

A pastry cutter is a small, handheld device that is made to cut through butter and evenly disperse it through the flour. While they are handy and inexpensive, I personally don’t own one. 

No pastry cutter? The second best way to break up butter for making pie crust or pastry dough by hand is to use the box grater method that I recommend when using a stand mixer.

No pastry cutter and no grater? Chop the butter into smaller chunks then use long tined forks to break it into even smaller pieces. If there is a will, there is a way!

Mix together the flour and salt, break up your butter using the best method for you then add it to the flour, mixing to combine. Beat together the egg, water, and vinegar, then slowly incorporate into the butter and flour mixture until it forms a solid ball. Wrap it in an airtight container and refrigerated prior to use. Again, plastic wrap has been my go to in the past, but I now use resealable glass or plastic containers.

Rolling out Pie Crust

The addition of an egg in this recipe makes the dough easier to handle, but the real secret to getting a perfectly round pie crust is to start with a perfectly round, cold, ball of dough and a non-stick surface.

Making your work surface non-stick usually means that you just need to add flour. Naturally cold surfaces like marble, or quartz tend to need less flour than naturally warm surfaces like wood or laminate. The amount of flour required depends on the moisture in the dough, room temperature, and dough temperature. It’s trial and error every time.

Shape your pie dough into a smooth, even, ball, and don’t skip that 30 minute rest in the fridge. It helps the butter resolidify so it won’t stick to your counters. Think of it this way: if you pick up a stick of unwrapped cold butter, you can easily place it on a plate while getting very little on your hands.

Try to do the same with warm butter, and you’ll end up with a literal goopy mess on your hands. The same principle applies to your countertop – the warm stuff sticks, the cold does not.

Place the dough ball in the center of a floured work surface. Using gentle pressure with a rolling pin, start in the middle of the ball and work your way out. As you go, rotate the dough by quarter turns in a clockwise or counter clockwise circle.

Turning the dough helps keep the circle even but it also lets you know if the dough starts sticking. If it doesn’t turn easily, fold the dough on itself, gently pick it up, and add more flour to your surface. Continue rolling it out until you have a circle two inches larger than the diameter of your pan.

An overhead image of a ball of pie crust next to a rolling pin, kitchen towel, and canister of flour.

Transferring the Pie Crust 

 Once rolled out, pie crust can admittedly be a bit difficult to move, especially if you are inexperienced. You don’t want to tear it, you don’t want it stretched, and you don’t want it getting only half way into the pan before you drop it. Experienced pie makers make moving pie crust from countertop to pie plate look easy, and it is with experience.

If you haven’t done it a hundred times, you may want to try my triangle method. Simply fold the circle of dough in half and then fold it in half again. This leaves you with a compact, easy to move triangle.

Gently pick it up and place it into the pan with the point in the center. Take care while unfolding it in the pan. You may have faint fold lines, but no one will notice them when it’s baked.

You do not need to grease the pie plate when making a well floured, all butter crust. If your dough is sticky, sprinkle a little bit more flour in the pie pan before placing the dough. This will be enough of a barrier to prevent the dough from sticking.

Once placed in the pan, any excess dough can be trimmed away with a knife to create a neat edge. If you are doing a double crust, I like to wait and trim both together or just fold in the excess to give it a rustic effect. Crimp, pinch, or shape the edges however you like. I like to use the tines of a fork to create an even texture all the way around.

An overhead image of rolled out pie crust next to a rolling pin and canister of flour.

Single Crust vs. Double Crust

This pie crust recipe makes two standard, single pie crusts. By standard I mean crusts that will fit a standard 9″ pie plate or pan. It will also make one double crust, which means a top and bottom crust. The double crusts will fit a standard pan, but there is also enough dough for a pan that is slightly larger, like in the case of my chicken pot pie in a 10.25″ cast iron skillet. 

If you only need a single crust, everything in this recipe can be cut in half with beautiful results. You can also increase this recipe to make multiple crusts.

To make a single or odd number of pie crusts, you’ll need to split an egg in half, which is easier than it sounds. A standard large egg is approximately 1/4 cup in volume. To split one in half, first whisk it well to up the whites and yolks completely. Then measure out two tablespoons, which is 1/8 cup. The leftover half egg can be refrigerated for later, but I usually fry it up to give to my dogs as a treat. 

Alternatively, you can make the full recipe with two crusts and save one for later, which could be pre-baked or frozen. This dough can be made up to five days in advance, wrapped it tight in plastic wrap, and refrigerated. If you are making a custard-based pie that calls for a pre-baked crust, like pecan or pumpkin, the crust can be prebaked up to two weeks in advance and filled the day you want to serve the pie. For longer storage you can freeze the dough or pre-baked shells as well. 

To pre-bake:

  • Shape the dough into the pie pan and poke it multiple times with a fork to allow holes for the steam to escape.
  • Line the top of the dough with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans to weigh it down.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in a 375ºF oven.

To freeze:

  • Wrap it in foil lined with parchment or waxed paper.
  • Place in an airtight container.
  • Make sure to date the container with an expiration date for 6 months from now.
  • Allow the dough to thaw overnight in the fridge.
An overhead image of rolled out pie crust in a pie pan next to a rolling pin and kitchen towel.

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Millie’s Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

If tender, flaky pie crust, made from an all butter recipe is your goal, then you must try this recipe. The recipe has passed down through generations, but the methods below have been perfected by me. Whether you are using a stand mixer, food processor, or good old fashioned elbow grease this pie crust recipe is all you need for sweet or savory pies. Make your holiday pies a tradition to be passed on for generations with Millie’s Perfect Pie Crust.

Check out some of my favorite pie recipes and start baking!

Or browse all of my recipes for desserts, treats, and snacks.

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE-STAR rating and share it on your favorite social channel!

Overhead close up shot of an unbaked Millie's Perfect Pie Crust with fork crimped edges on a black background next to a wooden rolling pin.

Grandma’s All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe

An all butter pie crust recipe that bakes up tender and flaky, and can be used for both sweet and savory pies. With methods for a stand mixer, food processor, and by hand, it’s approachable by all and made for passing down through generations. 
4.6 stars (80 ratings)
prep: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
total: 50 minutes
servings: 16 servings (8 per crust)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • dash of salt (less than 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 1 cold egg
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Instructions

Using a Stand Mixer

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer measure out the flour and salt. Stirring to combine.
  • Either chop the cold butter into 16 tablespoon size pieces, or coarsely grate it with a box grater. Add the butter to the flour salt mixture.
  • Using the whisk attachment or standard beaters, mix on low to incorporate the butter into the flour. The butter flour mixture should be crumbly and loose. 
  • In a one cup measuring cup beat together the egg, vinegar, and water. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the egg mixture and continue to mix until combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface and divide into two equal pieces (I use a scale). Shape each piece into a ball, place in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Using A Food Processor

  • In the bowl of your food processor measure out the flour and salt. Pulse 2 – 3 times to combine.
  • Chop the cold butter into 16 tablespoon size pieces, then add it to the flour salt mixture. 
  • Pulse 15 – 20 times to incorporate the butter into the flour. Adjust the number of pulses based on the power of your machine. The butter flour mixture should be crumbly and loose. 
  • In a one cup measuring cup beat together the egg, vinegar, and water. With the food processor running on low, slowly pour in the egg mixture and to mix until combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface and divide into two equal pieces (I use a scale). Shape each piece into a ball, place in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

To Make By Hand

  • In a large bowl measure out the flour and salt. Stir or whisk to combine.
  • Pick one of the following, depending on the tools you have on hand:
    • If using a pastry cutter, add the cold butter to the flour mixture and use the pastry cutter to chop it up until the butter is in very small pieces and the mixture is loose and crumbly.
    • If you don't have a pastry cutter, coarsely grate the butter with a box grater. Add it to the flour mixture and use a whisk to combine the two and break up any butter chunks. The mixture should be loose and crumbly.
    • If you don't have a pastry cutter or box grater, chop the cold butter into 16 tablespoon size pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture, then use a knife, a fork, a potato masher, or your hands to break the butter up until it is a loose crumbly texture.
  • In a one cup measuring cup beat together the egg, vinegar, and water. Add the egg mixture into the butter and flour, then using a spoon or your hands, mix together.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface and divide into two equal pieces (I use a scale). Shape each piece into a ball, place in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.


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Notes

The calorie count covers 1/8th of a single crust. 

Nutrition

Calories: 167kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?Mention @reneenicoleskitchen or tag #reneenicoleskitchen!

For the stand mixer step by step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make The Perfect Pie Crust Story.

About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

More about Renee

40 Comments on “Grandma’s All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    Renée, I know you shouldn’t mess with perfection, but butter has become so expensive lately! Is there a chance you know how to adapt this to work well with shortening?

    Reply
    • Hi Melanie,
      I have never made this recipe with shortening. However, a little bit of research says that you can swap out butter for shortening in equal parts for baked goods. On the plus side, you may get a flakier crust due to the slightly higher fat in shortening, while on the negative side the flavor will be a little less rich as shortening doesn’t have the same flavor as butter. There are butter flavored shortenings available, which should help to enrich the flavor a bit. If you do decide to test it out, please come report back how it went! Good luck!
      Renee

      Reply
      • I did try it out 1 for 1, and while the crust tasted fine, it was pretty impossible to roll out. The texture was all wrong and it cracked all over the place and wouldn’t hold together. In hindsight it wanted more water, but it was too late by the time I figured that out. Maybe next time I’d skip the refrigeration; that’s when it started getting uncooperative.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for these methods!!! I’ve always wanted to create the perfect pie, and the pie was crust was a challenge! Opted for the food processor method, and wow, the crust came out so wonderfully flaky. That tip about using super cold butter was a game-changer. We whipped up a pumpkin pie, and let me tell you, the crust stole the spotlight. Big thanks for sharing this family gem!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I’ve always been intimidated by making pie crust from scratch, but this recipe is foolproof. It’s the ideal balance of flakiness and tenderness. It’s absolutely yummy! Will definitely make this again!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    I have been trying to make crust like my mother for years but not success ending until now. Thank you for your expertise and sharing this so we all can be successful at making crust

    Reply
  5. Hello Renee,
    I love the detail in your post for the 3 options. I have a fear of crust making but you make it sound so doable.
    I have two questions: the yield for this recipe says 16 single crusts.
    I am trying to visualize how you can get 16 single crusts with 2.5 cups of flour only. I am planning on making quite a few pies so would love to hear back at your very earliest convenience.
    2nd: how do you measure the dough out so that you can wrap and freeze single crust shells prepped and ready for use?
    Thanks for an awesomely thorough post. You’ve helped me get over my fear of even trying my own crust, not that I haven’t tried. It just never worked out in my “flavour” ;0)

    Reply
    • Hi Liliane! I’m so glad that this post is helping you overcome your fear of pie crust!

      Regarding the serving size: it makes 16 single crust servings – not 16 single crusts. I can see how you would be confused by this, so I did update the recipe card to say 16 servings (8 per crust). The recipe will make 2 crusts, 8 servings each.

      Regarding freezing: I use a scale, but my grandmother and mother just eyeballed it and I am guessing that it sounds less daunting to split it into 2 instead of 16. If you have the pie pans to spare you can roll them out and then freeze them or you can freeze them in the ball.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions.

      Renee

      Reply
  6. I’m trying this today! Just wanted to note, 1 cup of butter is 16 tablespoons, not half tablespoons. It would be 32 half tablespoons

    Reply
    • I am SO glad you pointed that out. I don’t know how that error made it past me, but it did. It’s supposed to say “16 tablespoons.” Due to fixing that error I realized that the “By Hand” section was missing steps 3 and 4 of the instructions (not sure where those went either). I don’t know how quickly I would have caught these if it wasn’t for your comment, so thank you for that! (Side note: The numbering on the “by hand” section is off and I’m trying to get it fixed.)

      I hope your pie turns out delicious!!

      Renee

      Reply
  7. I love this pie crust, however, when I freeze it it turns yellow!
    I use jovial organic einkorn white flour & organic white vinegar. Would like to make in advance & freeze. Any advice is appreciated.

    Reply
    • Betty,

      I wish I had better news for you, but I am not sure I have much advice to share. I don’t have any experience with einkorn flour and I’ve never had it noticeably change colors when frozen. Mine does tend to have a slight yellowish/orangish tint to it, which comes from using eggs with a dark orange yolk and butter with naturally yellow color, both a result of products from pasture raised animals. When I use eggs with pale yolks and butter so pale it’s almost white, the crusts too are white. The crusts in my freezer right now (on my chicken pot pies) are the same color as they were when not frozen. THe slight yellowish color I do see in mine is not noticeable after the crusts have been baked. Have you tried baking the crust to see how the color changes after baking? What has been your experience in freezing other products using einkorn flour?

      Renee

      Reply
  8. 5 stars
    After failing with so many other “foolproof” pastry dough recipes, I’m thrilled to say this one turned out perfectly for me when using the stand mixer method. I was making apple dumplings and wanted thin layers and this dough allowed me to roll it thin enough to allow multiple layers at the folds while being strong enough to hold in the dumplin’ sauce.

    Reply
  9. Love this recipe,I have tried many.This is the first one that hasn’t fallen apart before I can get it into my pie dish.I make up several batches, roll them into round disk wrap well and freeze.I then have half the work done when I make my pies.

    Reply
    • Jenna,

      I use salted butter for everything. Specifically I use Tillamook extra creamy salted butter. It contains 90mg of sodium per tablespoon. If you prefer using unsalted add an extra pinch of salt. If you are using salted and it contains more than 90 mg of salt per tablespoon you may want to omit the extra pinch of salt. That extra bit of salt is not enough to make the pie crust salty, just enough to turn on the flavors and engage your tastebuds.

      Renee

      Reply
  10. 5 stars
    I made this in a kitchenaid mixer. It was so easy to roll out and work with! Perfect crust the first time. Worked for both dessert pie and a chicken pot pie!

    Reply
    • Yep! I wanted to call it fail proof, but I screwed it up once. I only added half the butter. It was fixable because I was familiar with it, but not fail proof. Let me know if you try it!

      Reply
  11. 5 stars
    Your blog makes my mouth water! I have a ton of apple pie filling canned that I haven’t been able to use since going on a GF diet. I foresee an experiment with GF flour in my near future 🙂

    Reply

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