Foolproof Pie Dough Recipe (2024)

By The New York Times

Foolproof Pie Dough Recipe (1)

Total Time
10 minutes, plus chilling
Read community notes

Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor — do not substitute. This dough, which was developed by a test-kitchen team led by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for "America's Test Kitchen," will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (up to ¼ cup).

Featured in: Christopher Kimball's Favorite Test-Kitchen Discovery: Foolproof Pie Dough

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Yield:2 pie crusts

  • cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12½ ounces)
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 2tablespoons sugar
  • 12tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1½ sticks), cut into ¼-inch slices
  • ½cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • ¼cup vodka, cold
  • ¼cup cold water

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

909 calories; 61 grams fat; 28 grams saturated fat; 3 grams trans fat; 21 grams monounsaturated fat; 9 grams polyunsaturated fat; 74 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 7 grams sugars; 9 grams protein; 445 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Foolproof Pie Dough Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Process 1½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until hom*ogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage-cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.


  • Correction: December 9, 2012Because of an editing error, a headline for a recipe that accompanied an article on Oct. 14 about Christopher Kimball, the host of the TV show ‘‘America’s Test Kitchen,’’ referred imprecisely to the discoverer of ‘‘Foolproof Pie Dough.’’ It was developed by a test-kitchen team led by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, not by Kimball.



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Cooking Notes


I have made this crust three times now. The end result is the best pie crust I've ever had!
However, I wonder about the water/vodka vlm. Even adding half the liquid volume makes for a very wet and sticky dough. I've never been able to add more than 1/8 + 1/8 cup.
Another thing is when baking the crust, the crust shrinks considerably down the sides of the pie plate. I try and leave ample crust up the edge of the plate, otherwise I've had some pies leak over and under the crust.


I'm a good pie crust maker- been at it since I was 12. So, I'm like, you know, Qualified.

This is the best crust I've ever made. J. Kenji Alt is a minor god in my pantheon. You do have to have faith and follow the instructions (except for the vodka part- you can also use cheap rum.) You do have to use waaay more flour when rolling than you ever thought appropriate. Try it, follow the instructions, practice a little bit, reap the compliments. It's that good...


The reason the vodka makes such a huge difference is that it prevents gluten development in the crust (water encourages gluten). We use this technique when making any pie crust, & now have great results every time.


I pour the dough from the food processor to a large ziplock bag. The bag keeps all of the bits together as you work it into a cohesive shape. Take it out, divide in half and make discs. Bag in the bag and into the freezer or refrigerator.


This is s really rich pie pastry. The spatula part is impossible, in my opinion unless you have a large one and lots of time. I dumped the bowl onto a floured counter and worked it by hand, using an additional 1/4 c flour. It came together well, and after refrigeration for 45 minutes, I rolled it out with approximately another 1/4 c flour.


This is a great technique. However, the recipe says not to substitute for the vodka. On my first attempt, I used Ketel One vodka. Big mistake! It imparted a flavor which was disagreeable. Be sure to choose a flavorless vodka. With another attempt I only had rum and that substitution worked extremely well. Being distilled from sugar cane, I thought it imparted a caramel richness to the crust which complemented fruit pies.


I do not have a food processor and this recipe only tells us how to make the crust in a food processor. I made it anyway. I used a spoon to mix the dry ingredients together. Then I used a pastry blender to cut the butter and vegetable shortening into the flour mixture until I had the "cottage cheese curd" consistency described. Lacking a pastry blender? Use two knives to make scissor-like cuts until you achieve the right consistency. I did the rest of the mixing and forming by hand.


This recipe results in success every time. Weighing the flour eliminates the variability among measuring methods. A dry cup of KA flour weighs 120 grams using the "sprinkle" method according to their help line. A cup of KA flour using the "dip, level and pour" method weighed in at 168 grams on my scale, 40% high. Using arithmetic, ATK's recipes (including this one) are based on 142 grams of flour per cup. 12 1/2 ounces of flour for this recipe converts to 354 grams.


It's not a problem with the measurements. Pie crust recipes change with the environment. The drier the air, the more liquid is needed and vice versa. If that happens, you're supposed to sprinkle more cold water on, a tablespoon at a time until it just barely comes together then let it sit in the fridge for 45 minutes. It will work, I promise.


It's a HOT HOT Tuesday night in Toronto and I've just finished my second slice of strawberry pie using this recipe. I couldn't find my other go-to (also a NYT recipe), so I thought I'd give this a try. I've had 1/4 cup of vodka sitting in the freezer for eons - no longer. This will now be the standard bearer for all pie crusts. It was foolproof. I used all butter - no shortening available - and pulsed. Made 4 crusts - brilliant.


This is a good crust recipe. But a correction needs to be made about who created this recipe.... My grandmother had almost the same recipe in her box dated 1973, the only difference was a little less water... I only note this because while I am a GREAT fan of the ATK and all the work they do to discover great recipes; they rarely site the original recipe and those folks who made it first deserve the credit. Using vodka is an old, but good trick.


I've been making pies for years and have always used a crust recipe from an old Betty Crocker pie and pastry cookbook. I'm kind of known for my pies, especially for my flaky crust. I was intrigued by the use of vodka and the 'extra' amount of butter in this recipe, so I thought I'd try it. I am completely converted. My pies will be even better now!
I used all of the vodka, but only about 3 T. of the water and did not find the dough to be excessively sticky to roll out.


For more, read this, by J Kenji Lopez-Alt: vodka is a parlor trick, the really important part of this recipe is splitting the flour addition into two parts. I have played around with different amounts of water, vodka; using lard, butter, shortening. The key is the flour. I tailor the fat to the pie: lard for savory, butter for sweet. Don't overthink your pie dough!


Can I use lard instead of vegetable shortening?


This is a fine recipe but there is one caution. It is a very wet dough which improves the ability to roll out. However, if you are going to prebake a dough as with many pumpkin or sweet potato pies, this can be a disaster. Putting rice or beans or weights within aluminum foil to prevent shrinkage will result in the bottom of the pie sticking to the foil when it is removed thereby ruining the dough. You need to use a more traditional all butter or dryer recipe for such pies.


This is a fantastic recipe. It's delicious and very easy to handle. If you know anyone who claims they have had no success at making a crust, offer them this.

Lorry Kennedy

I have been making crust for a long time, this one is headache free. It does brown quickly, so I reduced the sugar to 1T. But otherwise, follow as directed.


I've made hundreds of pie crusts in my lifetime, but this really was extraordinary: light, tasty, easy to make, and so flaky: delicious. Who knows why? But I highly recommended it. I used a food processor, including for adding the ice water and chilled vodka-- perfect in spite of that short cut.

Robert R

I’ve made this dozens of times; always perfect. When you mix it, it will feel too wet. Don’t worry (and don’t add more flour.) Let it rest in the fridge and it will be perfect!


Whoa. I get it. The other people in the comments are definitely right. Its such a good pie crust. I actually hate making pie and feel like I’m terrible at it but this pie crust was truly particularly delicious. It baked perfectly (everywhere but the crust but thats my fault), was easy to work with and came out flaky and perfect and delicious. Used this to make sweet potato pie for thanksgiving. I made it with lard instead because i wanted to experiment with a different kind of fat. So good.


first time I used 12.5 oz. Of flour and it was too dry even after using a total of 10 ounces of liquid! I managed to use it for two pecan pies and everyone raved! The next day I made it again for an apple pie, but used 300 grams flour. I had this brilliant idea of pulsing in the vodka and 1/2 of the water. Well, the machine would not pulse and kept running so I had to unplug it! Ugh..I ended up with a very short pie dough, with no desired butter clumps. I almost discarded it, but used it anyway

B Noel

I now ONLY use this recipe. It really is foolproof, and SO easy! My friends are always shocked that I made it myself. :-)


My search for the perfect pie crust is now over!Easy and perfect flavor and flakiness


What kind of vegetable shortening works with this? Is it like margarine? Most kinds at the store seem to be in tubs, which feels a little unfamiliar to make crust with. Maybe one of the stick margarines, like blue bonnet?


I believe they are referring to Crisco, not margarine. They are not the same.


This recipe is SO good. We don’t have a food processor but my pastry cutter worked really well. Also, our son has a dairy allergy so I actually subbed the butter for equal parts of Myoko’s cultured vegan butter and it came out perfectly.


Someone help! My dough is currently chilling. I'm not really seeing little pieces of butter in it as I have with pie dough in the past. Did a ruin it? Should I start over??

Nancy M

I’ve been making this crust exactly as written for 8 years now, and the crowds go CRAZY for it!I’ve had several people request for their own whole pie and some even purchase the pies as gifts for others. (That never happened with the old pie crust recipe).


Is there a substitute for vodka?


Has anyone tried using pastry flour instead of all purpose? Would love thoughts or advice!

Lauren B.

I decided it’s time to make my own pie crust. WOW! Why did I wait so long? I used this recipe and then did the cooked apple pie filling from NYT. Fabulous! Never going back to pre made crusts.

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Foolproof Pie Dough Recipe (2024)
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