All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies (Pâte Brisée)

Pâte brisée (pronounced paht bree-ZAY) is a standard all-butter pastry dough used for making pies and tarts.

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All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies (Pâte Brisée) Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 1 pâte brisée crust, enough for one tart.

This recipe makes 1 pâte brisée crust, enough for one tart. If you are making a pie with a bottom and top crust, double this recipe and form two discs of dough instead of one.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons if for a sweet recipe)
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp ice water, very cold

Method

1 The minute you even think you might want to make a pie crust, cut up a stick of butter into smallish (about 1/2-inch) cubes, and put it into the freezer. The colder the butter the better luck you'll have with creating a flaky crust. Freeze the butter at least 15 minutes, better an hour, best overnight. (I usually keep cubed butter in the freezer ready to go for making pie crusts.)

2 Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times. Then add the other half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter pieces the size of peas.

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3 Add a couple of tablespoons of ice cold water (without the ice!) to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. Then add more ice water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again. Try to keep the water to a minimum. Too much water will make your crust tough.

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4 Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a very clean, smooth surface. If you want an extra flaky crust, you can press the heel of your palm into the crumbly mixture, pressing down and shmooshing the mixture into the table top. This is a French technique, called "fraisage". Do this a few times, maybe 4 to 6 times, and it will help your crust be extra flaky. Then, use your hands to press the crumbly dough together and shape into a disc. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over-knead or your crust will end up tough. You should be able to see little bits of butter, speckling the dough. When these bits of butter melt as the crust cooks, the butter will help separate the dough into flaky layers. So, visible pieces of butter are a good thing, what you are aiming for, in the dough. Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (At this point you can freeze the dough disk for several months until ready to use. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)

5 When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to take just enough of a chill off of it so that it becomes easier to roll out. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

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Recommended Reading:
Pie and Tart Dough - detailed instructions by Helen of Beyond Salmon
Making a Perfect Pie Crust - by Pastry Chef Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater

52 Comments

  1. Liz

    Well, I didn’t have much success with this recipe. I’m a total crust novice, so I’m sure the fault was all mine. The dough was super crumbly and I couldn’t get it to stick together, even with the addition of a couple of extra tablespoons of ice water. I was panicked that I was over-kneading and/or over warming the dough by working with it for so long, so I ultimately gave up and used the Pillsbury refrigerated crust. Alas! Any suggestions for a baking newbie?

  2. Elise

    Hi Liz,

    It does take some practice to get this just right. I would just continue to add ice water, a little at a time, until the dough is able to hold together. Don’t worry too much about over-kneading the dough. It will still turn out better than store-bought.

  3. Lena

    Your blog/web site is so well done!
    I love to cook, but being a mother and also working 1 hour away from home 9 hours a day, I have little time to actually do it!

    I love these pictures, because since I have never ever attempted to make a home-made pie crust, I do not know the textures and what things should look like at each stage. Since your pictures are so good, I feel pretty confident that I can manage to do this correctly. I am very glad I stumbled onto your site by searching “Apple Pie” on Google, Thanks, I will be using it often

  4. nanomatrix

    I started making my pie crusts this way over 15 years ago. The trick to making this work is to take the crumbly mixture and put it into a zip lock bag and knead the bag until dough holds together in a ball.

    Tip # 2: Pea size is too small. If the mixture is too small the crust has a tendency to be crumbly not flaky. Bean size is better.

    Tip #3: Freeze the butter for a couple of hours. The longer it takes to warm up during the kneading the better.

    Ultimately this produces the most consistently uniform for me.

  5. Nat

    Hi,

    I’ve already tried this recipe twice, and it’s been really really great! The first time, it acutally turned out quite flaky and it was sooo good. The second time, I think I overkneaded and I might’ve added a bit too much water, but it still turned out quite acceptable. So thanks for the recipe and the pics! They really helped! I’ll keep practicing, and hopefully I’ll get the hang of it soon :D

  6. I’m wondering if it makes much of a difference not having a food processor. I’ve never made pie crust, but I’m guessing that people used to just use ‘elbow grease’… any tips on doing it by hand?

  7. wendi

    For a non food processor tip, use a grater on frozen butter then toss the butter in with the flour mixture gently breaking apart the butter bits into the flour before adding the water. I also use a touch of apple cider vineger mixed in with the water and no sugar with mine.

  8. Chelsea

    This recipe is wonderful. I use it for pies and turnovers, it’s wonderful and delicious. It browns perfectly.

  9. Alissa

    Can this be made using whole wheat flour?

    Hi Alissa, I only use white flour for pastry making, but others do use whole wheat flour. You might try doing an Internet search for “whole wheat pie crust”. ~Elise

  10. rachael

    For those of us without modern conveniences such as food processors, try freezing the butter, then grating it into the dry ingredients. Thanks Elise for an awesome food blog!

  11. Christine B

    Love the site! I had two questions regarding making this recipe ahead and saving it for when you need it:

    1 – how long with the prepared dough last in the fridge?

    2 – do you have any tips on freezing?

    Thanks!

    Hi Christine. The dough will last about 2 days in the fridge. Not much longer than that though. I once let some dough go for 4 days, but it smelled funky so I had to throw it out. For freezing the dough, just sprinkle the disc with flour, wrap it in plastic wrap, wrap it again in aluminum foil, and freeze it. It should last for months that way. ~Elise

  12. johanna

    Oh my goodness! I’ve never, ever had success with a pie crust until now. I made your blueberry pie for my husband’s birthday yesterday, and it was wonderful! Thank you so much!

  13. Jeff

    This recipe works well. I think it’s easier to make without the food processor but you should use a pastry utensil (or two knives if not available) to avoid warming it too much. Another tip — keep pastry flour in the freezer. That helps make the dough more forgiving and immediately rollable.

  14. James

    Having NEVER made a pie before, much less a crust I was VERY surprised at the simple way to make this pie crust. It turned out fantastic!!! People were eating the crust off the rie before it had even cooled off enough to cut. Thanks for this recipe!!!

  15. Sara

    I love this crust! It was so fast and easy to make. I work at a day spa and wanted to make personal pumpkin pies for my clients! This is the Best Crust! Thanks

    Sara From Califonia

  16. Christine B

    I am out of AP flour – would this recipe work with bread flour? Normally I do not stray from the recipe, but I was not sure what the difference would be and wanted to use up what I have if I can. Thank you!

    No idea. I’ve never made a pastry crust with bread flour. ~Elise

  17. kristi

    I’ve never made a crust by myself before, and this recipe worked fantastically. I upped the ingredients a fraction- I am currently living in Germany and naturally cannot find a 9-inch pie pan (I had to use a larger tort pan). I also had to make the dough by hand, so while the food processor might be handy, it is not necessary.

    Thanks for helping me spread a little Thanksgiving cheer to some sixth-grade German students! They loved it!

  18. Megan, Gingersnap

    This recipe is awesome! I Made sure the butter was in the freezer for ~30mins before use. Sifted the flour, salt and sugar, placed that in freezer too. I used a food processor, added the ice water (and a tsp of organic apple cider vinegar) very slowly until blended so mixture looked like little peas and beans. Although they were in separated little nodules, they came together when pinched. I placed mixture in ziplock bag, gave a couple squishes to bring it together. Refrigerated ~1hr. It rolled out very nicely with a mosaic like structure of butter chunks. It looks amazing!!

  19. nova

    Elise, thank you for the perfect pate brisee recipe – I had a hard time finding the pre-made one at the store recently and now I will never have to buy it ever again. It’s so easy to make, thanks to your step by step instructions and pictures. I didn’t even use a food processor and it still came out perfectly. (I did cut my butter into 1/4 inch squares though.) I substituted the white flour for spelt flour and my quiche tasted great.

  20. jose

    I have 1 quick question. How does altitude affect this recipe? Very curious because I’m practically at sea level and not sure where you are. But how will this affect my ratios? is this the reason why some need to add more water than others?

    Hello Jose, I’m close to sea level also. Generally if you are at or near sea level you don’t have to worry about altitude adjustments with recipes. It’s those who live at high altitudes, like Denver, or up in the mountains who sometimes need to make adjustments to recipes. As for a high altitude adjustment for this recipe, I do not know if one is needed, or if one is, what that would be. ~Elise

  21. Brandy

    Let me start by saying that I am not a pie crust fan. I usually find that pie crust is bland and I never eat the end part of the crust that that goes around the edge of the pie pan. This pie crust, however, is heavenly and I will happily scarf down ever speck. It has a wonderful rich flavor from the butter and despite the fact that it’s made without shortening, it’s not too dense like other all butter crusts I have tried. I’ve never wanted to make pies before because I disliked pie crust so much, but I want to make so many pies now that I have found this recipe. I can’t imagine wanting to try any other recipe since this one is so perfect! Thank you, Elise, for turning me onto pies again!

  22. Alison

    My Dad asked me to bring a fruit pie to a 4th of July get together this weekend. His Mom, my Grandma, made the most amazing pie crust using lard. Most of her recipes were in her head and although I witnessed her bake thousands of pies, I didn’t really have the first clue as to how to make one myself. I don’t have a regular food processor so I am trying my own method using all the tips here and, of course, this recipe everyone is gushing about! I grated my refridgerated butter tonight, put in a container back in the fridge. I will let it chill in the freezer along with the flour and use a freezer bag to knead it. I also read to chill your hands under cold water before kneading. I’m trying all of it! Haha! Thanks a bunch for the recipe and all the tips. I will let you know how it goes!

  23. Donna

    How cold is very cold ice water?

    A few degrees above freezing. ~Elise

  24. Nisha

    Couple questions for you: where did you get the pie cutting board in the pictures? that looks very helpful. Also, do you know why vinegar is added sometimes to pie crust recipes? What is its purpose?

    Do you mean the pastry sheet with guidelines? Look up “pastry sheet” in eBay and you’ll find some. Ours is an old one from Tupperware. As for vinegar, I don’t add it to my pie crusts, so I don’t know. ~Elise

  25. Barrie

    Re: Alissa’s post about whole wheat flour, I posted the following in my comment about the pumpkin pie recipe:

    “My pie crust was made with sprouted/dried/milled whole wheat flour with 1/3 of it hard red wheat (bread wheat) and 2/3 of it a soft pastry wheat. It was out of this world; flaky, delicate and delicious. I think that the problems people have baking with whole wheat are threefold: they use bread flour, it’s not fresh (milled whole grains go rancid very quickly) and they don’t sprout or soak it before milling. You can get Summer’s Sprouted Flours if you don’t have your own mill, and keep them in the freezer so they don’t go rancid. I used Rapunzel Rapadura unrefined sugar for the sweetener.

    Finally, if you click on the “recommended reading” link to Shuna Fish Lydon’s blog, there is a link there to a recipe for homemade pop-tarts, and these are what I made from the leftover dough. Yum!”

  26. Jasmina

    What is the best way to defrost the crust after freezing it?

  27. Sarah Whitney

    For those of us who don’t have a food processor this is how I been doing it for a while now and never had a problem *S*

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 tsp salt

    one and a half sticks of butter (3/4s of a cup) — chilled

    3 tbsp. lard (you can also use shortening)

    iced water

    Mix the flour and salt in a bowl large enough for you to easily work your hands inside of it.

    Chop the butter into pieces the size of marbles and drop them into the flour, and put in small pieces of the lard or shortening. Toss the butter and lard pieces in the flour, then begin to rub them into the flour with your fingers.

    Here’s the odd part: after you’ve mixed about half of the butter/lard — meaning, you still have roughly half of the marble-sized pieces still in the flour, wet your hands at the tap, shake off the excess, then continue to mix the butter and flour with your fingers. You’ll need to wet your hands 3 or 4 times while you’re combining the flour and butter.

    Leave some larger pieces of butter (about the size of peas) — they will make your crust flaky.

    Spoon about 5 tablespoons of the iced water in your flour, and then use a fork to slowly incorporate the water. It’s okay to add more water — most recipes don’t include enough water. However, because you’ve wetted your hands with water you will notice that you won’t need much more than the original 5 tablespoons.

    Gather it into a ball and place it on plastic wrap. If there’s a little bit on the bottom of your bowl that’s still dry, it’s okay. Press it onto the top of the ball of dough, wrap it up tightly and put it into the fridge.

  28. cara

    Is there a Gluten Free (NUT FREE as well, severe allergy to nuts as well as coeliac) version to this? Cheers!

    I suggest doing a search on Food Blog Search in the gluten-free category for pie crusts. That would be a good starting place. ~Elise

  29. Cheryl

    I love this recipe. This is the first time I have ever made pie crust from scratch. I will keep this one in my recipe book. Thanks!

  30. Lisa S.

    This recipe is an old Fanny Farmer cookbook I’ve been using for 15 years, only it calls for 1 cup of AP flour, but I always found it to be too wet and added extra flour so yours just goes right to that point. Sorry to hear some of your readers weren’t pleased with the results. I always thought that if you could separate the egg and knew what “dough consistency” was that you could not screw up this recipe. I’ve done my darnedest to screw it up and failed, it turns out fine every time. Forgotten to refrigerate it, I did it. Forgotten to get it out of the refrigerator, I did that too (nuke it on defrost for 20 seconds). Salted butter instead of unsalted – tasted fine.

    If you ever post a video, can you post one on how to get pie crusts so beautifully fluted like the pumpkin pie you have posted? Mine just don’t look pretty (but are mighty tasty!).

  31. Jinky

    I chanced upon your blog site and tried your pie crust recipe. It was perfect! My husbands loves how it turned out to be flaky and tasty too. I used for quiche broccoli. Thanks for sharing your recipe

  32. Donna

    How long does a pulse last? A second?

    Yes, about. ~Elise

  33. Deniece

    I’ve been baking for a few years now, but have never made pies for fear of failing w/the crust (I mean, how can you have a good pie w/out a good crust?). I used this recipe for the first time when I made your Apple Walnut Gorgonzola Tart and wow, am I glad I gave this a try! Making this crust was easy (even w/out the food processor; I made it using a pastry knife and some ‘elbow grease’). The positive feedback has been so amazing (“…this is the best crust I’ve ever had…it’s got the perfect texture…”) that I’m going to start making more pies! :)

  34. Pax

    Hi!
    How would I do the mixing portion of this recipe if I don’t have a food processor? Is there anything that needs to be done differently, or do I just need to mix it all up?

    You can use a pastry cutter, or two dull (dinnerware) knives that you work almost like scissors to break up the butter. Then you can use your hands to (gently) mix in the water. ~Elise

  35. Sandra

    I was wondering if salted butter could be used? I just noticed I’m all out of unsalted and really wanted to use up my figs! Thanks again for all your wonderful recipes…every single one is beyond amazing! My nephew’s diet is gluten free and my sister has made several of your recipes and loved them all! :)

    If you use salted butter, don’t add any salt to the pie dough. ~Elise

  36. Roxane

    I love this recipe! I used salted butter and didn’t add any more salt. It was so flaky and nice. Great for dessert pie or meat pie. The trick is to have chilled butter and you work fast with this product. I used a food processor and added the water while it was turning and it clumped into a ball pretty fast. I then separated it into 2 balls and stuck it in the fridge for a bit. Easy to roll out and work with.

  37. Stacy

    I have used this recipe a number of times for a variety of quiches and love it. I am at a high altitude (just outside of Denver) and find that I need to blind bake a bit longer to be sure the middle of the crust is cooked through at the end of the baking time for the quiche. Thanks for a great recipe!

  38. Diane

    Am I missing the baking instruction? What temp? How long? Do I need to use weights? Water in the oven?

    There is no baking instruction. That you would find with a pie recipe, depending on what pie you are making. This is the crust portion of a pie recipe. So, instead of buying a frozen pie crust for a recipe, you would make this pie crust and proceed with the pie recipe you are using. ~Elise

  39. faeriehazel

    Re: having no food processor – I just cut the frozen butter into smaller chunks and use my fingers to work them into the flour. It’s worked pretty well.

    Also, the good thing about this recipe is that even when you mess up a bit, it still turns out decently. :)

  40. Madeleine

    I use this recipe all the time for pies, and sometimes quiches. It works great. In the winter I find I have to add substantially more water (sometimes almost twice the amount called for the recipe) but I think that’s just because of the cold, dry air. I’m interested to try it again as it gets warmer and see how the amount of water the dough needs may change. I also just use a pastry cutter rather than a food processor and that also is fine – probably just takes a little longer.

  41. Jolene

    i am really excited to give this crust recipe a go! :)

    Would like to clarify one thing though…’8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter’ is approximately equivalent to how many grams? Understand that there are some variations in measurements.

    About 112 grams. ~Elise

  42. Lysandra Sykes

    Thank you so much for this crust recipe! Its excellent! Im proud to say the crust came out perfectly for my all local vegetable quiche. It was the first time I made my own pie crust and between this recipe and the America’s Best Test Kitchen recipe it was fairly easy and super delicious. I use this site all the time, being a new food blogger who is trying to find my voice (and talent and experience…..), this is one of my go tos for great reliable recipes. Thanks!

  43. catherina

    I mix my pastry in my chilled ice-cream making bowl. just put ice cubes in it for an hour or so

  44. Amy S.

    Turned out really great! Grated the butter (after freezing it, as suggested by one user) instead of using my food processor. Used it with a pumpkin pie and the crust came out very flaky, crispy and deliciously buttery. Can’t wait to use again and try with a quiche!

  45. monty

    My mom always used a pie crust recipe she called “halves”. Start with 1 cup of flour for each pie crust depending on how many crusts you are making. Use half as much shortening/butter as you do flour and then half as much ice water as shortening. Salt is 1/2 tsp per cup of flour and sugar is 1 1/2 tsp per cup flour. When making something like a pumpkin pie I add a small pinch of cinnamon to my flour.

  46. Maggie @ kitchie coo

    Okay, can I just say that this is absolutely positively amazing?? I made it tonight to go with a savory tart and I have never made a crust so light, delicate, flaky and completely perfect. I can’t figure out what is so different from this recipe, it has all the same ingredients as other crusts I have made, but I don’t think I’ll ever have to use another recipe the rest of my life. Thank you so much!!

  47. KS

    Hi,
    I am using your pie crust recipe to make quiche. I see above you say that there are no baking instructions, you just have to bake depending on your pie instructions. Do I need to blind bake this crust before baking it with my quiche ingredients or will it back when I back the quiche? Thanks.

    It depends on your quiche recipe. I think most of my quiche recipes want you to blind bake the crust first. ~Elise

  48. Sarah

    Hi i’ve never made a pie crust before and nowhere does it say how long to cook it for? Does anyone know? Thanks

    • Elise

      You don’t usually cook the pie crust, you cook the pie in the pie crust, unless a recipe calls for partially cooking the pie crust first, a process called blind-baking. So, follow the directions of whatever pie you are making.

  49. Mara

    This is my go to recipe for the last couple of years. I use spelt flour and it comes out beautifully. Thanks so much!

  50. Alfy

    Chop and freeze the butter, it really does help, that and not adding too much water. I could eat this crust plain. My Aunty says Bakeries are selling pie crust cookies now, sort of defeats the purpose, pie crust cookies that sit out too long get limp and cold. I like pasties but Sarah prefers meat pies, she has a gamey appetite.
    Our friend got married this weekend and bought fruit pies from American Kitchen. Berry, peach, some sort of mixed fruit thing. The crusts were stiff. They probably used Crisco. They started dancing before the cake cutting; drink tickets would not have been remiss. Sarah pointed out a dancing man who cut in front of her to use the bathroom first. There is always one of them at a wedding with alcohol. This one was plastered, his tie loose, his curling hair heavy with perspiration, his shirt unbuttoning as he gyrated to the tunes amidst a circle of girls, all of whom participated in the readjusting the strapless dress shimmy. I thought of meat pies when I saw him. There are so many uses for butter crust.

  51. Alicia

    This was my first butter pie crust (always used oil in the past) and I made it for my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. The dough ended up very dry and crumbly and I had to add an extra tablespoon of ice water just so it would form into a disc to freeze. I froze it overnight and thawed it for about 5 minutes, as the recipe says, before rolling out. It was very tough and crumbly and would not roll out and I was beginning to panic. I made ice water to add but after sitting out for about 10-15 minutes, the dough thawed enough to allow for rolling. In the end I didn’t need to add any more water and the crust turned out fine, it just took some muscle to roll it into the desired shape (butter crust is tougher than oil crust !)

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