No Fail, Flakey Pastry Crust

Easy, no machine required, buttery, flakey pie crust and pastry crust recipe.

This recipe makes enough dough for a top and bottom crust, or for two bottom crusts. You can easily halve the recipe if you only want to make one bottom crust.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 single crusts, or 1 double crust.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (400 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 Tbsp of sugar (for sweet recipes, otherwise skip)
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups, 12 ounces, 340 g) cubed
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) sour cream (full fat, NOT light sour cream)

Method

1 Place the cubed unsalted butter in a bowl and put in a warm spot to take the chill off.

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2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt (omit if using salted butter), and sugar (if using).

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3 Sprinkled the cubes of butter over the flour. Use your clean hands to squish the flour and butter together with your thumbs and fingers. Work the butter into the dough until you have what resembles a coarse meal with some chunks of butter.

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4 Add the sour cream to the flour butter mixture. Use a fork to incorporate into the mixture.

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5 Use your hands to gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. Use a knife to cut the ball in half. Form into disks. Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to a day ahead. If you want to freeze for future use, wrap again, this time with aluminum foil and freeze (leave in refrigerator overnight to thaw before using).

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6 If dough has been in the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to become more malleable before rolling out. To roll out, sprinkle a clean, flat surface with a little flour. As you roll the dough, check to make sure the bottom is not sticking. If it is, lift it up and sprinkle a little flour underneath. Roll out to 12 to 14 inches wide, to an even thickness.

You can use this pastry dough for unstructured rustic pies or galettes, or single or double crusted traditional pies. It can also be used for a savory pot pie. Whether you use the dough for a galette or a double crust pie, it will be prettier with a light egg wash. Just whisk one egg in a small bowl, add a teaspoon of water, and brush lightly over the exposed crust with a pastry brush, right before baking.

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Comments

  1. Amy Kilpack

    Perfect timing! My son has been wanting to bake a pie and I forgot to get the ingredients at the store today, but with this recipe I have everything that I would need.Can’t wait to try it out. The canned pumpkin from Costco will be put to good use!

  2. Bethany

    I was just lamenting to my mom tonight that I didn’t have a food processor to make an all butter crust for her apple pie recipe. You’ve solved that problem for me! Thanks!

  3. T Morris

    I always use Greek God yogurt (regular) in place of sour cream. Do you think this will work with yogurt?? Yes, Greek God because it has the least amount of sugar of all Greek yogurts.

  4. Stephanie

    I am definitely trying this recipe! I don’t know much about baking, but I’ve always wanted to learn (just had no one to teach me). I’ve wanted to try pies, but have been so intimidated because of the crust. But this looks easy enough that even I could do it! Thanks so much to Ms. Riley for sharing and Ms. Bauer for posting!

    • Phil St. Pierre

      my daughter gave me a laptop for Xmas years ago and i looked for something I could do with it….I discovered baking at 82 and everyone says I’m the greatest and I’ll try anything …. Other than this crust I always use Grandma’s secret pie Crust from Allrecipies .com which is great to work with a tastes great…I search the web & read all the reviews ( very important cause any fool can put up a bad recipie that’s bad ) …so get your feet wet and on cold nights let hte old oven warm you 7 the food warm your family …Happy Trials ,Phil

  5. Susan

    Yes, this makes a flakey and tender pastry crust. I found a similar recipe by accident when looking for one to use instead of a cream cheese pastry for something I wanted to make. It was actually listed as a faux puff pastry so I figured it would be plenty flakey! It was! I use it a lot now.

  6. Lex

    I tried this recipe today for a butternut pie; it was really flakey and had a rich, sweet taste to it. I did use unsweetened Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream (simply because sour cream is about 4X more expensive here in South Africa), I used closer to a cup to get the right texture, otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Thanks the great work, Elise!

  7. Momnivore

    I use my box grater for butter too – has helped tremendously. I’ve been making a ton of homemade “poptarts” for my kids’ breakfasts and making the dough is obviously the biggest headache. I’ll definitely try this. Question – has anyone tried it with whole wheat flour? Do you think I would need to make any adaptations?

    • Serena

      I wouldn’t attempt a pastry crust using whole wheat flour, however whole spelt flour works amazingly well as a substitute for all purpose flour in everything I have tried it in. I would consider trying that but whole wheat just will never turn out as tender in a pastry recipe.

  8. natalie @ wee eats

    i’ve never made a sour cream pie crust before, but i’m totally trying it now! i was just talking about how i’m “not into pies” because of all that hard work, but i am pretty sure i could handle this. ;)

  9. Espahan

    Oh my! I make a pretty good pie crust but I am always willing to try something new. This looks very do-able, and I have sour cream in my fridge right now.

  10. Leah

    I’ve managed to FAIL a “no Fail” reciple. Surprisingly – I’ve done more challenging recipes from this site – with better results. I don’t know where I went wrong. I froze the butter. Grated it on a box grater. As I was doing that – i threw in some flour to coat the butter. And then I weighed the butter to be 340 grams. I might have had too much flour – since I tossed the butter with flour?? Or too much flour because I measured by cup and not by weight? In the end it was too dry and I had to add water to get it to hold. I also seemed to have a lot of dough.

    • Elise

      Who said anything about freezing the butter? Don’t freeze the butter. The first step in this recipe is to take the cubed butter and put it in a warm spot in your kitchen. That’s to make it more malleable.

  11. bonnie

    Made an apple pie with this recipe yesterday. Absolutely gorgeous crust– beautiful golden color, flaky & delicious! (Didn’t tell my family it had sour cream in it, of course!) Now I’m going to my recipe file to throw away all those others that have never worked well for me. Thanks, Elise!

  12. Lori

    I was so excited when I saw this a few days ago. I have been struggling with my crust recipe and just buying store bought crust. I made this recipe the night I saw it along with your rhubarb ginger galette. It was the best crust I have ever made and one of the best desserts I have ever made. I am incredibly grateful.

  13. Anna H.

    I’ve always avoided making pie crusts because they seemed like a) the easiest part of a pie to mess up and b) the most important part to get right. The name of this recipe lured me in and convinced me to give it a try, and–yep–nailed it. I used it to make a crust for an apple and sour cream custard tart and brought it to an event for work and everyone (including myself, my own worst critic) loved it. That was after I told everyone “I MIGHT bring something… we’ll see how it turns out…” Ha! It was lovely. Thanks, Elise.

    I’m making it again today to make savory meat and pumpkin pies.

  14. dweir

    I married into a “pie-loving” family and learned that flaky crust is a must. Try as I might, I never mastered it.

    What I love about this recipe is that it goes against all the “rules” that make success with a traditional crust so difficult.

    First — no need to keep the butter cold, making it much easier to work into the flour. Second — you can really work this dough! After I added the sour cream, it took some effort to work it into a ball. And then more effort to roll it out after it had chilled. Such roughness would have ruined a regular crust.

    Lastly — it’s OK to add more flour. I liberally dusted both the dough and the surface while rolling it out. The dough was so forgiving.

    And the aroma in the kitchen… heavenly!

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    p.s. I made a half recipe but had plenty of dough for a double-crust, 9″ cherry pie — complete with a nice thick edge. I began baking at 375 for 10 min on the middle rack, and then shifted to the bottom rack at 425 until done. The edge didn’t burn and the pie popped right out of the pan.

  15. CAH

    Wow, I have been using almost this same exact recipe for about a year now and it is so delicious, easy, and impressive.

    But strangely… The ingredients list is identical, but the process is much different. My recipe calls for pulsing the flour, salt, a bit of baking powder, and the butter in a food processor. Then you stir in the sour cream. Proportions are identical to this recipe, but replace the sugar with baking powder.

    Then the dough is pressed together, rolled out, and folded/rolled out a few times before being chilled for an hour before shaping/baking. The result is the flakiest almost-laminated type pastry dough I’ve ever eaten. It’s buttery and crisp but light as could be. It can also withstand the heft of a bunch of cooked fruit as a crostata crust. I tend to use this dough to make fruit hand-pies and they are a favorite of family and friends.

    I gave an apple hand pie made of this dough to an ex-pastry-chef-now-head-chef of a prestigious French restaurant here in Los Angeles and was shaking in my boots as he hesitantly took a bite. He commented “The filling is just okay, but how the hell did you make this crust?” He insisted on getting the recipe and possibly incorporating it into their kitchen.

      • CAH // TheCarboholic

        If it’s okay with Elise!

        I’ve got a full tutorial and the recipe here: http://thecarboholic.com/2013/11/27/the-flakiest-fool-proof-pie-and-pastry-dough-tutorial/

        The ingredients are as follows:
        -2 cups all-purpose flour
        -1/2 teaspoon salt
        -1/2 teaspoon baking powder
        -1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
        -1/2 cup sour cream

        Just put the flour, salt, and b.p. into your food processor and pulse to mix. Add cut up butter, and pulse several times until butter is in pea-sized bits. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sour cream.

        Gather into a disc on a floured work surface. Roll dough out to an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold into thirds like a letter, and roll out again. Repeat this folding two more times (to create the flaky layers).

        Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

        Then proceed with whatever recipe you had in mind. I like this dough particularly for galettes and hand pies. As written above, it makes enough for 2 galettes (9-10″ in diameter) or 24 hand pies.

  16. Annie B

    After 40+ years of trying to find a reliable pie crust recipe that worked and didn’t make me crazy, this is it! I made the dough the night before, then today, added some lovely filling to the easily rolled-out dough and ended up with a fantastic quiche. This is now my official pie crust recipe. All the others are in the trash basket! Thank you thank you.

  17. loisseau

    Thanks once again for a go-to recipe, Elise! I was loathe to give up my food processor making this dough. Perhaps this little trick will bring it back for you, and keep your hands cleaner. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl, as you process the ingredients. The top will lock and keep the top and feeder tube clean. Use the wrap to cover the dough for the refrigerator.

  18. Jo Litke

    Would using frozen fruit make the pastry soggy. I have lots of frozen fruit in my freezer but usually end up making crumbles with it?

    • Elise

      Hi Jo, you mean making a pie with frozen fruit? I guess it would depend on the pie or the fruit. I usually defrost and drain frozen berries if I’m making a pie with them.