No Fail, Sour Cream Pastry Crust

Move aside food processor! Be gone tough pie crusts! I hath found the holy grail of pastry doughs. It is flaky, it is buttery, it is un-fussy, and it needs no difficult-to-clean equipment, just your clean hands and a large bowl. The secret?

Sour cream. No added water, instead you add sour cream. I’m not kidding. This method works and it couldn’t be easier. The recipe comes from my friend, former Zuni Cafe chef Kathi Riley, who has been using it as her go-to pastry crust recipe for 25 years and who graciously shared it with me to share with you. Enjoy!

No Fail, Sour Cream Pastry Crust Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Dough chilling time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes dough for 2 single crusts, or 1 double crust

This recipe makes enough dough for a top and bottom crust for a 9-inch pie.

Kathi's basic ratio is 1 cup flour: 1 stick butter: 1/4 cup sour cream: 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1 teaspoon sugar. These are the amounts for a single-crust 9-inch pie.

If you are making a 10-inch pie, use 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces, 1  1/4 cup) butter, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream for a double crust, or 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) butter, 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sour cream for a single crust.



  • 2 cups (260 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (for sweet recipes, otherwise skip)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cups, 8 ounces, 225 g) cubed
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) sour cream (full fat, NOT light sour cream)


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

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


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.

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Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or 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).

6 After the dough has been sitting in the fridge for an hour, remove it and let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to become more malleable before rolling out. If it still feels too stiff to roll out, hold your hands around the edges to soften.

To roll out, sprinkle a clean, flat surface with 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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Sour Cream Pie Crust

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Showing 4 of 59 Comments

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Sheila H.

    I have used the Greek yogurt and it works very well. This crust also makes a great calzone.

  • Ashley @ Our Full Table

    Love this recipe! I cannot wait to try it. Do you think that is would work as well with greek yogurt too?

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