Years ago during culinary school, I made pâte brisée, an all-butter French pie crust or pastry dough, over and over and over until I got it just right. I can make it in my sleep. As an adult, however, I've realized that just because I can doesn't mean I should. The more complex my life has become with marriage, children, and dogs, the less time I have no matter how well I plan. So I look to Trader Joe's for baking shortcuts. When I need to make a fresh-baked pie on the fly, my pie crust comes from Trader Joe's freezer—you get two pie crusts for just $4.49. I don’t use any other brands.
The problem with many store-bought pie crusts is they have an acrid aftertaste from the preservatives and fats—like certain shortenings—used. Trader Joe’s pie crust is made with real butter, and it tastes buttery. I like its balance of flavors and shortbread-like texture. It is slightly sweet, meaning you can use it for savory—like quiche—and sweet pies. I buy it in bulk, especially during the busy holidays and summer fruit season, because there's always stone fruit ripening on my counter.
Tips for Unrolling Trader Joe's Pie Crust
Trader Joe's pie crust has the tendency to crack and break when unrolled, but don't worry! To prevent this from happening, I don't follow the box instructions because the dough can be tricky to handle and will break when removing it from its plastic wrap. Instead, I defrost the dough in the box on the counter, which takes two to three hours depending on my kitchen's ambient temperature.
Each pack comes with two 11-ounce pie crusts. Each pie crust comes sandwiched between two pieces of plastic and is rolled to resemble a jelly roll. Do not peel off either of these plastic wraps. Carefully unroll the pie crust onto the counter, still between the plastic. Don't be alarmed if the dough cracks. Pinch the cracked dough together with your fingers and use a rolling pin to gently roll it into one piece again. What I like about this method is that you don't have to add any flour to the pie crust nor the counter.
To transfer the dough into a pie dish, peel off the top layer of plastic and slide your dominant hand under the dough—the side with the plastic still on. Flip the dough onto the pie dish and crimp it as you normally would. Compared to store-bought pie crusts already in tin pans, I love that Trader Joe’s version looks homemade since I crimp it myself.
Use TJ's Pie Crust For More Than Pies
If you plan to make hand pies, remove the plastic after rolling it out as described as above, and proceed as you would to fill and shape—you may need to flour the counter and cutter. Making a slab pie? Shape the dough into a greased half-sheet pan. Cut the dough into squares for topping mini pot pies, or make an apple crostata or stone fruit galette. The possibilities are endless, and the time savings are exponential for things that matter, like playing board games while your pie cools.