Perfect Your Next Pie’s Crust For Thanksgiving!

By Colleen McTiernan
perfect your pie's next crust

Making the perfect pie crust can be an art, and on Thanksgiving, the pie is often times the star of the show! The dough recipe you follow is just as important to making a delicious pie as what goes inside. But there are so many variations on the basic dough recipe that it is hard to tell which is best. So, to help you perfect your next pie’s crust, we tried three different doughs for three different pies to see which one was easiest to work with and yielded the tastiest results.

Control Pie Crust

For our control crust, we went with a simple recipe. Some basic pie crusts call for shortening or a mixture of butter and shortening, but we went for an all-butter crust.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2–4 tablespoons cold water
  • Pulse the flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor until well combined. Add in butter and pulse for about 10 seconds, or until butter just starts to incorporate (some chunks of butter should still remain).

Add the water to the mixture and pulse until dough just comes together. Start with 2 tablespoons and add more water as needed to create a slightly tacky dough.*

Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and place on a sheet of cling wrap. Shape dough into a 4-inch disk, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before rolling out as desired.

Vodka Pie Crust

Substituting half of the water with cold vodka is said to produce a more flaky crust.

  •  1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1–2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1–2 tablespoons cold vodka (we used Grey Goose)

Pulse the flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor until well combined. Add in butter and pulse for about 10 seconds, or until butter just starts to incorporate (some chunks of butter should still remain).

Add the water and vodka to the mixture and pulse until dough just comes together. Start with 1 tablespoon of each water and vodka and add more of each as needed to create a slightly tacky dough.*

Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and place on a sheet of cling wrap. Shape dough into a 4-inch disk, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before rolling out as desired.

Sour Cream Pie Crust

The addition of sour cream to a traditional pie dough recipe is said to produce a more tender, flaky crust.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2–4 tablespoons cold water
  • Pulse the flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor until well combined. Add in butter and sour cream and pulse for about 10 seconds, or until butter just starts to incorporate (some chunks of butter should still remain).

Add the water to the mixture and pulse until dough just comes together. Start with 2 tablespoons of water and add more as needed to create a slightly tacky dough.*

Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and place on a sheet of cling wrap. Shape dough into a 4-inch disk, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before rolling out as desired.

Results

All of the doughs were surprisingly similar to work with, so we figured that the true difference would be in the taste and texture of the baked crusts. Once we got our pie crusts rolled out, filled and baked, it was time to break out the forks!

Between the three pies, our panel of testers decided that we like the control crust the best for its flavor. The taste of the butter really pulled through for a satisfying finish. However, this crust was a little more dense in texture. This is where the other two pies excelled. Both the vodka and sour cream doughs produced a flakier crust and browned a bit better. However, the sour cream dough was definitely the flakiest of the two and offered a better flavor. Unless you already have vodka on hand and want to try something a little different, we would recommend skipping this variation. Instead, go with either the control crust (all-butter) or the sour cream crust to perfect your pie’s next crust.

 

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