How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

by Ann Marie Michaels on January 20, 2009

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Who doesn’t love pie? Apple pie, pecan pie, coconut cream pie… mmm! A savory pie makes a wonderful dinner, especially on a cold winter night.

Be honest. Are you intimidated at the thought of trying to make pie crust from scratch? If so, you’re not alone. Most people think making pie crust is hard. But it’s actually quite easy. You’ll be astonished at how simple it is to make the most delicious, flaky, perfect pie crust.

Recipe Notes

This recipe for pie crust is tried and true. I swear, it comes out perfect every time. It comes from Marion Cunningham. (No not the mom on “Happy Days”. This Marion Cunningham — the baker.) Her recipe was meticulously transcribed and published by the inimitable Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue magazine food writer (and my very favorite food critic), in his book, “The Man Who Ate Everything”.

Jeffrey writes:

“I have also developed a never-fail American pie crust for the most inexperienced baker. The secret is extra fat.”

The detailed instructions are in the chapter, ”Pies from Paradise,” in Mr. Steingarten’s book.

“Most Americans use Crisco, but I discovered that the best pie crust uses some lard,” he said.

“Lard actually has less saturated fat than butter; it’s better for you than Crisco because it contains no trans-fatty acids,” Mr. Steingarten said. Source: New York Times

If you have not read Steingarten’s book, The Man Who Ate Everything, pick up a copy immediately. If you love food like I do, you will relish and devour every sentence of this delicious book.

The Man Who Ate Everything

Author Jeffrey Steingarten
Binding Paperback
EAN 9780375702020
Edition Vintage Books ed
ISBN 0375702024
Label Vintage
List Price $16.95
Manufacturer Vintage
MPN 9780375702020
Number Of Items 1
Number Of Pages 528
Package Quantity 1
Part Number 9780375702020
Product Group Book
Product Type Name ABIS_BOOK
Publication Date 1998-10-27
Publisher Vintage
Release Date 1998-10-27
Studio Vintage
Title The Man Who Ate Everything

As you will see if you read the The Man Who Ate Everything, I have vastly simplified Steingarten’s recipe. If you want more detailed instructions, read the book (or at least the chapter).

I also adapted it slightly. I use sea salt instead of table salt, and sucanat instead of refined sugar. Sea salt and sucanat are unrefined and they are better for you. You could also use coconut or palm sugar instead of sucanat.

If you don’t have sprouted flour, you can use regular white (unbleached all-purpose) flour. I usually use 1/2 white flour and 1/2 sprouted whole wheat flour.

Where to Find Lard or Tallow

I always make my pie crust with beef tallow or lard and grass-fed butter. Never shortening. Tallow, lard and butter are healthy traditional fats. Shortening is a fake food and it’s not good for you.

Do not buy lard at the supermarket. It’s full of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and it’s almost always partially hydrogenated. Avoid!

Make sure you get good quality lard or tallow, from a farmer who raises animals on pasture and does not feed them genetically modified corn and soy — any grain they are fed should be organic.

Most grass farmers will sell you pig or beef fat, or suet, which you can render into lard or tallow (beef tallow is also the very best fat for French fries). The best, most flakiest pie crusts I’ve ever made are with beef tallow. If you use beef tallow, you will need to cut it up smaller (see below in the recipe).

Talk to the farmers at your local farmer’s market and ask them if they have pig or beef fat. In Los Angeles, I buy my pig fat from Jimenez Farm and I get beef fat from Rocky Canyon or Lindner Bison. You can also look up farms online on

If you can get leaf lard (this is the lard from around the kidneys of the pig), that is the very best.

If you can’t find good lard or tallow, you can make your pie crust with 100% butter. It’s still very good.

How to Render Lard or Tallow

Here’s my recipe for how to render lard or tallow — it’s easy! I like to render lard and tallow in my crockpot.

How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

Makes enough for two open-faced pie crusts (or one pie crust with a crust top).


Rolling pin (you can use a wine bottle in a pinch)
Pie weights (for blind baking; you can find these at a restaurant supply store or cooking store; you can also use dried beans or rice)
Aluminum foil


Unbleached flour, or a combination of 1/2 unbleached flour and 1/2 sprouted flour (3 cups total) — where to buy sprouted flour
Very cold lard or beef tallow — if using beef tallow, chop it up or grate it (1 cup or 8 ounces)
Very cold butter, straight from the fridge or frozen; grass-fed if possible (10 tablespoons, or about 5 ounces)
Sea salt (1 tsp) — where to buy sea salt
Sucanat, or palm sugar or maple sugar (2 tsp) — where to buy sucanat
Ice water (3/4 cup)



1. Add sprouted flour, sea salt & sugar to a large mixing bowl.
2. Cut butter and lard up into large chunks and add to the bowl.
3. Slowly add cold filtered water, a little at a time, as you mix the pie dough with your (clean) hands until the lard and butter hunks are no smaller than the size of peas. Better yet, the size of olives.
DO NOT OVERMIX! This is the most important part of making a good pie crust. You must have little blobs of fat — this is what will make the pie crust flaky and light, not dense and hard like a rock.
This is what good pie dough looks like with the hunks of fat:
Pie Crust
NOTE: If you are using tallow, you will need to cut it up smaller because it will not roll out as it stays hard at room temperature. If you like, you can grate the tallow with a box grater. If you are using lard, leave it in big pea- to olive-sized blobs just like the butter.
4. Pat the dough into two large balls, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. Set an oven rack at the lowest level and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. Lightly grease a tart pan with butter.
7. Roll out one of the balls of dough on a floured surface. You should clearly see the blobs of butter and lard in the dough.
8. Transfer the dough to pie or tart pan, and trim the edges. An easy way to do this is to simply roll your rolling pin over the tart pan (as shown).
9. Poke holes in the pie crust with a fork.
10. If your recipe calls for “blind baking” (this means you bake the crust first without the filling — refer to your recipe), line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights.
pie weights
You can use dried beans or rice if you don’t have any pie weights. If your recipe does not call for blind baking, go ahead and fill it with whatever you are filling it with.
11. For blind baking, bake for 15-20 minutes and remove from oven; let cool for at least 15 minutes before filling.

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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

Harl Delos January 20, 2009 at 1:42 PM

You’re going to be disappointed if you substitute butter for lard. Butter is an emulsion, and it’s only 80% fat. The other 20% is essentially water, and changing the balance of fat to water like that is not going to give the results you want.

I imagine most of your readers know not to use Crisco, or any other product that says “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” in the ingredients list; the only safe level for trans fats is “none at all”. (If it says “zero trans fats”, that simply means less than a half-gram per serving. You need to read the ingredients label.)

I get good results every time from 5 cups flour, 2 cups lard, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/3 teaspoon salt. I use very cold ingredients, and don’t exercise the gluten in the flour by overworking it. (Cake flour has less gluten, but like most people, I don’t keep it around.)

If you have *really* cold fingers, you can use 6 cups flour, 2 large eggs, 2 cups lard, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 6 tablespoons milk, 4 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt. That’s the recipe my late first wife used, and it’s the best crust ever, but it falls apart for most people (including me), because our fingers are too warm.

Harl Delos’s last blog post..A Gift For You – Free Food!


Nancy January 20, 2009 at 1:46 PM

YUM!!! Great photos and instructions! I can’t wait to try it.


rebecca January 20, 2009 at 3:43 PM

oh CS thank you!!

A good friend of mine who is a master chef wrote down for me her perfect pastry recipe. It was on a tiny little piece of cardboard (with pizza dough on the other side), and I stupidly just kept it in another cook book without copying it down anywhere… and when I moved out to LA it disappeared.
Woe be me. I have been trying to make up my own pastry recipes ever since, most are disasters.


ps. I ordered lard from rawsome– picking it up on Wednesday!!!

rebecca’s last blog post..Soup.


Jenny January 20, 2009 at 3:45 PM

I use sprouted spelt flour in my pie crust. It has a very rustic texture, but I like that. Don’t you love those tart pans? I have several in different sizes.

Jenny’s last blog post..Announcement: Vintage Cookbook Winners


Spinner January 21, 2009 at 6:11 AM

Awesome! I’m giving it a try this weekend. I still have some lard left from the pie crust debacle at Thanksgiving. I think I’ve fully recovered from that incident and am ready to try again. Are your amounts by weight or volume? I hope weight as I don’t know the volume of my lard. And I love using my kitchen scale. It makes me feel like a scientist. I just received my order of sprouted flour from the same place. I can’t wait to see what all you will make with it. I’m going to try some buttermilk biscuits on Saturday.

Thanks for the coupon code for the tallow! That is going to be in my next round of internet ordering.

Spinner’s last blog post..Making my own face cream


cheeseslave January 21, 2009 at 6:36 AM


I’m a tart pan and pie plate hound. I can never have enough!

I’m curious about the “rustic” sprouted flour pie crust. I ordered some sifted sprouted flour from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. (link above). She says the sifted has the bran removed and it’s better for delicate pastries and such. Perhaps it will be better for pie crust… ?


cheeseslave January 21, 2009 at 6:40 AM

Spinner, what do you mean weight or volume? Do you mean did I measure it using a scale?

One of the great things about this recipe is you don’t have to be so precise. When Steingarten writes about Marion Cunningham showing him how to make pie crust, he says she was not precise at all. She didn’t sift the flour, barely measured it in fact.

So I don’t worry too much. Sometimes I use the scale, sometimes I use measuring cups. Depends on my mood.

The most important thing is your butter needs to be very cold and you need to not break it down too much (overmix).

I really want to make chocolate sprouted flour doughnuts fried in lard…


cheeseslave January 21, 2009 at 6:43 AM

Oh and Spinner, I think US Wellness Meats has a $75 min. order. So you should make sure to stock up on things like liverwurst. ;-) Or, if you don’t like liverwurst (I love it), just buy a bunch of beef tallow and freeze it.

I also recently got some of their shredded roasted beef from them. I didn’t think I would like it but it is soooo good. And since it’s already slow-roasted, all you have to do is warm it in a pan. I added some chili powder and ketchup and a few other things and it made GREAT taco filling. And it’s so fast and easy! I’m going to order more of that next time I order — it’s nice to have on hand for those nights when you are in a hurry.


Imara January 21, 2009 at 8:51 AM

I use palm oil shortenting for my pie crusts and they come out very flaky. I can never find the leaf lard (fat from around the pigs kidneys) or I would use that. I don’t like the taste of the other lard in my pie crusts.


kate January 21, 2009 at 5:49 PM

I tried your pie crust recipe using sprouted whole grain flour. It is the only flour I use now – organic sprouted wheat or sprouted spelt flour from Absolutely delicious because it digests as a vegetable! For more info about this amazing flour visit Delicious!


Gabe May 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Mmmm, these sound goooood! I wodner if I can make sour cream out of goat milk. Hmmmm And I LOVE your profile picture, pretty lady!


Kymberly January 28, 2009 at 4:43 PM

I am not even remotely renowned for my cooking and baking prowess and even I know the secret is lard my friend.

People are aghast. They recoil in horror. They cannot believe what I am saying. What about lite? What about some vegetable based product? What about butter, good old sweet creamy butter?

No I say.

Then they take a bit of my flaky, perfect pie crust (My Gram’s recipe – basically yours but ALL lard (butter be gone!), ice water, flour, baking powder and a dash of vinegar – and it’s all “lard yum!” from then on out.

It is even called “No Fail Pie Crust.”

I just tried whole wheat rather than white flour and we are pleased with the results. Also gives the crust such a nice rich color.


cheeseslave January 28, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Hi, Kymberly,

Everyone used to cook with lard 100 years ago. Lard, beef tallow, butter, chicken and duck fat — these were the fats that everyone cooked with.

Beef tallow was used for French fries at McDonald’s until 1983 when they switched to vegetable oil.

It’s a shame that most people have been duped into believing that lard and other healthy fats are bad for us.


Josefina May 12, 2009 at 6:34 AM

i think the remaining ingredients were left out in the directions. salt, sugar. though most would likely reason that they go in step one. just wanted to bring your attention to it.
you should put butter quantity in tablespoons.


AnnMarie Deis July 1, 2009 at 5:24 AM

I plan to make this crust and fill it with chicken pot pie filling! YUM-O! Thanks for the inspiration! :)


Vera July 4, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Hey, is the butter in this recipe salted or unsalted? I love unsalted, sweet butter but I can never find an unsalted brand that doesn’t use “natural flavors” in the ingredients list. We have kerrygold, but it is only in salted form at our grocery store.


cheeseslave July 6, 2009 at 6:27 AM

I use unsalted. Kerrygold does have an unsalted version.

If you can’t find unsalted butter, use salted but don’t add the extra salt.


Musings of a Housewife August 30, 2009 at 5:22 AM

I’m going to try this today. I finally got lard from a local farm! I just have to say, this looks like a LOT of pie crust. I’m used to the Betty Crocker recipe with 1/2 cup shortening and 2 cups of flour. Is this a crust for a 2-crust pie?? Or for more?


cheeseslave August 30, 2009 at 10:26 AM

This recipe makes enough for 2 crusts with no top — or one crust with a top.


Christine September 10, 2009 at 1:05 PM

I used this recipe today for a quiche lorraine. I didn’t roll it out thin enough for today’s quiche, but there’s still the other ball to improve on for the next pie…Precision and attention to detail are lacking around here, with two little ones underfoot, 4 and 2.

The flavour, of course, was yummy. Do you omit the sugar when preparing the dough for a savoury pie? (Maybe I missed that instruction – see note above re: attention to detail!)

How liberal are with flouring when rolling out the dough? I found the big fat blobs (and I mean this in the nicest way, yum!) would stick to my rolling pin.



Shannon November 19, 2009 at 11:13 AM

I have been lurking around on your blog every now and then for a few months and love it. I came to this post today to get your pie crust recipe and to ask you if you think it would work with buckwheat flour? I am on a gluten-free and dairy free (and sugar free) diet right now and am looking for recipes for Thanksgiving!


cheeseslave November 19, 2009 at 11:38 AM

I have never tried buckwheat flour. I would go look around on some gluten-free blogs and see what they recommend for gluten-free pie crust. Maybe rice flour…


Nicola November 19, 2009 at 1:34 PM

I tried this pie crust last night for a chicken pot pie. It was my first time making pie crust like this from scratch. Not only was it simple like you said, it was so buttery and flaky. My boyfriend and family loved it. We all had seconds. Thank you for posting it and adjusting the ingredients. This will be my pie crust recipe from here on out. Thanks so much!


Buttered Ball November 26, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Being a heartfelt WAPF enthusiast, I made up this recipe for three Thanksgiving pies that I had in mind yesterday.

I made my own pie crusts for the first time last year and they turned out well however I did not use THIS recipe, nor did I hold on to the recipe I used. I thought that it would be reasonably easy.

Is it me or is there a missing note to this recipe… one that says … Use EITHER 8 oz lard or 9 oz butter?

What is the total amount of FAT that is supposed to be adequately counterbalanced by that 3 cups of flour.

My dough (with the 17 oz of butterfat – Kerry Gold and Horizon Organic because that was what I had… could not find leaf lard, beef or bison tallow etc) looked like the pictures on the page. I mixed in my food processor but lightly enough to leave the pea to not quite olive size balls of butter in the finished dough product.

I committed myself to this recipe in advance by making up three crusts – the full recipe and then a half recipe for the third pie – before any thing else. I chilled the dough in the freezer, rolled it out into the pans, Re-froze the crust to be in the pan so that I could “blind” bake it per the instructions – and I had nothing but problems.

The blind baked crust slid down into a puddle in the pan in spite of the freezing, the pie weights – beans… – and the advised procedure. There was a pool of melted butter in the bottom of a dilapidated puddle of dough. I had to pull it out of the oven and smash it down with another pie plate to force it to resume something like the intended shape and try to produce a pie shaped shell. I put it back in the oven – with the extra pie plate holding it in place – and tried to bake it enough so that it would stand up to the filling when added. I watched it nervously knowing that it was doing something more like steaming than baking – sandwiched between the two pie dishes. I assumed all my difficulties with trying to pre-bake the first crust was due to my inexperience with weighting pies and/or not using the right pie materials.

With the remaining two crusts – I abandoned the idea of “blind baking” and kept them in the freezer until about 10 minutes before I filled them for baking. (Two pumpkin and one Pecan Pie by the way).

I had nothing but problems with the baking process. There was so much fat that it bubbled out from under the crust, dripped into the oven and started smoking. Somehow I got them surrounded with foil and through the baking process and out to cool.

I baked them last night – late into the night – and they are supposed to accompany me to a Thanksgiving dinner. I am feeling very apprehensive about them – concerned that the fat content was double what it should have been and I am carting disasters to the (fortunately… family ) gathering.

I should have tried this recipe out before bringing it to a party but now I can only cross my fingers that the result is edible. Right now, my usually unbounded enthusiasm for – butter – and glorious fat in all of its healthy forms – is suffering a setback. All those pools of melted butter I was mopping up and the smoking and the near fire… when the butter dripped on the heating element.

Please tell me whatever it was that I screwed up – and hold me in your kind thoughts as far as the result is concerned… :)


Buttered Ball


cheeseslave November 26, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Hello, Buttered Ball! :-)

Thank you so much for writing. I’m so sorry… as I now realize there is an error in my recipe.

As I wrote it, the recipe calls for 18 ounces total. 8 ounces of lard plus 10 ounces cold butter per 3 ounces of flour.

This is incorrect. It should be 8 ounces of lard plus 10 tablespoons of butter. Which is 5 ounces, not 10. UGH — what screwed me up was the tablespoons vs. ounces. When I copied that recipe, it got mangled in my head. This is why when I write recipes, I always try to do it all in the same measuring unit if possible. Like x number of ounces total.

I am TOTALLY mortified that I got this wrong in my post and I’m deeply grateful to you for pointing out. Going to fix it RIGHT NOW!

It’s very upsetting to me to get something wrong. I read and reread recipes when I write them, trying very hard to make sure I get it right. So when I get it wrong, it’s quite upsetting.

That said, I have followed the above recipe, even as it is written wrong, many times since I posted this. I have misplaced my copy of the book with the original recipe — and I have been using this recipe that I posted.

And it always comes out. Maybe a little too buttery, but still it does come out. (In fact, this explains why it has been a little too buttery the past several times I’ve made it.)

However, although my crusts (made with this flawed version of the recipe) have come out a tad too buttery, they have not turned into a puddle as you describe.

I’m curious about your decision to freeze the pie crust after you rolled it out and prior to putting it in the oven. I have never tried this before.

I should have noted that all-butter crusts do not hold up quite as well as lard/butter or tallow/butter crusts. They do shrink up a bit more — but they are still usable — I’ve never had them fall apart like what happened to you. So I think that was part of the problem.

Thank you for pointing out my mistake. I’m so very sorry that I caused you problems. I hope the pies still taste good.

As a gesture of good will, I would like to offer you a free month of my Menus By Mail subscription. I will email you the coupon code so you can get it for free.

I’m very grateful to you on this Thanksgiving Day for alerting me of this error. I hope you enjoy your day despite my causing you to screw up!


cheeseslave November 26, 2009 at 12:26 PM

You know what — I feel so bad — I’m going to give you a YEAR subscription to the Menus By Mail program.

I appreciate you trying this recipe and taking a chance on it. I hope I can make this up to you with the Menus By Mail.

I’ll email this to you directly so I’m sure you get it.


Erin November 26, 2009 at 1:14 PM

I am glad “Buttered Ball” wrote about her experience because I too had difficulty with my pumpkin pies yesterday. About a month ago, I ordered the bison leaf lard from Lindner Bison, and was very excited to make a light and flakey pie crust! In the past, my pie crusts have been hard and I assured my family this year it would be different. I shredded the frozen rendered leaf lard and cut up the frozen butter into chunks. However, maybe it was just me, but the ingredients didn’t seem to stick together properly when mixing with my hands. It’s like the ingredients were too cold even with the cold water added. Nonetheless, the dough looked like your pictures with the blobs of butter. I carefully followed the recipe listed and also had a smoking episode in my oven :/ And today after eating the pies, no one could cut them with a fork. Sigh. Fortunately, my family is very forgiving…but I want to master this!! Any suggestions on what I did wrong? Thanks for your help.


cheeseslave November 26, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Erin –

My apologies for messing up the recipe.

What do you mean they could not cut the pie crust with a fork? If the crust is too hard and cannot be cut with a fork, must likely it was overmixed. That’s my guess. In order to make it flakey, you have to make sure you don’t overwork the fat.


Erin November 26, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Thanks for the reply. No worries about the recipe! I just want to master a flakey pie crust! Yes, it was too hard to cut with a fork. This was after taking it out of the fridge…maybe I should have let it sit out on the counter for an hour? Anyhow, it does appear that I overworked it but I’m not sure how that happened. How do you get all the cold ingredients to meld?? Do you add more water perhaps? I had a super hard time rolling out the dough without it breaking all over the place. Any thoughts? Thanks for your help.


Erin November 26, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Also, can you give some more instructions on how to use the bison leaf lard? It is so hard, especially when frozen. When mixing the dough with my hands, the lard never got soft enough to roll out, and the chunks were about the size of a large date. Thank you for helping me with this!


Butterball December 1, 2009 at 11:43 PM

Dear Cheeseslave… from Butterball…

Thanks for your post. I was thinking that I would hear from you via e-mail however I checked in to your website to follow up and learn that you have generously and kindly offered me a compensation Menus by Mail subscription.Thank you sincerely.

I have to admit – my pies tasted quite good to all concerned. They improved after refrigeration. I went a bit wild with the spices in the pumpkin pie… I just kept adding them until the flavor seemed assertive enough to me – without much reference to the entirely bland recipe requirements. I was happy with that outcome. After all – the consensus was good.

I am relieved to know that the fat amounts were in excess in the recipe as originally printed. Now I can follow the adjusted recipe with peace of mind.




cheeseslave December 2, 2009 at 5:37 AM

BB – Did I send you the coupon code for your free year subscription? Let me know so I can get you signed up!


Lisa December 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Do you have a recommendation on what to use instead of butter? I cannot have dairy products. Should it be replaced with lard? Would coconut oil work? Thanks so much!


cheeseslave December 8, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Try all lard or all tallow. I think it should work. I have never tried.

I’ve also never tried coconut oil in a pie.


Viki December 26, 2009 at 2:03 AM

Just found your blog-you and me think a lot alike!! I have rendered both lard and tallow myself using a slow cooker-no scorching. I have been hesitant to use the tallow for a pie crust because of its beefy taste have you found that a problem? I follow the Betty Crocker recipe using lard and it turns out perfect, ever so flaky. I have tried making crust using coconut oil and it tastes like coconut, great if you make a coconut cream pie or a banana cream pie.


cheeseslave December 26, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Viki – My pie crust made w/ beef tallow does not taste “beefy” at all. Try it — it’s great! Interesting about the coconut oil — I’d love to try that sometime!


sewpretty13 July 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM

I have a great tart pan and lots of tallow I rendered myself. My family is not so hot on me using it for baking, but I love using it. I haven’t tried it in a pie yet. I think I will now.


Nicole January 12, 2010 at 1:11 PM

I made all lard pie crusts over the holidays and they were the best I’ve ever tasted. Natural lard from


Nicole January 12, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Oh, and why the mixing with the hands? I found that two butter knives worked better than a pastry blender for cutting the lard into small pieces through the flour, but the recipe I followed added the water at the end, to make the dough stick.

Even so, it didn’t “stick” together well until you refrigerate it and roll it out. It was far simpler to roll out between parchment (or plastic wrap), which also made transferring it to the pie pan simpler.

On another interesting note, I left my pie pan at a friends house over Thanksgiving. So when I was in the middle of making a pie and realized I had no pan on Christmas, I improvised with a shallow enamel coated cast iron. It turned out beautifully and perfectly crisp on the bottom.


Heather Thalwitzer June 17, 2010 at 5:30 PM

I found this recipe disappointing due to way too much water. The bottom got all soggy and steamed from the dried beans on top of the parchment and just too much water. I should have trusted my instinct when I was adding the water and thought “this seems too much.” I love your blog and most of your recipes. Just a warning. Maybe use 2-4 tbsp in the future.
.-= Heather Thalwitzer´s last blog ..On Being Green =-.


Robin November 8, 2010 at 2:37 PM

I don’t know a whole lot about fat vs lard vs tallow and what not but I was wondering, since I have no idea where to find good quality lard, can I use some bacon grease instead? Thanks.


cheeseslave November 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM

I wouldn’t try bacon grease — it’s has too strong of a flavor. Lard has almost no flavor.

Go to for sources of lard


Kymberly November 8, 2010 at 4:51 PM

FYI to those seeking lard. Armour and a few other companies sell it in many smaller grocery stores and you can even find it in some Super WalMarts. You may be having a difficult time finding it because some stores keep it refrigerated and others do not.

If all else fails, find out where your local Amish/Mennonite population shops (I say this as if everyone HAS a “local Amish/Mennonite population). The fact that I DO probably explains why I don’t have any difficulty locating lard.

Good luck!


Viki November 8, 2010 at 10:43 PM

You could boil the bacon grease,1/2 as much water as grease, let it cool, remove hardened grease. If it still smells to much like bacon boil it again using the same proportion of 1/2 water to grease. All the solids will be in the water. Of coarse this is done when you just have to have some lard and this is the only way to get it!


Harl Delos November 9, 2010 at 5:19 PM

If you have a hispanic population near you – and who doesn’t? – ask where they shop for groceries. They use lard as their shortening of choice.

If you see a tub marked “Manteca”, that’s the spanish word for lard. I think it’s been at least a decade since I saw lard that wasn’t marked “Manteca” in big letters.

WalMarts vary in what they sell, but there is a Great American (WalMart private label) brand of lard, and it’s available in a fairly big size, 7 or 10 pound tubs, something like that. Lancaster, PA is almost 50% puerto rican, and the county is about 12% plain sect, but there are stores here that are so successful in discouraging trade by minorities that they only carry 1-pound or 2-pound tubs of lard, which is an expensive way to buy it, because the packaging is expensive.


Nicola November 9, 2010 at 9:44 PM

I get my lard from She e-mails me when she has lard available and I buy up. You can keep extra in the freezer.


cheeseslave November 12, 2010 at 1:52 PM

I don’t recommend Walmart brand or Manteca lard because they are partially hydrogenated and they are made from pigs fed antibiotics and GMO feed.


Harl Delos November 12, 2010 at 8:09 PM

At this point, there is no corn on the continent, possibly none on the planet, that hasn’t been contaminated by Monsanto genetics.. Anyone who says their pigs aren’t getting GMO feed is either a fool or a liar. It shouldn’t make any difference, though, as the GMO changes modify the protein, not the fat.

I have three brands of lard in the house at present – Esskay, Martin, and the Walmart brand. All of them are sold as lard, which has a USDA standard of identity, meaning that they don’t need a listing of ingredients (and none of them do) but they legally have to meet the standard of identity. Manteca de pardo (as it says on the Walmart packaging) is simply spanish for “brown butter.” Manteca (as it says on the Esskay label) is spanish for butter.

According to 9 CFR 319.702 (b) Lard (when properly labeled) may be hardened by the use of lard stearin or hydrogenated lard or both and may contain refined lard and deodorized lard, but the labels of such lard shall state such facts, as applicable. None of those three brands are labeled to indicate that they’ve been hardened or hydrogenated.


kandemom July 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I just used this recipe again using leaf lard and butter for a blackberry pie! Delicious!


LeahS July 19, 2011 at 10:29 AM

I think my mom makes the BEST all butter pie crust. But yours looks REALLY yummy too… and I do have a bunch of tallow…


Kim November 22, 2011 at 4:26 PM


Can someone tell me if the Sea Salt amount is 1 TBL or 1 tsp?? The recipe just says “1”.




cheeseslave November 28, 2011 at 5:39 PM

1 tsp


Stacey November 28, 2011 at 5:13 PM

I’ve been reading the recipe to make a turkey pot pie with Thanksgiving leftovers….so excited! I’m curious, though….is the salt 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon? There is no unit of measurement given. Thanks!


cheeseslave November 28, 2011 at 5:38 PM

I am sorry about that mistake!

It’s 1 tsp.

I fixed it.


Stacey November 28, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Awesome. Thanks! BTW, I love your site!


Gilbert July 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM

If you’re not blind baking, how long do you bake it at 350. I’m making an apple pie.


cheeseslave November 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM

You should blind bake an apple pie crust


Nicole November 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

Thankyou for the instructions and photos, makes me feel like I can attempt this. IF you are baking a quiche, do you need to blind bake first???


Nicole November 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Also, how far ahead can I make the pastry and leave it in the fridge before rolling out???? Would be really handy to be able to make it in the morning and leave it in the fridge till dinner time.



Steve Thomas November 19, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Nicole, you can leave pie dough in the fridge for MONTHS without it going bad, at least in theory. In practice, the only time it’s gone more than 2 days was when I was hospitalized. I always have the ingredients for “Old Ivory” custard pie on hand, whoever or whatever Old Ivory is.

And if you like apple pie, you might consider getting a mandolin slicer. I core the apples, but I don’t peel them, and I get “donut” slices. It’s almost as fast as making custard pie if you make a one crust “dutch” apple pie. I would never have considered making a dozen apple pies for a church supper before; in fact, I’m lazy enough that I bought canned pie filling before, but this is SO much better. My slicer cost $70 at a local “restaurant store”, so I hesitated for a couple of years before buying it, but I use it ten times a week, and I wonder what I missed out on, on the better mandolins.

And there are meat pies to be made, too. The banquet ones are OK – hey, they are pie, how bad can they be? – but if you make a white sauce, add veggies (another use for the mandolin) and meat until you have a really chunky stew, they are incredibly good. Even impressed the in-laws when I gave them a wedge of turkey pie with custard pie for dessert on Christmas Day!. If only I could figure out how to turn tossed salad into a pie, the meal would be complete!


cheeseslave November 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Months, no. Days yes. The pie crusts that contain butter or lard cannot keep more than a few weeks in the fridge at most.

If you make your pie crust with ONLY beef tallow, I imagine they could keep for months in the fridge.

I often make my pie crust a day or two before so there’s less stress the day I’m making my pies.

If you need to make your pie crust further in advance, you can freeze the pie dough.


Sara November 21, 2012 at 3:07 PM

I am not sure where I went wrong with this recipe. I needed to add more water because it was initially too crumbly when I tried to roll it out, and when I baked blind baked it ( I think that’s what you called it), the crust ended up with pock marks where the tallow was. It is like the tallow never fully incorporated itself. Also, I had fat dripping and spattering off the top of my apple pies all over the bottom of the oven. The crust almost seemed too greasy. Where did I go wrong? It was tallow AND butter, right? Nonetheless, I am still using the crusts. I don’t have time to make new ones and I am betting that even though they aren’t pretty, they’ve got to be tasty-flour, tallow and butter, what’s better then that?! I’d love your thoughts on why my crusts were not crusty and golden beauties. Thanks.


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Marisa October 8, 2013 at 12:51 PM

I’m trying this! I’ll be using beef tallow. Do you ever notice any beef or meat flavor in the piecrust coming from the tallow?


Alexis October 9, 2013 at 8:08 PM

Anyone have suggestions for making this dough and freezing this along with apple pie filling? I dont want to bake the crust first but i am making the filling first. Is that ok? And its in a foil pan so I can throw it straight in the oven from the freezer…high temp, about 450 degrees for 20 or so minutes…all that sounds ok??


Carrisa November 23, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Just made this recipe with half flour, half sprouted flour and used lard that i had rendered myself. I used the dough to make pumpkin pie, it was amazing! Thanks for posting the delish recipe!


Sierra Amato November 29, 2013 at 10:37 PM

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I have been having the same problems, especially blind baking, as other people.
Blind baking all the butter pools to the bottom. Crust for pecan pie turned out underdone and hard! I barely mixed it and kept it cold. Do you let it sit before rolling it out?
Without blind baking I had a bit more luck but still not great. Crust bubbled over like crazy, I think I lost a lot of fat because if this. Crust was still very tough. I have made it so many times and its getting worse each time! Feel like I’m going crazy with the crust!!


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