Grandma’s foolproof flaky pie crust.

My grandma, who turns a glorious 90 years old this summer, is an amazing cook—an intuitive cook who works by taste and feel. On more than one occasion when I’ve asked her for a recipe, she hasn’t been able to come up with one. I had to watch her make noodles because she didn’t have it written down. How much salt to add to the dough? “A pinch.” How much water? “Some. You’ll know when it feels right.”

Grandma is an epic pie-baker, as you might guess from her annual Thanksgiving appearances on the Late Show, where she always manages to stump Dave with a mystery pie that she’s created. Fortunately, she has documented her favorite recipe for flaky pie crust, and it’s become my go-to recipe as well because it’s very easy to work with. I’ll share her original two-crust pie dough recipe and also a single-crust version.

double pie crust 

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cold milk
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

single pie crust

6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 Tbsp. cold milk
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

For both pie crust recipes: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Cut shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, working gently until the mixture resembles small peas. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat together egg yolk, milk and lemon juice. Add liquid to flour mixture and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together; then work it gently by hand until it forms a ball. Roll out on a well-floured pastry cloth with a well-floured rolling pin.



13 thoughts on “Grandma’s foolproof flaky pie crust.

  1. I have to tell you, it’s been years since I’ve stayed up late enough to watch late night TV, but back in college we would gather in the lounge to watch the show. Your Grandma was always a huge hit. I can remember one guy who had a standing request to be notified anytime Dave’s Mom was on. There’s just something about her. I’m happy to hear that she’s closing in on 90, and hope she’s doing well.

    My Nana — now 92 — used to be famous for her lemon meringue pie. It wasn’t until recently that she confessed to me that while her crust was homemade, the filling came from a box! I still haven’t recovered from that shock. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Cute little strawberry pies. | writes4food | cooking, eating, drinking in the Midwest

  3. Don’t knock the box – takes a lot of elbow grease. I stood ten to fifteen minutes mixing until it came to a boil and then the meringue takes another ten to fifteen – so you’re on feet for about an hour – not even counting the time it took to make the piecrust.

  4. Thanks, Bryn! I’ll try your grandma’s pie crust recipe, and then roll it out using a heirloom rolling pin my grandma gave me for Christmas. (She thinks it was her mother’s rolling pin.) See any problems freezing the dough and rolling it out later?

    • Hi, Elke — thanks for the comment! How cool that your grandma and mine will come together in your pie-baking project! I’ve had no problem freezing the dough and rolling it later — it’s pretty durable. You’ll just want to be sure it’s thawed enough before you tackle it with the rolling pin. Cheers!

  5. Pingback: Super-flavorful vegetable tart. | writes4food | cooking, eating, drinking in the Midwest

  6. Pingback: Cute little strawberry pies. | writes4food | recipes and writing about food, wellness, creativity

  7. Pingback: Free-form strawberry tart. | writes4food | recipes and writing about food, wellness, creativity

  8. Pingback: Adorable mini fruit pies. | writes4food | recipes and writing about food, wellness, creativity

  9. Pingback: No-roll pie crust. | writes4food | recipes and wisdom from a Midwestern kitchen

  10. Pingback: Grandmother’s toasted coconut cream pie. | writes4food | recipes and wisdom from a Midwestern kitchen

  11. Pingback: Grandma’s glazed strawberry pie. | writes4food | recipes and wisdom from a Midwestern kitchen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *