Melissa Clark's 9 Tips for the Perfect Pie Crust

PHOTO: Melissa Clark's spiced maple pecan pie with star anise.
Cook This Now by Melissa Clark.

Melissa Clark, author of "Cook This Now," offers her top tips for the perfect pie crust. Through trial and error, she's broken down the steps that will improve your pie-making skills. Try her fail-safe tips today.

"As pie season approaches, the notion of making a pie crust from scratch inspires dread and fear for many home cooks," says Clark. "There is no shame in resorting to the store-bought, but a homemade pie crust is remarkably easier than most people think. The ingredients are few and basic, and the expertise required is minimal. As a self-professed pie addict, I've been experimenting and tweaking pie recipes and pie techniques for years, and these tips are the fruits of my many labors."

The Colder, the Better

When making the dough, use cold butter and ice water. Some bakers even chill their flour for a few hours before mixing up the dough, and that's not a bad idea if you've got the fridge space.

Keep It Under Control

Don't overblend the dough: Stop the processor when the butter and flour form lima bean sized chunks.

Less Is More

Add the water slowly and only just enough for the dough to come together in jagged clumps. You don't want a smooth, homogenous dough.

Give it Time

Plastic wrap the dough tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling, which allows the moisture to distribute evenly throughout the flour.

Make Ahead

Raw dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for six months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Easy on the Flour

Use as little flour as possible for rolling out the dough. Or roll out dough between sheets of wax paper or on a silpat.

Keep It Moving

While you roll, keep the dough mobile: Move it, flip it, dust it again with flour. This prevents it from gluing itself to the counter.

Make It Pretty

Don't overthink the fluting: Do your best, and know that after the pie is browned and golden, it will be beautiful.

Repurpose Your Pennies

Pennies make great pie weights: Unburden your purse and know that the pennies will distribute heat evenly. Dry rice and beans work too.

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