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Test-Kitchen Piecrust


Making piecrust can leave a cook feeling like a magician. Combine flour, water, and butter with just a bit of sugar and salt and -- presto! -- the result is a tender, flaky pastry that elevates just about any filling. The trick, of course, is in the method -- a simple but precise series of steps that, through baking thousands of pies, our test-kitchen staff has trial-and-errored down to a science.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Makes enough dough for 1 double-crusted or 2 single-crusted 9-to-10-inch pies

Photography: Christopher Testani

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2012


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water


  1. Lay out three-quarters of the butter pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until hard, at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate remaining butter.

  2. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add refrigerated butter, and pulse to combine, about 10 times. Add frozen butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some blueberry-size clumps.

  3. Add ice water, and immediately pulse until water is just incorporated, about 10 times. Squeeze a small amount of dough to make sure it holds together. Pulse a few more times if needed.

  4. Lay out 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Empty half the dough onto each piece. Bring edges of wrap together to gather dough. Press into disks.

  5. Roll out disks, still wrapped in plastic, to 1/2-inch-thick rounds (8 inches in diameter). Refrigerate at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen up to 1 month.

Cook's Notes

Some large clumps (about the size of small blueberries) should remain after pulsing the butter with the dry ingredients. The finished dough should be mottled with large pieces of butter. The best way to transfer the rolled-out dough to a pie plate is by rolling it over the pin and unfurling it onto the plate.

Reviews Add a comment

  • RuthAnn Mullen
    24 NOV, 2012
    I have been making pie crust for over 40 years. I used this recipe for crusts for my Thanksgiving pumpkin pies and it was the very best crust I have ever made. I too used the recipe from Martha Stewart magazine, (Nov 2012) and used the 2 and 1/2 Cups of flour. It was perfect. It rolls out easier than any crust I have ever tried. The butter is so simple to cut in little squares and freeze. I will never use another recipe. Awesome!!!!!! Thank you Martha!!!!!!
  • ancillaDomini
    22 NOV, 2012
    My husband used the 2 1/2 cups called for in the magazine. It's the best pie crust he's ever made (and he's been making holiday pies for 23 years). Though we used it for dessert pies, it would be especially good for pot pies.
  • MS11333940
    15 NOV, 2012
    I've notice the same differences. I have a MSL recipe from a few years back that calls for 2 and 3/4 cups flour, 18 Tb butter, 1 1/2 t salt and 1 Tb sugar and 7-10 Tb water. This has been the winning combination for me.
  • bonoca
    17 OCT, 2012
    The recipe here lists flour as 2 1/3 cups. The recipe in the Martha Stewart Living November 2012 magazine lists flour as 2 1/2 cups. Something between the two is probably correct. Hopefully someone from Martha Stewart Living will see my comment and pipe in to correct either the website or make a correction notation in the magazine!