Hey! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

The pie crust can really make or break an entire pie.  Even when filled with a delicious filling, the overall pie won’t live up to its potential unless the pie crust is equally tasty and flaky.  We all know this is true and have been really excited to eat a piece of pie, whether one we made ourselves or one that we purchased from a restaurant, only to be let down by a crust that was underdone, too plain, or just off in taste.

Protect yourself against this tragedy the next time you make a pie with one of the best pie crust recipes.  And, if the flaky deliciousness of this crust isn’t enough on its own, you’ll be amazed at just how easy the recipe is to make.  You only need three ingredients!  Read on to learn how to make this tasty 3 ingredient pie crust that I’m confident will become your new go-to recipe.  

Butter or shortening when making pie crust?

There is quite a debate about whether butter or shortening is the best choice when making a pie crust.  The right choice really comes down to the taste that you prefer, but there are also some pros and cons of using either butter or shortening when making a pie crust.

Butter

If you’re looking for the tastiest flavor for your pie crust, you can’t go wrong with butter.  Using butter also helps to create a layered and flaky pie crust.  The reason that butter creates a flakier pie crust than shortening is that butter is only about 85% fat, while shortening is 100% fat.  The other 15% or so of butter is water.  When you bake the crust in the oven, the water becomes steam as it evaporates.  This causes the layers of the crust to separate slightly, making them flakier and puffier than when you use shortening.

Three ingredient pie crust

However, there are some downsides to using butter to consider too.  Butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening, which can make it more tricky to work with when making a pie.  You want the butter (or shortening) to remain cold to work it in with the flour for the crust, and if it softens too much it can tear too easily.  When unsalted butter is fresh out of the fridge, it can also be too cold.  So finding that sweet spot of just the right firmness can be a challenge.

Shortening

This leads us right into the benefits of choosing shortening.  Because of its higher melting point, shortening is easier to work with when making a pie crust.  You don’t have to worry too much about “Goldilocks” and making sure that it is just the right consistency.  

Shortening is also shelf-stable and doesn’t require refrigeration, which can make it easier to store than butter.  Another positive of choosing shortening is that the pie dough should maintain its shape during and after baking better.  For this reason, shortening is often the fat of choice for those making a decorative pie crust.

Shortening, however, is not without flaws either.  The biggest flaw of using shortening instead of butter is the flavor.  Shortening is not as flavorful as butter and is less likely to yield a truly delicious pie.  It can also sometimes make the pie crust taste a bit greasy.

So, is butter or shortening best?

While you can use either butter or shortening to make a pie crust, I think butter is the superior choice in nearly all cases.  You can’t beat the buttery and flaky flavor of a pie crust made with butter.  I always seem to be disappointed in the taste when I decide to give shortening a try.

For this reason, my 3 ingredient pie crust recipe below uses butter, not shortening.  I think you’ll really enjoy this recipe.  

Three ingredient pie crust

What do you need to make a three ingredient pie crust?

Making a 3 ingredient pie crust is relatively simple.  You’ll just need three ingredients (well, three real ingredients plus ice water) and a few baking tools.

Ingredients

The ingredients you need are:

  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Ice-cold water. 

We already went over why butter is the optimal choice when making a pie crust, but you may be wondering why you need to use ice-cold water.  Using ice water helps to prevent the butter from softening too quickly.  It will help make the butter easier to work with while also yielding a flakier crust.

Tools and Equipment

In addition to the ingredients listed above, there are a few key tools that you’ll need to make my pie crust recipe.

  • Mixing Box
  • Teaspoon measuring spoon
  • Tablespoon measuring spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Knife
  • Silicone baking mat or wax paper
  • Pastry blender (here is a list of pastry blender alternatives if you do not have one in hand)
  • Rolling pin
  • 9-inch pie pan
How to make a 3 ingredient pie crust

How to Make a 3 Ingredient Pie Crust:  Step-By-Step

Ok, let’s dive right into how to make this pie crust that is certain to be a crowd-pleaser.  I’m going to walk you through each step to help you make sure that your recipe turns out perfectly.

Step 1

Add the salt and flour to a mixing bowl.  Whisk them together.

Step 2

Use a knife to cut the butter into small pieces (aim to get at least 10 slices from the stick of butter).  Add the butter slices to the flour and salt mixture, and use a pastry blender to combine the two.  If you don’t have a pastry blender, you could also use two forks for this step, though a pastry blender will be much easier to use.

Step 3

Continue cutting the butter into the flour mixture until it becomes crumbly and spread throughout.  However, you don’t want to blend it so much that it is completely smooth.

Step 4

Measure out about ½ cup of cold water.  Add a few ice cubes to the measuring cup to keep the water cool.  Use a tablespoon to measure out 1 tablespoon of water (none of the ice) at a time.  Add the tablespoon of water to the flour and butter mixture, and blend it some more with the pastry cutter after each addition. 

Step 5

Continue adding 1 tablespoon of water and blending after each addition until the mixture forms a dry dough.

Step 6

Spread a little flour out on your counter or baking mat.  Use your hands to form a ball with the dough and place it on the floured countertop.  Wrap the dough balls up with plastic wrap.

Step 7

Let the dough cool in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.

Step 8

Once you’re ready to remove the dough from the fridge, prepare your countertop.  Layout a silicone baking mat or wax paper on your countertop.  If you’re using wax paper, use a little tape to secure the corners and prevent it from sliding around.  

Take the dough out of the fridge and put it on the baking mat or waxed paper.

Step 9

Use your rolling pan to roll the dough out into a 10-inch circle.  Place the dough into your 9-inch pie pan.

Step 10

Even out the edges of the crust by trimming off any excess dough.  Then, use your fingers to crimp the edges.  Prick the crust using a fork.

Step 11

If you need a pre-cooked pie crust for your recipe, place the crust in a preheated oven set to 425 °F.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, check on the pie.  You want the crust to be golden brown before removing it from the oven.  If it isn’t golden brown, allow it to cook for a few more minutes (it could take up to 15 minutes total).

Otherwise, add your filling to the crust and bake it according to the recipe directions.

3 ingredient pie crust

Expert Cooking Tips

  • Don’t expect perfection if this is your first attempt making your own pie crust.  It takes some time to master the art of using a pastry cutter and rolling out dough.
  • A pastry cutter is worth the small investment.  The thick handle and slightly curved design makes it much easier and quicker to use to cut butter into flour than trying to use two forks.  
  • Make sure that your butter is cold when you are ready to cut it into the flour.  If the flour is too warm, it won’t mix properly.
  • Cut the butter into thin slices.  If your butter is too thick, it won’t mix in well with the flour mixture.
  • Don’t add too much water.  Pie crust dough is a drier dough; it should not be overly moist or sticky.  You’ll know that you’ve added enough water once the mixture forms a dough.  Don’t add any more after this point.
  • You can easily double the recipe below to make two pie crusts (to make two pies or a pie with a top crust).  Mix all the ingredients together, then when you’re ready to roll out the dough, split it in half.
  • Always refrigerate the dough for at least two hours.  This step is very important, otherwise your crust won’t turn out right.

Storing Pie Crust

You can make the dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge for 1 or 2 days.  If you plan to do this, after you roll the dough out and put it on the pie pan, keep everything in a large zippered plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.

Pie crust dough can also be frozen.  If you plan to freeze your pie crust dough, it is probably best stored in disposable aluminum pie tins.  After rolling out the dough and putting it in a pie tin, place the tin in a freezer-safe bag.  Pie crust can keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Favorite Pie Recipes to Make with this Crust

This pie crust recipe pairs nicely with a wide array of pie recipes, both sweet and savory.  Here are a few of my favorites that you may want to try:

  • Apple pie
  • Cherry pie
  • Blueberry pie
  • Georgia peach pie
  • Strawberry rhubarb pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Lemon meringue pie
  • Key lime pie
  • Coconut cream pie
  • Chocolate cream pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Chicken pot pie and its sides
  • Ham and cheese pot pie
Three ingredient pie crust

3 Ingredient Pie Crust Recipe Card

Prep Time:  20 minutes (plus 2 hour cooling time in refrigerator)

Cook Time:  10 to 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick salted butter (½ cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ to ½ cup ice-cold water

Directions

  1. Whisk the salt and flour together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into thin slices and cut them into the flour mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture begins to look crumbly and the butter is spread throughout.
  3. Add ice cubes to ½ cup of water.  Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to the butter and flour mixture, cutting it in with the pastry blender after each addition.  Continue adding water until the mixture turns into a dry dough.  You likely will not need the entire ½ cup of water, as pie dough should be dry, not overly moist.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it on a floured countertop.  Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.
  5. After 2 hours, preheat the oven to 425 °F.   Then, prepare your baking surface by laying out a baking mat or wax paper on the countertop.
  6. Place the dough on the baking mat or wax paper and roll it into a 10-inch circle with your rolling pin.
  7. Carefully center the dough in a 9-inch pie pan and trim off excess dough along the edges of the crust.  Crimp the edges of the crust with your finger.  Use a fork to prick the crust.
  8. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes, or fill with your favorite filling and bake according to the recipe instructions.

Try This Three Ingredient Pie Crust Recipe Today

Doesn’t that just sound so tasty and easy?  It doesn’t get much better than this.  I don’t know about you, but after writing about this 3 ingredient pie crust recipe, I’m ready to whip up another pie….maybe a sweet blueberry pie.  Or perhaps a savory chicken pot pie?  Either way, I know it will be absolutely scrumptious with this recipe.  What type of pie are you planning to try with this simple 3 ingredient crust?

FAQs

What are the 3 types of pie crust?

There are more than three types of pie crusts.  In fact, there are a number of different types to consider.  For example, you can make a single pie crust, a double crust, a lattice-top crust, a crumb-top crust, or a crust with decorative cut-outs.  You can also make pie crusts from graham crackers or cookies.

What can I use if I don’t have a pie crust?

If you don’t have a pie crust, you can easily make your own following the recipe above.  All you’ll need is butter, flour, salt, and ice water.  Alternatively, you can make a pie crust using crumbled cookies, crumbled graham crackers, phyllo dough, cookie dough, or even saltines.

What is the easiest way to make a pie crust?

The 3 ingredient pie crust recipe shared above is the easiest way to make a pie crust.  You need just butter, flour, salt, and ice-cold water