Foolproof Single Crust Pie Dough

Pie dough is one of those things that seem so easy; throw a few ingredients together and your done. But getting it into a workable consistency often requires too much water (which will make the dough tough). This recipe uses vodka to solve that problem, as the alcohol will not form gluten and will evaporate during cooking. Of course it is also important to keep everything well chilled and to not overwork the dough. For me the most important this is to have a bench scraper; a chef’s knife just won’t do the job properly (in step 7). If you need two pie crusts see this recipe here. Overall, a very successful pie dough. 4-stars.

Final dough was looked and tasted beautiful

Final dough was looked and tasted beautiful


  1. My pie plate was extra large, so I didn’t get those classic fluted edges.
  2. Again, I would strongly recommend a bench scraper. My pie doughs were consistent failures until I bought a bench scraper.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $1.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 9:30 AM. End time: 12 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 Tablespoons vodka
2 Tablespoons cold water
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6-1/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 Tablespoon sugar

  1. Cut butter into 1/4″-slices, put butter and 1/4-cup solid vegetable shortening in freezer. Combine  2 tablespoons vodka and 2 tablespoons cold water; allow to chill for 20 minutes.
  2. Add 3/4 cups flour (3-3/4 ounces), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar into food processor; give it 2 one-second pulses until combined.
  3. Cut vegetable shortening into 2 pieces. Add shortening and chilled butter to food processor. Process for 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and a few very small pieces of butter will remain. Just make sure that all the flour is coated.
  4. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides/bottom of the food processor (leaving dough evenly distributed in food processor). Add final 1/2-cup flour and quickly pulse 4 to 6 times.
  5. Empty into a medium bowl, and evenly sprinkle with chilled vodka/water from step 1. Using a rubber spatula, mix with a folding motion, pressing down on dough until it sticks together (and is slightly tacky). Flatten into a 4″-disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerator for a minimum of 45-minutes (or up to 2 days).
  6. Set a rack to the lowest position in your oven, and set a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.
  7. Generously flour a work surface with up to 1/4-cup of flour. Roll out dough into a 12″ circle (should be an even 1/8″-thick. As you roll out the dough, use a bench scraper to ensure that it isn’t sticking to the board, tossing some loose flour underneath as you roll out the dough.
  8. Lift up the dough by very loosely rolling it around your rolling pin, and unroll it into position into the pie plate; leaving a 1″-overhang all around. Ease the dough down into place by gently lifting the edge of the dough and setting/pressing into the bottom of the pie plate. Leave the overhanging dough in plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes until the dough becomes firm.
  9. Trim away any dough that is more than 1/2″ beyond the lip of the plate. Fold overhanging dough under itself (doubling the thickness of the top crust) so that it is flush with the edge of the pie plate. You can either flute the dough (which is prettier) or use the tines of a fork to flatten onto the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes.
  10. Line the crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (or pennies). Bake at 425-degrees on lowest shelf for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove foil and pie weights, rotate plate 180-degrees and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more until the crust is golden brown.
Chris Kimball says to use pennies when lacking pie weights.

Chris Kimball says to use pennies when lacking pie weights.

2 Responses to Foolproof Single Crust Pie Dough

  1. Char says:

    What filling did you use? I have made this pie dough with the pumpkin filling and it seems to get too done, hard when cooked this way. What did you think? I was thinking of trying it without cooking it after the foil is removed.

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