Food & Drink

Perfect Pie Crust

A simple, universal recipe from Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery

Photo: Squire Fox

James Beard–nominated pastry chef Phoebe Lawless, of Scratch Bakery in Durham, North Carolina, says there are two secrets to perfect piecrust: practice and good-quality unsalted butter. Her simple, universal recipe works with sweet and savory pies.



    • 4 cups all-purpose flour

    • 1 tbsp. sugar

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 10 oz. cold unsalted butter, cubed

    • 1 cup very cold water


  1. In a food processor, mix flour, sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Cut butter into dry ingredients and pulse until a coarse, peppercorn-size meal forms. Transfer into a large bowl.

  2. With a fork, incorporate small amounts of water into the mix, about 3 to 4 tablespoons at a time, just until dough is slightly moist and holds together when clumped.

  3. Gather dough into a large mound on a clean work surface. Cut into 4 equal portions and shape into balls. Wrap each in plastic and press into 1-inch-thick flat rounds, making sure no dough is exposed. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or freeze up to 2 months.

  4. To roll pastry, remove dough from fridge and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. (If frozen, defrost in fridge overnight.) Liberally flour work surface, pastry, and rolling pin, and roll dough from the center outward, rotating it 10 to 15 degrees after each press. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Once dough is roughly 10 to 11 inches in diameter, roll it all onto pin and transfer onto pie dish. Press lightly to form, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Tuck edges under and crimp. Fill as desired.

Recipe from Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham, North Carolina