November 10th, 2011
04:00 PM ET
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The holidays are upon us - you've successfully tackled the fall squash, mashed potatoes like James Brown and reserved the appropriately sized bird for your guest list. You've even found time to craft your very own "bacon pig." Everything is shaping up nicely in apple-pie order - that is, until the word "pie" just sent you into a flour frenzy.

Although sweet, dessert can bring out the crustiness in the most pleasant of holiday hosts and hostesses. While pie crust is minimalistic in origin - flour, butter, ice water with a little sugar and salt thrown in for good measure - many home cooks find themselves thankful for the premade varieties this time of year.

If you're one of those put off by do-it-yourself pastry, just roll with this all-butter crust tutorial.

“This is great for a beginner; for somebody’s first pie, this is terrific," says Elizabeth Karmel, the executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market and Hill Country Chicken, where pies like banana cream, double cherry and whiskey buttermilk are made fresh each day.

And if it's any encouragement, there is bourbon whipped cream waiting for you at the end.

All-Butter Pie Crust


  • 6.5 ounces (3/4 cup plus one tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut cold butter into small pieces and set aside. Whisk flour, salt and sugar together and cut into the butter. When the flour resembles coarse meal, add the ice water.
  2. Mix with a large fork or your hands until the dough comes together.
  3. Chill before rolling out, and use according to recipe.

Whiskey Buttermilk Pie


  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 generous teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine-grain salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • Pinch of orange zest
  • Bourbon whipped cream for garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Beat eggs, sugar and flour until smooth. Add buttermilk, vanilla, salt, whiskey and orange zest. Whisk until slightly frothy.
  3. Pour into unbaked pie shell and place pie on a baking sheet in the center of your oven. Bake until the edges puff up and the center of the custard is firm, about 30-40 minutes depending on depth of your pie.
  4. Place the pie on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature. This pie is good served room temperature or cold.
  5. Top with Bourbon Whipped Cream and a bit of orange zest.

*For Bourbon Whipped Cream: Add 1 tablespoon super-fine sugar, a pinch of sea salt and 2 tablespoons bourbon to a pint of cream as it is being whipped in a very cold bowl. Beat until stiff and serve immediately. Refrigerate any unused cream.

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Filed under: Baked Goods • Bite • Christmas • Christmas • Feature • Holidays • How To • Make • Pie • Recipes • Step-by-Step • T Minus • Techniques & Tips • Thanksgiving • Thanksgiving

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Finley

    Herbal medicine is a 3-year-old picking plantain and putting it on a skinned knee or an insect bite. Be careful not to let the knife pierce through the mango skin and into your palm.

    February 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
  2. You think that helps?

    Recipes always say to cut together butter and flour mix until it resembles "coarse meal". I have no idea what "coarse meal" looks like. When do I ever deal with "meal" anyway? Grrrr!

    November 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  3. AleeD

    I like cream in my pie.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • D.Sanchez

      Thanks 'AleeD'. Have you tried Alt-creampie?

      November 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  4. AllyWally

    Thanks for posting this! Very helpful. Will definitely try it... :)

    November 15, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  5. Annia

    I think I'm the only one in the world that eat pies without crusts & cakes without icing. I used to get strange, but amusing looks from the waitress all the time, but I leave good tips,though.

    November 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  6. mimi_nef

    This recipe is wrong.

    As politically incorrect as it is, the best way to make pastry is with lard. I know people feel like it is a bad word, but it makes the best crust. There's no way around it.

    Butter is okay, but it is a far second.

    November 14, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Yano

      Ya. No. Not everyone wants to eat pie made with dead pigs. Tell you what. I'll use butter, and you can shove your lard where the sun don't shine.

      November 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • msw599

      I agree...

      November 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Pat

      I concur. The best is pork lard. If you can't find it in the supermarket (and who can these days?) make your own and keep it in the refrigerator for cooking. It is not difficult. Just buy pork fat and render it slowly in a pot. Skim out the cracklings onto a paper towel and hit them with some salt and let them cool. (Mmmmmm....) Pour the melted fat through some cheese cloth into a container and store. That is all there is too it.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Will.I.Am

      A bit uppity about pie crust aren't we? Lard? Who the Eff uses Lard in anything? Lemme guess you tip the scales at an even 300 and your spouse is just a bit bigger. (He says he likes his women on the big side).

      November 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Jenn

    Her pies might be fantastic but her chicken is way overpriced!

    Hill Country Chicken charges $27 for 8 pieces of chicken!!! I don't care how good the chicken is, for 8 pieces, that's ludicrous!

    November 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  8. Foster Brooks

    There is not near enough bourbon in this pie !

    November 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  9. Sari in Vegas

    Note to readers: If you live in a dry climate, you will need to use slightly more water and spray your dough lightly with water right before you chill it. This is due to the lack of air humidity sucking the moisture out of your pie crust.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Juliette

    I know that is the traditional recipe for a pie crust, but I stopped using the "cut butter and ice water" method a LOOOONG time ago! I have the perfect pie crust that is almost impossible to mess up:

    90g of unsalted butter (if using salted, skip the additional salt)
    1 tbs vegetable oil
    1 tbs white sugar
    3 tbs water
    1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
    150 g flour

    Put everything but the flour in an oven safe bowl and place in the warming oven for about 15 minutes, when ready the butter should be melted and browning slightly. Remove from the oven and add the flour and stir; careful not to splash the hot liquid on yourself.

    Once it's cool enough to handle, spread it in your pie pan and add the pie filling– comes out perfect every time!

    November 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Home baker

      Julliette –

      You say "warming oven". Do you mean put it in the oven while it's pre-heating?

      November 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Rich G

    Sounds amazing, we do almost the exact same crust, but with 1/2 cup of super finely chopped almonds instead of 1/2 cup of the flour, and it tastes like sugar cookies, and it's flaky. We're serving our pies up with our homemade pumpkin wine. Feel free to check out our wine recipes and resources at The Winemaker‘s Notebook

    November 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  12. Lisa

    This pie sounds amazing! A friend made a pecan pie over the weekend (see pic – and there were no slices left! I think this would be a great crust to make a pecan pie with. I will attempt this in the coming days before Thanksgiving!

    November 14, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  13. Lila

    I know pie crust is a little challenging at first but it taste so much better than store bought. I would suggest using a food processor to mix dry then butter for about 10 seconds for corn meal consistency. Don't process more than 30 seconds when adding icy water and do it slowly. Make it into a flat disk and refrigerate for at least an hour before using. Also roll it out put it in the plate and put it back in the fridge until you are ready to use it or what the recipe calls for. The key is to keep it cold or it will turn into a sticky mess.

    November 14, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  14. Multi-Tasking @ Work

    I replace the water with 7 UP or Club Soda,it makes the crust really flaky.

    November 14, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  15. Bonnie

    Pied Piper, I copied and pasted directly from the article. At 1:16 PM on November 10, the article did say to cut into the flour. It looks like it's been fixed.

    November 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Natalie Montanaro

    I have foolproof piecrust that I make here for my friends in Romania, who really don't know about pie at all. So far, I've made my favorite lemon meringue, spicy apple, pear and raisin, southern peach, banana cream, and even tomato and onion pie. Here it is...

    1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
    100 grams of butter blend (here it is a mix of cream and butter called cremino cu unt...a soft version of butter with a bit more of hydrogenated cream) at home I use butter and margarine half and half. I do not like crisco, either in pie crust or my biscuits as it does not have the flavor.
    Anyway, add in to the flour, 1/2 tsp. salt and then cut up the butter blend into small cubes while softened a bit. Next, and this is my I do this for biscuits, scones, sugar cookies, or shortbread...mix with your hands gently until you get the size of peas. Now add in the two to three tablespoons of ice cold water, blending with a fork and then roll out on a floured board, kneading first gently for about two minutes. Roll out, fold and voila! Perfect one-crust. Make another bowl for a top crust pie. This is a simple recipe, but truly it works every time.

    And, just saying, I love buttermilk pie at The Hominy Grill back home and will try this one with whiskey/bourbon as it is such a popular commodity here in Romania. I am sure it is really fine and sweet. Thanks for posting it.


    November 11, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  17. Bonnie

    Correction to: "Cut cold butter into small pieces and set aside. Whisk flour, salt and sugar together and cut into flour." Don't they mean to cut the dry ingredients into the BUTTER?

    November 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Pied Piper

      It says "cut into the butter."

      November 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  18. New Englander

    I always use only butter in my pie crusts- it tastes better and shortening scares me. Also, butter has a higher water content which means flakier pastry.

    I have two modifications to the above described technique:
    1. The flour/butter mixture shown is overblended. There should be some visible chunks of butter (about the size of peas). This will create the flakiest crust because when you put the pie in the hot oven, the water in the butter will vaporize and leave behind pockets (which creates layers).
    2. Mix the water in with a spatula rather than your hands- it is important to touch it as little as possible in order to keep it cold. It is so important to keep the dough cold- I even chill the bowl with the flour in it before I cut in the butter.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
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