The Pie Dough Recipe. A Crust of Butter & Lard.

The perfect crust is tender, buttery, flakey and crisp. The best way to get those qualities is to make a pie dough that uses both butter and lard. Here is that recipe.

Behold the naked pie crust. Unbaked, rustically crimped, awaiting its perfect filling: an eggy quiche, a fall pumpkin pie, or a savoury pot pie.

If you happen to be a clown, this pie crust is aerodynamically sound and once filled with whipped cream will sail through the air before finally landing on the face of its recipient.

I’ve been asked for my go-to pie dough recipe for years and I’m finally sharing it. Not that it’s a big secret. It’s fairly widely known in Canada as the Tenderflake recipe.


Tenderflake

So what’s Tenderflake? It’s a Canadian revelation, available only to those of us in the Great White North but sought worldwide. Seriously.

However, what Tenderflake actually is – is lard.

Lard is fat that’s been rendered from a pig. Let me tell you, for something that really has very little flavour itself, lard has the ability to make things it’s added to taste D E L I C I O U S.


It doesn’t taste piggy or meaty or anything else that might make a pie crust seem gross to you.

(Unless you’re vegan or vegetarian in which case all of this seems extremely gross. You’ve probably already jumped to the comment section and are furiously searching for the green barfing face emoji. Or – you’ve fainted.)

If you ARE vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry, I have a lard substitute for you.

You don’t need actual Tenderflake for this recipe (if you’re in Canada, it’s a good choice).


Where to buy lard

  • In the grocery store you can find lard in the same aisle that you would find Crisco (a vegetable shortening).
  • In the grocery store you can also check the meat section.
  • From a butcher shop.
  • From a farmer’s market.
  • From online specialty sellers or Amazon.

O.K. who is ready to make a whack of pie dough that you can throw in the freezer to pull out whenever you need it??

Yes, as a matter of fact you CAN do that and it freezes beautifully.

Why Lard & Butter?

Lard is for the structure of the pie crust. It creates the flakey crust everyone wants in a pie. This because lard has a much higher melting point than either shortening or butter which means once the crust starts to bake the lard stays solid longer creating pockets in your crust while it bakes. Those pockets create a dough that rises and a crust that’s tender and flakey.

Butter is for flavour. I mean, you’ve eaten butter, right? It’s always there for the flavour.

Using only lard in a pie crust creates a crust that I consider TOO flakey. It falls apart and doesn’t have a lot of of flavour.

Using only butter in a pie crust creates a crust that’s dense and even oily.

Using both lard and butter is the best of both worlds and creates the perfect crust. Tender, flavourful and crisp.


Pie dough recipe

(with lard & butter)

You’re going to need some flour, butter, lard, an egg, vinegar and ice water. And a whole lot of filling ideas. And don’t you worry, there’s a printable, concise recipe card coming up after the pretty pictures.

*for the animal free folks, substitute vegetable shortening for lard.

As per usual, you’re going to mix together your salt and flour. You don’t need to sift, just mix it up with a whisk.

Weigh out and cube your COLD unsalted butter and lard.

If you have a food processor, add your all purpose flour and fats to it.

Pulse until crumbly. You still want to be able to see chunks of lard & butter after mixing. If you don’t have a food processor you can cut your dough with a pastry blender or two forks.

You’ll mix some ice water, vinegar and egg together and blend that in too. Don’t blend away all of the bits of lard and butter. The bigger they are, the more slowly they melt when cooking, then more rise and flakiness you get in your crust.

Dump the contents onto a plastic wrap lined, cold surface if you have one (any natural stone works great). Don’t touch the dough! Your hands are warm because you are a live and loving human being. Great for hand holding, but total crap for dough.

Grab the sides of the plastic wrap and pull it together until your dough forms a firm ballish type of thing. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls depending on whether you halfed or doubled the recipe. Flatten those balls into disk and wrap in plastic wrap to rest in the fridge while you go to the bathroom, eat a sandwich or whatever else you were putting off while you were making the dough.

This is ALSO when you would put the disks straight into your freezer if you’re making the dough in advance because you’re a good doomsday prepper who knows nothing can turn a doomsday frown upside down like pie.

After the dough has cooled and rested in the fridge for at least half an hour, roll it out, again, touching it as little as possible.


*A note about pie plates!

What’s the best pie pan?

For me there are only 2 choices. A glass Pyrex pie pan or a dull, old aluminum metal pie pan. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the dull aluminum pan.

Pryex pie plates conduct heat well and get a fairly evenly browned crust, but they aren’t as good as aluminum.

Newer aluminum pans that you can buy in kitchen stores or Amazon are not the same. Older pans have developed a dull finish and just work better for conducting heat and browning the crust.

If you don’t have any of these old aluminum pans, hunt for them at garage sales. If you can’t wait for garage sale season, then use cheap, disposable aluminum pans.

(or like I said, use a Pyrex dish)


Once your dough is rolled out, roll it over your rolling pin and then use the pin to pick up the disc of dough and place it over your pie plate.

You should have rolled your dough out until it’s a couple of inches bigger than the diameter of the pie plate.

Let the dough settle into the dish, pushing it down with your hands then start your crimping of the edges.

If your recipe calls for the crust to be partly cooked (blind baked) then you can do that now.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the explanation of what blind baking is and how to do it, is in this post.

Once your pie is blind baked (if required) fill ‘er up with your filling and bake.**

**Using an aluminum pan can reduce your cooking time so keep an eye on things.


PREPARE TO SLAP YOURSELF ON THE FOREHEAD.

You can add spices to flavour your crust.

Yup. 🤦‍♀️ Just think of how many apple pies you’ve made that would have been OVER THE TOP DELICIOUS if you’d added a bit of cinnamon or lemon zest to the pie crust.

How to Flavour Pie Dough


Add 1/4 tsp of dried spice per dough ball.  For instance if you’re making the full recipe for 6 balls of dough, you’d add 1.5 tsps of spice to the dough.  Just add it to the dry mixture of flour and salt. Cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice are good choices for apple or pumpkin pie. 

Add 1 tsp of fresh herb or zest per dough ball. For instance for 6 balls of dough you’d add 6 teaspoons of chopped rosemary or thyme.

Some examples of spices/herbs to add to pie crusts:

Pumpkin Pie – nutmeg, cinnamon, orange zest

Apple Pie – Lemon zest, cinnamon, chopped rosemary

Savory pies – Thyme, celery seed


Pie Dough

A perfect pie dough thanks to O' Canada. Lard & butter for a delicious crust. (Vegan/Vegetarian substitutes in notes.
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: dough
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: pie dough recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 crusts
Calories: 711kcal
Author: Karen Bertelsen

Ingredients

  • cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 pound lard cold and cubed
  • 1/2 pound butter cold and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • Ice Water

Instructions

  • Whisk together flour and salt* then cut in butter and lard with a food processor or pastry blender. Cut dough until it's crumbly but fat pieces are still pea sized or so. (If your food processor is small, you'll have to do this recipe in 2 batches because it'll be too much for your machine)
  • Add your egg and vinegar to a measuring cup and then top it up with ice water until you have 1 cup of liquid.
  • Add liquid to the dry ingredients in a slow stream just until dough comes together. You may not need all the liquid.
  • Dump the contents onto a large piece of plastic wrap then fold the plastic in towards the dough repeatedly until a ball forms. Try not to touch the dough with your warm hands.
  • Divide the dough into 6 balls. (if you made a half recipe, then divide into 3 balls)
  • Wrap dough in plastic and flatten them into discs. Refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling out. This is also the point that you can put the dough directly in the freezer for using later.
  • When you're ready to make PIE! roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Drop it into your aluminum pie pan, flute the edges and bake however your recipe requires.

Notes

*Want to really take your crust up to an impressive level? Add 1/4 tsp of spice per dough ball.  For instance if you’re making the full recipe for 6 balls of dough, you’d add 1.5 tsps of spice to the dough.  Just add it to the dry mixture of flour and salt. Cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice are good choices for apple or pumpkin pie.  Thyme or celery seed are good choices for savoury pies.  Work within the herbs/spice combinations used in your filling recipe.
Vegan and Vegetarian Version
Substitute lard with vegetable shortening
Substitute butter with vegan butter
Omit egg. 
Confession
  • I actually prefer a ratio of 60% lard and 40% butter, but half and half is just so much easier to measure out and remember.   
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1ball | Calories: 711kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1064mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2881IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 6mg

If you’re looking at the 711 calories up above and vowing never to eat pie again, remember that’s for an entire crust. Depending on whether you slice it into 6 or 8 pieces, that’s just 89 – 118 in crust calories per slice.

Always keep in mind you’re going to eat one slice, then go back for just a sliver of another slice, and then polish the remainder off as well. So count on eating at least 2 pieces is what I’m saying.

Use this dough recipe with any of my favourite filling recipes.

Leek & Goat cheese Quiche

Turkey Pot Pie

Lemon Curd Tart

Pumpkin Pie

Please note I was only kidding about throwing this pie in someone’s face. That would obviously be a waste of a good crust. Just use a frozen crust for that.

 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

  The Pie Dough Recipe. A Crust of Butter & Lard.

25 Comments

  1. Mary W says:

    Second time I’ve written your recipe down – fingers crossed I won’t loose it again. I’ll store it in my flour bin!

  2. Carole says:

    I made this pie pastry yesterday, and it is really good. Thanks for sharing. ★★★★★ good. I will be making it again.

    • Karen says:

      Oh, it’s all thanks to the fine folks at Tenderflake, lol. :) Except for the ratios I guess. But I’m so happy it turned out well for you! ~ karen!

  3. Pear says:

    What about butter tarts? We were in Chutes, Ontario and people were doing backflips to get to a lady selling butter tarts from her trunk. Car trunk. So we did too. Really good. Do you have Doing Stuff approved recipe for Butter Tarts???

    • Pearl says:

      Sorry, it Massey, Ontario. Chutes Provincial Park near by. Us US people think “Provincial Park“ sounds so adorable.

  4. Vikki says:

    You’ve done that like a Pro–and by “Pro” I mean our grandmothers or great-grandmothers. That’s exactly why they made the best pies Ever!! I still have my Grandmother’s recipe (which is similar to yours) and no pies nowadays have ever tasted as good. Thanks for spreading the word.

  5. Leslie Russell says:

    Once upon a time I rendered both pork and duck lard. I felt like a pioneer homesteader. It was the best fat ever but I’m glad I don’t remember how to do it. I think it might have been really gross. But I’m always in pursuit of a good pie crust recipe. Apparently we in America don’t know jack shit about how to do a good pie crust. I’m going to give this one a try just in case we get to have Thanksgiving.

  6. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    Your recipe is the same as my mother’s No Fail Pastry recipe with the exception of the butter. She was known for her beautiful, flaky pastry from pies, tarts, sausage rolls, you name it. It is truly No Fail. I’m a little hesitant to try with the butter since the original is perfect, but I’ll mull it over 😋.

    For those of you who can’t eat gluten, this recipe works great with the gluten free flour (the cup to cup kind). I need it for my son’s partner and she loved it. It came out light and flaky and honestly, way better than I imagined.

  7. rose says:

    Yup, I totally agree. Use lard/butter it’s the best. Also for baking scones.

  8. Karen Jones says:

    Hi Karen,

    This an excellent post and will encourage me to yet again attempt to make a pie. I think it is the same recipe my mum used. I have recently purchased a kitchen scale ( deal ) but like the look of yours. make? Also re: previous comment, has anyone besides me noticed how absolutely crappy wax paper is these days? How is anyone suppose to ensconce their Thanksgiving leaves! On another note good old fashion freezer wrap has disappeared from my grocery store shelves. Haven’t been able to purchase it for over a year.

    Keep up the good work Karen.

    from another Karen

  9. Kat - the other 1 says:

    I may just have to try converting this to a gluten free dairy free recipe.
    I just happen to have some organic free trade palm shortening on hand. And I never have that!
    Now, what to put in it… so many choices! Heck, I may just eat the crust as is lol!

    • Karen says:

      Let me know how de-glutening it goes! ~ karen

    • Karen Oaks says:

      Hi Kat,
      Wondering what flour or mix you going to use to make a gluten free pie crust. I am also Celiac and Lactose Intolerant. I have been too afraid to try making a pie crust. Also will you add either Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum.
      cheers, Karen

      • Lauren from Winnipeg says:

        I just posted a comment mentioning gluten free. I use Bobs Red Mill cup to cup or Western Family’s version which I’m pretty sure is Bobs. I just change out the flour, I don’t add xanthan gum. Just use all Tenderflake instead of butter and then you are lactose free as well 😃. Turns out beautiful, light, and flaky. You can taste the flour a bit, but it’s not overpowering by any stretch. Karen’s tip to add spice to the crust is an excellent idea. I’m going to add some cinnamon for the pumpkin pie this year.

      • Sboo says:

        Never tried it for pie crust, but I can verify the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free one-to-one flour is great!

  10. Marsha Marcarian says:

    This looks delicious! But I am curious – how did you make that adorable crust maple leaf in the center of the pie? Did you make it by hand, or do you have some kind of a mold or cookie cutter? Thanks.

  11. Patty says:

    Hi Karen,
    Im So happy You posted this!. This is my go to pie crust recipe for the past 30 years. ( It helped win me a first place blue ribbon for my apple pie at the county fair lol) I have gotten many horrified looks😲 from people when they see that there is egg in it, many weren’t sure about the vinegar either. It truly is a flaky yet sturdy crust that tastes great!. In a pinch, I have used butter flavored Crisco in place of the lard, since that’s what I had on hand.. It was delicious for my peach pie!.

  12. Bonnie Harris says:

    I’m going to try this for Thanksgiving. My usual is the same but includes 1 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. baking powder and is 100 percent lard. But using half butter instead sounds amazing. I roll it out on waxed paper and also use waxed paper on top when rolling. Not as messy and makes it easy to lift it and insert into our plate.

  13. I have been looking for this recipe for years… The Lost Pie Crust years… Wish I had had it to make Quiche before my dog ate the chickens! Well, I still have 2 left, but not enough for a Quiche.

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