Mom’s pie crust


A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie s...

Image via Wikipedia


Thanksgiving is almost upon us. That means pumpkin pies. For Thanksgiving, my mother didn’t just make pumpkin pies–she made mince pies, too, and sometimes even apple and cherry. My family had an overwhelming passion for pies.

I guess we came by this honestly. My great grandmother came from Germany. She taught my grandmother how to make pie crust. Grandma taught my mother. As part of our family’s German tradition, the pie crust recipe was handed down. So, in terms of stay at home traveling, the recipe traveled with great- and grand- parents and my own parents to me:  from Germany to New York to New Jersey to California. Soon, it may travel from my home to yours.


My sister (right) and daughter (left) making pies and, of course, my mother's pie crust, last Thanksgiving


Until I grew up and began to cook on my own, I didn’t realize how right my mother was when she used to say the reason lots of people bought their pies at the market instead of making their own was that they didn’t feel confident about making crust. The problem, she said, was that to make the very desirable flaky pie crust was a somewhat delicate process, one prone to failure. (Something to do with the gluten in the wheat mixing with the shortening…if you take too long to make or roll the crust, the results aren’t good. Not sure if I’m exactly right about that, but a good cookbook will tell you.)

According to my mother, the pie crust recipe handed down by the German side of my family cannot fail. That’s because the crust is more cakey than flakey. For some reason, Mom thought this made the making of the crust less delicate. I don’t know if she was right, but I will at least say that (within reason) her crust can be rolled out over and over until you get it right. You can’t really do that with the flakey kind of crust.

So, this Thanksgiving, I offer you the recipe for my mother’s pie crust.

Mommie’s Pie Crust

2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour ¾ cup shortening (consisting of 1/4 lb butter & 4 tblspns of Crisco)
¾ tsp salt 2 tblspns sugar
2 tsp baking powder About 8 tblspn water

Sift dry ingredients together.  Mix shortening in with fingers until the consistency of coarse meal.  Add water and mix with a fork.  You may have to add one or more tablespoons of water (depends if you’re baking in a humid or dry climate.)

This should make one double crust pie (9 inch) and one pie shell.  Divide into 3 portions and form these portions into 3 balls with your hands.  Let stand 20 minutes in the fridge before rolling out.  (You can make the dough one day and store it in the fridge and then roll it out and make the pie the next day.  You can even freeze the balls and then thaw, roll them out and use them.)

Preheat the oven to 425.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board.  Put the lower crust in the pie plate.  Put the fruit in the pie.  Put the top crust on the pie, then crimp the crust all around the edge of the pie, squeeze the top and bottom crusts together with your fingers.  If the dough breaks, you can repair it and make it stick together with a little water.

Cut 3 or 4 steam vents in the top crust.  Bake the pie in the preheated oven about 45-55 minutes, until juices bubble up through the vents, or the pie looks “done.” In the last 10 or 15 minutes, if you brush a little milk on the top of the pie, it will come out nice and brown and pretty looking.

Let the pie cool on the counter before you cut it.  Otherwise, it’ll be too hot and everything will run out.  Nevertheless, you can certainly eat it warm.

Bon voyage,

Rita Elizabeth


About RitaElizabeth

I'm a recently widowed wife and mother who loves to use ideas and experiences from travel to enrich my family's life at home. I blog to share ideas with you and to hear your ideas and comments.
This entry was posted in Food, Thanksgiving and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

93 Responses to Mom’s pie crust

  1. biz319 says:

    I love using the butter/crisco combo – I actually put them in my freezer the night before I need them and grate them into the dough – flaky crust every time.

    Thanks for sharing! 😀

  2. This is great, and so glad to have found it. Thank you!

  3. runtobefit says:

    Great! Thanks for the recipe! I think you’re right…most of us are scared to make the crust. Maybe we will give this a whirl 🙂

  4. whenquiet says:

    Merci beaucoup! Congrats on being freshly pressed! My belated Grandmom in North Carolina used to make a “smokin” pie crust, be it for apples, pumpkin, blackberries, or peaches. She would use the same crust for chicken pot pie! Yum. I only remember that she used a mixture of Crisco and butter. Unfortunately, I didn’t memorize the entire method. Your pie crust recipe is wonderfully “freshly pressed” and will work wonders for my pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving. I also lucked out and refound a wonderful Jamaica-Me- Crazy -Jerk Turkey recipe via Essence Magazine via Google. I used it once to rave reviews from my husband’s family(Italian) and friends(German, French, Italian) in Europe. So nice to share and explain the meaning of Thanksgiving to Europeans. And nicer, still, when they ask for seconds……. of everything:-)

    • Love your comment! And please, if you should have any questions when you’re trying the recipe, contact me via my blog. I’ll be happy to help. But I have a feeling you’ll do fine without me. So many in my family have used this recipe and it’s been easy for them.

    • Thanks for stopping by, whenquiet! I’m swamped now, but will check out your blog soon. Hope my mom’s recipe works for you! It may be a little different from your Grandmom’s because it has a bit of sugar in it and thus I’m not sure it would be good for pot pies. You could try it and see. Let me know how it goes if you use my recipe. If you have any trouble, stop by here and leave a comment and I’ll try to help. Good luck! (Oh, and yes, great to share the meaning of Thanksgiving in Europe. When I lived in England, a good number of people seemed to be aware of our Thanksgiving day and would even wish me well.

  5. rootietoot says:

    I’m always making tough and lousy pie crusts. People give advice like making sure the shortening is super cold and using ice water and I do all that but still get tough crusts. But here is a recipe that is *different* and I will try this! Thanks for giving me hope that I won’t have to always resort to the store bought Pillsbury crusts!

    • Oh, I don’t think this one will be tough, if you use my family’s recipe. Since the pie crust is “cakey,” not “flakey,” I don’t think it’ll be tough at all. Contact me via my blog if you have questions when you try the recipe and I’ll try to help. But I don’t think you’ll have any problem.

  6. bluemixer says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve never attempted to make my own pie crust, but I will definitely try your family’s tried and true pie crust recipe. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Pie crust | Walter's Greasy Spoon

  8. Menelik Charles says:


    never mind how wholesome your cakes are; what delights me is how utterly wholesome and feminine you are! your husband is a very lucky man to have wed a lady like you; and your daughter has had a wonderful role model as a mother.

    God Bless you!

    Menelik Charles
    London UK

    • Thank you for the sweet compliments!

      • Menelik Charles says:


        it is not a problem. Indeed, if we had my women like you, and your lovely posters on here, who embrace the home, hubby and children, we’d all be in a much better place as a society.

        That said, perhaps you should thank your Ma ‘n’ Pa (if they were both present in your life) and God, for raising such a gentle, balanced, and heart-warming female.

        Maybe I should thank them too lol

        Menelik Charles
        London UK

  9. Mmm, pie! Interesting about the crust, I’m going to try that now. Also, your daughter is gorgeous.

  10. Yummo!!

    Gotta love good old fashioned pie crust! I gonna grab a fire extinquisher and try baking Mommie’s Pie Crust. (I’m a klutz in the kitchen – just sayin’)



  11. rsmacaalay says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, what would be a pie without a good crust!


  12. lochgarry says:

    Growing up, my grandmother made the best pie crusts that I have ever had.
    Unfortunately, I never wrote down her recipe before she passed away.

    Our family tradition is that I make the Thanksgiving pies-pumpkin and pecan-chocolate. I will give your crust a try in two weeks.

    Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by. I enjoyed reading a bit of your blog. I know this recipe can never substitute for your grandmother’s, but at least it’s a family recipe. If you like it, you can adopt it and tell Grandma in Heaven that we’re both honoring her by using it to serve delicious pies to ourselves and others.

  13. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Well deserved, my blogging buddy!

    I’ve never made a pie crust, but since I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my home this year, and I’m responsible for pie, I may give your Mommie’s Pie Crust a go. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your special memories. Hugs, Diane

  14. Yes says:

    I hope you’re proud

  15. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! I can’t wait to try the recipe–I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for a good pie crust recipe. I love pie.

  16. Sounds great! I’ll have to try it sometime!
    Check out my blog at

    Thanks! 🙂

    • My pleasure, Victoria. I tried to make a comment on your blog, but could not. Don’t know why, but it didn’t work. Wish it had. You’re really on top of things; good luck with all you are doing to save endangered animals.

  17. Thank you for sharing. Most people are just intimidated by the idea of making pie crust and would never try. My sister is learning, and I might get the courage up someday.

    • Actually, I do think you’re right! I’m so used to my mother’s recipe (which is so easy) that I’ve been intimidated to try other pie crust recipes. Actually, I tried Mrs. Beeson’s pie crust recipe (the “bible” of cook books in England) and, though it was harder than my mother’s recipe, it came out okay. Do try my mother’s, though. I really think you can’t fail with hers!

  18. emjayandthem says:

    What a gift! Thank you for sharing your Mom’s pie crust recipe. Can’t. Wait. To. Try. It!! Cheers 🙂 MJ at

  19. emjayandthem says:

    Oh!! And I nearly forgot (shame on me). Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Bravo! -M

  20. Thanks for the congrats, EmJay! I looked at your blog — beautiful autumn picture at the top and I love the idea of pumpkin pie cake! Thanks for letting me know that you freeze and shave butter and Crisco. I think I’ll try that the next time and see if my mother’s pie crust decreases in cakiness and increases in flakiness. (Oops! in the 70s and 80s, a “flake” was somethin’ else. Oh, well.)

  21. Jo Major Ciolino says:

    My mom could whip up and roll out a pie crust with both hands tied behind her back. I asked her once how she did it and she kind of glared at me and said, “Make about a thousand of them…..” I do remember she used lard way back when, then moved to the crisco and/or butter phase. She always said the lard made the best pie crusts. I seem to have inherited her ability to make good pie crust – but I don’t really like pies! We had them so often growing up that I took the cake/pastry/other route for desserts. Thanksgiving demands a pie, though, so we all better get out the rolling pins and do it properly! Thanks for a great read!

    • Yes, I do believe I’ve heard that about lard, too! I think it may be used a lot more in the U.K. than here, but I don’t really know.

      I love the picture of the McCall’s pattern on your blog. Also, thank you for making me aware of National Tie on Day!

  22. This is a very unselfish thing you are doing by giving your family’s recipe for pie crust. Most people would kill to keep the family recipes a secret. I will definitely try this recipe. Thank you very much for sharing.

    • Thank you soooo much for your recognition that it’s very special to share a family recipe. I did think twice (no, more than that!) about sharing this very special recipe for pie crust and decided, well, why be selfish? So many people are scared to try to make a pie crust, and by sharing this recipe with the WORLD, I’m honoring my mother and her mother and her mother and hers, and….

  23. simplyvictorious says:

    This is so sweet and looks like a fabulous recipe. Homemade pie crust has always seemed daunting to me but I think I’m ready to give it another try after reading your post! My family has a tradition of “all-pie Thanksgiving”- turkey pot pies with a side of cranberry sauce replace the traditional bird, stuffing and potatoes, and everyone brings a different dessert pie. It’s one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. Congratulations on making Freshly Pressed :]

    • I’m so happy that my family’s recipe may liberate you from feeling daunted about making a crust. I do think this recipe is best for fruit/pumpkin pies, that is dessert pies, and not pot pies, because there’s a little sugar in it. If you do try the recipe and have questions, please contact me via my blog. I’ll try to help. But I don’t think you’ll have many questions, since it’s failsafe! Good luck and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  24. Found you on freshly pressed 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your moms recipe. Those ones passed down for generations are the best!

  25. Pingback: Mom’s pie crust | jayz2524

  26. I had given up on pie crust because I never made it right. But perhaps I could try again…

    • Oh, please do try again, and if you have any questions when you do, contact me. Remember, you may have to add more water, depending on where you live. The recipe was written up in New Jersey, where it can be quite humid. After I moved to California, I found that I had to add a few tblspns of water (the air in California is much drier than in New Jersey.) Good luck!

  27. Thanks for sharing, RitaElizabeth. I grew up in a family-run bakery and by age 10 was making huge amounts of pie dough in an 80-quart Hobart mixer. A trick my grandfather taught me (and it also work on the small scale of one or two pie shells) is to mix just long enough to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients, and no longer. The more you knead, the denser and less flexible it gets. He also insisted on chilling the dough for a few hours or over night before rolling it out. Use as little flour as possible while rolling, to keep from drying out the dough. These same three techniques apply to gingerbread and sugar cookie doughs too, by the way. Happy Thanksgiving! Bakery Boy (

    • Bakery Boy, thank you SO MUCH for adding your tips! They are right on target! When I sometimes add too much flour to roll out the dough, it can dry out a little. But it’s not too much of a problem–I just patch the dough with a little water!

  28. Evie Garone says:

    Sounds nice, will try! Thanks for sharingQ Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  29. Angela Doyle says:

    My great aunt used to make the best apple pies. She passed away and I never got the recipe from her. I remember being a kid and watching her make them and it sounds alot like your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. I can not wait to make it and share it with my family!!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Angela. I hope our family’s recipe does your great aunt’s recipe justice. If you have any trouble when you try it, please ask a question here. I’ll try to help!

  30. Teri says:

    Oh, you do make it sound so easy. I should send you the photo of the cookies I tried to bake a few weeks ago. (I affectionately called them “Black on the Bottoms”) Not sure I am ambitious enough to attempt pie…

    Congratulations on FP..I enjoyed reading this. 🙂

    • Thanks for the congrats, Teri! Do try it — if at first one doesn’t succeed, try, try, try again.

      The first time I made this crust all by myself (Mom lived in Florida then, I in New York), I rolled out the dough a little too thick, and it showed in the eating. HOWEVER, the crust was still GOOD, just a little too thick. After that, I rolled it out more thinly, and it was great. I’ve never had this crust fail in 40 years of making it.

      And DO send the the picture of your “black bottom” cookies. That happens to me sometimes, too. I tell my family “they’re caramelized,” lol.

      All the best to you.

  31. jaswrites says:

    Ah, a great recipe, Ma’am! Excellent and flawless!

  32. marlowesnymph says:

    Oooh thanks! I love discovering new recipes. Especially for baking. Mmmm pie. I’m going to have to use this. 🙂

  33. stovies says:

    Thank you for the recipe, the crust looks scrumptious! I have to admit to being too scared of pastry to make dishes with anything but ready-made crusts but I’ll be trying it out now. You write beautifully by the way, I really enjoyed the post.


    • Hi! The picture of the pie comes from Wikipedia, but my mom’s pumpkin pie looks very similar (I just didn’t have a picture of a slice of our pumpkin pie. I’m so glad you’re going to try my family’s recipe. You’ll be glad you did! It really isn’t hard.

  34. Yusra says:

    Although I can’t try this now (I have no oven), I’d love to make it (provided you gave us some nice pie-filling-recipes as well!)

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  35. Vanessa Rima says:

    Thanks for the recipe. Seems great!

    Vanessa Rima

  36. I’ve been looking for a good pie crust recipe. This just might be it. Thanks!

  37. polly says:

    I am one that buys pies at the market, or I use already made pie crust. So thank you for sharing your family recipe. I live in Canada so we already had thanksgiving but I will have to try sometime.

  38. What a lovely gesture…thank you for sharing your recipe.
    Kind thoughts

  39. editsia36 says:

    Por fin encontré la forma de cambiar color a mi Facebook! No solo cambiaras el color, sino que además podrás cambiar el fondo también con la imagen que más te guste! 🙂
    ¡Es el unico que funciona

  40. I’m so glad I saw this. I am a baker, but I am NOT a pie maker. I have made pies… but by no means do I consider myself good at making them. I made several pumpkin pies last month from scratch and while the filling was wonderful… well… my crust was a flop. Actually, it was more like a door stop. My husband wouldn’t even eat the crust. It was sad lol. I was hoping to make another pie for Thanksgiving and even considered using a pre-made crust… *oh the shaaame*
    I’m now inspired to try my hand again at pie crust.

  41. lbwong says:

    How wonderful to share a family tradition for the rest of us to enjoy! I would love to try the recipe 🙂 Can’t wait! BTW, if you like cookies, I have one that came from my childhood. Check it out on my blog if your interested. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! LB

  42. sayitinasong says:

    I have been looking for a good, solid, old fashioned pie crust recipe… I will give this one a try! Thanksgiving at your house sounds heavenly!

    • I see you’re from the U.K. My family and I lived there for a couple of years. A good friend of mine there used to make beautiful pies. Her crusts were flakey; mine were cakey. Both are good. Hope you enjoy my mother’s cakey crust. Let me know how it goes.

  43. Though I am more of a flaky crust type of gal, I will try anything once and that reciepe looks like a keeper, I will definately give it a try! I am new to this whole WordPress and checked out Freshly Pressed and found you! Thank you for sharing that and the sharing others do at the same time…like the idea of freezing and shaving the Crisco and butter…hummmm who woulda thunk? Not me 😉

    • Enjoy the recipe, and the ease of making the crust ahead and freezing it. That’s what I’ll be doing this Thanksgiving. Let me know how it goes.

      And good luck with your blogging! Come back and see me, and I’ll stop by and see you.

  44. iNinja says:

    😀 I didn’t read one word of this, but the pictures of pie are making my mouth water.

  45. Pingback: Mom?s pie crust « carmeridss

  46. Pingback: Mom?s pie crust « carmeridss

  47. Mary says:

    My mom used to make a pie using a jelly roll sized pan. She would pat the bottom crust in place and then roll the top crust out to put on top. The crust was more of a sweet cakey crust. Unfortunately I didn’t find the recipe when looking through her things. I have been looking for something similar to make. I’m holding this is very similar to the crust she would make.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s