I know—it’s counter-intuitive. Vodka in your pie crust doesn’t seem like it would work—but trust us, it does.  The vodka makes the pie crust flakier and lighter.  Toss that old crust recipe, boycott the store-bought dough—your new go-to homemade pie crust recipe has arrived.

Unfortunately you need a food processor (or blender) to make this work, so it’s a perfect time to take advantage of the fact that you’ll have a full-sized kitchen at home during the holidays.

If you’re worried about the alcohol content in the crust, no need to fear—in a single-crust pie the vodka completely cooks out. In the case of a double-crust pie, there are trace amounts of vodka but not nearly enough to taste.

For a Single-Crust Pie Dough

(Use for pecan pie and dark chocolate peppermint whipped cream pie; for double-crust pie, refer here for measurements)

Advanced Course

Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus 1 hour 40 min wait time)
Cook Time: 15 minutes (plus more if the pie you’re making involves additional baking)
Total Time: Varies by pie, approximately 3 hours

Servings: 8

1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter (cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled)
4 tablespoon vegetable shortening (cut into 2 pieces and chilled)
2 tablespoon vodka, chilled

2 tablespoon ice water

1. Process 3/4 cups flour, sugar and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds.
2. Scatter butter and shortening over top and continue to process until incorporated and mixture begins to form uneven clumps with no remaining floury bits, about 15 seconds.
3. Scrape down bowl and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. 
4. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup flour over dough and pulse until mixture has broken up into pieces and is evenly distributed around bowl, 4 to 6 pulses.
5. Transfer mixture to large bowl. 
6. Sprinkle vodka and ice water over mixture. 
7. Stir and press dough together, using stiff rubber spatula, until dough sticks together.
8. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.  
9. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425º F. 
10. Before rolling out dough, let sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Roll dough into 12-inch circle on floured counter. 


Photo by Paige Delany

11. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll onto 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into plate bottom with the other. Leave any dough that overhangs plate in place. Wrap dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 min.
12. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie plate using your fingers. 


Photo by Paige Delany

13. Wrap dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic and refrigerate until dough is fully chilled and firm, about 15 minutes before using.
14. Line chilled pie shell with parchment paper or double later aluminum foil, covering edges to prevent burning and fill with pie weights.
15. FOR A PARTIALLY BAKED CRUST: Bake until pie dough looks dry and pale in color, about 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and continue to bake crust until light golden brown, about 4 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer pie plate to wire rack. Crust must still be warm when filling is added.
16. FOR A FULLY BAKED CRUST: Bake until pie dough looks dry and is pale in color, about 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil and continue to bake crust until deep golden brown, 8 10 12 minutes longer. Transfer pie plate to wire rack and let crust cool completely, about 1 hour. 


Photo by Paige Delany

Need something to fill your pie with? Well since the holidays are just around the corner, I’ve got three fillings that should wow any audience.

  • Bon Appetite’s Dark Chocolate and Peppermint Whipped Cream Tart is to die for, and is a winter tradition in my house.
  • Eggnog is a fabulous Christmas staple enjoyed by both children and adults alike.  Try out this Eggnog Pie from Taste of Home magazine.
  • Apple pies are great for any time of the year. Give this lattice pie a whirl for some good ole comfort food and some practice learning to create a lattice topping.
  • Food and Wine published this amazing Butterscotch Mousse Pie for something different yet delicious.

Note: For all filling recipes, replace the crust portion with the crust recipe above.


Photograph by Paige Delany