This is the only gluten free pie crust recipe you’ll ever need. It’s perfectly flaky and buttery, super easy to make and you honestly couldn’t possibly guess that it’s gluten free! The extra laminating step makes the pie crust extra flaky and the pie dough easier to handle, so you can crimp your pie edges and create lattice designs without any fear of the pie crust crumbling, cracking or tearing. I’ve also included all my top tips for blind baking, preparing the pie crust in advance and freezing it.
I’m SO EXCITED to share this recipe with you!! It’s my all-time favourite, go-to recipe for THE BEST gluten free pie crust you’ll ever try. It just ticks every single box: it’s perfectly flaky and buttery, really easy to make and the pie dough itself is a joy to handle, so you don’t need to worry about it being too crumbly or tearing too easily!
Now, I do already have an older gluten free pie crust recipe that I used in my Gluten Free Apple Pie, Gluten Free Blackberry Pie and Gluten Free Caramel Apple Hand Pies recipes. And don’t get me wrong, that is a very good recipe – but this one is just on a whole new level of deliciousness.
This recipe is actually from my debut cookbook Baked to Perfection, which came out in the US and Canada earlier this week (it was already released in the UK back in March). The book covers pretty much everything you need to know about gluten free baking – which simply had to include a recipe for the perfect gluten free pie crust.
This gluten free pie crust is one of four cornerstone recipes of the Pies, Tarts + Pastries chapter in my book (the other three are gluten free rough puff pastry, plain shortcrust pastry and chocolate shortcrust pastry) and it works incredibly well for everything from single-crust pies to double-crust pies with a lattice on top.
For example, just look at the deliciousness that is the Caramel Apple Pie recipe from my book!! You can easily see that the pie dough works great for a latticed pie – and check out how insanely flaky the lattice crust is!!
Below, I’ve included all the information and step-by-step photos you’ll need to make the most AMAZING gluten free pie crust – but before we get to that, let me tell you a bit more about my book.
Baked to Perfection: delicious gluten free recipes, with a pinch of science
This is the book I wish I had when I started on my gluten free journey way back in 2015. It answers any and all questions you might have about gluten free baking – I’ve included all the knowledge that I’ve collected over the years.
It contains over 100 truly amazing gluten free recipes: from cakes, muffins and cookies, to brownies, pastry and even a very extensive gluten free bread chapter. If you’ve been missing bagels, pizza, crusty bread, baguettes, pillowy-soft cinnamon rolls or even proper fried doughnuts – I’ve got you covered!
And because I’m a huge science nerd (with a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry, that’s rather to be expected!), I’ve also included simple scientific explanations for WHY the recipes actually work. I find the science of baking, and especially gluten free baking, endlessly fascinating – and I hope you’ll love those sciency tidbits as much as I loved writing (and illustrating) them.
I’ve packed A LOT of information into the recipes themselves, as well (much as I do here on the blog). In addition to the usual ingredients list and instructions, you’ll find information like preparation and baking times, how to store the bakes, possible recipe variations, as well as extensive footnotes describing the science at work.
You can get more information about the book and all the main order links here. It’s available with all major booksellers, like Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble (US), Indigo (Canada), Waterstones (UK) and Book Depository (international).
Now, back to the most amazing, flaky gluten free pie crust!
Here’s why you’ll LOVE this gluten free pie crust recipe
- Super easy to make. Sure, there is the extra laminating step but honestly, this gluten free pie crust is really simple to make. And so long as you keep your ingredients and pie dough nicely cold throughout, there isn’t much that can go wrong either!
- Perfectly flaky and buttery. This pie crust is an absolute dream to eat. It’s crisp and flaky, so that it just shatters as you cut into it, much like puff pastry would. At the same time, it’s sturdy enough to hold a variety of pie fillings and to make all sorts of latticed pies, galettes or hand pies.
- The pie dough is very easy to handle. With this being gluten free, you might worry that the pie crust is too crumbly to handle or that it cracks or tears easily. But that’s not the case at all! Instead, it handles like a dream, so you can crimp the pie edges and create lattice designs without any problems whatsoever.
- Couldn’t possibly guess that it’s gluten free! I know I’m repeating this constantly when it comes to my gluten free recipes, but you truly can’t tell that this pie crust is gluten free. In fact, I’d go even further and say that it’s BETTER than a wheat-based pie crust because you don’t need to worry about developing the gluten, so the pie crust comes out of the oven more tender and crisper than the gluten-containing counterpart.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful pie crust – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
How to make THE PERFECT flaky gluten free pie crust
Making a perfectly flaky and tender gluten free pie crust is actually incredibly easy. You don’t need any special equipment (no mixers or food processors) and while the whole process does take some time due to the additional laminating steps, there’s actually nothing difficult about it at all. Promise.
The ingredients: keep them cold!
This recipe requires only 6 ingredients, all of which are gluten free pantry staples:
- Plain gluten free flour blend. I’ve tested this recipe with several shop-bought gluten free flour blends available in the UK (Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, as well as Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Asda own brands) as well as with two DIY blends that you can mix yourself. I’ve listed the composition of one DIY blend in the recipe below – for the other one, check out my book!
- Xanthan gum. This acts as a binder (essentially a gluten replacement) and prevents the pie crust from being too crumbly and from tearing or cracking when you roll it out and use it to assemble the pie crust. It allows you to easily crimp the edges, create a lattice or anything else you might want to achieve.
- Caster/superfine or granulated sugar. The amount of sugar in the pie dough is relatively small and doesn’t make it taste sweet. Instead, its primary function is to help the pie crust brown nicely in the oven.
- A pinch of salt to bring out the flavour.
- COLD unsalted butter. This is obviously a crucial ingredients in the pie crust: it gives it a rich, buttery flavour, ensures that it’s wonderfully tender and, most importantly, it helps achieve that wonderful flakiness we know and love – more on that below!
- COLD water. You need a liquid to bind all the other ingredients together into a workable dough, and in this recipe, that’s water. It’s very important to use cold water (ideally chilled in the fridge before using) – more on that below!!
A note on the ingredient ratios
If you look at a range of “regular” pie crust recipes (that is, those made with wheat all-purpose flour), you’ll notice that they often follow a “3-2-1 rule” for the flour:butter:water ratio.
However, because gluten free flours absorb more moisture than wheat flour, a gluten free pie crust recipe requires a 3-2-slightly-more-than-1 rule, where you need to add more water than you would in a wheat-based recipe.
The best ratio for the gluten free flour blends I’ve tested for this recipe is 3:2:1.2, though it might be different for other gluten free flour blend compositions.
Making the pie dough
To make the gluten free pie dough:
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, sugar and salt.
- Add the cold cubed butter (ideally it should be straight out of the fridge).
- Toss the butter pieces in the flour so that they’re all evenly coated.
- Squish each butter cube between your finders to essentially form small “sheets” of butter. This will make the final pie crust extra flaky. Once you’ve squished all the butter pieces, toss them again with the flour to ensure that they’re evenly distributed.
- Add the cold water (same as with the butter, you want it VERY cold, straight out of the fridge).
- Mix everything together with a fork or rubber spatula until the dough starts clumping together. It will still look very dry, that’s okay – don’t be tempted to add more water!
- Gently squeeze
- and knead the dough, pressing it against the sides of the bowl, until it comes together in a shaggy ball with little to no dry patches. This can take up to about 5 minutes. If absolutely necessary (that is, if after 5 minutes the dough still appears too crumbly and hasn’t come together), sprinkle a tiny amount of water on the most persistent dry patches.
- The final dough should hold together in a ball but will not look perfectly smooth or evenly hydrated. That’s perfectly fine, the flour in the dough will hydrate more evenly during the following refrigeration step.
- Wrap the dough loosely in cling film and tap it with a rolling pin to shape it into an approximately 6×10 inch (15x25cm) rectangle (no need to be super precise about it). I find it easiest to do this by folding the cling film into a rectangle around the initial disc of dough, and then use the rolling pin to tap and push the dough into a rectangular shape within the confines of the cling film. By shaping the dough into a rectangle, you’ll make the subsequent rolling out and laminating steps easier. Then, chill the pie dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Side note: dry dough and long kneading time
When you make the pie dough, likelihood is that it will feel very dry – counterintuitively so. You’ll definitely be tempted to add more water. But resist that temptation!! Adding more water will make your baked pie crust tough, whereas we’re trying to achieve perfectly crisp, tender perfection.
Instead, just keep kneading. The dough will come together, promise.
You see, because you’re keeping all the ingredients cold and the butter pieces relatively large, the dough is initially (quite unsuccessfully) kept together only by the added water. This is why it will look very dry and crumbly at first.
But as you knead, the heat of your hands will melt small portions of the butter, which helps bring the dough together. And yes, this might take as long as 5 minutes. Trust in the process. You’ll get the most perfect flaky pie crust out of it.
Laminating the pie dough for extra flakiness
Once your pie dough has chilled and feels firm but not hard to the touch, it’s time for the next step: lamination. The process is similar to that for making croissants or puff pastry, and the idea behind it is the same: by folding the dough several times, you’re creating more butter-dough layers, which ultimately results in a flakier pie crust.
The laminating step also has the additional benefit of making the pie dough smoother and easier to handle, so it’s a win-win!
To laminate the gluten free pie dough:
- Tap on the pie dough rectangle (along its length) with a rolling pin to make it more pliable.
- Roll it out into an approximately 6×18 inch (15x45cm) rectangle (no need to be super precise about it), and make sure that it doesn’t stick to the surface.
- Make a letter fold: fold the upper third of the dough towards the middle,
- brush off any excess flour,
- and fold the lower third of the dough over it. This is a simple letter fold.
- Then, rotate the dough by 90 degrees so that the “open ends” are closest and farthest from you and repeat the letter fold.
- Tap the pie dough rectangle with a rolling pin,
- roll it out into a long rectangle,
- sliding your hands underneath the dough every now and then to make sure that it doesn’t stick.
- Fold the top third towards the middle,
- the lower third over it,
- and that’s another letter fold done!
For the flakiest results, do a total of 4-6 letter folds (the more folds you do, the greater the flakiness). If the dough becomes too soft (and the butter pieces in the dough too warm) to handle, chill it in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before proceeding. After the final letter fold, chill the dough in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
As you do the letter folds, you’ll notice that the pie dough becomes increasingly smoother, easier to handle and less likely to crack as you roll and fold it. For example, photos 1-6 above correspond to the first letter fold, whereas photos 7-12 correspond to the fifth one. You should be be able to see quite a noticeable difference between them, with the dough in photos 7-12 being much smoother with fewer cracks around the edges.
Assembling a single-crust gluten free pie: rolling, lining & crimping
This recipe makes enough gluten free pie crust for one double-crust pie (that is, one that has a pie crust bottom and either a lid or a lattice on top) or for two single crust pies (that is, ones that only have a pie crust bottom).
Even when I’m only making a single-crust pie, I like to make a whole batch and store the other half either in the fridge of freezer for whenever I’ll need it next!
Here’s how you assemble a single-crust gluten free pie:
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pie crust until it’s about 3mm thin. I like to roll it out on a sheet of cling film or baking/greaseproof paper, as that makes it easier to transfer into the pie dish.
- Make sure that the rolled-out pie dough is at least 1½-2 inches (4-5cm) larger than the pie dish, so that you have enough left over for crimping.
- Transfer it into the pie dish and make sure that the pie crust is snug against the bottom and sides of the dish.
- Cut away the excess dough (I like to use scissors for this), leaving about 1 inch (2.5cm) of overhang.
- Fold the overhanging dough under itself,
- and press it gently together along the fold, so that the two layers of dough adhere to each other.
- Then, crimp the edge
- and chill in the fridge for at least 15-30 minutes before (blind) baking.
How to blind bake a gluten free pie crust
You should blind bake your pie crust in two cases:
- If you’re using a pie filling that doesn’t require any baking – in that case, you should bake it completely, until it’s nicely golden brown.
- If you’re using a filling that is very wet (like pumpkin pie) – in that case, you should bake it only partially until it’s light golden brown. Blind baking in this case prevents a soggy bottom on your pie.
Here’s how to completely blind bake your gluten free pie crust (the first bullet point above):
- Dock your chilled pie crust all over the bottom with a fork.
- Scrunch up a piece of baking/greaseproof paper and then straighten it out (this softens it) and then use it to line the pie crust.
- Fill the pie crust to the brim with either pie weights or just good ol’ rice.
- And then: bake! I like to bake (and blind bake) my pies at 390ºF (200ºC), as it gives the best results in terms of flakiness and caramelisation.
- After about 20 minutes in the oven, when you see the edges of the pie turning light golden brown, remove the pie weights/rice and baking/greaseproof paper and return it to the oven. The bottom of the crust will still look fairly raw and under-baked.
- Bake it uncovered for a further 20 minutes of so, until it’s golden brown, and it feels and looks crisp to the touch. That’s it!
Top tips for gluten free pie crust perfection
Why is it important to keep the ingredients and the pie dough cold?
The primary reason for this is to get the maximum possible flakiness in the baked pie crust.
By keeping the ingredients and the pie dough as cold as possible at every step of the process, you’re ensuring that the butter pieces keep intact and don’t melt while you’re making and handling the dough.
If your pie dough (and therefore the butter in the dough) gets too warm, the butter will melt and mix with the rest of the ingredients while you’re handling and rolling it – that is, before the pie crust actually enters the oven. This will result in a greasy, oily, hard baked pie crust with no flakiness in sight.
If you keep your pie dough cold, on the other hand, the butter-dough layers and the lamination are preserved throughout, and the butter in the dough will melt only when the pie crust hits the oven. At the same time, the moisture in the butter will evaporate and convert into steam, which separates and forces apart the dough layers, resulting in that beloved flakiness. (Note that the butter composition in terms of weight is about 80% fat, 15% water and 5% milk solids.)
How do you make your pie crust extra flaky?
There are two main aspects of this recipe that make the pie crust extra flaky: keeping the butter pieces large and lamination.
You want to squish each cube of cold butter between your fingers to form a small “sheets” of butter. During rolling and laminating, these sheets of butter flatten out even further and help create all those butter-dough layers that lead to flakiness.
How do you crimp a pie crust?
There are numerous ways to crimp and decorate the edge of a pie crust. The one described in this recipe is my favourite, and I use it in the majority of my pies.
To crimp the edge, form a V-shape with the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand on the outside edge of the pie crust. Then, use either the index finger or the knuckle of the index finger of your dominant hand to push the pastry into that V-shape. Move around the edge of the pie crust to create a fluted rim.
Signs of a perfectly (blind) baked pie crust
Here’s how you know that your pie crust is perfectly baked:
- It’s of a golden brown colour (if you like it extra caramelised, you can take it all the way to a deep golden brown).
- It looks and feels crisp.
- You should be able to easily pick it up out of the pie dish and it should feel sturdy in your hands.
Can you make the pie dough in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer?
Yes! You can make the pie dough ahead of time (including the lamination) and then wrap it tightly in cling film and keep in the the fridge or freezer until needed.
It keeps in the fridge for about 1 week and in the freezer for about 2-3 weeks. When you want to use it, allow it to thaw at room temperature before using. If you press down on it with a finger, it should leave an indentation – but it should feel firm, not too soft to the touch.
And there you have it, friends! That covers pretty much everything you need to know to make the flakiest gluten free pie crust. I’ve used it in numerous recipes and it always amazes me just how flaky, buttery, crisp and delicious it is.
It’s wonderful both in sweet and savoury recipes, so there are really endless possibilities of how you can use it – in fruit pies and savoury quiches, in galettes and hand pies… honestly, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
I really hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
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Extra Flaky All-Butter Gluten Free Pie Crust
- 375 g (3 ⅛ cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour blend, which doesn't contain added xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend with 50% finely ground white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight. Note that maize flour in the UK is equivalent to corn flour in the US.)
- 2 tbsp caster/superfine or granulated sugar (If you want to use the pie crust in a savoury recipe, you can reduce the sugar to 1 tsp.)
- 1 ½ tsp xanthan gum (If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount of added xanthan gum to ¾ tsp.)
- ½ tsp salt
- 250 g (2 sticks + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch (1cm) cubes, chilled
- 150 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp) cold water
- In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum and salt.Tip: If you're working in a very warm kitchen, you can chill the bowl and your combined dry ingredients in the fridge for about 30 minutes before starting. This will reduce the chances of the butter getting too warm and soft when you make the pie dough.
- Add the cold cubed butter and toss it in the flour until each piece is coated.Tip: Make sure that your butter is COLD, straight out of the fridge.
- Squish each cube of butter between your fingers to form small, thin sheets of butter. Once you’ve squished all the butter pieces, toss them again with the flour to ensure that they’re evenly distributed. Be sure to check that you’ve squished all the butter pieces before adding the water.Tip: Keeping the butter pieces relatively large and in the form of thin "sheets" will make your pie crust extra flaky. See blog post for photos.
- Add the cold water and mix well with a fork or rubber spatula until the dough starts coming together. After you’ve added all the water, the dough will still look very dry – don’t be tempted to add more.Tip 1: Make sure that your water is COLD, ideally straight out of the fridge.Tip 2: The amount of water listed in the recipe works perfectly for a wide range of shop-bought gluten free flour blends, as well as for the DIY blend that you can mix yourself recommended in this recipe. If you use a very different blend (with a very different composition), you might need to adjust the amount of water.
- Gently squeeze and knead the dough, pressing it against the sides of the bowl, until it comes together in a shaggy ball with little-to-no dry patches (this can take up to 5 minutes). If absolutely necessary, and if after 5 minutes the dough still hasn’t come together, sprinkle a tiny amount of water on the most persistent dry patches.The final dough should hold together in a ball but will not look perfectly smooth or evenly hydrated. That’s perfectly fine, the flour in the dough will hydrate more evenly during the next refrigeration step.Tip: Because you leave the butter pieces relatively large, the dough is initially (quite unsuccessfully) kept together only by the added water, which is why it will look incredibly dry and crumbly. As you knead, however, small portions of the butter melt from the heat of your hands, helping the dough to come together.
- Wrap the dough loosely in cling film and tap it with a rolling pin to shape it into an approximately 6x10 inch (15x25cm) rectangle (no need to be super precise about it). I find it easiest to do this by folding the cling film into a rectangle around the initial disc of dough, and then use the rolling pin to tap and push the dough into a rectangular shape within the confines of the cling film.Tip: By shaping the dough into a rectangle before chilling, you’ll make the subsequent rolling out and laminating steps easier.
- Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until the pie dough feels firm but not hard when you press down on it with your finger.
- Tap on the chilled pie dough rectangle (along its length) with a rolling pin to make it more pliable.Roll it out into an approximately 6x18 inch (15x45cm) rectangle (no need to be super precise about it). Turn the dough so that a short end is closest to you. Brush off any excess flour and fold the dough as you would an A4 letter – the top third down towards the middle and the bottom third up over it. This is called a "letter fold".
- Rotate the dough by 90 degrees (so that the open ends are closest and farthest from you). Roll out into a similar-sized rectangle and repeat the letter fold. For best results, complete a total of 4-6 letter folds (the more you do, the greater the flakiness). If the dough becomes too soft at any point, chill it in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before proceeding.
- After the final letter fold, wrap the dough in cling film and chill it for at least 30 minutes or until needed. (If you chill it for longer than 1 hour before using, soften it for about 15-30 minutes at room temperature, so that it’s pliable.)
- Use as instructed in the chosen pie recipe.This recipe makes enough pie dough for one 9 inch (23cm) double-crust pie or two 9 inch (23cm) single-crust pies.
- Storage:The gluten free pie crust keeps well wrapped tightly in cling film for 1 week in the fridge or 2-3 weeks in the freezer. When you want to use it, allow it to thaw at room temperature before using. If you press down on it with a finger, it should leave an indentation – but it should feel firm, not too soft to the touch.