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Extra Flaky Vegan Pie Crust

| | byKat

This is the only vegan pie crust recipe you’ll ever need. It’s ultra flaky, crisp and tender, super easy to make, and you couldn’t possibly tell that it’s vegan! The secret to its next-level flakiness lies in using frozen, sliced vegan butter and in an extra laminating step, which also makes the pie dough easier to handle. I’ve also included all my top tips for choosing the best kind of vegan butter, and for blind baking and storing the pie crust.

Overhead view of the vegan pie crust before baking.

Friends, I’ve cracked the code. I’ve managed to develop and perfect a 100% reliable (and really simple) method for making the flakiest vegan pie crust you’ll ever see. And you might think I’m exaggerating – but I’m really not.

This pie crust is SO INSANELY FLAKY it’s approaching puff pastry territory. On top of that, it’s crisp and tender and buttery – and the pie dough itself is a joy to work with. And it’s vegan!!!

It requires only 5 ingredients, and all of them are vegan pantry staples. Unlike many other vegan pie crust recipes, this one doesn’t use coconut oil. Instead, it uses vegan butter – the kind that you should be able to find in your local grocery store without any problems. Below, I’ve also included all my top tips for choosing the perfect kind of vegan butter for the flakiest results.

Close-up of the blind-baked vegan pie crust cross-section, showing its flakiness.

It’s also incredibly easy to make!! There are a couple of tricks and extra steps you shouldn’t skip if you want to get maximum flakiness, but none of it is difficult or very time consuming. As long as you follow the recipe and make sure that your pie dough stays nice and cold throughout, vegan pie crust perfection is basically guaranteed.

And once you’ve mastered it, a whole world of vegan pies opens up before you! There are so many possibilities – you can use this pie crust in everything from sweet pies and pastries to savoury dishes. The options are pretty much endless.

So, without further ado: let’s make some ultra-flaky vegan pie crust!

Overhead view of the blind-baked vegan pie crust.

Close-up of the blind-baked vegan pie crust cross-section, showing its flakiness.

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!

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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 FLAKIEST vegan pie crust

Making a super flaky and tender vegan 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 and chilling steps, there’s actually nothing difficult about it at all.

This recipe makes enough pie dough for one single-crust 9 inch (23cm) pie, but is easily doubled if you want to make a double-crust pie (with a lid or lattice).

The ingredients: keep them cold!

You only need 5 ingredients to make this vegan pie crust, all of which are vegan pantry staples:

  • Plain all-purpose flour. I recommend chilling the flour in the fridge for about half an hour before starting, especially if you’re working in a warm kitchen. This will ensure that your pie dough will stay cold throughout, and will help achieve maximum flakiness.
  • 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.
  • Vegan butter. It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you use a vegan butter block or stick that’s fairly firm when cold (immediately out of the fridge). You don’t want to use a soft spread, as it’s very important that the vegan butter stays in relatively large pieces in the pie crust in order to achieve maximum flakiness and lamination.
  • 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 for at least half an hour before using.

The vegan butter

As mentioned above, it’s important to use the correct kind of vegan butter alternative in this recipe, in order to achieve maximum flakiness.

Use a vegan butter that’s fairly firm when it’s chilled in the fridge – I use the Stork Baking Block available in the UK, and something like the Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks or Miyoko’s European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter in the US might work well. Avoid using very soft “spreads”, as they melt much too quickly.

You will use the vegan butter in two forms in this recipe:

  • Chilled, directly out of the fridge. You will rub this into the flour until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. This prevents gluten development in subsequent steps and ensures that your baked pastry will be nice and tender.
  • Frozen and sliced into about ½ inch (1cm) square sheets, about 2mm thin. This is responsible for the lamination of the vegan pie crust. In any flaky pie crust recipe, it’s important that the butter pieces are kept relatively large. At the same time, it’s absolutely crucial that they don’t soften and melt too quickly, as that will destroy the butter-dough layers. When you use frozen vegan butter and cut it into the exact size needed (instead of, for example, cutting it into cubes and squashing them between your fingers to achieve the same thing), you reduce the amount of handling required and thus ensure that it doesn’t melt.

Making the pie dough

To make the vegan pie dough:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients: plain all-purpose flour, sugar and salt.
  2. Add the cold vegan butter (from the fridge)
  3. and use your fingertips to work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the frozen, sliced vegan butter. (You can slice the frozen butter before starting and then freeze it again until needed.)
  5. Toss it in the dry ingredients, and make sure that it’s all evenly covered in flour. If any pieces of butter have clumped together, break them up.
  6. Add the cold water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
  7. After each addition of water, gently toss all the ingredients together with your fingertips, ensuring that the flour is evenly hydrated.
  8. When the dough starts clumping together, give it a quick knead (pressing it against the sides of the bowl) until it comes together in a ball. Don’t over-work the dough as that can result in gluten development and a tough pastry. Note that you might not need all the water listed in the recipe, as different brands/types of all-purpose flour absorb slightly different amounts of moisture. I’ve found that I usually use all of it.
  9. The final vegan pie dough won’t look smooth: it might crack slightly in places and it will be a bit “shaggy” – that’s OK. As long as there aren’t any completely dry spots (all the flour should be hydrated) and you can see large pieces of butter in there, you’re good to go. If you do see patches of dry flour, sprinkle them with some extra cold water.
  10. Wrap the pie dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. I don’t recommend freezing the dough at this stage, as it can lead to cracking when you roll it out in the laminating step.

The first 6 steps of the 10-step process of making vegan pie dough.

The last 4 steps of the 10-step process of making vegan pie dough.

Laminating the pie dough for extra flakiness

Once your pie dough has chilled, it’s time for the next step: lamination. Note that unlike pie dough made with regular dairy butter, this one won’t be very hard or firm when you take it out of the fridge – that’s because vegan butter will always stay softer than dairy butter.

The process of laminating this pie dough 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!

I recommend doing only two letter folds for this vegan pie crust: a larger number of folds starts destroying the butter-dough layers and actually reduces the amount of flakiness you get.

The first letter fold

For the first letter fold:

  1. Lightly flour your work surface and the top of the pie dough.
  2. Tap on the pie dough with a rolling pin to make it more pliable.
  3. Roll it out into a long rectangle. The exact dimensions honestly don’t matter much, just make sure that you don’t roll it thinner than about 3-4mm. While rolling, make sure that it doesn’t stick to the surface, by occasionally sliding your hands underneath.
  4. Brush away any excess flour.
  5. Make a letter fold: fold the upper third of the dough towards the middle (and again, brush off any excess flour),
  6. and fold the lower third of the dough over it. This is a simple letter fold.

The 6-step process of the first letter fold.

The second letter fold

For the second letter fold:

  1. Rotate the dough by 90 degrees so that the “open ends” are closest and farthest from you.
  2. Tap the pie dough rectangle with a rolling pin.
  3. Roll it out into a long rectangle.
  4. Fold the top third towards the middle,
  5. the lower third over it,
  6. and that’s another letter fold done!
  7. Because you’ll be rolling it out into a round shape, I like to use my hands to form the dough into an approximately round disc.
  8. Wrap the laminated dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

The first 4 steps of the 8-step process of the second letter fold.

The last 4 steps of the 8-step process of the second letter fold.

Assembling a single-crust vegan pie: rolling, lining & crimping

This recipe makes the perfect amount of pie dough for a single-crust 9 inch (23cm) pie, with enough pastry for a pretty crimp around the edge.

Here’s how you assemble a single-crust vegan pie:

  1. Lightly flour your work surface and the top of the pie dough. Gently tap it with a rolling pin to make it more pliable and easier to roll out.
  2. Roll it out until it’s about 3mm thin. Don’t roll it any thinner than that, as it will reduce the flakiness.
  3. Make sure that the rolled-out pie dough is at least 1 ½-2 inches (4-5cm) larger than the pie dish, so that you have enough left over for crimping.
  4. Brush away any excess flour.
  5. Fold the pie crust in half (or use a rolling pin to roll the pie crust onto it) and transfer it into the pie dish.
  6. Make sure that it’s snug against the bottom and sides of the dish.
  7. Cut away the excess dough (I like to use scissors for this), leaving about 1 inch (2.5cm) of overhang.
  8. 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.
  9. Then, crimp the edge
  10. and chill in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes before blind baking.

The first 6 steps of the 10-step process of making a single-crust vegan pie.

The last 4 steps of the 10-step process of making a single-crust vegan pie.

How to blind bake a vegan 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 deep golden brown.
  • If you’re using a filling that will be baked but 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 vegan pie crust:

  1. Dock your chilled pie crust all over the bottom and sides with a fork. This prevents it from puffing up too much during baking.
  2. Scrunch up a piece of baking/parchment paper and then straighten it out (this softens it and prevents it from cutting into the pastry) and then use it to line the pie crust.
  3. Fill the pie crust to the brim with pie weights (ceramic baking beans).
  4. Bake for 20 minutes at 390ºF (200ºC) until the edges of the pie crust are light golden brown.
  5. Then, remove the pie weights and baking/parchment paper and return it to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, until it’s deep golden brown, and it feels and looks crisp to the touch. If it’s perfectly blind baked, you should be able to pick it up from the pie dish (after it’s cooled a bit) and it should feel sturdy in your hands.

The 5-step process of blind baking the vegan pie crust.

Extra tip for preventing a soggy bottom

I like to bake my pie crust and pies in general on a pre-heated baking sheet – this starts the bottom of the pie baking straight away and guarantees a crisp, golden brown pie bottom.

If you still struggle with soggy pie bottoms, you can bake your pies (and pie crust) on the lower middle oven rack, so that they’re closer to the bottom heating elements.

Showing the golden brown underside of the blind-baked pie crust.

Can vegan pie crust be made in advance?

Yes!! You actually have several options to choose from:

  • Store the laminated pie dough. Make and laminate the pie dough, wrap it tightly in cling film and keep it in the fridge (for 1 week maximum) or freezer (for 2-3 weeks maximum) until needed. Before using it, thaw it at room temperature for 10-20 minutes; if you press on it with a finger, it should leave an indentation – it should feel firm but not completely solid to the touch.
  • Store the crimped pie crust before baking. You can roll out the laminated pie dough, transfer it into the pie dish and crimp it. Then, wrap it tightly in cling film and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days before baking. Bake it straight from the fridge, following the instructions in the recipe (or the blind baking tips above). I don’t recommend freezing it in this case.
  • Store the blind baked pie crust. You can fully blind bake your pie crust and the store it at room temperature until the next day, just lightly covered with a clean dish towel. I don’t recommend keeping it in a closed container. The pie crust is definitely at its best on the day of baking and the day after, so don’t keep it for longer than two days before filling and serving. This only works if your pie filling doesn’t need to be baked.

Top tips for vegan pie crust perfection

  • Keep everything cold. The crucial thing when making the vegan pie crust (and any pie crust in general) is keeping everything as cold as possible – this prevents the butter from melting and thus preserves the all-important butter-dough layers.
  • Use the correct type of vegan butter. Use a firm butter “block” (or “stick”) that is fairly solid when it’s chilled in the fridge. Avoid soft spreads, they won’t give good results. Also, don’t try to substitute the vegan butter with coconut oil, it won’t work well.
  • Use frozen vegan butter for maximum lamination and flakiness. Using frozen, sliced butter minimises the chances of the butter melting and destroying the lamination.
  • Work quickly and chill the dough in between if necessary. If at any point you feel like your pie crust has become too warm and/or too soft, and that the butter in it has started to melt, wrap the pie dough in cling film and chill for at least 15-20 minutes before proceeding.
  • Correct hydration is crucial. The pie dough (before the first chilling step and lamination) should hold together well and all the flour should be properly hydrated. If the dough is under-hydrated, it will be very crumbly and you’ll see several patches of completely dry flour. In that case, sprinkle it with extra cold water. If your dough is over-hydrated, it will be very sticky/tacky to the touch. There isn’t much you can do in that case, just make sure to roll it out on a surface generously sprinkled with flour after chilling. Note that an over-hydrated dough can result in gluten development and a slightly rubbery or leathery pie crust. That’s why it’s very important top add your water slowly when making it.
  • Lamination increases flakiness and makes the pie dough easier to work with. The two letter folds multiply the number of butter-dough layers and result in an ULTRA-FLAKY pie crust.
  • Don’t roll it out too thinly. For best results, roll it out to about 3mm. Any thinner than that, and it won’t bake up as flaky.
  • Bake it at 390ºF (200ºC) for maximum puff and flake. I’ve found that this temperature gives the best flakiness and also allows the pie crust to bake all the way through before it starts browning too much (especially at the crimped edge).

Overhead view of the blind-baked vegan pie crust that has been cut in half.

And that covers just about everything you need to know in order to make THE BEST vegan pie crust – a perfectly flaky, tender and crisp pastry that’s just waiting to be filled with whatever deliciousness you desire.

I’ve already tested it in a vegan apple pie and in a vegan pumpkin pie recipe, and it works brilliantly in both cases. In fact, even my non-vegan taste testers couldn’t tell that they’re vegan, which is really the ultimate compliment. I simply can’t wait to share both recipes with you, they will be coming to the blog in the next few weeks!

But for now: I hope you’ll enjoy this ultra-flaky vegan pie crust recipe.

Happy baking!

Signature of the author, Kat.

Vegan pie crust before baking, with a jar of pie weights in the background.

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Extra Flaky Vegan Pie Crust

This is the only vegan pie crust recipe you’ll ever need. It’s ultra flaky, crisp and tender, super easy to make, and you couldn’t possibly tell that it’s vegan! The secret to its next-level flakiness lies in using frozen, sliced vegan butter and in an extra laminating step, which also makes the pie dough easier to handle.
This recipe makes enough pie dough for one single-crust 9 inch (23cm) pie, but is easily doubled if you want to make a double-crust pie (with a lid or lattice).
Print Rate
Prep Time 45 mins
Chill Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings 1 batch

Ingredients

  • 200 g (1 ⅔ cups) plain all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ 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.)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 35 g (⅓ stick) cold vegan butter, from the fridge (I used the Stork Baking Block, but other brands like the Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks or Miyoko’s European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter should work as well. Make sure to use a firm butter block/stick, not a soft spread.)
  • 100 g (¾ stick + 1 tbsp) frozen vegan butter, sliced into ½ inch (1cm) square pieces about 2mm thin (You can slice the frozen butter before starting and then freeze it again until needed. It's easiest to slice the vegan butter after it's been frozen for about 3-4 hours, not overnight.)
  • 80 g (⅓ cup) cold water

Instructions

Making the vegan pie dough:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar 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 vegan butter getting too warm and soft when you make the pie dough.
  • Add the cold vegan butter (from the fridge) and use your fingertips to work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs.
    Tip: This prevents gluten development in subsequent steps and ensures that your baked pastry will be nice and tender.
  • Add the frozen, sliced vegan butter. Toss it in the dry ingredients, and make sure that it’s all evenly covered in flour. If any pieces of butter have clumped together, break them up.
    Tip: Using frozen butter prevents it from melting too quickly, and maximises the flakiness of the final, baked pastry.
  • Add the cold water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. After each addition of water, gently toss all the ingredients together with your fingertips, ensuring that the flour is evenly hydrated.
    Tip: You might not need all the water listed in the recipe, as different brands/types of all-purpose flour absorb slightly different amounts of moisture. I’ve found that I usually use all of it.
  • When the dough starts clumping together, give it a quick knead (pressing it against the sides of the bowl) until it comes together in a ball. Don’t over-work the dough as that can result in gluten development and a tough pastry.
    The final vegan pie dough won’t look smooth: it might crack slightly in places and it will look a bit “shaggy” – that’s perfectly fine. As long as there aren’t any completely dry spots (all the flour should be hydrated) and you can see large pieces of butter, you can proceed with the next step. If you do see patches of dry flour, sprinkle them with some extra cold water. (See blog post for photos of what the pie dough should look like.)
  • Wrap the pie dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. I don’t recommend freezing the dough at this stage, as it can lead to cracking when you roll it out in the laminating step.

Laminating the pie dough:

  • Lightly flour your work surface and the top of the chilled pie dough.
  • Tap on the pie dough with a rolling pin to make it more pliable.
  • Roll it out into a long rectangle. The exact dimensions don’t matter much, just make sure that you don’t roll it thinner than about 3-4mm. While rolling, make sure that it doesn’t stick to the surface, by occasionally sliding your hands underneath.
  • Turn the dough so that a short end is closest to you. Brush away 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.
    Tip: If the dough becomes too soft at any point, chill it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before proceeding.
  • After the two letter folds, wrap the dough in cling film and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until needed.
  • Use as instructed in the chosen pie recipe.
    This recipe makes enough pie dough for one single-crust 9 inch (23cm) pie, but is easily doubled if you want to make a double-crust pie (with a lid or lattice).

Storage:

  • The vegan 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.
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