How to Make Flaky All Butter Pie Dough by Hand

all butter pie dough

A flaky all-butter pie dough made with just four ingredients, no food processor required. All you need is a light hand, a good butter, and a little bit of practice, and you will have a great pastry with those coveted layers that shatter with every bite. And don’t be afraid of ruining the dough, because if you are, you will.

Ask me how I know.

All Butter Pie Dough

Prep time


Resting Time




  • 170 g all purpose flour

  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 113 g unsalted butter

  • 56 g or 1/4 cup ice cold water


  • Mix the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and place in the freezer. Cut the butter into quarters lengthwise and then cut into half-inch cubes. Place the butter on a plate and place in the freezer with the 1/4 cup of water. Set a timer for twenty minutes.

  • When the timer goes off, remove the butter and flour from the freezer. Combine the two by cutting the butter into the flour with a fork or pastry cutter. Then, use your hands to rub the butter and flour together until it looks like a mix of coarse sand, pea-sized lumps, and nickel-sized flakes of butter. 

  • Remove the water from the freezer and pour most of it into the bowl, and mix. There should be no flour left at the bottom of the bowl, and the dough should look very shaggy. Only add the rest of the water, a little at a time, if there is flour left in the bottom of the bowl.

  • Pour the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use it to squish the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for thirty minutes

  • Remove the dough from the fridge and knead three or four times.

  • The dough is now ready to be used or refrigerated for one to three days or frozen for up to three months.


    • Place all of your ingredients in the freezer for twenty minutes before mixing.

    • I mix the flour and butter with my fingers instead of a pastry cutter because then I can tell when the mix is getting too warm. If it does become too warm, place the mixture in the freezer for five minutes.
    • When mixed, the flour and butter should be like coarse sand and have pea-sized and dime-sized bits of butter in it.

    • Do not add all of the water at once. Flour absorbs water differently depending on the weather, so you may need less water on some days, and on other days you may need more. After adding the water, the dough will look like it does not have enough. Unless there are fine flour particles in the bottom of the bowl, do not add more water. 

    • Using plastic wrap, squish the dough into a disc, then wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.

    • I find that the dough is easier to knead after it has been refrigerated rather than before.

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