4 Different Kinds of Homemade Pie Crust (+ How to Make Pecan Pie WITHOUT Corn Syrup)

Homemade pie crust

What’s your favorite kind of sweet treat? Chances are, some kind of pie probably made your list, especially classics like pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple pie. Yummy!

Over the years, I’ve made a lot of homemade pie crusts for a lot of different pies, everything from cherry pie to chicken pot pie. And I can’t fathom ever buying a crust from the store! Homemade pie crust takes only minutes to make yourself, especially if you use an easy recipe, and it’s delicious. Not to mention that it’s affordable AND doesn’t contain any preservatives if you make it yourself.

Here are 4 different kinds of homemade pie crusts you can experiment with in your kitchen, whether you’re making Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or summertime cherry pie.

Pie crust closeup

But first, some general pie crust tips!

Regardless what recipe you use, always roll homemade pie crust between two pieces of waxed paper, then transfer the rolled pastry to your pie plate. This makes it easy to roll and shape the dough without overworking it, and it also keeps mess down. (Just don’t let it set on the paper too long, as the waxed paper may absorb some of the fat and make the pastry tough. Don’t ask me how I know this. 😉 )

Also, if possible, use a pie plate with an edge. Remember those traditional Pyrex pie plates Grandma used? There’s a reason they’re so popular. Those pie plates work great at producing a crisp, easy-to-form crust structure. I highly recommend that if you’re going to bake a lot of pies, spend a few dollars on a pie plate from a thrift store or a garage sale. (Honestly, I ALWAYS see these pie plates at thrift stores. Always.)

When making pie crust, however, always follow this rule: Don’t overwork the dough! Instead, “fluff” the dough with your fork until just combined, using your hands to gently gather crumbs together. Too much kneading results in tough crusts. Yuck.

And finally, don’t worry if your homemade crust doesn’t look perfect. Real, homemade pie crust looks rustic, sprinkled with little imperfections that prove it’s homemade goodness. (If you want something that looks deceptively pretty, here’s an easier way to make a lattice crust.)

Okay, now it’s time for 4 different kinds of homemade pie crust!

Liquid oil

#1: Oil Crust

This is my all-time favorite kind of homemade pie crust! Even though I realize that vegetable oil isn’t the healthiest oil to use (unless you use avocado oil), this crust is very easy to make and use. In fact, I think it’s easier than traditional homemade pie crust recipes using hard fat like lard or shortening.

Need a recipe? Check out this oil pie crust from Chocolate with Grace. (This is very close to the recipe I use.)

Pros:

  • Easy, especially for new pie crust makers.
  • Uses simple ingredients. (Even those who aren’t used to making things from scratch probably have vegetable oil.)
  • Works for most pies, sweet and savory.

Cons:

  • Uses vegetable oil (not as healthy, unless you use avocado or olive oil).

homemade-lard-homemade4anyone

#2: Lard/Shortening Crust

More traditional crusts use a hard fat like lard or shortening. (If you’d rather not use either of those ingredients, you might be able to substitute another hard fat, like coconut oil, butter, or palm oil “shortening.”) While they’re delicious, these traditional crusts are a little more finicky in my opinion. Specifically, they’re harder to blend without over-mixing, especially if you’ve never made homemade pie crust before.

Need a recipe? Check out this pie crust recipe at Genius Kitchen. (This recipe is very close to the recipe I use.)

Pros:

  • Delicious flavor and unparalleled texture! (Sorry, oil crust. Lard wins every time.)
  • Very traditional, so it’s easy to use healthy fats like lard or butter.

Cons:

  • Stiffer dough, especially when it comes to mixing and rolling properly.

Sourdough starter

#3: Sourdough Crust

If you have someone in your family who doesn’t have a strong digestive system or can’t tolerate phytic acid, try this recipe. It combines the phytic acid-busting abilities of sourdough with a rich pie crust recipe.

Need a recipe? Check out this sourdough pie crust from Cultures for Health. (This is the recipe I use.)

Pros:

  • Completely traditional ingredients and doesn’t contain much (if any) phytic acid.
  • Deliciously rich, especially for desserts.
  • You can’t overwork this dough, given how much butter it uses AND its texture. 🙂

Cons:

  • Requires making ahead (7-10 hours) and a sourdough starter that’s already thriving.
  • Doesn’t roll well. (I’ve resorted to pressing it in the pie plate with my fingers, as it’s just too stiff to roll when cold and too sticky to roll once it gets warm! However, this could vary depending on what starter you use and how hydrated you keep that starter.)
  • I make this crust with a food processor, and I can imagine it would get a little frustrating to make by hand…though not impossible.

gaelle-marcel-560818-unsplash

#4: Hot Water Crust

I first discovered the hot water crust while watching the Great British Baking Show. I’m very familiar with baking, but I’d never heard of this kind of pie crust before. It looked so interested, so I searched the internet for a recipe and finally converted one from metric. The result? A sturdy crust that was still like a pastry!

Need a recipe? Check out this hot water crust recipe at All Recipes. (I actually used a hot water crust recipe that used oil instead of a hard fat, so your result may be slightly different than mine. Most recipes, however, use hard fat.)

Pros:

  • Sturdy crust that works well for meat pies. (That’s its traditional use.) 
  • Mixes very well, even if using part whole flour.

Cons:

  • I think the taste and texture are different than regular pie crust. As a result, it may not work well for all kinds of pies, especially if you don’t like the difference.

Pecan pie

Bonus Pie Tip: Pecan Pie WITHOUT Corn Syrup

Craving a pecan pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Don’t settle for corn syrup! Instead, substitute sorghum syrup (or honey, if you don’t have any sorghum) instead. Sorghum is commonly found in Amish and Mennonite stores, and it’s basically a sweet kind of molasses that melds beautifully in a pecan pie! 

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