Flaky Pie Dough

This is the pie dough I like to use when making American-style pies, such as pecan, pumpkin or apple. It uses vegetable shortening so the pastry is light and flaky, not dense; and it is sweet like a sweet shortcrust pastry for a more traditional French-style tart. I have tried all-butter doughs as well as doughs made from half butter and half shortening, but I think the flakiest pastry uses only vegetable shortening.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min (includes refrigeration time)
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: two 9-inch pie crusts
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3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 cup cold vegetable shortening, cubed 

1/4 cup cold milk 

1/4 cup cold water 


  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using two knives, a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the shortening into the dry mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Combine the milk and water in a measuring cup. While mixing with a fork, add the liquid, a little at a time, to the flour mixture. Keep adding liquid until the dough comes together and forms a ball. (You may not need to use all of the liquid.) Form the dough into two discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.