Easy, Buttery Pie Dough

You know I’m not a baker. I think I’ve mentioned that before. Well, pie dough used to be one of those “baker” things that freaked me out. It doesn’t anymore because I figured out that using my food processor removes my biggest fear — overworking the dough. Now, there are gazillions of pie dough recipes on the internet and in cookbooks (including one of my own).

This recipe, adapted from my own The Great Ranch Cookbook, is the easiest, butteriest one I’ve tried. I say “adapted” because in the book, I write how to make it by hand. Here, I use the real workhorse in my kitchen, my Cuisinart food processor. And it takes all of 15 minutes — less if don’t have to dig your machine out from underneath a cabinet.

It’s really quite simple, with only four ingredients: flour, salt, butter, milk.

Put the flour in the bowl of your food processor, sprinkle with a little salt, and top with ice-cold butter cubes.


Here’s a trick I learned from a real pastry chef:


Cover the bowl of the food processor with a piece of plastic wrap before you secure the lid. Why? To keep the flour from wheezing out through the gap between the lid and the bowl.

Now, pulse several times, in long bursts, just until…

Coarse-meal-3 …the mixture looks like coarse meal, with some pea-size chunks of butter.

Remove the plastic, and the pour spout stopper and put the lid back on. With the motor running, pour in the milk.


Turn off the machine as soon as the dough starts to gather in a ball. If you wait until it’s all gathered together, you’ve gone too far, and your dough will be tough, and forget about any flakiness.


Trust me, the dough will come together. Scrape all the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and pat it together into a flat disk. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate until it’s chilled. You can even freeze it at this point for a couple months, but place it in freezer bag for even more protection.

Easy, Buttery Pie Dough

Makes a single crust for a 9-inch pie


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon if using table salt)
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 to 1/3 cup cold milk (any kind…except chocolate, of course)


1. Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

2. Sprinkle salt over flour. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and secure the lid. Pulse once or twice to blend.

3. Remove the lid and the plastic and place butter cubes on top of flour. Cover the bowl with the plastic again and secure the lid.

4. Pulse several times, in long (4 second) bursts to cut the butter into the flour. Stop when the mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter still visible.

5. Remove the lid and the plastic. Secure the lid back on the bowl and remove the pour spout. Turn the motor on and pour in the milk in a steady stream. Turn the motor off as soon as the dough begins to gather into a ball. It won’t take long. Seconds, really.

6. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a thick, circular disk. Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

9 replies
    • chefgwen
      chefgwen says:

      Hi Rae: I’m a professionally trained chef, not a baker, so don’t take my answer as “gospel.”

      There is no sugar in the recipe, but milk has natural sugars, so it helps with both the browning and the flavor. Good luck with your grandmother’s recipe!

  1. Grace
    Grace says:

    Your blog is beautiful! Question about the food processor though: are you using the regular chopping blade or the “dough” blade that comes with the cuisinart? Looks like you’re just using the regular one but I want to be sure. Thank you!

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Please! You are MY hero! I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you through Twitter and your site.


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