8 Tips for Making the Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Do you have a house guest this holiday season who’s gluten-free? Or are you yourself gluten-free and responsible for bringing a dessert that everyone will enjoy?

If so you’re in luck, because today we’re going to help you perfect your very own gluten-free pie crust.

When most people think of gluten-free baked goods, they think of the stuff they see on store shelves – cardboard crackers, overly sweet cookies, flavorless muffins, etc. They assume that because it doesn’t contain gluten, it’ll taste like it doesn’t contain gluten. Meaning, it’ll be tasteless and unenjoyable.

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Happily, and if any of our other recipes are proof, this statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is it possible to create delicious baked goods without the gluten, I would venture to say that sometimes the gluten-free version tastes even better.

If there’s one thing I think people struggle with when it comes to holiday baking, my guess is pie. Why? Because of the crust.

Many gluten-free pie crust recipes you find online tend to not hold their shape, crumble when you try to put them into the pie dish, or are more like a tart shell that you press into the pan. Sure, that’s fine, they still taste good, but they’re not going to be that tender, buttery, flaky pie crust that you’re looking for.

So rather than just sending you off with another recipe to go test on your own, we’ve pulled our baking minds together and come up with a few tips for you. We hope these tips will make your gluten-free pie baking not only more enjoyable this year, but also yield that perfect crust you’re looking for.

Tip #1: Don’t convert your wheat-based recipe to gluten-free

Fact of the matter is, they just aren’t the same. Wheat-based crusts contain gluten and therefore need different ratios of liquid as well as different flour ratios. With our gluten-free pie crust recipe, you’ll notice we add Instant ClearJel as well as xanthan gum, both of which help keep the crust pliable and easy to roll out. Go with the a trusted gluten-free crust recipe (like ours!) that you can have confidence in, and know it will turn out.

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Tip #2: Do it by hand

Oftentimes you’ll see pie crust recipes that tell you to use your food processor. While this does work in a pinch, I always think working the butter in and incorporating the wet ingredients by hand leads to a more flaky and delicate result.

Tip #3: Don’t give up if you “struggle” with double crusts

Gluten-free crust can be tough. It’s more delicate and can sometimes be hard to create that “perfect” double crust you might be accustomed to. If it’s not cooperating, try something different. Maybe try a lattice or even do a crumble topping on your apple pie (it’s like an apple crisp and apple pie together – just delicious!).

cabot-salted-butter-sticksTip #4: Cold butter is always your friend

With any pie crust recipe, the key is using cold butter. The cold butter will help make your crust lighter and more flaky. And it’ll be easier to work with, too!

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Tip #5: Chilling is a must

We suggest that you chill your pie dough before rolling it out to ensure that the butter stays cold and doesn’t start to melt. After you’ve mixed the crust, wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper and let it chill for at least one hour, or even overnight. Trust us, your crust will taste better and your guests will ask you what your secret is.

Tip #6: Test it first

If this is your first gluten-free pie, pretty please test it first. Not just because you want to make sure it turns out perfectly for the big event, but also to save yourself stress. The last thing you want to do is have a complete mess on your hand that morning, with no backup plan, and as such, no pie at Thanksgiving.

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Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to take a different route

I know you probably have your mind set on the exact pie that you’re going to be making this year, but I encourage you to also have an open mind (especially if this is your first gluten-free pie baking experience). Perhaps instead of the “traditional” version, go with a nut-based crust or even a cookie-based crust (using gluten-free cookies, of course). It’s OK to change it up – who knows, you might be surprised and find that your family actually enjoys it better!

Tip #8: Smile!

Our final tip for making the perfect gluten-free pie crust is to smile. Baking is meant to be enjoyable and relaxing, so try not to let the stress of the holidays get the better of you and take the fun out of it. Smile, laugh, and love – your pie will taste better for it!

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We hope these tips are helpful and give you inspiration for creating your very own gluten-free pie. We’ll be posting our favorite apple pie recipe the week before Thanksgiving, so be sure to stop by and check it out. From our baking family to yours, we wish you a happy gluten-free, pie-filled holiday!

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Gluten-Free Pie Crust.

Print the full recipe here.

Alyssa Rimmer
About

Alyssa grew up in Vermont, attended the University of Vermont and now lives in New York City, where she bakes and writes recipes for her blog Simply Quinoa. She's been living gluten-free for over four years. Alyssa also authors her own food blog and enjoys ...

comments

  1. Molly

    My last few GF pie crusts have stuck to the pie tin, so badly that we had to just scoop out the filling and eat it like pudding. I never had this happen before, so I’m not sure what to do. Is it ok to spray the pie tin with oil? or … what?? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, please spray, Molly! We find that generously greasing the pie tin with spray or butter ensures an easy release, but you can even take an extra step and line your pan with parchment paper too. It’ll give your pie a rustic look, and you can trim the edges if you want a more refined presentation. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  2. B

    I have a question. My church sells home made frozen uncooked apple pies at our Christmas Fair. Can we use gf dough? Will it freeze ok made into a pie for a month? Would it need to be thawed b4 baking or can it be baked frozen? Thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, B, and we’re glad to hear you’re thinking ahead to ensure your holiday baking goes smoothly. We actually have a whole article written about freezing and baking fruit pies on our blog, which includes all the tips and tricks you’ll need to be successful (like letting the pie thaw in the fridge overnight before baking). The crust in the post is made with regular flour, but you can still use this same method with gluten-free crust. Check it out and let us know if you have any questions! Kye@KAF

  3. Pat Wallace

    Another pie-baking tip: Use a pizza stone to ensure that your bottom crust is cooked through: pre-heat your oven for an hour with the pizza stone on the rack where you’re going to bake the pie — it takes the stone a long time to heat through. I usually cut a round of parchment to put under the pie to catch any filling drips. Since I’ve been doing this, my crusts are always browned and crisper on the bottoms.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great tip, Pat! We’d caution against it if you’re using a glass pan, though, as it would be more sensitive to extreme heat. Mollie@KAF

  4. Angela

    I’m not familiar with instant clearjel. Would gelatin be a workable substitute? Would love to try this recipe, but I’m done going to the store before thanksgiving!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Angela, Gelatin will dissolve and run everywhere when heated; it can’t do what ClearJel does. You can make the crust without it, and add a little more xanthan gum. Susan

  5. Marilyn

    I don’t understand why you would put a pie crust recipe labeled “gluten free” on your site, and then use ClearJel, which you clearly state is not gluten free. It’s a difficult transition for anyone who loves to bake to go gluten free, especially because it’s necessary to buy so many new ingredients. Please, if any recipe is put out there labeled “gluten free,” don’t call it that if it isn’t. I love your products and your website, but this could be a problem for us “gluten free” bakers who are trying to adjust and are changing our whole way of baking.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Marilyn and we will certainly consider them going forward. We aim to help all bakers achieve success, even gluten-free bakers! The Instant ClearJel does not have wheat added to it; it simply is not packaged in a gluten-free facility so it is not certified gluten-free. For folks who are looking to avoid gluten in their diets but do not have a serious allergy, this ingredient can help the pie crust from crumbling. However, we understand where you are coming from with your concern for gluten-free bakers and we will certainly respect that. Thank you for taking the time to write. Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The recipes featured in the blog can usually be found underneath the first photo at the top of the blog, highlighted as an orange link. In case you aren’t able to find it, here is the recipe for Gluten-Free Pie Crust. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  6. Lisa F

    I freeze my butter, cut it into 1/2 inch chunks and make the dough in a food processor, since there’s no gluten to make the dough tough and the fast processing doesn’t melt the butter, leaving you with a flaky crust. I roll out my crust on a silpat sheet and use a chilled stainless steel rolling pin

    Reply
    1. Mary A.

      It also works well to grate the frozen butter with a cheese grater! Grate, then freeze for a few minutes (or until ready to add to the dough), and you’ll have the coldest butter flakes in the kitchen C:

  7. Linda

    Why would you include an ingredient that isn’t gluten free in a gluten free recipe? Even if it says “optional,” I don’t think you should have it in there at all.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Linda, the Instant ClearJel does not have wheat added to it; it simply is not packed in a gluten-free facility so we can’t guarantee that it would be certified gluten-free. For those who are just looking for avoid gluten in their diets and don’t have Celiac’s disease, the Instant ClearJel is a great option. If you or someone you are baking for has a severe allergy, feel free to leave it out. Kye@KAF

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