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. dragonfly

    Freeze the butter, then grate it with a fairly fine cheese grater. No pastry cutting required.

    For the bottom crust, place the ball of dough in the pie plate, then cover with a sheet of cling film. Press the dough to fill the plate, peeling and re-positioning the cling film as necessary. A small glass or something similar can be used to help spread it out more evenly in the bottom. Keep smushing it up the sides until you have enough to form the edge. (Careful not to get it too thin in any spots.)

    For the top crust, put down a sheet of cling film (taping the corners to your counter might help), place the dough in the middle, and then another sheet of cling film on top. Smush it into a disk, then roll out with a rolling pin, peeling and repositioning cling film as necessary. When it’s to the size and thickness you want, remove the top layer of cling film, remove the tape if you used it, and pick up the crust, including the cling film on the bottom. It’s much easier to handle this way. Turn it upside down and position it on your pie. When in place, peel off the cling film and seal and vent as usual.

    If it’s sticking too much to the cling film, you might need to add more flour. I find the high butter content usually is enough to keep it from sticking.

    Reply
    1. Kenhi

      Rather than taping the plastic film to the counter top, I use a wet sponge on the counter and then lay out the film. The wetness will hold it in place.

    2. Kristi Nebel

      As opposed to cling film I re-use a plastic grocery bag which allows me to flip it over easily while rolling, and pick it up after removing one side, to position it perfectly in the pie pan. Then I can press it with the remaining side of plastic still on the rolled-out dough. But this recipe didn’t work on pecan pie for me. At least the tip to pre-bake the crust wasn’t right for this custard; it broke and leaked. I’ll try again and pour the custard directly onto the raw pie crust before baking.

    3. Nana Colleen

      Thanks for the cheese grater idea!!! What a wonderful idea! The plastic wrap, too, but I haven’t tried that yet!

  2. Rachelle

    These tips are great. I have tried several recipes for gluten free crust and yours is by far the easiest to work with and the tastiest. I have not tried it with a double crust pie yet. I tried an alternate recipe just this past weekend. I had a very difficult time getting it into the pan and the flavor did not compare to the KAF recipe. I’ll stick with your recipe in the future and I’ll be attempting a double crust pie next.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Nice that you have found the recipe that works for you! Pie season? Bring it on! Elisabeth@KAF

  3. melody6696

    Most recently with my gluten free two crust pies,I have used cookie cutters to cut out shapes and used those to decorate the top of my pie. It makes the process just that much more fun!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Melody, I’ve been doing that for years with standard pie crust. I’m happy to know it also works with GF. So easy, and so pretty, too! Susan

  4. Wendy

    As Dragonfly suggests – grate the frozen butter into your dry ingredients. I use a rotary grater like the ones in Italian restaurants, to avoid frozen fingers and grated fingernails. It works beautifully!

    Reply
  5. Margaret

    Just in time! I tried a rice flour crust last thanksgiving and it was awful! Now that you have worked out the details, I know this should be a much better result. Can’t wait to get started!

    Reply
  6. Linda Cork

    I have friends who are both gluten free and dairy free. So I’ve used the King Arthur GF flour for a lot of things very successfully. I’m wondering if I should go with vegetable shortening in place of the butter, or margarine (horrors!) or some other type of shortening (lard??). What are your thoughts? I have never made a GF pie crust, but I know it would be a hit if I can just adjust so that it is also dairy-free.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      You could try butter-flavored shortening, Earth Balance, or even coconut oil, depending on the flavor of the pie you’re making. Susan

    2. Karen

      I’ll be trying this too, as I am both gluten and dairy free…I miss my cheese and cream! Try Spectrum All-vegetable shortening. It comes in both plain and butter flavored, and is much healthier than crisco. Many supermarkets carry it. Also, some of us dairy-free people use ghee (clarified butter) or can tolerate grass fed Kerrygold butter. Ask your friend in advance. Good luck!

    3. Alyssa Rimmer, post author

      Thanks for the tips, Karen. I think the butter flavored shortening would work well in our recipe – and yes, it’s certainly healthier than crisco. Alyssa

    4. Pat Volk

      love lov love pumpkin pie
      – could eat 1/2 one( I weigh 85 lbs so no problem there_
      However I am a gluten intolerant vegan,Now I can have my pie and adhere to my diet – Cruelty free, dairy free, gluten free.
      The best part of Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie and the stuffing.

    5. Alyssa Rimmer, post author

      I couldn’t agree more, Pat. I’ve always been a pumpkin pie lover and am so happy to have now found a GF crust that tastes like the “real” thing. Have a great holiday!

    6. Alyssa Rimmer, post author

      I’m glad you’ve had good results with our flour for your recipes, Linda! For the pie crust, my suggestion would either be butter flavored shortening or a vegan margarine (like earth balance which comes in sticks). If you’re going the margarine route, I’d suggest freezing it before mixing it with the flour because the melting point is lower than butter. I don’t think coconut oil is the best option for a rollout crust like this because it’s melting temperature is even lower and when cold it’s rock hard so it doesn’t make for easy assembly. Hope those help! Would love to hear what you end up trying and how it works for you. Alyssa

    7. Alison

      Lard is the traditional fat for making pies for a reason. It is firmer than butter and ends up making flaking layers in a pie crust. If you can find a locally sourced lard, even better as it won’t have been hydrogenated and the vitamin content will be higher.

  7. Anna

    I noticed the discussion on instant clear gel not be make totally gluten free and using gelatin as a sub in the mousse, can it also be used in the pie crust recipes?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      If you don’t want to use instant clear gel, I’d recommend arrowroot or GF cornstarch. Gelatin needs to go through a hydrating step and then be heated and cooled to thicken things, and I don’t think it will effectively contribute to structure given the method called for in the recipe. Susan

  8. Janet

    I roll my crusts between plastic wrap or parchment. GF crust is much more delicate than glutinous crusts and can fall apart. For a perfect double crust, just a little non-stick spray on the plastic wrap and roll dough between. Now you can remove one side, lift and lay over the pie and very gently remove the other piece of plastic wrap. Now gently pinch, slit, and bake as directed.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Excellent advice, Janet! I’ve been using the very same method for flour crusts for years. Keeps everything neater and so much easier to handle! Susan

  9. Tracey

    I have been baking GF pie crusts for years now ….If your GF crust breaks in the pie pan, use water to glue it back together. I have also found that if you freeze the crust for at least 2 hours, then take it out once your filling is ready, it bakes perfectly as it forms a nice crust on the outside and keeps your crust from breaking.

    When doing a double crust I make sure and brush the pan crust with water to ensure a nice seal and then chill it in the fridge for an hour to let everything harden before putting it in the oven. I also found using cookie cutters to do a top crust is more decorative and when cutting a GF crust, make less crust breakage when cutting as they tend to be a bit more fragile.

    Reply
    1. Alyssa Rimmer, post author

      I really like your tips, Tracey. Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to try the freezer trick next time and see the results. Also, I really enjoy using cookie cutters too. It can make the pie so much more interesting and festive. Happy pie baking! Alyssa

  10. Kathleen S

    Excellent post! I just printed out the KAF gluten free recipe to try, and this information helps a great deal. Thanks to all!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Corn starch really isn’t going to offer quite the same benefits as instant clearjel. However, it can be left out and the crust will still be great. Jon@KAF

  11. Laura Symons

    I’m eager to try this recipe and l o v e at the hints people have shared! My question is: I can’t have cane sugar and have a great honey-sweetened pumpkin pie recipe I’d like to try with this crust. Is there some sweetener that could be used to replace the sugar in the pie crust?

    Reply
    1. Alyssa Rimmer, post author

      Hi Laura, have you ever tried coconut sugar? It’s low glycemic and I think it would be be wonderful in this crust. It has this amazing caramel-like flavor that would pair perfectly with pumpkin pie. Hope that helps – let us know what you end up trying 🙂 Alyssa

  12. Danielle

    I’m curious, why couldn’t you just make the dough and smash it into the pie pan and chill it the already shaped pie crust until ready to bake? Why the need to roll it out?

    Reply
    1. Alyssa Rimmer, post author

      Hi Danielle, you are welcome to do that as well! I personally like rolling out the crust because I find it’s flakier. Suppose it’s mostly just a personal preference 🙂 Enjoy! Alyssa

  13. Suzie

    Hi I just wanted to know if you could make this pie crust recipe ahead of time and freeze it to use at a later time? Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Suzie, we’re concerned that the rolled out pie crust may slump a bit as it thaws overnight in the refrigerator. You might want to place another pie plate in the middle (over the plastic wrap) to maintain it’s shape as it thaws in the refrigerator. Or you could freeze the pie dough in the disk shape, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and then roll it out the next day. Barb@KAF

  14. Diane Layton

    I’d like to pre-make my pies now, and freeze them unbaked. I make apple, pecan and pumpkin. Would this work at all? What if I pre-bake the crust, then fill it and freeze it?.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ll find many blogs about freezing fruit pies. You might also consider making the pie crust and freezing those discs of dough. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake fresh the next day! Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  15. Valere

    This is an excellent GF pie shell recipe! I took others suggestions and grated the butter frozen – what a great idea. I used 1 Tbsp arrowroot flour in place of the clear Jel and did add 3-4 TBSP of water too. Rolled out like a dream onto lightly oiled parchment paper after an hour chilling in the fridge. Thank you King Arthur flour! 🙂

    Reply
  16. Marilyn

    I put my rolling pin in the freezer for a couple of hours prior to rolling out the chilled dough. Works like a charm! I also use a silicone pie crust mat, not necessary but it is helpful.

    Reply
  17. Minni

    Eager to try this recipe. With a different GF pie crust, I had difficulty with the rolled crust tearing as I applied the top crust. I was making a chicken pot pie for the freezer. Patted out bottom crust in pie plate, added filling, froze it, patted out top crust on hard frozen filling. Easy, worked & tasted great!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kathy, as a general rule, you can replace eggs in a GF recipe if there are two or less. One popular way is to use Ener G Egg Replacer. 1 1/2 teaspoons of the replacer combined with 2 tablespoons of water equals one egg. For more info on how to replace eggs in GF recipes, check out this great blog post of ours! http://bit.ly/1JMveRJ
      Happy baking! Bryanna@KAF

  18. 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

  19. 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. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

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