How to make pie crust in your stand mixer: easy does it

Is it a good idea to make pie crust using a stand mixer? Or is it really better to combine all of the ingredients — the flour and salt, fat and water — by hand?

The vast majority of pie crust recipes (including those here on our recipe site) direct you to combine the dry ingredients, then work the fat in using a pastry blender, pastry fork, two knives, or your hands.

As far as using one of your handy countertop appliances, some folks say you can make pie crust using a food processor. But never will you see anyone espousing the use of a stand mixer (or electric hand mixer) to make pie crust.

Why is that? We use our trusty stand mixers for everything from brownie batter to bread dough — why not pie crust?

Some say a mixer toughens crust. Others say it doesn’t flatten the fat in just the right way. And for some, I think it’s simply resistance to change: Great-Grandma didn’t use a mixer, and neither do I!

Well, I’m going to tell you a little secret: I’ve been using my stand mixer to make pie crust for years. Nay, decades, ever since I got my first mixer by saving S&H Green Stamps (and if you know what those are, you know how long ago that was!).

Truthfully, you may get marginally flakier pie crust by flattening each little piece of cold butter by hand as you work it into the flour. But these days, my aging hands, wrists, and shoulders — to say nothing of my patience — are sorely tried by the process.

I’ve used a stand mixer to make pie crust forever, and people have always raved about my crust. And I believe that using a stand mixer to make pie crust is a perfectly reasonable solution for those who don’t want to work fat and flour together by hand.

Can you make pie crust using a stand mixer? Yes indeed — and here's how. Click To Tweet

I’m using our recipe for Classic Double Pie Crust here, which combines both butter and shortening. The recipe yields crust with a textural combination of tender shortbread and flaky croissant — with a generous measure of crispness thrown in.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

To make pie crust, first combine flour, salt, and shortening

I put 2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 cup vegetable shortening into the bowl of my stand mixer. I then use the beater attachment at speed 2 to create an evenly crumbly mixture. (I’ve poured the mixture out onto a piece of parchment so you can see it clearly.)

This first step, thoroughly combining shortening with flour, is what produces a tender crust. Fat coats the flour, which helps prevent gluten from forming strong bonds. When you cut into your baked crust, it breaks easily — which registers as “tender.”

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Next, cut ice-cold butter into small cubes

This recipe uses 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter. A baker’s bench knife is very handy here. These butter cubes will separate from one another as you mix them into the flour.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Add the butter to the flour/shortening

Beat on a low setting (speed 2) until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. That’s unevenly crumbly: you want dime-sized chunks of butter to remain unmixed.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Like this.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Add ice-cold water as the mixer is running

The recipe I’m following calls for 6 to 10 tablespoons of water. However much water your recipe calls for, don’t add it all at once; drizzle it in slowly. When you see the mixture start to form larger clumps, stop adding water (and stop the mixer).

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Stop mixing when the dough becomes cohesive

Grab a handful of the crumbs and squeeze. Do they hold together? If not, continue to drizzle with water until the dough is cohesive when squeezed.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

When that happens, you’re ready to add enough of the remaining water to make a crust that comes together nicely, without any crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl. Stop the mixer — you’re done!

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Gather the pastry into a ball and transfer it to your work surface. I like to work on parchment; it makes cleanup super-easy.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Divide the dough

Shape the cohesive dough into two disks. For a double-crust pie, one disk should be about twice as large as the other. The larger piece will be the bottom crust, the smaller one the top crust.

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

Chill and roll

Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so, and you’re ready to roll. This short chill lets the flour absorb the water, as mentioned above, and solidifies the fats, making the crust a bit easier to roll.

See that white patch in the photo? That’s a flattened piece of butter, and that’s exactly what you want to see in your unbaked crust: flat chunks of butter, big and small. These butter chunks will translate to flakiness as the pie bakes.

So at the end of the day, how do you know if it’s really OK to make pie crust using a stand mixer?

Make pie crust via @kingarthurflour

The proof is in the pudding — er, pie!

I’m betting there aren’t many who’d turn down this slice of Apple Pie, made with the crust you saw prepared above.

Now remember, there’s no such thing as baking police; if you’ve always made your wonderfully flaky and delicious pie crust using a pastry blender, food processor, or your hands, keep on keeping on. If your pie crust prep ain’t broke – don’t fix it!

But if you hesitate to make pie crust because you’re unsure of your hand-blending technique, or your arms and hands can’t take it, or you simply love the convenience of your electric mixer — go for it. Put away that pastry fork for good — no one will ever be the wiser!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Tatiana

    Can the shortening be replaced by more butter? If not, is there any kind of shortening that has all pronouncable ingredients and not full of chemicals?
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to use our All-Butter Pie Crust recipe and make it using your stand mixer following the same basic approach presented here. The crust may not hold its shape quite as well, but it’ll be rich in flavor and super flaky. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ll want to use the paddle attachment on your stand mixer as opposed to the dough hook (or dough hooks), Gina. Pie crust is a relatively dry mixture so it won’t cling to the dough hooks like a normal yeast dough would. The paddle attachment, moving at slow speed, is just right for incorporating the shortening and butter into the pie crust mixture. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      For ease of cutting and to prevent your mixer from over-working, David, cold butter straight from the fridge is perfect. Annabelle@KAF

  2. Ellen Oppenheimer

    I substitute ice cold vodka to add moisture, instead of ice water. The alcohol evaporated making steam pockets and creates a flaky texture.

    Reply
  3. Doug R.

    My wife makes the flakiest pie crusts I’ve ever had. She does it by hand. I do it in the food processor. For us, the difference is who rolls them out. I can turn one of her flaky crusts into the tightest thing you’ve ever had if I do it. If she rolls mine out, it’s at least as flaky and tender as hers.

    Reply
  4. H Waddell

    Timely post on Facebook. I need to make some crusts, but I prefer to use lard. Have you used the stand mixer for an old-fashioned lard-only recipe? And do you recommend mixing only enough dough for one recipe (10.5 oz flour) at a time or can this be successfully multiplied? My mixer can handle at least 7 cups of flour when mixing up bread dough.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Use whichever recipe you like with this method, H, including those that use lard. In general, doubling recipes works out fine, but doing larger batches can get the ratios out of whack. Stick with no more than a double batch for best results. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Janice Casale

    Can this be done with a stand mixer that has two old fashioned beaters rather than the newer paddle-type beater in the pictures?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re welcome to try, Janice, but go very slowly and keep an eye on things so the butter isn’t broken up into too small of pieces. Annabelle@KAF

  6. Carol Daigle

    Back in Aug. I finally tried the butter crust recipe after being disappointed w/store bought ones and failing at decent previous attempts to make pie crusts by scratch. Made a strawberry-rhubarb pie my granddaughter loved. In Oct. I made a deep-dish apple pie with the butter recipe and decided it was as good as my late Mother’s apple pie. (She made the best and was the measure for all apple pies I tried.) Family inhaled it! Now feel very confident when making pie crusts! Thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Indeed, Barbara! Either Crisco or any brand of vegetable shortening — baker’s choice. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  7. Joan

    I make a dozen pies for the family Thanksgiving feast every year, and I’ve used my stand mixer to do it for over 15 years. Easy, quick, and outstanding, consistent results.

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *