Make-ahead pie crust: an old secret rediscovered

‘Tis the season — to start thinking about holiday baking. Unfortunately, way too many of us stress over what should be a joyful process leading to happy results. So many recipes, so little time… This time of year, we’re all searching for ways to get ahead of the curve. Enter: make-ahead pie crust.

I recently had lunch with a 90-something friend, a former home ec. teacher with whom I love to talk baking. As we enjoyed our dessert, something she said about pie captured my attention.

“Did you ever hear of pie crumbs?” she asked. I admitted I hadn’t — aside from the obvious: the scraps of pie crust left on the plate after the slice is gone. “My mother used to mix flour and salt and lard together to make this crumbly mixture that she’d store in a crock in the cellar. She called them her pie crumbs. When she wanted to make a pie, she’d just scoop out a few handfuls, add water, and roll out her crust.”

Hmmm… sounds like a good make-ahead solution for 100 years ago. But now that we have easy access to freezers, why not just make pie dough and freeze it in ready-to-roll disks? Two reasons:

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

1. Pie crumbs allow you to make any amount of crust

…from something good for a couple of little tarts to a crust for a deep-dish 10″ pie. With frozen disks, you’re looking at a standard single crust — not always exactly what you want.

2. Pie crumbs save time

Remove however much of the crumbly mixture you need from the freezer, and within 30 minutes the fat is soft enough that you can add water and roll out your crust. Compare that to the time it takes to thaw and roll a frozen disk of prepared crust.

From a quality standpoint, it’s my opinion that pie crumbs might be more stable in the freezer than pie crust disks. Why? Because without the added water, no ice crystals form. Ice crystals can damage the flour/water matrix, leading to changes in its structure (which can then potentially lead to changes in your pie crust).

Oh, and one other reason I like pie crumbs: if my friend’s mother used them, they were probably a 19th-century kitchen time-saver. And I love the feeling of preserving and carrying forward our American baking traditions — even something as simple as a shortcut for pie crust.

Looking for a neat new technique for make-ahead pie crust? Try pie crumbs. Click To Tweet

Let’s see how these pie crumbs work:

I’ve decided to make a triple batch of our Classic Double Pie Crust recipe, which will yield enough crumbs to make the equivalent of six single crusts.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Mix flour, salt, and shortening

Mix thoroughly, so that the shortening is pretty much fully blended into the flour.

I’m deliberately not giving you specific amounts of ingredients here; you can apply this method to any pie crust recipe you choose.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflourMake-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Add cold, diced butter

A bench knife is useful here.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Work in the butter

Mix until some of the butter has broken down, and some has remained in larger chunks. A stand mixer works well here, as does a pastry blender.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Weigh the pie crumbs

I’m weighing in grams here, since it’s so much easier to do the division. Remember, this is enough for six crusts, so I’m going to note how many grams of pie crumbs I’ll need to make a single crust: 1459g divided by six is 243g.

If you don’t have a scale, measure the crumbs’ volume, and divide by six to figure out how many cups it takes to make a single crust. For either method, weight or volume, a single crust will be your reference point.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Bag, label, and freeze the crumbs

Because you think you’ll remember what they are, but hey…

Stick the bag in the freezer, preferably in the back where it won’t be subject to warm air wafting over it each time you open the freezer door.

When you’re ready to make pie —

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Scoop some crumbs out of the bag into a bowl

Whether one crust, two crusts, or one and a half, do the math and measure the crumbs.

Let the crumbs thaw for 30 minutes or so, until the butter chunks feel barely pliable in your fingers.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Add water

Mix to make a chunky mass.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Squeeze and knead briefly

All you’re doing here is bringing the chunks together into one solid piece of dough.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Roll the dough

Notice those flattened chunks of cold butter? They’re a good thing. The butter will emit steam as it melts in the oven, which helps “fluff” your crust’s flaky layers.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Place the crust in the pan

Make a nice crimp, if you’re so inclined.

Make Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflourMake-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Bake your favorite pie

My current favorite is Lemon Chess.

Make-Ahead Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Enjoy!

Notice those flakes. I’d say this shortcut technique yields excellent results without any downgrade in texture (or flavor).

Now, how long can you store pie crumbs in the freezer? Fairly indefinitely, though the longer they’re frozen, the more chance they have both to absorb freezer odors, and for the fats to start to go off. I’ve also found that, starting about two weeks out, I need to add a touch more water than usual to bring the dough together — due to the drying effects inherent in freezing.

With pie season hard upon us, now’s the time to try pie crumbs for make-ahead pie crust. Or maybe you have another old-fashioned pie trick up your sleeve? Share your favorite tips in the comments, below.

And oh, of course: If you have a favorite pie crust recipe and method you like, stick with it! I’m not out to convert you here; simply to offer yet another alternative if you’re looking to try something new.

Or something old.

For detailed ingredient amounts for the crust demonstrated above, see our recipe for Classic Double Pie Crust.

And if you’re looking for additional time-saving ways to use your freezer in the run-up to the holidays, check out our posts on freeze and bake dinner rolls, fruit pies, cookies, and more.

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. Carolyn

    This is such an amazing tip! I really like the thought of being able to whip together a quick pie crust when I need it, but without the hassle.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      What’s old becomes new, Carolyn, and baking is a great example. Good luck — Thanksgiving is coming! PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Exactly right — should work well for any type/size pie, so long as you nail the amount of crumbs to use for any particular size. Enjoy! PJH

  2. Rose D'Angelo Designs

    This is absolutely brilliant, especially considering we are all so busy with the holidays coming up!!!!!

    Reply
  3. Emily Small

    Love this! I’m going to try it this month and I like how you can make it ahead of time and pull out what you need for something small or larger. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  4. Tom | Tall Clover Farm

    PJ, I don’t think I’ve seen a better online step-by-step baking tutorial. Nice job! I look forward to trying this recipe and method, and thank you for your very thorough layout of photos and instructions. Happy Baking!

    Reply
  5. Betty Roether

    I have been making “pie crumbs” for many years and so glad their time has come again! My recipe came from an early 70’s Farm Journal cookbook my MIL gifted me. Each time I make pie crust with my crumbs I am reminded that it was my MIL, Opal, who is responsible for nurturing my love for baking. Perhaps it is a truism that ‘everything old is new again’!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The original recipe uses 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) shortening and 10 tablespoons butter. If you use lard and butter, then 1/4 cup lard and 10 tablespoons butter. If you’d like all lard, then 14 tablespoons (or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) lard. Now that’s happy math, and happy baking! Irene@KAF

  6. Patsy

    If you’re using lard only, I’m guessing you mix it all in like you say for the shortening. Or would freezing some of it and adding like you do the butter do anything helpful?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      I’d divide the lard in half and mix half in all the way, while leaving half in some larger pieces. And yeah, it would help to have that second half very well chilled. Good luck — PJH

  7. Shelley

    This looks amazing! Would this work for gluten free crusts? I would think the longer it stays in the freezer the better for GF recipes.

    Reply
    1. Barbara Alpern

      Shelley, I think this method would work with our gluten-free pie crust recipe. Add the xanthan gum and instant clearjel and sugar in with the pie crumbs and save the egg and other wet ingredients for later. Or simply substitute our gluten-free Measure for Measure flour for the flour content in your regular pie crust recipe. Barb@KAF

  8. Marliss Desens

    This hint also appeared on the now closed KAF Baking Circle. Zen was a great advocate of having pie crumbs on hand in the freezer.

    Reply
    1. Cynthia

      It surely did and I commented on the tip there after trying it out. I think that PJ added a comment on the hint there as well, which would have been back in 2011 or early 2012. In that Baking Circle tip, the author had gotten it from her mother in law. They used Crisco or other shortening, and they kept the bag in the refrigerator or freezer.

  9. Peggy McGough

    Absolutely brilliant idea. I’d love to know what other time-saving tips this wonderful lady could teach us! And I wonder how this would work with gluten-free flour……….

    Reply
    1. Barbara Alpern

      Peggy, I think this method will work fine with a gluten-free pie crust recipe or a regular recipe made with our gluten-free Measure for Measure flour. When making a gluten-free pie crust recipe, be sure to add the egg and other wet ingredients later (not with the pie crumbs). Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The good news is that you can print off recipes like the Classic Double Piecrust and make notations about the Pie Crumbs method as well as using it for crunch time pie crusts. Printing the blog or Flourish post will take many pages with your printer. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    2. Bunny

      Highlight the text and pictures you wish to copy, hit Ctrl and C at the same time (C is for ‘copy’), open a new word document or notepad, hit Ctrl and V at the same time. Now, you can hit Ctrl and A, to highlight all the document to change font, size, make it bold, black, etc and it’s ready to print.

  10. Brigid

    I love this idea! Somehow my idea to throw a quick pie crust together always ends up with flour all over the kitchen (and me). And so much clean up! This way you can put together several batches with only one mess!

    Reply
    1. Cait

      I adore this comment. Anything that makes a lot of baking with only one mess is a miracle here! I’ve always said that I’m only good at baking because it makes the biggest mess. 🙂

  11. Brigid

    I love this idea but am unsure how to deal with the liquid ingredient. Can you give a ballpark amt for much water per 1 crust/243 g to start with? (Realizing environment/freezer storage time will be a factor, too.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The Classic Double Piecrust uses 6 – 10 tablespoons water, so use 3 – 5 tablespoons water as a starting point for the single crust. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  12. Marjorie

    Thank you so much! I sometimes think I spend most of my time at the office, but I still refuse to buy pre-made pie crusts at the grocery store. What an excellent time saver!!

    Reply
  13. Jake Sterling

    I love stuff like this. I have a friend who owns an old cookbook of Shaker recipes where I discovered that the Shakers invented Baking Mix, homemade Bisquick®. It works great for pancakes, scones, biscuits, etc. This Pie Crumbs recipe is something I am going to stick into my “Ratios” cookbook. (If you haven’t seen “Ratios,” it’s an absolute necessity for anyone who likes to make up their own recipes.)

    Reply
    1. Tina

      Are your referring to Michael Ruhlman’s ratio method? Best thing ever! I have his book and the app for my phone. I use it for all sorts of things, but especially baking bread. The simplest method for making dough ever!

  14. Gail

    Can this mixture be stored in a crock in a cellar as the 90 year old said?
    Freezer room is an issue I don’t have at the moment.
    Thank you
    Gail

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Gail, so long as you keep it cool then yes, you could store it at room temperature. It wouldn’t stay fresh as long as in the freezer, but if your butter stays fresh at room temp. for a couple of weeks, so will your pie crumbs. PJH

    2. Arlene Thorndike

      I store mine in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. Been doing this forever. That way you don’t have to wait for it to defrost. Just let it warm up a bit before mixing and rolling it out.

  15. Mari Farr

    Started doing this a few years ago. So handy to make a quick pie and you are right it holds up better and takes less space than finished pie crust. I have even given it in a jar with directions as a small Christmas gift. I keep mine in the frig since it is used up quickly.

    Reply
  16. Luisa

    Something Old , Something New.
    Old: I have done this for Decades
    New: I keep a jar of half water, half Vodka in the fridge so I can mix that in quickly

    Warning—The formula for permanent ink has changed so it rubs off in the freezer.

    Reply
    1. gabriel ratchet

      was waiting for the vodka trick… i keep cheap vodka in the freezer just for pie crust, too…although i don’t mix it with the water until i’m ready roll. this makes crusts so much easier to handle.

  17. Nancy

    Wow! What a great method!! Just finished putting the bag of Crumbs in the freezer, can’t wait to use them. Hint…since I was handling and bagging I used sandwich bags and went ahead and measured out single crust of crumbs, then placed the six smaller bags in one larger freezer bag! Now all I will have to do is grab one or two as needed without stopping to measure out the crumbs. It will also be easy to keep track of how many are left too. Thanks King Arthur Flour for all the great products and ideas.

    Reply
  18. EL

    Great tip! I can’t think of the number of times that I have wanted to make pie, have pulled frozen crust out of the freezer, only to have to wait for it to defrost. This sounds much better.

    Reply
  19. Betty Parker

    This sounds wonderful to have in the freezer and the mess I can make for 6 crusts once for 3 pie crusts instead of each time. With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, this will be a great help. Thank you.

    Reply
  20. Kristi

    My 92 year old mother, who had taken a lot of home ec classes in school, always had some pie crumbs on hand when we were growing up, but she didn’t have a name for them. She kept them in the cupboard in an old shortening can rather than in the freezer, so there was not wait at all to mix and roll out the crust. I’m sure that’s not recommended, but we’re all still alive to tell about it. I guess we ate enough pie that they were never stored for too long.

    Reply
    1. Margy

      If she used all vegetable shortening for her crusts, like my mom did, the crumbs would be OK to store on a shelf, since shortening is stable at room temperature.

    2. Roberta Roberts

      My mom (who would have turned 100 on 11-21-17) made this. It was printed in a recipe booklet put out by Spry, a rival brand of Crisco. I’ve been using this for 60+ years. It will keep in the refrigerator without freezing for several months (who goes that long without making a pie). Long ago the freezers were only large enough for a couple of ice trays.

  21. Barbara L.

    I’m very excited about our crumbs. Recently retired and needed to replace our stove with a new model. Finally have a reliable oven and have resumed baking cakes and pies! What a great idea and time-saver; just in time for the holidays! Love KAF tips. Everyone’s comments are also valuable. TY.

    Reply
  22. Andrea

    I have been intimidated all my life with all & any kinds of dough ! I am going to pull my boots on & try this ! I hope I can become a 🌻 🍀 😃Baker

    Reply
  23. Deb Imus

    I have been doing this for years! Keeps really well in the freezer for a year but who can let it there that long when there are so many pies to bake?!

    Reply
  24. Wendy

    My 98 year old grandmother has made biscuits the same way. That way she she can make them just for us or for a bigger crowd as needed. I seem to have a “extras” zipper bag of crumble topping myself – so I can make little individual crumbles on demand.

    Reply
  25. Ann

    Storing in Tupperware will do a much better job of keeping odors out & the fats stable. And help ward off the warm air shifts. (No affiliation, just love the airtight qualities of the product) A friend of my Mom baked pies for a restaurant and this was her secret – time for me to make a few pies again & pull out Rosalie’s recipe! Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  26. Annette

    KAF and PJ, you never cease to amaze! A wonderful time-saver for small-quantity bakers. And, I am so glad you explained your weigh method which guarantees consistency. I find my digital scale very useful! Thank you and your friend and all the bloggers who provided more tips. I liked Wendy’s biscuit tip. This would also work for soda bread or scones. And good luck to Andrea!

    Reply
  27. BigChefOK

    Yet again another excellent addition to all the learned knowledge.
    I am grateful for all the work that you do to bring all of it together.
    Thanks
    Martin

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Thanks, Martin, I love sharing with people. I feel we can all learn together, because honestly, I learn as much from the readers here as you all learn from me! 🙂 PJH

  28. Elianna Quatro

    My Mom (and she’s not even 60!) has had a quart jar in the fridge for most of my life, filled with her pie mix from my Grandfather’s recipe! Fridge or freezer, either way! When it’s in the fridge I can literally have a pie crust ready for filling within 10min of “I want to bake a pie!” dawning on me! It’s especially nice when you need to blind bake a crust, such as for chocolate cream pie.
    Wonderfully clear tutorial! PJ is the best! Thanks for reminding me to stock my own fridge with “pie crumbs”!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Thanks so much, Elianna, both for sharing, and for your kind words. If ever you want to stick up on pie crumbs — now’s the time. Go for it! PJH

  29. Lisa

    This is how my grandmother taught me when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Now at holiday time, I make a batch times 3 and parcel it for gifts in a pretty pie plate or storage jar.

    Reply
  30. Lynn Marie

    My mom did this back in the 60s – hadn’t thought about it in years. Thanks for the nostalgia blast. I’m gonna do this myself now, and think of her every time I use them.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Christopher, that’s definitely another option; saves you the time of weighing when you’re ready to roll out a crust. Thanks for sharing – PJH

  31. Janice A Allison

    I’m 69 years old, & my Mother would keep an empty Crisco can filled with this mixture. When she needed a pie, all she had to do was add the water! She never got around to figuring out that she could freeze it. Probably because we had pie frequently, and the mix never did get rancid! I’m mixing my Thanksgiving pie crusts, tomorrow!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Once again, what’s old is new, eh Janice? I’ve got my crumbs in the freezer, ready to “wet and roll.” Happy pie baking! PJH

  32. Cathie atchley

    Delighted to join the cadre of King Arthur Flour devotees! Thanks for all the great information- thanks also for the great coupons- every time I see one, I add to my Holiday ingredient stash! I appreciate being able to use quality ingredients, and still stay on my budget!
    Happy holidays to all- happy baking!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Welcome, Cathie! Always happy to support your baking… Good luck this holiday season, I’m sure you’ll be busy. PJH

  33. Nina

    Ok so do I just use my normal crust recipe and just do it like this to store or is there any possible way to give the actual measurements, I’m not a seasoned baker in pie crust etc I’m just starting thanks

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes, Nina, you can make your regular crust up to the point where you’d add the liquid, then store as directed here. And here’s the recipe for our Classic Double Pie Crust, which I used for this post; I tripled it to make enough crumbs for six single crusts. Good luck! PJH

  34. Beatrice Didio

    How can I make a GF pie crust? Do I just use your GF flour or measure for measure flour. They are pricey here so I want to choose the correct one. Do I make it as usual or another way. Thank You

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Marcia, this would make six single crusts and uses 30 tablespoons butter – 2 tablespoons short of a pound. PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      While we haven’t tried it yet ourselves, Trudy, we think this should work fine, just as long as you only mix flour, salt and fat to make the crumbs (everything else added later). Let us know how it goes if you try it out! Mollie@KAF

  35. William Lundy

    Brilliant! This worked perfectly with Ruhlman’s 3:2:1 ratio. As I use lard, it’s easy to work out the liquid needed: it’s simply 20% of the weight of the pie crumbs! For my single-crust pie I used 300 g pie crumbs and 60 g liquid (a little egg white, a splash of vinegar, and water – no vodka, I have better uses for that). It came together quickly, rolled out beautifully, and was as flaky as yours (image-wise). This method truly supports the old adage, “easy as pie”.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Absolutely, Melissa – in fact, I find a “nip” (a small 1 3/4-ounce bottle) is just about the perfect amount for a single crust. I’ve been using flavored vodkas; not that it probably makes any discernible difference in the crust once it’s baked, but it does smell nice rolling it out! 🙂 PJH

  36. Lora Young

    Definitely trying this for the holidays. This tip will also, I’m sure, find its way into one of my historical novels. 🙂

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Lora, I know pie crumbs stretch back into the late 1800s at least; and I suspect even earlier. Good luck! PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Lucile, if coconut oil normally works for you in pie crust, then there’s no reason not to use it with this technique. Good luck — PJH

  37. Virginia

    I’m going to pat my grandma on the back, since this secret was never “lost” in our family; I’ve been doing it per her recipe since I was a kid. One pound of lard, seven cups of flour & two teaspoons of salt, cut together until crumbly & stored in a ziplock until needed. Lard is ok on the shelf for a while, so just store it in a cool place, but it doesn’t need to be frozen. Makes about two 2-crust pies & one 1-crust pie. I just did it this weekend in preparation for Thanksgiving pies. 🙂

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Virginia, give Grandma a pat on the back from me too, OK? I’m so glad “what’s old is new” in baking keeps us all engaged, learning, and sharing. Happy Thanksgiving baking! PJH

  38. Beth

    I do this with crumb topping too and I appreciate the suggestion to measure individual sandwich bags for each single crust and place them in a gallon zip bag in the freezer-even easier. I make an all butter crust, I assume the same foundation applies? Just assemble the crust without the liquid and freeze. Mark the bag with how much liquid should be added. Yes?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      You’ve nailed it, Beth. Good idea, too, using individual 1-crust sandwich bags — saves yet another step! 🙂 PJH

  39. Jessica

    My favorite crust recipe only employs Crisco shortening for fat, no butter. As such, I’m guessing it would be possible to use the older method of simply keeping pie crumbs in the cupboard rather than the freezer as mixing Crisco with dry ingredients should not make it any less shelf stable? Thanks for any insights.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      That’s right, Jessica, you could keep at room temperature. Though even Crisco gets rancid after awhile, so I wouldn’t keep it TOO long at room temperature. Good luck — PJH

  40. Judy

    My very OLD recipe uses Crisco only. Do you think the addition of butter adds to the flakiness? Thanks so much for your tips!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sherrie, you can share this on Pintrest by hovering your mouse over one of the photos in this article. A red “Pin it!” ribbon will appear in the right hand corner of the photo. Happy pinning! Kye@KAF

  41. Sonya

    If I’m not needing them for a week out, but rather a couple of days at most, can I just put in refrigerator? Or would I still need to freeze?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sonya, the fridge is fine. In fact, you can leave the crumbs in the fridge for weeks — as long as the butter stays fresh, you’re good to go. PJH

  42. Nadine

    My sister used to make her crusts several weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. I never knew what she did. I assume she used this process. She is gone now do I can’t asks her. Thanks for this great time saving too.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Cheryl, a 9″ x 13″ top crust is about the same size as the 12″ round you’d use as a top crust for a 9″ pie. Not sure if your slab pie includes a bottom crust? But if so, you’d need about 2 crusts’ worth for the bottom. So three single crusts total should do it without a problem. PJH

  43. Sue

    My Grandmother used Pie Crumbs, although she didn’t call it that. She would use Lard for her pie crust and put them in a large gallon size jar. She always had pie available for dessert and if she was running low it was so easy to whip up another pie! She would leave her gallon size jar on the counter, although I would not recommend that. Her home didn’t have central heating, so unless she had the cook stove going it stayed relatively cool in her kitchen.

    Reply
  44. Randi

    What a brilliant idea. I am going to put this together this weekend! Oh I just tried the stand mixer method you mentioned recently. Loved it!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Barbara, that’s fine — however you usually do it. I’d suggest processing the shortening/flour fully, and then processing the butter much more briefly, using pulses so it stays in irregular chunks. Good luck — PJH

  45. Karen

    Since I have all the mess there, I go ahead a make six pie crust, roll them out, put in glass pie pan, one at a time, freeze them is baggies sucking out the air. If I have any scrapes, I roll out, put melted butter, the sugar, then cinnamon. Roll it up like a jelly roll, cut 1-2 inch slice, place in a greased pie plate. Delish. Get er done all at once. I use just butter.
    I’ve made pies for over 50 years.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Karen, clearly you’re a baker who’s got pie crust nailed! It’s a real help to have the crusts all rolled out and ready to fill, isn’t it? I love the pie scraps; I don’t even roll them, just sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and enjoy. 🙂 PJH

  46. Pam Jones

    My grandmother always did this, but kept hers in the refrigerator in a wide mouth glass jar– enough for 3 regular pie crusts. Twenty years ago she showed this technicque to me and gave me a jar. I am still using the jar. She kept it in the refrigerator because she made a pie almost every day. Loved seeing this!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Pie every day? Pam, that sounds like heaven! I think it’s sweet that you still have her jar, and that you’re keeping up her tradition. You must be looking forward to putting those crumbs to good use next week! PJH

  47. Debbie L.

    I made my pumpkin pie today using this method of frozen pie crumbs. I love it! Made the pie crumbs when I saw the blog post a few days ago and put them in the freezer. Rolling out the crust was a cinch! I will use this method from now on to make my pie crusts. This method for me was so much better than rolling a cold round of dough and then having it crack apart.
    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Debbie, I made three pies yesterday using the crumbs and yes, I love it — the dough is chilly, but not so chilled that it’s hard to roll. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the crust (and whatever’s in it) today — PJH

  48. Cheryl

    I made the crumbs by using my mixer. It wasn’t quite the “dry mix” as shown above. Could I have over mixed? I used butter and shortening. I am hesitant about freezing because it would probably form into a clump and not easy to measure out portions. If I refrigerate until Christmas, would that be acceptable? I do love the concept and enjoyed working with the crumbs as I was rolling the dough for my pies yesterday.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Cheryl, it sounds like your butter may have been too soft (too warm) or there was not enough flour added to the mixture. It could have also been over-mixed, but it’s hard to get the ingredients to form one clump if your butter and shortening are both very cold, as recommended. Try making those small adjustments next time to see if you get more of a crumb-like mass as a result. You’ll need to freeze your pie crust if you’d like to store it longer than 2-3 days. Kye@KAF

  49. Cheryl

    I was told that I could leave the crumbs in the refrigerator longer than two or three days, but I also see where PJ suggests to another individual that you could leave the crumbs in the fridge for weeks. Can I please get a clarification on the length of time.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Cheryl, we’re happy to clarify. Pie crumbs can be stored in the fridge for quite some time, but prepared pie dough should be refrigerated for only a few days or frozen for best results. Otherwise, it can dry out. Pie crumbs can dry out as well, and you risk the butter not staying fresh if it’s in the fridge for an extended period; the crumbs thaw quickly so if you have room in your freezer, you might want to stash it there to be safe. I hope that helps. Kye@KAF

  50. Jayne Reed

    So, home made pie crust mix? I do this for biscuits, but I’m glad to have the details on why this is the best way to prepare pie crusts ahead of time. (I lost my mind at a farm stand and came home with ten pounds of heirloom pie apples…)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure could, Crystal! We’d keep them cold when using the mixer, as you really don’t want to lose those nice pockets of butter. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Definitely, Jennie. You still may want to add the butter in two additions so that some of the butter gets broken down into very small crumbs while the second half stays in larger chunks. This way you’ll get a sturdy crust that’s also flaky: the best of both worlds! Kye@KAF

  51. Betsy Blanchard

    PJ, forgive me if someone has already asked this question, but does it make a difference if the flour is gluten free? I love this idea but mine would have to be gf! And I’m not the only member of our family who would appreciate this info. I’m an experienced baker but my life in the kitchen has radically changed in the last few years. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. Betsy Blanchard

      Oops, sorry PJ, I did find my answer here where you had already responded to the same query. Got it, and thanks.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Besty, you’re welcome to try using this technique with your favorite gluten-free pie dough recipe. (We like using this recipe because it uses our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour.) You’ll want to add the shortening in first until the mixture is crumbly and then add the diced butter in chunks, as shown here. Happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

  52. Judy McDermott

    I want to try this! Is there a reason this mixture should be frozen? Would it not remain stable for several months in your fridge if sealed tightly? I would be using premium leaf lard.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The pie crumbs are more likely to oxide and dry out if stored in the fridge. We recommend keeping it in the freezer for best results, especially if using lard, which tends to spoil faster than some other kinds of more stable fat (like shortening, for instance). Kye@KAF

  53. Anne Carlisle

    I make my pie crumbs like this using my food processor. I also do biscuit crumbs. They are all weighed and stored in the freezer. I note which additional ingredients are needed, as well as baking time. Pie crust and biscuits with less mess. What a time saver!

    Reply
  54. Carolyn Milon

    I love this, thanks for reminding me of my dear Grandma! She’s gone now, but would be 109 if living, and she always had a huge container with flour and shortening mixed and ready to go. Maybe it’s a think homemakers in the ’30s were taught. Your article made me remember her arthritic hands blending together the flour and shortening until the mixture was crumbly. I do use her method to make crust, but now I think I should make some “pie crumbs” to be ready ahead for Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  55. Linda Hoover

    This is a great idea! Wished we’d thought of it when we used to make up to a dozen pies for Thanksgiving at my Grandma’s house (everyone asked us to bring the pies because we had the best, flakiest crusts!). We used to make the dough up the day before we baked the pies & kept it in the fridge. Then we had to guess how much to pull off for each pie we made. This would have made it so much easier! I already do something similar with my homemade tortillas (tortilla mix) and biscuits (yes, I make a homemade version of ‘Bisquick’!). May have to try this this year!

    Reply
  56. Susan

    Thank you! I am planning on making a pie today and will be using this and saving for more pies in the next couple of months. I’m sure they’ll be just as great as you describe. Timely post!!!

    Reply
  57. Britt

    I didn’t see anyone ask about using this technique with an all-butter crust. Any reason why it wouldn’t work? Thank you for the great article!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re welcome to try using this technique with an all-butter crust, but you might want to consider working the butter in in two additions. The first batch will turn crumbly, which helps make the crust sturdy and buttery, and the second batch stays in larger, pea-sized chunks, which contributes flakiness. This way, you get the best of both worlds. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  58. JoAyne

    Hello BH,

    Such a great tip! Any reason I can’t do this with an all butter crust? I have an old pate brisee recipe ( that I’m sure is just a fancy name for pie crust) that is all butter. I’ve used it for years and it’s pretty tasty and flaky.
    Thanks So Much!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Like we’ve mentioned to some other bakers here, you’re welcome to use this approach with an all-butter crust. You still may want to add the butter in two additions so that some of the butter gets broken down into very small crumbs while the second half stays in larger chunks. This way you’ll get a sturdy crust that’s also flaky. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  59. BRP

    I have done this before, and always use cheap sandwich bags individually inside of a gallon freezer bag. The double layer helps freshness and keeps my bags together for easier locating. Ha!

    Also, it really helps when giving gifts of food to a new mother, a shut-in, someone scheduled for surgery or a trip, moving, or just a birthday. I have done this with pancakes, biscuits, pie crusts, and cornbread!

    It’s a real boon for fast cooking.

    Reply
  60. Erin

    This is a great time saver that I have used for pie crust and scones for….more decades than I like to count! It makes baking for an unexpected crowd or a couple of friends so easy.

    Reply
  61. Mari

    I’ve always had this problem when I bake apple pie. The bottom crust seems raw, it doesn’t darken enough. What should I do to avoid this?
    Oh, this is such a great tip that I will do your suggestion this year!

    Thank you so much.

    Reply
    1. Mari

      I just saw the article today, November 18! Thanks it has answered my question. I’m so happy that I am not the only one having this problem. I thought I had to buy a new pie pan…I will sure come back to let you know!

  62. Bernard Farrell

    I really love this tip, next time I take out my Cuisinart for flaky pie dough I’ll make some extra ‘crumbs’ and freeze them.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Sissy, we’re not familiar with this app but it sounds like some of the other bakers here are familiar with it and might be able to help you out. They might be referring to this app, which is developed by Michael Ruhlman, cookbook co-author. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  63. Kathy

    I use a large quantity – 8 cups flour to 1 lb lard and 4 tsp salt. I store it in a plastic (re-usable animal cracker) container. Never called them pie crumbs, just pie crust mix. Have been baking for…let’s just say many years. My mother-in-law taught me that trick.

    Reply
  64. Anita L Van Brocklin

    I have always done this making my pie crust ahead time and put into the freezer and when I’m ready to make my pies whether at 1 or more I’m ready. The only thing I use lard and instead of using water I put just a little bit of milk in a teaspoon of vinegar as my mother and grandmother did..this makes the crust light and flaky ..I have done it this way for 40 plus years.

    Reply
  65. Carol

    I’ve been doing this for years.
    And I do the same with baking powder biscuits – make double or triple batch and use it as needed. I use the mix for shortbread or cobbler as well just add a bit of sugar.

    Reply
  66. Gayle Abram

    I have never heard of this pie crust before I can not make pie crust but my mom was very awesome at make pie crust I think that I will try this.

    Reply

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