Easy Vegan Homemade Pie Crust Recipe creates a crispy, buttery pie crust perfect for your next vegan pie recipe. This guide gives tips on mastering a flaky pie crust without lard using only 7 ingredients. To make a perfect vegan pie dough, I use a secret ingredient! See post for a gluten-free option as well.
One of the most important parts of any pie is having a perfect pie crust. I guess that’s not rocket science. But the really tricky part is making that pie crust in a way that results in a flaky crust, suitable for any pie filling.
That flaky part is where things can get kind of complicated.
What I’m sharing with you today is my trusted, favorite recipe that I’ve been using (and refining) for years. Follow along as I show you how to make a simple vegetarian pie dough.
Vegan Pie Crusts
There are lots of different dairy-free pie crusts out there. Let’s discuss some of the options you have for your next vegan pie. For example:
- I made a gingersnap pie crust for my Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Hazelnut Cream
- You can create your own Oreos crust, like this one using Golden Oreos, Vegan Banana Cream Pie
- Here’s a healthy, raw pie crust using nuts and dried fruit that is more like a vegan tart: Chocolate Pie Pastry Recipe
- Or you can make a vegan graham cracker crust like this one, Vegan Cheesecake recipe
- You can’t go wrong with a flaky crust like this one. This Vegan Pecan Pie recipe shows how to bake your crust with a custard.
So, you see, there are lots of vegan pie crust recipes, including some healthier versions too.
Of course, the pie crust I’m talking about today is the more traditional kind of pie crust. I’ve been using (and adapting) this double pie crust recipe over the years and it produces a flaky crust every time. But before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about store-bought vegan pie crusts.
Pre-Made Vegan Pie Crust
You can buy premade vegan piecrust at many stores these days. This is a new achievement for vegans and something to celebrate for sure!
Some of these are what I refer to as accidentally vegan products. They may not have intended to create a pie crust without dairy or lard, but it happened and so we’re going with it. Some may have intentionally been creating that type of crust. Either way, it works!
The following are vegan pie crust brands you can buy at the store: Marie Callendar’s Pastry Pie Shells, Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Pie Crust, Oronoque Orchards Deep Dish Pie Crust, Whole Foods Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Shells.
Always check labels because sometimes these companies will change their ingredients.
Pie Crust Ingredients
This crust is made with only a few simple ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, fat, and liquids.
- Flour — I recommend all-purpose flour for this recipe, but you have options. I have made this crust using whole wheat pastry flour (not the same thing as whole wheat flour), and it’s great. You can also use gluten-free flour (more on that below).
- Salt — we’re adding salt to bring out the flavor in this pie crust.
- Sugar — I’m recommending just a bit of sugar but it has a purpose. Sugar helps prevent the formation of gluten in the flour, making for a more tender crust.
- Fat — This recipe calls for a mixture of vegan butter and shortening. The butter adds the best flavor, but it’s not necessarily flaky. That’s where the shortening comes in, so the two together are perfect.
- Liquid — You have to have liquid in the crust to bind everything together. In addition, the liquid creates steam in the baking process, causing lift in the baked crust. I recommend a combination of chilled vodka and water. See more on why I’m using vodka below.
Use Cold Ingredients in Pie Crusts
Why this emphasis on cold fat and cold liquids? Keeping your pie dough ingredients, like the fat and liquids, as cold as possible prevents the fat in the unbaked pie from getting soft. If the fat gets soft and melty in the dough before baking, you can say bye bye to a flaky crust. It isn’t going to happen.
However, if you can keep that fat intact in the dough, then as the pie bakes, the lumps of fat melt in the oven and produce steam. That steam helps creates little micro layers of flakiness. I think this may have been what my sisters called me when I was kid, but I digress.
So, think of it this way, a warm dough will yield a hard, greasy crust, whereas a cold dough will yield a tender, flaky crust.
How to Make Vegan Pie Crust
Let’s talk about this pie crust recipe. First things first, I like to use a food processor to make my pie crust. It makes it a little easier to get the vegan butter evenly distributed throughout the flour. I know some experts vehemently oppose using an appliance.
Here’s the dilemma: If you over-process your dough, it can overwork the gluten in the flour, resulting in a chewy crust. That’s no bueno. You also want big bits of butter throughout the crust, because that’s what makes it flaky. So, just be sure to use the processor in short bursts.
Step One: Mix Dry Ingredients
On to the ingredients. The first thing you’ll want to do is combine the flour, salt and sugar in the food processor and give it a few pulses to combine.
Most pie crusts fall for a combination of butter and shortening. But we’re making this pie without butter. How do we get that buttery taste?
Note: I’ve made this easy pie crust recipe using both all-purpose (unbleached) flour and whole wheat pastry flour. It works both ways. So you can replace the flour below with 100% whole wheat pastry flour or some combination of the two and still achieve a nice, flaky vegan crust.
Step Two: Cut in the Fat
I use vegan butter, otherwise known as Earth Balance and vegetable shortening. You can store both in the fridge for this recipe because you’ll want them to be cold. In fact, you can even place them in the freezer about 30 minutes before starting this recipe. Why? Because as I said above, you want bits of fat throughout the dough and working with frozen fat helps achieve that.
Chop the cold vegan butter and shortening into cubes and then add these cubes to the flour mixture. After a few pulses, the fat should be equally distributed throughout the mixture.
Step Three: Add Liquid
When you add liquid to all-purpose flour it immediately begins activating the gluten. That’s one reason I’m using equal parts water and vodka. I learned about this trick from 101 Cookbooks. Heidi recommends including a little vodka because it helps make the pie crust more malleable and flakier.
To chill the water and vodka, pour it in a glass with ice. Then measure it out and pour it over the crust.
Sprinkle the cold vodka over the pie dough and stir until combined. Next, add the chilled water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.
Step Four: Cover and Chill
Once your dough is ready, divide it in half and roll into discs. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Or consider freezing it where it will last up to 2 months!
I love having a disk of frozen pie dough in the freezer for those spur of the moment times when I want to make a pie. It happens!
That chilling step is important because it helps the dough firm up and makes the rolling out process much easier.
Step Five: Follow your Pie Instructions
The next step is to follow your pie recipe instructions. For example a vegan pumpkin pie will call for an unbaked pie crust. In that case you would roll out the dough, place it in the pie pan, and crimp the edges of the dough. Once the filling is ready, you would pour the filling in the unbaked pie shell and bake it all together.
Alternatively, a chocolate pudding pie usually calls for a baked pie crust. In that case you would roll out the dough, place it in a pie pan, crimp the edges, and bake the crust. I oftentimes will add pie weights to the crust while baking it so that the crust doesn’t develop bubbles as its baking.
Don’t have pie weights? Add a sheet of parchment paper over the unbaked crust and top that with some dried beans. I’ve done this and it works!
How to Roll Out Pie Crust
Here are some favorite tips for when the dough is properly chilled and you’re ready to roll out the crust. Begin by lightly flouring a surface or you can roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper.
Either way, just remember to be gentle when rolling your dough. Using a rolling pin, always start from the center of the disc and roll out away from the center. This requires turning the dough frequently. So roll, and turn, then roll, and turn. You get the idea.
For a standard 9″ inch pie pan, I like to roll the dough out to be about 11 – 12″ in diameter. Yes, I keep a ruler in the kitchen. Or you can get a fancy pie rolling sheet that gives dimensions.
Then transfer the dough into the pie pan and trim and flute the edges.
Is Shortening Vegan?
Most shortenings are made from vegetable oil, but it’s always good to double check. Be sure to read the labels to make sure your shortening is made without animal products like lard. Basically, shortening is a fat that is firm at room temperature. It’s often recommended for pie crusts because it helps make them nice and flaky.
Here are some expert tips in this recipe for pie crust to help you make it perfect every time:
- The first thing to remember when you’re making a flaky pie crust is you want to use as little liquid as possible (too much liquid will make the crust chewy)
- I use a combination of both vegan butter (Earth Balance) and vegetable shortening. The vegan butter creates a buttery flavor in the pie crust
- You can substitute coconut oil for the vegan butter if you prefer a coconut oil pie crus
- You’ll notice vodka in this best pie crust recipe. Don’t worry, the alcohol evaporates as its baking, but it makes the dough more malleable and easy to work with
- A pie crust is basically a pastry, and like most pastry doughs it needs to rest and be chilled, so be sure to refrigerate the dough before rolling it
- I use a food processor to keep this recipe simple, however, you can use a pastry knife or cutter if you have that
- I keep a cheap bottle of vodka in the freezer for pies, but if you don’t have any cold, simply pour some over ice, let it sit, and then pour into a measuring cup
- You can substitute vinegar if you prefer not to use vodka
- You can use half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour to make a whole wheat pie crust
- Once the dough balls are prepared, you can freeze the dough at that point. Simply place them in a sealed container or in a freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month. Before rolling, allow them to sit on out counter and thaw out, about 45 minutes to an hour.
How do you make flaky pie crust?
The best trick to making a flaky pie crust is to minimize the amount of moisture used, while still having enough stickiness to the dough to roll it out. Be sure to not over-process the dough and use minimal liquids to create the flakiest pie crust possible. My favorite trick uses alcohol.
Vodka adds moisture to the pie dough, allowing it to be malleable enough to work with while you’re preparing it. Of course, most of it bakes off in the oven, leaving a nice, flaky crust.
That’s our post for How to Make Foolproof Flaky Vegan Pie Crust. Use the recipe below to make your own and stay tuned because there’s some pretty fabulous pie recipes coming your way this week.
Foolproof Flaky Vegan Pie Crust
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour , divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) vegan butter cut into slices
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening cut into pieces
- ¼ cup cold vodka
- ¼ cup cold water
- Pour 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until combined, about 2 seconds.
- Add vegan butter and process until just combined. Add the shortening slices and pulse until dough collects in clumps, about 15 seconds.
- Add remaining cup of flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed (4 to 6 quick pulses). Empty mixture into a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle cold vodka over dough and stir until combined. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.
- Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days. These dough balls can be frozen too. Place in freezer bags and freeze up to 1 month. When you’re ready to make the pie, set out on the counter to thaw for about an hour before rolling.
- From this point, follow the directions for your pie recipe. Some pie recipes will require pouring the custard into an unbaked pie crust whereas others will require baking the crust prior to pouring in the custard.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.