The ultimate step by step guide to how to make the perfect light and flaky gluten free pie crust in just one bowl. With a dairy-free option, too!
It may seem like there are just way too many methods and techniques, and no real agreement about what you should and shouldn’t do to make the perfect crust, that’s never dense or tough, always light and flaky.
Well, I’m not here to tell you that this is the only way to make a light and flaky gluten free pie crust. I’m just here to tell you that this is a way to make a light and flaky crust every single time.
Making the dough itself, from just a few basic gluten free pantry ingredients, is of course where we begin.
Best practices for making flaky gluten free pie crust
⇢Always begin with cold ingredients. Dice chilled unsalted butter, and then place it back in the refrigerator to chill again. Begin with cold water, and then add ice to the water. Ice water is colder than cold water, and even colder than ice.
⇢Do not chop up the butter (or vegetable shortening, if you’re making a dairy free crust) into super small pieces or process them until they’re the size of “small peas.” That may be a common instruction in pie crust-making, but I am anti-small-peas in all pastry-making for one reason.
Very small pieces of butter not only melt too easily when they meet with the heat of your hands (or even warm air), but they melt right into the dough, so even rechilling the dough won’t help once the butter in the raw dough has melted. Using butter in larger chunks, and then flattening them between your thumb and forefinger, solves all of those problems.
⇢Handle the dough as little as possible when making the dough, but don’t drive yourself crazy. Since we are working with larger pieces of butter than “small peas,” we can always re-chill the dough if it becomes too soft or difficult to handle.
⇢If you are making a dairy-free gluten free pie crust by replacing the butter with Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, don’t chill the chopped shortening for too long, or it will freeze and be difficult to flatten and roll out properly.
If you don’t have to be dairy free and you’re looking for extra layers, try our recipe for extra flaky gluten free pie crust. The added sour cream and rebalanced liquids bring it to the next level.
⇢Be careful about the all purpose gluten free flour blend you choose. The components of a higher starch blend, like King Arthur Flour’s gluten free multi-purpose blend, might be okay for pie crust, but the grittiness of their rice flour simply won’t result in a smooth crust.
Best practices for shaping this gf pie crust
⇢Keep the dough moving during rolling, even turning it over frequently, and do not be afraid to sprinkle it lightly with more flour if it becomes sticky.
⇢When rolling out any sort of dough, using the rolling pin to roll not press the dough. Roll more than once over a surface, rather than pressing too hard, which will create uneven thicknesses and unnecessary sticky spots.
⇢If the dough ever becomes a bit too delicate to handle, fold it gently in thirds, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it until it begins to firm up.
⇢Once you have reached the step of dividing the initially shaped dough in half, it can be wrapped tightly in freezer safe wrap and frozen for at least 2 months. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding with the recipe.
The proportions of gluten free pastry crust are simple
Keep in mind that this incredibly simple recipe is all about the proportions. The approximate ratio of each of the ingredients is:
⇢1 cup (140 g) all purpose gluten free flour (including 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum)
⇢Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
⇢Scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
⇢4 tablespoons (56 g) cold unsalted butter, diced and chilled
⇢1/4 to 1/3 cup (2 to 2 2/3 fluid ounces) cold water, iced
Multiply all the ingredients by 2, and you’ll make 1 single pie crust. Multiply by 4 (as in the recipe below), and you’ll make 2 pie crusts for a double-crust pie.
You can scale up or scale down to your heart’s content. Simply follow these step-by-step instructions for the perfect light and flaky gluten free pie crust, and you can’t go wrong!
Gluten Free Pie Crust
4 cups (560 g) all purpose gluten free flour (My Better Than Cup4Cup Flour is best here), plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons (224 g) unsalted butter, diced and chilled (a 1/2-inch dice is best)*
1 cup to 1 1/3 cups (8 to 10 2/3 fluid ounces) cold water, iced (ice cubes do not count in volume measurement)
*For a dairy-free version, replace the unsalted butter with an equal amount, by weight, Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening.
Make the dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger so that it’s about 1/8-inch thick. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly add the water (reserving the ice cubes), mixing gently until the dough begins to come together. Press together With floured hands, press together the dough into a disk. If there are any crumbly, dry spots at this point, add more water by the teaspoonful and press together with your hands.
Begin to shape the dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the top lightly with more flour, and roll out into a rough rectangle that is about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the dough lightly with more flour, fold it over on itself in thirds like you would a business letter, sprinkle again with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Repeat the process of rolling, sprinkling and folding at least once more, this time ending with a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Using a pizza wheel, pastry cutter or sharp knife, slice the rectangle in half along the length, creating two rectangles of equal size, and roll each separately in thirds once more. Wrap each piece of dough securely in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill until firm (30 minutes to an hour).
Finish shaping the crust. Once the dough has chilled, remove one piece from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the top lightly with more flour, and roll into an approximately 12-inch square. Trim the edges to create a round about 12-inches in diameter. Gently fold the round in half and lift it into a greased pie plate. Unfold the round in the plate, lift up the edges of the pie crust gently to create slack in the crust, and press it gently and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Tuck the edges of the dough underneath itself so that the dough overhangs the edges by only about 1/4-inch. Crimp the edges of the dough gently all the way around by pinching the dough at regular intervals with one hand, and creating a crimped impression with the forefinger of the other hand. Cover the pie crust with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (and up to 3 days). When you are ready to complete a double-crust pie, fill the pie, then follow the same procedure for shaping the second half of the pie crust, placing it on the top of the filling, and repeating the same crimping process in reverse, then pressing the edges together. Chill before baking and finish according to the instructions in whatever recipe you are using.
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