This oil pie crust recipe is an easy low-stress pie dough that requires minimal prep. Use this recipe when you're looking for a vegan pie crust that doesn't use butter! It's delicious with sweet and savory pies.
When it comes to comfort food cooking, there's no getting out of knowing how to make a pie crust. I feel like pie is like the most elevated form of a casserole (which is one of my favorite kinds of comfort food): not only do you get a well rounded meal, or dessert, in one slice, but that slice is surrounded by flaky, indulgent pie crust.
Oil pie crusts are easy to work with because, unlike butter, the fat is already melted. This means that it incorporates into the flour more easily than a solid fat does. The end result is still a flaky, delicious, and satisfyingly rich crust.
Here's how to make a perfect oil pie crust that's flaky, easy to make, and just plain hard to get wrong!
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The Components of an Oil Pie Crust
Most oils that are liquid at room temperature work well in this pie crust recipe. Oils with a neutral flavor, like canola or vegetable oil, work best in pie crust.
Olive oil works in pie crust, but it may impart a slightly olive oil flavor to final product. Be sure that you're not heating the crust to over 375 degrees Fahrenheit, as this is the smoke point of many olive oils.
The takeaway: for a basic pie crust choose an oil that has a neutral flavor.
Low protein flours work best for pies because they yield a more tender crust. The higher the protein content of the flour, the tougher the dough.
- Pastry flour (8-10% protein) for a super tender pie crust, but it is more delicate and may be a bit more difficult for beginners to handle.
- All-purpose flour (11-12%) is a good middle-ground flour and also works well for pie crust. This is my favorite flour that is only available in the south (or online!).
- Bread flour (~13-14% protein) yields a tougher result, so I don't recommend bread flour for this recipe.
- Whole wheat flour will make a more grainy, crumbly texture. Because of this, it's trickier to work with whole wheat flour.
The takeaway: All-purpose flour is usually your best bet for a standard oil pie crust for beginners.
The primary role of salt is to contribute flavor to the crust. While it does contribute a bit to gluten formation, it's most noticeable effect is in taste.
The takeaway: Salt enhances the flavor of pie crust; use as little or as much as you prefer.
Ice cold water is used in pie crust because cold water makes the pastry dough easier to work with. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, as the amount of liquid needed will vary based on kitchen conditions like humidity and temperature.
For actually ice cold water, add a few ice cubes to a bowl (or glass) or water and scoop water out from the dish a tablespoon at a time as you add it to the dry ingredients.
Making the Crust
The secret to rolling oil pie crust
Okay, maybe this isn't a secret. People have definitely been doing this for years. Personally speaking, my grandma has been doing this for years. Back in high school I tasked my grandparents with mailing me five of their favorite recipes.
One of those recipes was my grandma's "Pat in Pat Oil Pie Crust" (because you would pat the pie crust into place in the pie dish). This recipe is a little different, but is based on the same secret ingredient:
Simply place your pie dough between two pieces of wax paper before rolling it out. This is the wax paper that I use.
No extra flour means no extra gluten formation, which means tender, flaky pie crust. No direct contact with the rolling pin means no pie dough sticking to the rolling pin! Be amazed as your pie crust comes off of the wax paper easily as can be.
Okay, that's enough about oil-based pie crust for now. Check out my tried and true recipe below! It works well for sweet and savory recipes alike.
The steps to making an oil based pie crust
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt) in a medium mixing bowl (this is my go-to mixing bowl set). In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add the oil and 5 tablespoons of ice water. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients.
Mix together with a wooden spoon until a rough ball forms; add additional 1 tablespoon of ice cold water if it is too crumbly.
Divide into two evenly sized dough balls. Cover and let rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Place each dough ball between a large sheet of wax paper (at least 12 in x 12 in).
Roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is 12x12 inches. I prefer to use a marble rolling pin like this one.
Invert the wax paper and center the pie dough on a pie dish. Carefully peel the wax paper off of the dough (as seen above). Cook according to your recipe instructions.
How to Make a Perfect Oil Pie Crust
- 2 and ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons ice cold water
- Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the oil and 5 tablespoons of ice cold water; don't mix the liquids together.
- Add liquids to the flour and salt mixture. Stir with a fork until a ball forms; add 1 tablespoon of ice water if it is very crumbly and not holding. It is okay if the dough is not totally cohesive (some crumbles may exist).
- Divide the dough into two equally sized balls. Place in an airtight container and let rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Carefully peel the top layer off of the wax paper. Invert the pie crust into a pie plate and carefully peel the wax paper off of the dough.
- Bake the pie dough according to pie recipe.
- Recipe makes 2 12" pie crusts. I usually use a 9" pie plate for baking, but you can also use disposable containers. Do note that different materials will bake the crust at different rates.
- These are my favorite glass mixing bowls.
- Pie dough can be frozen in an airtight container. Let thaw fully in the refrigerator prior to using.
- I have made this recipe several times without wax paper and I don't find the result as satisfying. This dough can be made without the wax paper step, but you will likely have to pat the crust into the pan with your fingers instead of transferring the pie crust in one piece.
- Calorie calculations reflect 6 servings for each pie crust, or 12 total servings.