Everyone needs a killer vegan pie crust recipe. One that’s flaky, buttery and melts in the mouth, with a flavour you just won’t forget. In this recipe I share my secret ingredients, tips and tricks to achieving the most amazing vegan pie crust every time. I chat about the science, method and tools that will give you the best result. If you’re a vegan baking nerd read on, if you just want the recipe jump to it.
What exactly is vegan pie crust?
Traditionally, a pie crust recipe is made up of three essential ingredients: flour, fat, and water. We add other ingredients like salt and sugar to flavour our crust. The most common method used to create the dough, is cutting our solid fat ingredient into our flour until the fat is completely coated in flour and resembles a chunky, sandy meal. We then add our ice cold liquids to bring the meal together to create a slightly moist, almost dry-ish dough. We then allow the dough to relax in the fridge to hydrate and harden our fat pieces that are present in the dough. Once chilled, we roll out our dough and create our pie crust shape.
Whilst doing research for this post, I came across this blog talking about myths about pie crust pastry by J Kenji Lopex-Alt that was super interesting if you’re a baking nerd.
What are my 2 secret ingredients?
VODKA (or white vinegar)
The secret to creating the perfect dough is to use the least amount of water possible to avoid a soggy, gummy pastry. Non vegan versions of a pie crust recipe use dairy butter as their main fat ingredient. Vegan butter is different to dairy butter and usually has a higher water content as it is made by mixing vegetable oils with water, salt and emulsifiers.
This is where vodka plays a key role (you can also use white vinegar but it’s not exactly the same). Vodka is generally 60% water and 40% alcohol. By adding vodka to your dough it will help create an extra flaky crust because most of the alcohol will evaporate during the baking process. The ethanol component of vodka doesn’t bind with the gluten, meaning your gluten structure is less developed, giving you a more tender result. Vodka helps to create the perfect crust texture – flaky and tender without being gummy. Don’t worry – it’s not going to affect the flavour.
Using vodka also creates a dough that is easier to work with as it allows the dough to feel more moist, making rolling and shaping the dough a breeze, especially when creating pastry designs such as a lattice. Hands down I owe this idea to Cook’s Illustrated’s famous vodka pie crust. This isn’t a new idea but it’s not that common.
ALMOND FLOUR (or almond meal)
My second secret ingredient is almond flour (you can also use almond meal). I noticed that using almond meal in shortcrust pastry gave a better, more full flavoured result so I decided to experiment with using it in pie crust. I love the result, the almonds add such a wonderful flavour.
The other ingredients I use for this recipe are
- Plain all purpose flour
- Brown sugar
- Sea salt
- Vegan block butter
- Solid vegetable shortening
- Vegetable oil
- Ice water
- If you don’t want to use vodka you can sub with white vinegar or water
- You can use solid coconut oil instead of shortening
What is the Food Science of Vegan Pie Crust?
Creating the perfect pie crust that is flaky, tender and delicious is possible by using a large quantity of fat and the least amount of water possible. The fats (vegan butter and shortening) in this recipe break down into small pieces coating the flour which delays the gluten structure from developing. This is a similar concept to using a reverse creaming method for baking super tender cakes. The fat forms thin layers within the dough when it’s rolled out. These thin layers trap evaporating water as the crust bakes, which causes thin, delicious flaky layers.
I use a combination of vegan butter to give flavour and vegetable shortening to create flakiness. Shortening also has a higher melting point which helps hold our crust together. This is especially helpful when creating designs.
- Kitchen scales
- Large mixing bowl
- Pastry cutter (see this article for other options) or Food Processor
- Rolling pin
- Cake scraper
- Pie Dish
- Baking beads (if you’re blind or par baking)
- Pizza stone or cookie tray
- Baking paper
- Pastry hole roller or fork
My Top Tips For This Recipe
- Freeze your butter and shortening.
- Keep your pie dough cold to prevent your fat from melting. If your house is hotter than 27C, form your dough in intervals. Roll your dough and then chill it for 10 minutes, drape your dough and then chill it, trim your dough lid and decorations and chill again.
- If you’re finding your pastry is over-browning on the outside of the crust, add pieces of aluminium foil on the crust so it doesn’t brown further.
- Bake your pie crust on a pizza stone or a lay cookie tray to draw even heat to the bottom of your pie crust.
- All ingredients and tools must be cold. I would go as far as putting everything into the freezer for an hour before using them.
- Make sure your vegan butter is a hard solid block butter and not a spreadable butter.
- If you’re new to making pie crust, use a glass pie dish so you can see how the pastry has baked on the bottom.
You can make this recipe and store in the freezer for up to 1 month as long as it’s completely sealed with cling wrap or freezer bag and stored in an airtight container. Do not microwave to defrost, leave in the fridge overnight to thaw.
What is blind baking and par baking?
Blind baking is when you only want to bake the crust and add a non-baked filling once it’s cooled. Par baking is when you want to partly bake your crust and freeze to bake at a later date.
Want a savoury vegan pie crust?
This recipe can be used for both sweet and savoury pies. If you want to make a savoury version just leave out the sugar.
See My Step By Step Photos For How To Make This Vegan Pie Crust
The final results for this recipe – top, bottom and inside the pie crustPrint
My No.1 Vegan Pie Crust
- Total Time: 53 minutes
- Yield: 1 double layer vegan pie crust 1x
- Diet: Vegan
This is the most delicious pie crust you will ever make. This recipe is enough for a double layer crust. If you’re added detailed decorations I would make an extra half amount.
- 350 g plain all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 100 g almond flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (dark or light)
- 150 g vegan block butter (frozen and cubed)
- 50 g vegetable shortening (frozen and cubed into very small pieces)
- 50 ml ice cold water
- 50 ml vodka (cold)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (cold)
- Add all your dry ingredients into your food processor and pulse until combined.
- Cube your frozen butter and shortening and spread evenly over the top of your flour.
- Pulse until it comes together and the flour is completely covered by butter, about 30+ pulses.
- Pour in ice cold liquid and pulse until it’s a soft crumbly dough, around 40+ pulses.
- Pour dough onto a lightly floured bench and using your hands quickly knead into a round disk. Place into your mixing bowl and cover with baking paper. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
- Remove from fridge and divid into two. Wrap one half and place back into the fridge. Roll out your dough out into a large circle, 3mm thickness, drape over your rolling pin and place into your lightly greased pie dish. Trim the edges and shape if required. Place dish into the fridge for 30 mins.
IF YOU’RE BLIND BAKING OR PAR BAKING…
- Preheat your conventional oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- If you’re blind baking or par baking. Using your pastry hole roller or fork to pierce holes all over the bottom of your pastry. Cover your dough in baking paper and pour in your baking beads or grains (you can also use sugar). Make sure it comes up to the top of your pie dish.
- Bake on the bottom rack of your oven on top of your pizza stone or biscuit tray for 20 minutes then remove beads. If par baking, wrap and freeze. If blind baking, rotate your dish 180°C and bake for another 20 to 23 minutes until lightly golden brown.
IF YOU WANT TO ADD VEGAN EGG WASH
- See my easy vegan egg wash recipe or melt a tablespoon of vegan sweetened condensed milk and brush before baking.
See notes above for substitutions
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 43
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Simple dough
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: vegan pie crust
Looking for other pies I’ve made? Check out these recipes…
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This looks fabulous. Are we able to use a gf flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour?
Sara Kidd says
Yes I think it could work
I gave up on pie crusts years ago. Just never had the knack. So I saw a recipe that needed a pie crust and I wanted to give it another try now that I’m vegan!!! I was a little sceptical about using vodka but wow this is the flakiest pastry I’ve ever made without it being a complete mess lol
Sara Kidd says
Hey Jacky, I’m so glad I was able to solve your pie crust problems!
Sandra K says
I never could make crust until I found this recipe, it’s the best! Thank you!
Peta Tender says
BEST PIE CRUST EVA
Jackie F says
I loved this apple filling!
And the rosewater was such a great tip.
Everyone lovied it sooooo much!!!!
Katie Crisp says
This pie crust is awesome! Fantastic! Sara makes it in a food processor which I love. The easier the better. I was a bit lazy with sitting it sit in the fridge but it still came out great.
I am converted!!!! I have been using a pie crust recipe handed down from my gran and it isn’t vegan. I’ve been hunting for a vegan one and this is it!!!!
I made a couple of apple pies with this recipe. I’ve never had much good luck making pie crusts, but this worked so well. My daughter even commented that she usually doesn’t eat the rim of the pie crust, but this one was wonderful.
Sally d says
Love this vegan pie crust i will use this recipe forever
I’m madly in love with this pastry! It’s so easy and delicious. Freezing the butter is such a great tip. Thank you for a lovely recipe.
Such a great recipe!
Sara Kidd says
hanks so much mem
Can I sub the vodka with water?
Sara Kidd says
Hey Jed, yes you can substitute with water.
We made this for our early Thanksgiving party and it was so yummy. Thanks sara!
Stella Highgate says
I’ve never tried adding vodka before and WOW what a difference. Amazing recipe thanks so much
I really enjoyed experimenting with vodka. I’d never tried that before and it seemed to make the pie more flacky. I will defineately be trying this recipe with other pies. Thanks
Sara Kidd says
Thanks so much, Rach!
Thank you so much for all the extra detail. I’m learning about vegan baking and this was super helpful. Looking forward to making more of your recipes.
Sara Kidd says
Hey Gemma, thanks so much for letting me know. I’m glad the extra detail helped.
Wow this was incredible! I wasn’t expecting it to turn out so good. Thanks sara!
Sara Kidd says
Hey Katie, thanks so much for leaving a review xox