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.
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 crust
Looking for other pies I’ve made? Check out these recipes…
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