Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust
When I decided to make a million pies for Thanksgiving (OK, eleven) I made the potentially disastrous choice of making all the crusts gluten-free.
Potentially disastrous, because I’d never made a gluten-free version of my favorite pie crust, and I didn’t do a test run. (Gluten free baking can be finicky.) Also we were having company for the big dinner.
I live on the edge, what can I say?
Luckily it was SO good. Like, if someone made me a pie with this gluten free pie crust recipe, I would never know it was gluten-free. Honest. It’s even better than most traditional pie crusts I’ve eaten. (I’m a pie crust snob.)
All I did was take Grandma’s pie crust recipe and use a gluten-free flour blend. That’s it. Her recipe has an egg and it’s very forgiving, so I figured that would give me a head start. I’ve played with this recipe before, substituting whole-grain flours, but this variation is by far the best. It tastes and feels almost identical to the original. (I’m curious to see if Grandma would even notice…)
The flour I used is the King Arthur Gluten-Free Brown Rice Flour Blend Recipe. Since the website with the recipe isn’t online anymore, here’s the recipe:
King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 3 cups brown rice flour
- 1 cup potato starch
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
I’ve been using this flour a lot lately, and it’s my current favorite. The ingredients are all easy to find, especially if you have a grocery store with a bulk section. (Unless you have severe gluten allergies, then bulk bins aren’t a great idea.)
Why am I using it and not a paleo-friendly blend? Well… convenience mostly. Also, my 1-year-old is allergic to a lot of things right now, and trying to make egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, AND grain-free baked goods makes my head explode. So, I compromise and use this blend.
Another reason is because I’m trying to eliminate all uses for white flour. I used to make exceptions for birthday cakes. And pie crust.
No more, my friends.
If this flour works in my favorite cinnamon roll recipe I will be the happiest girl in the world. Yes, all the sugar, I know, but one thing at a time. And life would be super boring without actual treats once in a while. Amiright?
OK, pie crust. Here we go.
Using a food processor to make pie crust changed my life. Pastry blenders get the job done. So do a couple of forks, but by the time you finish cutting the butter into the flour you’ll want to stick a fork in your eye.
And that reminds me — yes, I use butter. You can probably use palm shortening, but I make no promises about the outcome. I use Kerrygold grass-fed butter because it tastes amazing. And because, butter.
Just toss that flour and salt into the work bowl, give it a buzz, and then drop pieces of butter in and pulse it up.
If you want to see a quick video, check it out here:
It’ll look sorta chunky-crumbly and a little like damp sand.
Here’s the important part. Have a big glass of ice water ready, and measure out 1/4 cup of the water. Break an egg into it and beat it with a fork.
Cold water is super important here. Keeping that butter chilled as long as possible is important no matter what pie crust recipe you’re using.
Then pour it into the flour mixture and pulse some more.
Keep pulsing. It’ll start to get chunkier and form pea sized clumps.
Until the dough starts to gather to one side of the processor in a big clump.
Empty the dough out onto a floured surface, split it in half, and shape it into two disks. Cover them with plastic wrap and chill for about 30-40 minutes. You want the dough to be cool to the touch, but not hard.
Did I mention this recipe makes two single crusts?
Now we move to my countertop with the ugly sand-colored formica. Sigh.
Here are a few tips for rolling out this dough:
If you happen to have a pastry scraper you’re in good shape. You can also use a metal spatula.
Slide it around the edges of the crust to release it from the counter and then gently transfer it to a pie plate.
Sometimes it will tear a little, but just pinch it back together.
Trim the edges if there’s more than 1/2 inch hanging off the plate and then tuck the edges under to clean it up.
I like to crimp the edges with my knuckle because Grandma always crimps hers, and I think it looks prettier than using a fork around the edges which also flattens it and make it burn more easily.
By now you may have realized that isn’t flour or dough on my hands. I went from glittering pinecones directly to rolling out pie crust with a quick handwashing in the middle, but I didn’t have time to pick off all of the paint because the baby was still asleep. You don’t waste those precious minutes doing non-essential things.
And I promise there was no consumption of acrylic paint during this process.
At this point you can fill it and bake it like normal!
If you’re going to pre-bake it, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork so it doesn’t bubble. Then toss it in a 400 degree oven until golden brown — maybe 15-20 minutes.
I don’t have pie beads, weights, or dry beans so I just lightly press foil onto the crust and cover the edges.
Ready to be filled!
I used this crust for 7 of these pies — including the heart cut outs and the lattice. The lattice was a little tricky, but I thought it worked out beautifully!
By the way, if you want to know the details and recipe sources for those pies, you can find that on the Instagram post.
I also filled one with Cleaned-Up Chocolate Silk. You may want to get in on this.
(Update) I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about how to freeze pie crust, so here are a few options. . .
How to Freeze Pie Crust
Option #1 – Raw & Unrolled
The step where you form the dough into a slightly flattened disk? Instead of putting it in the fridge, wrap it again with some foil and stick it in a freezer bag. You can fit several crusts in a gallon bag, so this way saves a lot of space. Lasts a couple months in the freezer. TO USE: Let it thaw for several hours — the last couple of hours can be room temperature. It should be somewhat chilled when you roll it out.
Option #2 – Raw & Rolled Out
This option works whether you plan to pre-bake your crusts or not. Roll it out and form it in a freezer-safe pie plate. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and a layer of foil and then freeze. I wouldn’t leave this in the refrigerator for more than a week because it has a higher chance of drying out since it’s already rolled out. TO USE: Thaw it out (but at least keep it chilled — room temperature is like death to a pie crust) and either pre-bake it or fill it and then bake. This probably goes without saying, but DON’T put frozen Pyrex dishes in a hot oven unless you plan on making a broken glass/pie dough mosaic art piece.
Option #3 – Pre-Baked
Wait until the crust cools, wrap it in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to a week. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t do this unless I was REALLY pressed for time for Thanksgiving pie making on the actual holiday because the pie crust could dry out really easily and you may run the risk of breaking it while trying to wrap it. TO USE: Let it thaw somewhat so it isn’t icy when you add your filling.
- 2 cups King Arthur gluten-free flour blend (recipe in Notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 Tablespoons cold butter (grass-fed, if possible)
- 1 egg
- Fill a tall glass with ice water and set it aside.
- Combine the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces, and add them to the food processor 2-3 pieces of the time and pulse a few times in between additions. The mixture should resemble coarse damp sand. Don't overmix it.
- Measure out 1/4 cup of the ice water into a small bowl. Crack the egg into the water and beat it with a fork.
- Pour the egg mixture into the processor slowly while pulsing. Continue to pulse the crust until it gradually thickens and gathers to one side of the mixing bowl.
- Transfer the dough to the countertop and gather it into one ball. Cut it in half and form each half into a disk. Cover the disks with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or put it in the freezer for 20 minutes).
- Place the chilled disk on a floured surface and gentle roll it out working from the middle outward. If the crust cracks, just pinch it back together. Roll it out to the desired size -- I like to turn the pie plate I'm using upside down to make sure the crust is big enough.
- Using a pastry scraper or a metal spatula, loosen the edges and work your way into the center to release it from the work surface. Transfer it to a pie plate.
- If there is any crust that hangs over the edge of the plate more than about 1/2-inch, trim it off. Tuck the edges under and crimp them if you want.
- At this point you can fill the crust and bake it. If you want to pre-bake it, prick the base of the crust with a fork and press a piece of foil over the crust, covering the edges.
- Bake the crust at 425 degrees F for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 6-8 minutes until the crust is baked through, but not too browned.
King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Blend: 3 cups brown rice flour, 1 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender or a couple of forks to cut the butter into the flour and make the dough.
You can store the dough disks and the pre-baked crusts in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.