Lisa Donovan's Pie Dough


Using a European-style butter with a higher butterfat percentage produces a super-flaky, tender, and flavorful crust. Donovan does not include sugar in her crust, but the high ratio of butter provides plenty of browning and flavor.

Lisa Donovan's Pie Dough Recipe
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted European-style butter (12 ounces) (such as Plugrá)

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Fill a 2-cup measuring cup with ice. Top measuring cup off with water (at least 1/2 cup). Set aside.

  2. Cube butter into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces with varying rough chops. Toss together flour and salt in a large bowl. Toss butter cubes into flour mixture, and separate cubes with your fingers before beginning to work together. Work in butter using your hands, making smears and buttery flakes. Do not use a machine or a pastry cutter; using your hands will help you discern the temperature and feel of the flour. You are looking to incorporate all the butter into the flour without overworking. Every piece of butter should be smeared with some flour before you begin to add the ice water; there should be no untouched pieces of butter. Doing this deftly is key; if the butter starts to feel too warm, use your refrigerator as a tool—place bowl in freezer or refrigerator at any time to cool off. Preferably, though, you will be able to work the butter in quickly without too much fuss.

  3. To incorporate the ice water, start by drizzling about 3 tablespoons water (do not add ice) into flour mixture. Using your hands slightly cupped as paddles (do not use your fingers or do any kneading), toss the water into the flour until it is fully absorbed. Add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, paddling with hands between each addition, until mixture begins to form a shaggy dough. You will likely use about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup water total, depending on the humidity. The dough should feel moist but not wet or sticky. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface. Give dough a few strong kneads to work it all together (about 4 turns). Your dough should feel tacky and supple but not sticky.

  4. Divide dough evenly into 2 pieces (about 12 ounces each). Form each piece into a flat disk and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Make Ahead

Well-wrapped dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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