How To Make Flaky Pie Dough Like Julia Child

How To Make Flaky Pie Dough Like Julia Child

I’ve been making this incredible flaky pie dough since my sister first checked out “Baking With Julia” from the public library ten years ago. Julia Child is an amazing chef, baker, author, and even had her own cooking show on TV. She is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public. (I fell in love with her story after watching Julie & Julia, a sweet drama/comedy based on the life of Julia Child and Julie Powell who wrote a book about cooking through her recipes. I’d highly recommend this movie to just about anyone!). Needless to say, when it comes to baking, Julia knows what’s up. I have used this recipe to make countless pies, tarts, and galettes (including this amazing Strawberry-Peach Galette); both sweet and savory and have received countless compliments on it. My husband (who considers himself a pie connoisseur) claims that this is the best crust he’s ever had. I’ve tried taking shortcuts many times and using store-bought crust, but it never turns out to be anything close to as good as this flaky pie dough.

The thing that makes this flaky pie dough so great is the mix of butter and shortening used to make it. I couldn’t put it any better than Julia Child does in her book;

“If you have only one pie dough in your repertoire (heaven forbid), it would have to be this one, the classic dough that earns blue ribbons at county fairs and stars at esteemed pastry shops. The mix of butter and shortening guarantees that the dough will be flaky, flavorful, and tender. You can use this dough to use any kind of pie or tart, sweet or savory, plain or fancy. It is easy to roll and crimp and is made quickly by hand, in a mixer, or food processor.”

-Julia Child, Baking With Julia P. 31

This recipe makes enough dough for FOUR 9” pie crusts. If you really only want one, you can quarter the ingredients but I highly recommend making the full batch, it freezes really well for later and you won’t regret having more of this delicious flaky pie dough on hand!

Ingredients For Flaky Pie Dough

(makes 4 crusts)

5 1/4 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I ran out of unsalted and had to use salted butter this time, but it still turned out okay)
1 3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled (I like to use the “butter flavor” kind)
1 cup ice water

Flaky pie dough

Directions For Flaky Pie Dough

My favorite way to make this flaky pie dough is using my KitchenAid stand mixer, so I will focus on this method. But you can also make it by hand or using a food processor. I’ll include directions for those methods as well.

flaky pie dough

In A Stand Mixer (using paddle attachment)
Mix the flour and salt in the bowl using the paddle attachment. You will be using the “stir” setting (or lowest speed setting available) for all of these steps. 

flaky pie dough
Add the chilled butter and mix on low until mixture looks coarse and crumbly. I actually like to use frozen butter; it works great because it stays really cold throughout the whole process. (You don’t want the butter to melt because the crust won’t have the right texture then.)

flaky pie doughflaky pie dough

Add chilled shortening in small bits and continue to mix on low.

flaky pie doughflaky pie dough

When shortening is mixed in and the texture is clumpy and starts to stick together, gradually add the ice water.
Mix only until water is just incorporated. You might find that the dough sticks to your paddle, this is normal!

flaky pie dough
Use a small spatula to scrape off dough from the paddle attachment, flatten dough, and cut into quarters.
(One quarter of this recipe is enough flaky pie dough for one 9″-10″ pie crust or shell)

flaky pie dough
Place each piece in a separate zip lock bag, flatten, and chill for 2 hours before use or freeze for later.

flaky pie dough

flaky pie dough

By Hand
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl
Add the butter using your hands or a pastry blender (or two forks)

Flaky pie dough
Cut in chilled shortening and mix until mixture forms clumps
Use a wooden spoon to mix in ice water

In A Food Processor
Start with very cold ingredients and be careful not to overwork them
Place flour and salt in food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse to mix
Remove lid and scatter chilled butter and shortening over dry ingredients
Cover and pulse just until fats are cut in
Add ice water in little bits, pulsing a few times after each addition until water is incorporated
(Don’t process until the dough forms a ball that rides on the blade–that’s overdoing it)

This flaky pie dough turns out great every time and is so easy to make that I just cant justify buying pre-made dough. I always make the full recipe and sometimes even double it (especially during the holidays when I’m baking a lot of pies). This way you have it ready to go in your freezer. Just remove the dough form the freezer and have it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before rolling it out to make your favorite pie, tart, or galette. My current favorite use for the flaky pie dough is this strawberry peach galette; so delicious and easy to make!

flaky pie dough



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18 thoughts on “How To Make Flaky Pie Dough Like Julia Child”

  • If I remember correctly, after Julia mixes ingredients in food processor,folds it into ball then, with her hand smoothes it out with palm of hand[my God, don’t try and follow my description of Julias video ,you’ll have a mess on your hands] . This is where I have a problem, or over think next step. How long, after refrigerating the dough, do you let the dough sit and rest before rolling gently out… I know the importance of keeping dough cold, but how long do I let it thall. Out before I can roll it out nicely [not over working it] and yet keeping it cold.

    • Hi Sally! Sorry for the bit of a delayed response! (We’ve been away on a holiday break.)

      The next step is pretty simple actually! If you have frozen the dough, then defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. If it’s freshly made pie dough, put it in the refrigerator for about and hour or two so it’s evenly chilled. Once it’s “refrigerator” temperature, it’s perfect to work with and roll out. There is no need to let it thaw on the counter.

  • sorry, there’s no way that pastry you made is the picture you show. You’ve used too much of the cake flour and you can NOT at any time directly convert regular flour with cake/pastry flour!! Using butter flavoured crisco is a NO NO!! use butter and then lard … what are you telling people???
    This is Julia Child’s recipe for pastry…
    1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour.
    1/2 cup cake flour.
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, chilled.
    1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled.
    1 teaspoon white vinegar.
    1/2 cup very cold water.

    • The pastry pictured is made exactly by the recipe I shared, maybe you’re looking at a different Julia Child recipe? I’m using the exact (verbatim) recipe that is found on p. 31 of “Baking With Julia”. The only difference is using a flavored vegetable shortening which I put in parentheses as a suggestion. It’s always worked wonderfully for me, maybe give it a try? Oh, and I use all purpose flour, not cake flour although in the original recipe does state you can use pastry flour or all-purpose. Best of luck!

  • I was in a hurry to make my pie crust today and since I’ve used Julia Child’s recipe I’m the food processor for years I printed your recipe and went to the store. I bought allllll the butter, flour and shortening thinking : wow this is so much! Well of course it was. The flour alone fills the processor bowl. What a waste of time and ingredients. I finally found the correct recipe and made it as your previous comments indicate. You really should test your recipes before printing them. And the name of your website is deceiving. It’s my fault but I will double check next time.

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I’m sorry the recipe didn’t work out in your food processor. I think the printable version of the recipe might not be showing that this is for FOUR pie crusts. I’ll make sure to edit it so it shows up that way! I always make a big batch and store what I don’t use in the freezer. If you only need enough for just one pie crust and don’t have room in your freezer, you can quarter the recipe like one of the previous comments mention!

      • I thought your comments were very clear. One of the best pie doughs I made was using butter flavored Crisco. However, I’m trying different ingredients until I get the taste I want. Leaf lard, if you can find it makes a dough that tastes like the pies my aunt and Mother used to make. Imo, your presentation and design are well done. Best wishes to all.

        • Wow, thanks so much! I’ve never heard of leaf lard before, I’ll have to check it out! I’m always up for finding a new and improved recipes.

  • I wonder what kind of cheese those ladies have with their Whine. The recipe and instructions were easy to follow and I now can reproduce this wonderful crust 3 more times without moving my heavy mixer up to the counter! Delightful photos and suggestions! Julia would be proud!

  • This is a wonderful recipe. I used it as printed, using my kitchen aid just as suggested. I’ve never been good at pie crust and this worked so well. I chilled everything ahead of time, even the metal bowl! And I used butter flavored shortening (shock!) My crusts have never looked so good! And flakey! Thank you so much for posting this!

  • You left out the fact that none of the recipes in the book, Baking with Julia, are Julia Child’s own personal recipes and that all the recipes in the book come from assorted American Chefs that Julia has cooked and baked with on her TV shows or elsewhere then chose to put together a cookbook containing all the contributed chefs recipes so American home cooks/ bakers/young cooks etc. would have a supply or recipes that rarely if ever failed when attempting for the first time.
    You’d be hard pressed to find an original Julia Child cookbook that contains outdated and old fashioned American volume measurements with no metric or weights included when Ms. Child did not use volume herself unless testing her recipes for the American Market. .

    The pastry recipe you have posted here is not Julia Child’s pastry recipe, the creator of this pastry recipe’s name is LESLIE MACKIE of Macrina’s Bakery in Seattle. Ms. Mackie was an invited guest chef on the TV show, Baking with Julia, season 2 where she featured her pastry recipe that you have posted here as being Julia Child’s pastry recipe. Ms. Mackie is also the author of Leslie Mackies Macarina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook: Favorite Pastries, Breads, Sweets, and Savory.
    A heads up for you. If you check the recipes in your Baking with Julia book, ( I have the very same book ) you will notice the contributing Baker or chefs name for each recipe is included which makes in important to give credit to the right person.

    • Hi Joycelyn! I don’t actually own a copy of the book and refer to the picture of this recipe my sister texted me a while back haha. I had no idea the recipes were contributed by other bakers, that’s so cool! And what are the odds this particular one is from Leslie Mackie! I live in the Seattle area and love Macrina Bakery. Thanks for letting me know about that, I always assumed it was Julia Child’s recipe but that totally makes sense.

      Have you made this before? What’s your favorite go-to pie crust recipe?

      Thanks for reading!


  • The Baking with Julia book does not contain Julia Child’s own recipes. Each recipe in the book is from a chef or baker who was an invited guest on Julia Child’s TV shows.. This particular pastry recipe was contributed by Leslie Mackie who is the owner of a bakery in Seattle. You have to give credit to the actual bakers and chefs who created the recipes in the Baking with Julia book, you cannot give credit to Julia Child as none of the recipes in the Baking with Julia Book are her own. You deleted my first comment which I can only assume you do not like any of your readers to correct anything you have posted even if what you posted is incorrect. I’m commenting again as I feel strongly that what you are doing by not giving credit to the correct chef or baker who contributed their recipe to Ms. Child’s book, is morally wrong.

    • Sorry about any misunderstanding, all comments on my blog need to be “approved” before they show up publicly and I was just now able to get some time to do that (new baby has been keeping me extra busy!)

      Hope you have a great day!


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