This tender flaky lard pie crust recipe is straight from my great grandma’s recipe box. It practically melts in your mouth.
If the perfect pie crust is on your baking bucket list, you have to give this recipe a try. After a long search, we finally have my great grandma’s recipe for the pie crust she was so famous for.
Luckily we are all the beneficiaries of her decades of experience. Please give it a try for yourself.
Is there a certain food that instantly makes you think of your grandmother? For my mom, that food is pie.
Her dad’s mother lived in rural Indiana. So visiting was always such a treat for her and her Chicago suburbanite siblings.
Even though they were absolutely great, they just weren’t grandma’s pie crust. Then finally she got the recipe from her cousin.
We finally had it! So you think there would be instant pie, right?
Good Lard Makes All of the Difference
The key to a great pie crust is using good ingredients. There are so few things in there, the flavor of each one makes a big difference.
My mom remembers going with her grandma to the butcher to get the lard for her crust. She said “if you don’t have the right lard, it’s not worth making a pie.”
Leaf lard is the most prized lard around. It is super white and sourced from around the kidneys and loins of the pig.
So we waited until we had the good stuff. MiMi rendered leaf lard from pigs they raised on their little homestead farm.
It was finally time to make a pie. And it was worth the wait.
Of course you don’t have to render your own. Leaf lard is available, you may just need to put in a little effort to find it.
Good has a clean flavor and makes the flakiest pastry. It is worth going out of your way to find the good stuff.
Yes! Lard actually has a lot of advantages over other fats you could use in your pastry.
Lard blends easily, chills nicely and has such a silky feel in your hands as you work with the dough. It creates such perfect flakes in the crust.
It is easier to work with cold than butter and doesn’t melt as quickly. Plus it has less saturated fat and no trans fats unlike shortening.
Tips for a Flaky Crust
Getting a flaky crust depends on more than just using lard. Of course there are more tricks you can have in your arsenal.
The first is the temperature of your ingredients. Using cold lard and water will help keep the fat from melting before you are ready.
Chilling the dough before you roll it and again before you bake it also helps. I like to pat it into disks before I chill it.
That makes it chill more evenly and you have a head start on rolling it out vs. chilling it as a ball. Of course working it as little as possible will help as well.
The notes on my great grandma’s recipe say to preheat a cookie sheet with the oven. Put the pie pan on the hot sheet pan.
The pan will not only catch any drips, but will also apply even heat across the bottom of the pie. It will help prevent that dreaded soggy bottom.
It’s Pie Time!
I used this crust to make my great-grandma’s apple pie. That recipe is coming in a couple of days.
It is the gold standard of pie’s in my mom’s eyes. She drove across town in snow and subzero temperatures to have a slice. Of course now we love it too.
Don’t forget to save those scraps and turn them into cinnamon sugar pie crust cookies! That is a great reward for making your own crust.
What is the secret to a good pie crust?
There are two secrets that make a super tender crust. The first is keeping it nice and cold. Start with cold water and lard and refrigerate the crust again before you bake it. The second is to work the dough as little as possible.
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Lard Pie Crust
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup lard leaf lard if you can find it
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons cold water
Making the Dough
- Stir together flour and salt.
- Cut in lard until you have a crumbly mixture.
- Add just enough water to make it come together into a dough.
- Pat into a flat disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill at least a half hour.
- Roll into a thin circle and fit into your pie pan.
- For the flakiest crust, put the crust lined pie plate back in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes. Or go ahead and proceed to bake according to your pie filling's instructions.
Blind Baking the Crust
- To bake the pie shell without fillings, preheat oven to 425°F.
- Prick the crust a few times with a fork, then line with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 12 minutes.
- Carefully remove paper or foil and weights then ake 8 to 10 minutes more for a partially baked crust, or for a fully baked crust 10 to 12 minutes longer until golden brown.
- This is enough for a single pie crust. Double the recipe for a double crust pie.
- You can make pie crust dough ahead of time if you want. Store the disk of wrapped dough in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze it up to three months. Defrost frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- Using a good quality rendered lard will make for the best pie crust. If it's not by the shortening or butter, you may ask at the meat counter or at a local butcher shop.