Lard and Butter Pie Crust

This lard and butter pie crust is the flaky, tender, flavorful piecrust you’ve longed for but may not have had the nerve to make.

An unbaked lard and butter pie crust, with fork pricks all over on a wooden table.

Lard and Butter Pie Crust

  • Quick Glance
  • (14)
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes enough for a double-crust 10-inch pie
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In a food processor fitted with metal blade, combine the flour, salt, and sugar.

Toss in the butter cubes and process with five 1-second pulses.

Toss the cold lard into the processor and continue pulsing until the butter is no larger than the size of peas and the flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, about four 1-second pulses. Dump the flour mixture into a medium bowl.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the flour mixture. Working quickly, use a fork to fluff and mix thoroughly. Squeeze a handful of dough—if it doesn’t stick together, add the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Handling the dough as little as possible, divide it into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each portion of dough into 6-inch discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll each portion of dough to slightly larger than your pie plate. Carefully drape the slightly smaller portion of dough in the plate. If desired, prick the bottom crust with the tines of a fork, if desired.

Fill with your favorite pie filling recipe, top with the remaining portion of dough and crimp the edges. Trim any excess dough that hangs over the edge. Freeze the unbaked pie for up to several weeks or transfer it to the fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking according to your recipe. Originally published January 9, 2002.

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Recipe Testers' Tips & Notes

This was one of the best pie crusts I’ve ever tasted. It was also one of the easiest to make. With this recipe in your arsenal, you’ll always get great compliments on your pies.

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  1. OMG, you guys, I have such pie crust anxiety–probably because my grandmother was the master of it and I just don’t make pies all that often. Today, in a nod to Grandma Rose, I decided to make her French-Canadian tourtiere (which she served on New Year’s Day), and which I’ve made before, but usually with an all-butter crust. I decided to try this one because… pork + lard… seemed like the thing to do. But the recipe does not tell you what to *do* with the lard–“toss it in? I love you guys and the recipes are always quite well written, but this stymied me. I didn’t want to toss in a 4-oz. chunk of frozen lard, so I cut it into several pieces before placing them in the food processor. But they barely incorporated at all. I had to cut them manually. Then, it took 9 tablespoons of water to make a dough that only barely came together. It’s in the fridge now, where I’m leaving it until I get my courage back. But can you tell me what I’m doing/not doing here? I’m usually a pretty fearless cook, but pie crust gets me every time. Help?

    1. I hear you, Suzanne! It has taken me years to get over my pie crust anxiety! I think part of your issue was using frozen lard. You want it to be cold, but not frozen, which was probably why it didn’t incorporate as well. Did you weigh your flour? If you were a bit heavy-handed, that may also have contributed to the dryness of the dough. Do keep us posted on how it turns out.

      1. Hi Angie:
        I didn’t weigh the flour, as the recipe doesn’t indicate any. However, I suspect I was on the light side, as I use the scoop method and the dough, once it rested in the fridge, was probably wet. It was pretty challenging to work with, but I just patched it where necessary and put the finished pie in the freezer for a few minutes while waiting for the oven to come to temp. Perhaps I misread one of the comments, where Renee mentioned that she keeps her lard in the freezer. Anyway, the pie just came out of the oven, so I’ll report back after we taste it!

  2. Hi I am BRAND NEW to baking pies. I am allergic to soy so I can’t have Cristco or anything. I used snow lard from the store, being so new…it could be a mess. I followed the directions to a T for the first batch, but I think my second batch the butter was an issue and my lard sat out for a minute while I prepared the second batch. So, the first ones came together great but the second ones were hard to put together, kept crumbling, and just didn’t “feel” right. I put them in the fridge and I’m going to roll them out tomorrow. Can you help with this issue or tell me what I did wrong? I’m thinking it might be the too warm ingredients…

    1. Kelley, I suspect that your instincts are correct. Working with cold ingredients is critical for making pie dough. Some bakers will even occasionally grab an ice cube and rub it between their hands to keep them cold for working with the dough. The overnight rest should have allowed your second batch of dough to fully hydrate and hopefully, it will be smooth sailing today.

  3. I never make pie crusts but during the pandemic I am working on my baking skills. The crust turned out wonderfully but not very pretty but i was able to mash pieces where it tore to mend it. I made an apple pie and read a post that said to toss the apples with sugar and let the juice drain and then thicken it with cornstarch. I then added the apples and cooked them a bit. I now know that i should have let them cool first before adding to the crust but nevertheless it was all delicious. I used nothing but the food processor, no hands as I missed that direction but still very flaky!

    1. I’m so glad to hear it, Liz! I’m also pie crust challenged, but I’ve been working on it and it gets easier every time. So delighted it was a success for you. Can’t wait to hear what you try next!

  4. Is it normal not to use water? My dough seems wet with just the butter n lard.
    When prebake, the lard melts and alot dripping on to the oven, is it normal?

    1. Hi Daisy, I’d just like to clarify your question. This recipe actually does call for ice water to be added. Are you perhaps saying your usual recipe doesn’t call for water and this one does? Every pie crust I think I’ve ever made, starting with my grandma in her kitchen when I was about 6 years old, does add a little water, with the exact amount varying depending on the recipe and the feel of your dough. It can be a little tricky to add the exact right amount, but that comes with practice. As for the lard melting, that to me indicates perhaps the lard wasn’t cold enough before you worked it into the dough or maybe the dough sat at room temperature before you slid it in the oven? Not trying to point fingers, just trying to ask questions so I can discern what went awry. If you’d prefer, you can email me and we can chat on the phone quick to figure it out. You’ll find me at

  5. I love this recipe using lard and butter. It’s the best of both worlds, tasty and flaky! As I’m ramping up for the holidays, can I make the dough ahead and freeze it? And if so, is it better to make the dough and freeze it as 6″ discs, and when ready to use, thaw and roll out. Or, can I make the dough, chill, roll it out and freeze it in the pie dish? I’m trying to work ahead, yet don’t want to sacrifice taste. Thanks for the recipe, it’s great!

    1. Carol, I love this recipe, too. It’s my go-to. I freeze it all the time and I’ve always frozen it already rolled out and in the pie plate. If you’re planning on making a pie with a double crust, I guess you’ll need to do the discs. You can let the crust thaw in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

  6. I’ve made this crust recipe several times now and it is THE best! Just wondering though, because I’m kinda lazy at times, since the food processor is used to mix the butter and lard into the flour can it continue to be used when adding the ice water?

  7. Is this ratio of flour to fat right? it’s almost 1:1, which seems like too much. This crust oozed butter all over my sheet tray that I had my pie on. Any tips for me?

    1. Hi Karen and I’m incredibly sorry to hear that you had this experience. I’ve made this recipe literally countless times the last 15 years (since long before we asked recipe testers to try it and published it on our site) and I have had the same thing happen a couple times. The ratios are actually correct. When things went south for me it was either because I was in a hurry and didn’t take the time to have the butter and lard chilled through and through OR I got distracted and let the pastry sit out for a while in a warm kitchen before filling the pie and sliding it in the oven. I’m wondering if perhaps either of this circumstances played into your baking? Also, in the summer, when the kitchen is warm and humid, I often also chill the flour just so everything remains as cold as possible. Pastry can be finicky and the most important thing is that everything be cold. I got in the habit of keeping butter and lard in the freezer and once I began to do that I never had the issue again. Kindly let me know your thoughts. Everyone who’s had this pie crust in my home has raved about it and many have requested the recipe. It melds that magnificent butteriness we love in pie crust yet has that flakiness that your grandma’s pie crust probably did. I hope you get to experience that!

  8. Hello,
    I ran across this recipe by surfing the web looking for a great pie crust recipe. I was concentrating so hard on getting this pie crust made that I just realized that I used salted butter. I’m praying for a miracle on tomorrow because I’m making a sweet potato pie. I hope the crust is not too salty. The question I have is do I blind bake my crust before filling it with my recipe? If so, how long do I blind bake the crust with the pie weights? I know this will be a GREAT crust because lard is an old school ingredient and I hear it makes better pie crust than shortening. Thanks for your expertise!!!!!

    1. Hi Dana, so glad you happened upon this recipe! I am so with you on the lard and butter approach to pie crust. It’s the only way I ever make pastry. As for the butter situation, I think that unless you or anyone who is served this pie has an exceptionally discerning palate, your pie crust will be fine even with salted butter. As for blind baking the crust before adding the filling, usually a recipe will indicate if a pie crust needs to be blind baked prior to adding the filling. And usually with sweet potato pie the filling needs to be in the oven so long that blind baking isn’t necessary. If you want, you can send me a link to the recipe and I’ll let you know my thoughts, but I can’t recall having seen a sweet potato pie recipe that uses blind baking, and I just googled a few random sweet potato pie recipes and they all called for unbaked pie crusts. So I would start with your lovely unbaked pie crust and just follow your recipe. No blind baking required. Best wishes!

      1. Ms. Renee, thank you soooooo much for your quick response. You have no idea how thankful I am to you responding. This is a great recipe and I’m getting ready to roll my crust out once I get my filling made. I cannot wait to see my family’s faces when they try this pie. I know it will be a winner with a WINNING crust. Once again, thank you!!!!!!!

    1. Monica, I make lard and butter pie crusts all the time, and I haven’t tried bacon drippings in place of lard in pie crust so I can’t say for certain, although I have used it in cookies and other baked goods and it imparts a really lovely smokiness to the finished product. My only concern would be the moisture content of the drippings and whether that may throw off the texture of the resulting crust. You would definitely want to freeze the pie crust and some folks would have you take an extra step of precaution as in this link I would use a !:! ratio, of course, when substituting. Let us know how it goes!

  9. Just a quick question, I’ve never made this crust recipe before. I usually use butter only. My ingredients were very cold (this isn’t my first rodeo) and I didn’t need but a tbs or 2 of water but the pastry seems a bit like a dough in texture. I’m concerned my crust is going to flop on the 4th of July! I’m known for my pies. I know kinda dumb to change crust recipes on an important holiday.

    1. Jacqueline, as you know, pie crust is so variable depending on so many factors, including the temperature of the ingredients and the humidity in your kitchen and so, so many other things. I think just as important as those factors is how much you handle the dough. I usually use a fork to initially toss the ingredients together so as to minimize the amount of mixing I have to do with my hands. I’ve had pie crust that, like yours, seems doughy, and it usually results from me being a touch heavy-handed, so to speak, when mixing things. But in most instances it’s turned out fine. So I’d go ahead with your pie crust and see how it turns out. You may need a touch more flour when rolling it out but only add more flour if you absolutely have to. And kindly let us know how it goes. This is many, many people’s favorite pie crust recipe both for the ease with which it comes together and the final flavor and texture, so I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

  10. This is the recipe I used for my lard and butter crust last year and let me tell you, I’ll never go back to Crisco again!! I bought some leaf lard from Surfas (a specialty store here in Los Angeles). It was plentiful and cheap. I then rendered it in my crock pot for many hours (and it STUNK! Word to the wise, put your crock pot outside if you don’t want your house to reek.) I was left with three mason jars full of beautiful, snow-white lard that I used in the crusts. I was a bit nervous because of how bad it smelled while rendering, but it really turned out amazing. This is my go-to crust recipe and method from now on!

  11. I made your lard and butter crust tonight for an amazing chicken pie recipe I have and I have to say it was the most amazing pastry I have ever made! What a fabulous recipe and it turned out so perfect! can’t wait to use it for a fruit pie this fall! Thanks SO much!!

  12. Oh wow, this crust. I’ve been baking pies for about 3 years (which doesn’t seem like long, but I make a LOT of pies. It’s my thing) and have mostly just used different butter crust recipes. I tried this recipe after I discovered that a fancy meat shop near my work sold leaf lard, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to just butter again. The only change I made was I put in 16 tbsp of butter (a stick and a half). My old butter pie crust recipe used 3 sticks of butter, so this was still less fat than normal for me.

    I made 2 pies for my coworkers, and everyone agreed that this was the bust crust they’d ever had–even the ones who had pie-making moms. I’m about to make pies for 3 very large Thanksgiving dinners, so I might try hacking this together with the Cook’s Illustrated vodka crust recipe and use some combo of shortening/lard/butter to save money (fancy leaf lard is expensive) but I will definitely be saving this recipe for later use.

    1. Love to hear that, Chelsea. The melding of lard and butter in pie crust is a revelation, is it not?! I use that vodka trick all the time. It’s magical. Happy, happy Thanksgiving.

  13. We picked a couple bushels of apples so I canned some applesauce and made some roasted apple pie filling to freeze…was looking for a good recipe for crust to make with the leaf lard my son had rendered after taking a butchery class… I’m thrilled that I came across this website!! I made a couple of roasted apple hand pies that were absolutely delicious! Didn’t feel like pulling out my food processor so I used my pastry cutter and it worked great! Will be my new go-to pie recipe…next will be a savory roast beef pie for my son’s birthday…Thanks!!

    1. Welcome to Leite’s, Roberta! I’m so jealous of your apple harvest and would love to hear more about what you’re doing with it. And way to tease us with the roast beef pie…please keep us posted, and thanks for stopping by!

    2. Hey, that sounds like a delicious way to kick off the fall season, Roberta! So glad you enjoy the site and best wishes for your son’s upcoming birthday!

    3. There is something lovely about leaving the food processor where it is, and making pastry by hand, isn’t there? So glad you found your first Leite’s recipe, and like Renee I look forward to hearing what you try next.

  14. Does it matter which brand of lard you use? I do not have access to leaf lard from a butcher. Will store bought lard work? Looking for suggestons.

  15. Would I be correct that 8 tablespoons of lard would be 1/2 cup? Better still could you provide weights for the lard because I don’t think it weighs as much as butter and cold lard is much easier to weigh.
    Thanks for the help

    1. Hi Patty, most weight tables should show butter and lard as weighing the same. 1/2 cup is equal to 4 ounces.

    1. Hi Stevie, I usually pre-bake my crusts for 15 minutes at 375, then remove the weights and bake another 6 to 8 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Be sure that the crust is chilled before placing it in the oven.

  16. Do you roll the dough with additional flour or roll between parchment paper with no or little extra flour? Should the water be added so most of it sticks together and some still falling off or more water so that it sticks well (but not saturated, of course!)?

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Eileen, I would add just enough water for the dough to begin to come together. As far as rolling out the dough, either method would work fine, just a little flour to prevent sticking, if needed.

  17. I have tried every crust recipe out there, this is the best I have ever made. People
    go nuts over it. If you are looking for the “perfect one” this is it.

  18. OMG!!!! This is the best crust ever! I will never buy pre-made again that’s for sure. Summer is almost here and I think I’ll be making my berry pies ahead freeze them and always have one on hand to throw in the oven. I even froze extra dough and used a month later and it was as good.

  19. Absolutely the best pie crust I have ever made. I usually use lard in my pie crusts and I ran across this one in my web search. Made Christmas pies with this recipe, and one wife at dinner was amazed that her husband didn’t leave his pie crust for her to eat! Also, I always had to cover the outer crust on pecan pies but with this recipe the outer crust was perfectly browned by the time the pies had finished baking.

    A question: Can this crust be used for savory dishes like quiche? If not, could you make it savory by removing the sugar?

    1. Hey Sherry, The second time I made this crust I forgot the sugar and it was still fantastic! So when I want to make chicken pot pies I’ll just skip the sugar.

  20. I have been making the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe for years to rave reviews. People cannot get enough of the crust. The effect of the substitution of lard is subtle. If you are looking for a crust recipe or even if you already have a favorite, you should give this one a try. You and your guests will be pleased.

    P.S.The success of this recipe is partially due to the use of a food processor. It’s the best way to cut fat into flour. If you do not have one, borrow one for this recipe.

  21. I made this pie crust adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. It was absolutely fantastic. The crust was so flaky and delicate, and the taste was very delicious. I love making pies, and this is the recipe that I will be using. Thank you so much.

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