How to Crimp A Pie Crust

Pie crimping is kind of an obsession of mine. Actually, The One would call it a fetish. (Please. Fishnet stockings and black patent leather stilletos are a fetish. But that’s another post for another day.) My pie-crimping obsession started back in 1993 when I saw my first Food Network television program. Baker Flo Braker was making a Lucerne tart, and those sexy, satiny folds of dough beguiled me. Still do. And lo these 20 years, no matter what the pie–apple pie, maple pecan pie, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, you name it—I’ve got a crimp for it. I’ve decorated the perimeter of my pies with lattice work, leaves, braids, rope crimps, checkerboards, “white knuckle” crimps, and perfectly shaped pearls of pâte brisée that would make any proper Upper East Side matron clutch hers. You get the idea.

But food and prop stylist, recipe developer, and writer Libbie Summers has me beat. By about 14 pie crimps. In this remarkable video, Libbie demonstrates 20 pie crimps in 120 seconds. I have to say, some of these are new even to me, Herr Crimper Meister Meister Crimper. Her video alone will keep you in pie crimps for an entire year. Maybe two.

While there are literally dozens and dozens of pie recipes on our site that you can use to master your crimping technique, there is none closer to my heart than our best lard and butter pie crust recipe. (And I don’t mean “closer to my heart” because it contains lard, smart ass.) So, go forth, my children, and crimp every last dagnabbit Thanksgiving pie on your dessert table with Libbie’s suggestions. And while you’re saying grace, don’t hesitate to thank me. Libbie, too.

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  1. I once made quiche for a new boyfriend who stood by me frowning slightly and slightly amazed that I could make pie dough off the top of my head. I said I’d done it enough times that I’d gotten it down. But then it came to the crimping and he muttered “Hmph… my grandma did it differently.”

    And that’s how he ended up on the couch watching tv by himself.

    1. The beautiful thing about pie is that each individual leaves his/her “thumbprint” on each one 🙂

  2. These are gorgeous! There are quite a few very creative ones I’ve never seen before. However…I’d have to be able to *make* a pie crust first. It’s my greatest kitchen failure. One of these days, I’m going to get in the kitchen and spend an entire day learning to make pie crusts 🙂

        1. Holiday Pie Mania officially began today. Pies pies and more pies! Will attempt some of these new artful techniques and credit your site!

      1. Wouldn’t that be fun!? Then you could watch me make an idiot of myself with pie crust 😉

        1. Lana, I grew up making pie crust at my grandma’s side. I can honestly say that it can smell fear, just like a dog. So, you know, be the alpha. And use one of our recipes.

          1. I know what you mean, Renee! Pie crust and I are not friends. We’re barely on speaking terms. It laughs when I approach it.

          2. Renee
            Please don’t keep secrets from the rest of us who are still trying to master pie crusts. I have improved some but it’s always an adventure.

          3. Renee
            I have heard of using vodka but not how to sub it into recipes. I have recently found a source for leaf lard too so with your suggestion I’m ready to tackle pie crusts . Thanks so much.

          4. Wonderful, Patty! I can’t wait to hear how it goes. I’m confident you’ll be spectacular, but if any questions come up as you make it, feel free to email me at or call me at 202.215.5252. I’ve gotta say, I’m a complete convert. The pie crusts I’ve been making with leaf lard and butter and vodka are the best pie crusts that’ve ever come out of my oven. Actually, not only that, they’re the best that I’ve ever tasted. Lard and vodka make everything better, just usually not the same things!

          5. Oops! You’re so right, Patty K. What I explained to Lana is an approach taken by a recipe that is not yet on our site, but that I’m working to get on the site. It’s the vodka trick. Have you heard of this? Essentially, you take your favorite pie crust recipe and replace half the ice-cold water with ice-cold vodka. Because alcohol evaporates more quickly than water when exposed to heat, you don’t have to worry about the crust being dense or tough after it comes out of the oven. And because you don’t have to be so stingy with the amount of liquid, you still have a really workable dough. I’ve made this with my usual pie and lard pastry recipe, and lord, oh lord, I feel like this is the pie crust that my grandmother’s pie crust always aspired to be. Does that help, Patty K? And as for pastry-making always being an adventure, just remember, pastry smells fear. Be confident. Not rough, mind you. Just gently and firmly confident.

          1. LOL. Oh yes, there is. Last year for Thanksgiving I tried three different times and I got so mad I opened the front door and pitched the pastry like a baseball as far as I could. LOL. I never tried again…

          2. Tish, forgive me, I’m laughing so hard at the image you created. I hope you were laughing, too, as you pitched that pastry dough! (After three times and none a success, I don’t blame you!) Although do try the vodka trick that I mention in a comment above. I swear it works. I’ve made it on humid days, I’ve made it on hungover days, I’ve never had it fail me, not yet. And kindly report back! Or, of course, just drink the vodka and ask someone else to bring the pie.

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