Easy Peasy Gluten Free Pie Crust

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For years I’ve felt really bad when someone asked me if I had a gluten free pie crust recipe. I didn’t really shout it from the rooftops, but I’d never even successfully made a pie crust of any sort or seen one made. My attempts at making gluten free pie crusts had been dismal failures, even when I used a boxed mix. One of my first attempts at a gluten free pie crust was so hard it squeaked when I cut it.

This year I decided that I was going to change all that. I warned my husband that our weekly dessert would be pie until I conquered the gluten free pie crust. I’ve baked and baked and baked, making discoveries and improvements with each attempt. And, a few weeks ago, I finally got it. A good (and easy) gluten free pie crust recipe.

What It Means To Develop An Easy Gluten Free Pie Crust

Now, you have a lot of options when you make a pie crust. You can go all out with fancy techniques and toppings and make it really hard. That’s not what I’ve done here. I was specifically trying to develop an easy, roll-out gluten free pie crust. I had been intimidated by pie crust recipes for a long time, so I wanted my recipe to be welcoming and easy for even the newest gluten free baker.

That goal dictated some of the ingredient choices. You may not love that I’ve used shortening instead of butter. Butter is much more finicky to work with, so it wasn’t a good choice for an easy pie crust. I’ve also kept the ingredient list as small and simple as possible. As a result, the crust doesn’t brown well….if at all. There are solutions for that, and I’ll include those in later pie crust recipes. This is the easy, beginner recipe and I wanted it to have as few troublesome ingredients and as few steps as possible.

The Wonders of Double Crust Gluten Free Pie

One of the other criteria that I had for this pie crust recipe was that it could not be a press-in-the-pan pie crust. I’ve made good gluten free pie crusts like that. They were phenomenal as far as taste. However you can’t make a double crust pie with a press-in-the-pan crust. John’s favorite pie is double-crust apple pie, so I needed a roll-out crust recipe. Also, Pat-in-the-pan crusts generally use cream cheese as the fat. I love cream cheese, but I very much wanted this particular recipe to be casein free, so cream cheese was out.

Let’s just focus for a moment on how awesome it is to be able to make a gluten free double crusted pie. Did you really ever think that was possible? I didn’t! After all the failures I had, and after talking to experienced gluten free bakers that had been trying for 20 years to make a gluten free crust that met their high standards, I really wondered if it was possible to make a gluten free pie crust that I’d be proud to put on my blog. I’m very, very happy to share this recipe with you and I hope that you’re family enjoys a nice, slice of pie very soon.

chocpie

Easy Peasy Gluten Free Pie Crust
(makes one double crust pie, or two single-crust pies)

120 g (1 c.) cornstarch
128 g (1 c.) tapioca starch
80 g (1/2 c.) brown rice flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
192 g (1 c.) shortening
8 Tbsp. (1/2 c.) ice-cold water
1 tsp. salt

Cooking Instructions:

Start by measuring out your flour and salt and combining both in a large mixing bowl. Measuring the flours by weight is more accurate, and that’s more important in pie recipes than in some other sorts of recipes, but I’ve included the volume measurements too if you don’t have a scale.

Step 2 is to ‘cut’ the fat, in this case shortening, into the flour. This simply means that you are going to mix the fat into the flour. The way that you go about this will determine whether you have a “tender” crust or a “flaky” crust. I’m going to give instructions for a tender crust, because it is the easier of the two options.

For a tender crust, pinch and rub the shortening into the flour with your fingers until the flour is the consistency of cornmeal. If you want a flaky crust, the measure out your shortening and divide it into small pieces. Freeze those pieces and then cut them into your dough. You can use a pastry cutter or just press the thin pieces with your fingers. You want the shortening to be visible and in thin, flaky pieces.

The third step is to add the cold water. Just chill it with a few ice cubes and then pull the ice cubes out before you add the water. Drizzle the water over the flour and then mix your dough. I do this with my hands, but you could also use your mixer or a young helper if your hands are not up to the task. The dough should form into a ball rather easily. If for some reason it doesn’t add more cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time.

Now, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a thick disc and refrigerate it for a minimum of two hours or as much as a couple of days. This is very important as the flour needs time to absorb the water.

The last step is to roll the pie dough out. Start with the disc and roll from the center out to the edge. Rotate your dough a bit to the left or right and then repeat. If you keep rotating your dough after every roll then you will get a circle shape and you will minimize the chances that the dough sticks.

I’ve been rolling my dough out on cutting board with just a bit of flour on the board and rolling pin. You can also roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper or quality plastic wrap. Both options are helpful in keeping the dough from sticking. What I’d really love is Pastry Mat “>this pastry mat because it would make it so easy to know when my crust is the right size for my pan.

Follow the baking instructions in your pie recipe after this point. I’ll be posting a few pie recipes over the next couple of weeks, but once you have a gluten free pie crust you can really follow any pie recipe. If the recipe calls for some flour in the filling, then I usually just use brown rice flour or sorghum flour. As long as it’s a small amount of flour, say 1/4 c. or less, using a single GF flour is generally okay.

Notes on Ingredients & Substitutions
I originally tested this recipe as written. I’ve since tested the recipe with 2 c. of corn starch and no tapicoa starch (I ran out!) and could not discern any difference. If you are allergic to corn, then I think this would work perfectly well with all tapioca starch. Many gluten free pie crust recipes use sweet rice flour (check your nearest Asian food store) and that might be a good substitute option as well. I’m hoping to try both those variations once we get to a large town and I can restock my flour stash. Remember to always look for a gluten free label on your foods, but especially on corn starch. Argo is my favorite brand of cornstarch because it does have a gluten free label.

This recipe uses shortening rather than butter, because shortening is much easier to work with and I intended this to be an easy recipe. I tested the recipe with Crisco shortening, but if you’re not cool with Crisco then Earth Balance Shortening or Spectrum Shortening may be better options for you. The Earth Balance shortening is labeled gluten free. Crisco shortenings are not labeled gluten free. You can read Crisco’s comments on the gluten free status of it’s shortening here. I called Spectrum and their shortening products do not carry a gluten free label either. The ingredient listings do not contain any obvious ingredients that contain gluten, but for whatever reason they have not labeled them as gluten free.

By they way, I found the butter flavored shortening to be too artificially flavored and much preferred the unflavored shortening for this recipe.

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Read More About Gluten Free Pie Crusts

The Definitive Guide To Gluten Free Pie Crusts
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Comments

  1. Thanks for the pie crust recipe! I have an 8 yr old that we are just starting gluten free with and he loves my grandmas version of apple pie, so I’ll make him one with this recipe! Just a quick mention that my grandma used 7-up (instead of water) and lard in her pie crusts in case you want to experiment!

  2. Your pie crust recipe looks great! However, I cannot eat cornstarch. Any ideas on substitutions? Thanks.

  3. elizabethe says:

    Hi, thanks for this. I was wondering, do you know of a good replacement for xanthum gum? I simply can’t tolerate it and it makes gluten-free cooking so much harder.

    • For this recipe I’d just try it without the xanthan gum. If it turns out to be difficult to roll, then be sure to roll it out between two sheets of greased wax paper. Or in a worse case scenario, do a single crust pie and pat the crust into the pan. Even if the dough is hard to work with it should still taste good.

    • Hi Elizabeth, I know you posted this over a year but I was just reading through the comments and saw this. I actually never use xanthan gum in gf baking so if you’re still looking for recipes without it I’d love for you to check out the blog I just started with a friend of mine, and let us know what you think!

      And Mary Frances, thank so much for all your work in getting to this crust. LOVE all your tips and recipes!

  4. I cannot wait to try this recipe. We have multiple FA’s, so the fact that you did not use butter, or Crisco (SOY!), and listed Spectrum shortening as an option mean that everyone in my house can eat this! THANK YOU for all of your diligence in creating this recipe!

  5. Bonnie-sue says:

    Hi Mary Frances! Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your site! We have homeschooled our 5 children and now I am a part of seeing my 14 grandchildren beginning the homeschool experience with their wonderful parents! I am a “newby” at the GF cooking and have found your site so very helpful! Bonnie-sue

  6. Would lard work? I have found that is good for pie crusts and I would think it would be a good choice for this one.

    • Lard would be fine. If it’s not hydrogenated then you’ll need to be more mindful of keeping everything chilled (ingredients, bowls, etc) while you work with the dough.

  7. I actually get just as sick from tapioca starch as I do from gluten, which makes baking gluten-free extra difficult! If you ever come across a tapioca-free, gluten-free pie crust recipe, please post it! Thanks for your great site and all your wonderful recipes!

  8. I made half the recipe, then rolled out and covered four apple-pear tarts. They look amazing. Will serve after dinner with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Yay!

  9. Hi Mary Frances! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been craving pie since my diagnosis over a year ago. I made an apple pie this weekend. I used to SUCK at regular pastry and this was a dream to work with. I needed 10 tablespoons of water, I don’t know if being at sea level has anything to do with it. But it was incredibly flaky and tasted fabulous. Thank you again!

  10. OOH…It’s nice to see comments coming in from readers who’s used the recipe! Thanks Sherry and Rayone!

  11. I’m really interested in trying this recipe – I’ve been struggling to make a good GF double pie crust for years. I’m not afraid to experiment, so this is an exciting jumping-off point. Thanks! I’ll let you know if anything exciting happens.

    Elizabethe, I use guar gum instead of xanthan gum – maybe it would work for you???

    • Shavonne Bauer says:

      I just purchased some Spectrum Shortening and it says on the packaging Gluten Free, Vegan-Dairy Free, 0 g Trans Fat and Kosher. Just thought I would pass this along.

      • Interesting! I checked their website and called Spectrum and could find no indication that it carries a gluten free label. This is a great example of why it’s always important to check labels.

  12. Thanks for the recipe! I’ve been looking for a pie crust recipe that would work. I can’t afford to buy premade. I don’t know how hard it is, but is there any way to add a print button or something so I can print up your recipes easier? I like to keep my gluten free recipes in a binder and take notes on them.

    • We’re working on a solution for making the recipes printable. So far all of the solutions that we’ve looked at are very time intensive, so we’re trying to figure out how to accomplish that without it taking up all my work time for weeks.

      • Punky Phillips says:

        I just copy and paste the recipes to wordpad and print. Also I can add any comments that I want to remember.

  13. Could potato starch be substituted in place of the cornstarch???

    • I would be hesitant to try that. Potato starch cells are much larger than cornstarch or tapioca starch cells. It’s enough of a difference that they do not make good substitutes for each other.

  14. I am experienced in regular pie crust. This year is my first for gluten free crust. These are the problems I had with the recipe. I both measured and weighed the ingredients exactly and I did it times 3 for 6 pies. I noticed the shortening seemed like it was too much while cutting it in…so I added 3/4 cup of rice flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp guar gum. Then I slowly added the ice water. I would advise anyone to use less shortening in this recipe. Normally one pie uses about 1/2 cup of shortening. Adding these items saved my batch. For the regular recipe I would reduce the shortening to 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

    • This reply is not directed towards Eva, but to the person who will read her comment two years from now and feel uncertain whether they should alter my recipe.

      First, you can read about why I wrote the recipe the way that I did in my article, The Definitive Guide to Gluten Free Pie Crusts

      Second, xanthan gum and guar gum are completely different beasts. This one change has the potential to completely change how a recipe turns out.

      Third, if you don’t bake a recipe exactly as it’s written, then it’s impossible to opine on how the recipe would turn out. I’ve tested my recipe many times, and others have tested it, and all of the feedback has been positive. I’d highly recommend that you make the recipe as written at least once, and then go on to make adjustments as you like.

    • Eva` » I’m glad you worked out a recipe that works for you =)

  15. I just checked the Spectrum Shortening on the VitaCost website http://www.vitacost.com/spectrum-organic-shortening-24-oz?csrc=GPF-PA-022506102606&ci_sku=022506102606&ci_gpa=pla&ci_kw={keyword}&gclid=CPrzj9ec5LMCFUqoPAodJz0AoQ
    It says “Free Of Casein, dairy, egg, gluten, and wheat.”

    My question is, since I do not have any of this type shortening, can I substitute butter and will butter give the same results?

    Mary Frances,
    I can’t thank you enough for this site. My daughter (now age 31) is highly allergic to SOY since birth and has Celiac. She was diagnosed “allergic to gluten” at 15. When we asked what gluten was, we were told “wheat”… We took her off wheat but did not realize that she was still getting gluten”ed” from other sources
    I have just recently been diagnosed as gluten intolerant… This site makes my life so much easier. Thank you for all your hard work in creating recipes that taste wonderful and are not hard to make.

    • Leota » You can use butter, you just have to be much much more careful of everything related to temperature. Make sure you butter and bowls are chilled when you make the dough. Chill the dough during mixing or rolling if needed. I’ve also heard from one expert pie baker that you should freeze a bottom pie crust that’s made with butter before you parbake it. Also, make sure that you’re oven is completely pre-heated before you parbake the crust.

      • Thank you Mary Frances for your reply. I will follow your instructions about freezing the bottom pie crust before I parbake it and I will make sure my oven is completely pre-heated before hand… That is a step I have always short cutted :P)… didn’t really understand the “why” of it…

  16. Mary Frances – We appreciated this new recipe for Thanksgiving – out previous favorite GF recipe contained egg & butter, which some family members cannot tolerate.
    Here are my observations -
    I have a non-stick pastry mat, but rolling the crust on it was messy – I think you should recommend use of (floured) parchment or waxed paper
    The recipe makes 3- 8″ crusts very easily – enough for one double-crust pie & one single.
    I loved having options as to the flours to use, and that you do not use ground nuts – we have several severely allergic family members, and all had pie options yesterday for the first time in years!
    As you noted, the crust did not brown, but I made the second batch of crusts with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and they browned nicely.
    For quite some time, I have par-baked all my pastry crusts before filling – it worked very nicely with this crust too.
    I have frozen 3 unbaked pie shells, in their pans, for future meals – will let you know how they work.

  17. Thank you so much Mary Frances! The recipe is perfect. I made lemon meringue pie, and an egg and bacon pie, and both worked beautifully. This by far the best gluten and dairy free (I used half margarine and half non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening) pie crust recipe I’ve tried! Thank you!

  18. This comment is for Kathy who posted on 11-17-12. Two easy ways to print this recipe is to 1.) Take a picture of what you see on your screen, also known as a screenshot. Just press your “PrtSc / SysRq” button on your keyboard (mine is next to the F12 button on the top row of my keyboard). This copies what you see on your screen to your clipboard. Then you can go ahead and paste your screenshot into your MS Word or Open Office program and voila! You have your recipe! (This recipe will require 2 screenshots, as the whole recipe is longer than the size of the screen.) Or 2. You can highlight, copy and paste the recipe into your Word document, which makes for easier editing of the recipe, such as changing the font size, for those of us who are visually challenged. Lol! Hope that helps. :0)

  19. And also to Mary Frances, thanks so much for your website. I just found it and I can’t wait to try your GF recipes.

  20. Linda. Andersen says:

    Thank u! This was very helpful!

  21. Stephanie says:

    Hey, I’m just wondering if you have posted your pat-in-the-pan pie crust recipe anywhere. I’m just looking for a few to try with quiche; my fiances family tradition for Christmas is to have quiche for breakfast, but being allergic to gluten I can’t join in, and they seldom plan ahead for it leaving me fending for myself. It would be amazing if I could make my own quiche ahead of time.

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