I’ve been using my trusty food processor to make pie crusts for a couple years now, and love how easy and quick it is. But there were always lingering questions at the back of my mind – is an OG pastry blender better? Does a food processor over-blend? Could my pie crusts go from consistently delicious to consistently WOW???
I needed the answers. So I staged a comparison test.
I keep half my butter in the freezer at all times for emergency pie crust assembly. Don’t you? You should. Plus, butter does expire, so it doesn’t hurt to keep it in the freezer anyway. And the only other things I have in my freezer are ice cream, ice cubes and IKEA meatballs… it’s really not an issue lol.
- Makes 3 single crusts for 6″ pies
- or 1 single crust for a 9″ pie + 1 single crust for a 6″ pie
- Scale recipe up as needed
- You need:
- One large bowl
- Food processor, at least 3 cup capacity
- or Pastry blender
- Latex-free rubber gloves are very convenient here but not required
- Pie crust:
- 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour, loose
- 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, frozen, cut in chunks
- 1/4 c water, very cold
Mix 1 1/4 c flour, 1/2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt in food processor (if using) or large bowl. Add 1/2 c butter, frozen, cut in chunks to dry ingredients and blend. If using a food processor, alternate between “chop” and “grind” every few seconds until resistance is minimal. If using a pastry blender, shake the bowl as you blend to coat butter with flour mixture and reduce stickiness. Ideally, continue blending until mixture has the texture of sand (see pictures below).
When blended, swirly pour 1/4 c very cold water into the dry ingredients. With a (gloved) hand or spatula, knead dough quickly to combine. The idea is to combine the ingredients without melting the butter with the heat of your hands. Once combined, form into ball in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, with pie weights, if par-baking.
The pastry blender method was definitely more involved. It took a lot of elbow grease and the pastry blender needed help from a knife to cut the frozen butter chunks for the first few minutes. In the end, it only took 12 minutes total, but butter chunks were definitely visibly larger than the food processor version. Energy levels were too low to continue blending, so we decided to stop.
These crusts were used to make lemon meringue tarts the next day, and (albeit only after one test, since I lost track of which tart was made from which crust) the winner was… the food processor crust!
I may repeat the experiment for additional statistical confidence. But in the mean time, I shall continue with my trusty food processor method.