crust gets decorated

So, Monday! Life seems hard sometimes when your cat wakes you up all night and then your alarm goes off at the crack of dawn. Bills, taxes. Blech. Right about that time in my life, when things are frustrating, annoying me, difficult and just plain not fun, I need something simple I can do that I know will turn out just the way I planned it to. I need to give myself a win! A win feels good, a win keeps us going, and a win means we get to eat butter. Win-win!

 I like to keep simple things simple. Like making my own pie crust. It only takes about 10 minutes! This crust is extra flaky because we use two secret ingredients: lard and vodka! 

rendered pork leaf lard

Here’s a couple reasons I like to use lard!

  1. It makes for an ultra flakey pie crust.
  2. It is healthier then you might think! Actually, it has half the amount saturated fat then butter. Crazy, right? 

If the thought of lard makes you cringe, no worries, you can sub a non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum Organic brand) or you can make the same crust with all butter. But I would encourage you to check out this article, where the benefits of lard are explained. And this one here too.

I found some great lard (ha! feels weird to even type that) at my local farmer’s market (pictured above, Heritage Farms Northwest Leaf Lard.)

This pie crust starts out like many others… in the food processor. Mix up those dry ingredients! Just sugar, salt, and flour.

ingredients in the food processor

I love doing pie crust this way, rather then cutting in the butter with knives or a pastry blender. I think it is so much faster and the butter and fats stay cool and in little pieces (that’s the goal!). Get those cold fats ready!

ready to add to the mix

Top the dry ingredients with the cut up pieces of butter and lard:  

butter and lard go in

Pulse until it looks like cracker crumbs.

Pulse until it looks like this

 With the food processor on, blend in the water and the vodka. The vodka is another trick to keeping a crust flakey. It has to do with gluten molecules and how they bind when liquid is introduced. You can read more about that in detail here: How Alcohol Makes a Flakier Pie Crust.

after you add the water and vodka

Now that it’s all combined, turn out onto a lightly floured counter, form into two balls and wrap loosely with plastic wrap, then flatten each into a disk. 

ready to be shaped into a disc

ready to be refridgeratedRefrigerate for 45 minutes. When you are ready to roll out, lightly flour your surface and roll the dough out. ready to use lard pie crust

You can now use this in any recipe! This lard pie crust recipe makes two crusts, so you can make a double crust pie or keep one crust in the freezer for another day. I love the thought of knowing I have a pie crust ready and waiting for me in the freezer. That alone is sometimes all the comfort I need when I’m paying my bills and doing other terribly adult and boring things. 

You might want to try it with my Raspberry Buttermilk Pie, where I use a single crust and blind bake it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, never fear, I explain it well in this post. 

Lard and Butter Pie Crust
Recipe Type: Baking, Dessert
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 crusts
  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 tablespoon if making a savory pie)
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup cold leaf lard
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar until combined, in short pulses.
  2. Sprinkle the butter and lard pieces over the top and process until the mixture looks like cracker crumbs or clumpy sand, some larger pieces and some smaller.
  3. With the processor running, pour the cold vodka and ice water through the feed tube, in a steady stream, until the dough is together in a ball and holds together. Do not process for longer then 30 seconds. If it doesn’t look mixed together enough, you can do short pulses to combine more.
  4. Dump out onto a slightly floured surface and gently knead to get the dough to come together. Divide into two balls and wrap loosely with plastic. Flatten each ball into a disk and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. You can also freeze this crust, well wrapped and in a zip lock bag, for up to 2 months. A pie crust in the freezer is like money in the bank!