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Once I discovered that a Lard Pie Crust is the flakiest, most flavorful crust there is, I've never looked back. A blend of rendered pork lard and high fat butter unite to create a rich, flavorful crust that accentuates both savory and sweet pies.
When I say 'lard,' I don't mean the highly processed, hydrogenated lard you'll find lurking on grocery store shelves. Fortunately, excellent quality rendered leaf lard is available online and likely from your local butcher and/or farmers market or specialty grocery store. It's worth seeking out to make this fluffy, flaky, delicately porky and delectable pie crust.
Ingredients You Need to Make Lard Pie Crust
- Flour: All-purpose flour.
- Kosher Salt: Or ½ the amount of fine sea salt.
- Lard: Rendered leaf lard / rendered pork lard. (Affiliate links to two online options - the leaf lard is excellent, but the most expensive. I've used both of these with good success and you may be able to find these brands locally.)
- Butter: Ideally unsalted, high fat, European style butter. (read about the difference in this Butter Cookies post)
- Ice Water
Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard rendered from visceral fat surrounding pig kidneys. It has a very neutral flavor (very little pork flavor) which makes it ideal for pie crusts and baking in general as it makes a great non-hydrogenated alternative to shortening.
Pie crusts made with lard are flaky and crisp, while all-butter crusts have rich flavor and tenderness. Lard has a higher melting point than butter, making pastry easier to work with. Butter's lower melting point absorbs more quickly into flour requiring colder pastry and quick work to retain flakiness. The best pie crust recipe: flaky, crisp, tender and flavorful, uses a blend of both lard and butter.
Yes, you can substitute lard for butter in pie crust. For the best flavor use a mixture of both, replacing up to half of the butter with lard to increase flakiness and retain a buttery flavor.
Pastry made with lard is flaky and crisp, but is less flavorful than pastry made with butter. For a flaky pie crust that's also flavorful, use a blend of lard and butter.
Crisco is not the same as lard. Lard is rendered pork fat while Crisco is a brand of shortening in the United States that has come to be synonymous with the food product, 'shortening'. It is made by hydrogenating vegetable oil.
It's a matter of opinion, but in mine, if the lard is not highly processed, e.g., simply rendered pork fat, lard is better than Crisco in every way.
What to Make
It's true that lard pie crust is ideal for savory pies like Breakfast Quiche, Chicken Pot Pie or Turkey Pot Pie, or to be cut and baked into Pie Crust Crackers to accompany Chicken Pot Pie Soup or Turkey Pot Pie Soup. But it's wonderful for sweet pies too. With exceptional flavor depth, it heightens sweet and nutty flavors far more than your average homemade pie crust. (Think: Chocolate Rum Pie, Strawberry Pie, Apple Pie, Peach Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie.) If you've ever had candied bacon or bacon crumbled into a cookie or tossed into caramel corn, you know the kind of decadent deliciousness I'm talking about.
Instructions below on how to blind bake (pre-bake partially or fully) this lard pie crust depending on how you plan to fill it.
Refrigerate this pie crust for up to 3 days before rolling out. Or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
How to Make Lard Pie Crust
Step 1: Pulse flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (See recipe card for by-hand instructions.) Add lard and butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pieces a little larger than peas. Sprinkle cold water into flour mixture a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition until mixture clumps together when pinched.
Step 2: Transfer pie dough to floured surface and shape into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for one hour or more.
Step 3: Place cool, but pliable dough on a floured work surface. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll from the center out to all edges into a 12-inch round. Carefully transfer dough to pie pan and ease into place, taking care not to stretch it. Trim edges leaving a 1-inch overhang. Flute edges using the thumb of of one hand and the index finger of the other into U or V shapes. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Step 4: To blind bake (pre-bake), line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake pie crust in a 425˚F oven for 12 minutes. Remove parchment and weights and pierce crust all over with a fork. For a partially baked crust, bake 8 to 10 minutes more, or 10 to 12 minutes more for a fully baked crust.
Lard Pie Crust
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 204g
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons lard 70g, ideally leaf lard (recipe note #1), chilled
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 56g, ideally high-fat, European style butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons ice water or up to 5 tablespoons
To Make With a Food Processor:
- Add flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor with knife blade attached. Pulse a few times to combine. Add lard and butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form (a little larger than peas). Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after adding each one, until just moist enough to clump together when squeezed. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Shape dough into a 1-inch thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate one hour or longer (recipe note #2).
To Make by Hand:
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add lard and butter and cut in with a pastry cutter /pastry blender or two butter knives until you have irregular coarse crumbs (the size of peas and a little larger). Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while fluffing with a fork, until just moist enough to clump together when squeezed. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Shape dough into a 1-inch thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate one hour or longer(recipe note #2).
To Roll Out Pie Crust:
- When ready to roll out dough, generously flour work surface. Place dough in center and sprinkle with flour. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into a 12-inch round starting at the center and rolling out toward the edges in every direction. (Dough should be cool, but pliable. If it feels hard, let it stand at room temperature until it has some give, 15 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, if it feels warm or looks greasy, return to the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before continuing to roll it out.) Gently fold dough over rolling pin and ease into a 9-inch, deep dish pie pan. Carefully adjust dough, gently pressing to cover bottom and sides. Trim dough edges with a sharp knife, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang to offset shrinking. Flute pie crust edge using the index finger of one hand to press between the thumb and index finger of the other hand to form a V or U shape all the way around. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake. (recipe note #3)
How to Blind Bake or Fully Bake Pie Crust
- To bake the pie shell, preheat oven to 425°F.
- Line pie crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 12 minutes. Remove paper or foil and weights and prick bottom and sides of crust all over with a fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes more for a partially baked crust, or for a fully baked crust 10 to 12 minutes longer until golden brown. (recipe note #4)
- Look for rendered leaf lard, not the highly processed, hydrogenated lard that is sold in some grocery stores.
- Refrigerate this pie crust for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
- Partially bake the crust for recipes where you'll fill the crust and continue baking (like quiche), fully bake and cool completely for no-bake fillings.
- For a double-crust pie, increase all ingredients by 50% or double the recipe and make pie crust crackers or cinnamon sugar crisps (Coat rolled out dough scraps with cinnamon and sugar and bake until crispy) with the extra!