My Sure-Fire Pie Crust


My first job in 1950 was as a secretary in Procter & Gamble’s corporate offices in downtown Cincinnati.  As a new employee, I received a large picnic basket full of P&G products, a leatherette box with the P&G logo filled with chocolates and my favorite item of all, a Crisco cookbook – New Recipes for Good Eating, copyright 1948.

I first heard about Crisco in high school home ec classes.  My mother, always on a strict budget, used lard (and made wonderful pies), margarine or bacon grease.  Occasionally, she’d buy a tiny one-pound can of Crisco for me to make a special dessert.  After I was married in 1952, also on a strict budget, I still managed to find the money for Crisco.  I started cooking in earnest and literally wore out the cookbook.  The pages are dog-eared and stained – and some of them are missing.


About 50 years later, I happened to find the same cookbook in pristine condition in an antique market.  Apparently, its owner didn’t cook as much as I did, or she was neater.


My favorite recipe in the book was for “Crisco’s Sure Fire” two-crust 9″ pie.  Over the years, I changed the ingredients a little bit and developed a technique that worked well for me, although it’s not the method that the cookbook or any home ec class ever recommended.  I’ve won ribbons at countless pie contests with this crust, including the Ohio State Fair, plus pie has always been the dessert of choice for my family for the past 55 years.  Here is my version of the recipe and the way I mix the ingredients.


  • Servings: One 9-inch double crust or two 9-inch single crusts
  • Print

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup ice water

In a medium size mixing bowl, place the flour and salt.  Note:  I measure the flour by dipping the cup into the canister and then leveling it off.  Stir flour and salt with a fork to mix.  Add 3/4 cup Crisco shortening and cut in.  I use my hands so I can feel the texture and know by now when it’s just right.  Pour the ice water (always use ice water) into a dry measure 1/3 cup to the top and pour into flour mixture (don’t use a liquid measuring cup).  Using a fork, stir the mixture in circles until it forms a ball.  Divide the dough in half and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with short, light strokes, rolling from the center to the edges to about 12″ diameter.  To keep the dough from sticking, I pick it up, turn it over and reposition, dusting very lightly with flour when necessary.  I also continually wipe the rolling pin of any dough that’s sticking.  With everything you do, use the lightest touch possible.  It’s also possible to roll out the dough between sheets of waxed paper.

Place the dough in a pie pan and trim the edges.  Continue with the filling you choose and the top crust.  Bake according to your recipe’s directions.

The recipe can be used for one two-crust 9″ pie or two one-crust 9″ pies.  I never double the recipe and I never make half a recipe.  If there’s any pastry left over, I put it in a plastic bag and keep it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

12 thoughts on “My Sure-Fire Pie Crust”

  1. 1996 was a good year for pies – they look absolutely beautiful sitting on the dresser.
    I know that Crisco is vegetable shortening, and I know it’s white, but is it just uncoloured margarine? We don’t have Crisco in Australia, or anything in the shops called vegetable shortening. Where is was born, in the North-East of England, lard was always used for pastry, and it does make a beautiful pastry.
    Thank you Lillian, that was lovely.

  2. Sweetrosie, the labels on both Crisco and margarine show soybean oil as ingredients, and Crisco also has cottonseed oil, while margarine includes whey and salt. Very similar, I suppose. I don’t know why I made so many pies in 1996 – I’ve cut the quantity down in recent years.

    Thank you, Jolynna and Leostitcher, for your nice comments.

  3. I’ve come late in life to American style pie making, and am always searching for that perfect pie crust recipe. This looks like the winner. As a child I learned to make a sugary, almond-flavored pastry shell, and fold it over the sides and top of a pie, rustic style. It’s wonderful for fruit pies, but doesn’t give the oomph that pumpkin pie needs.

    (And I do love the recipes from old cookbooks too, except for the low fat era of the 1980’s. I’m so tickled when a recipe calls for a darning egg’s size of butter or a teacup full of sugar.)

    And thank you for Uncle Walt’s stuffing recipe. I am making the herb bread and the stuffing for Thanksgiving, and also your cranberry pecan scones. I am so looking forward to it!

    You’ve inspired me – thank you.

  4. Hi, This is very similar to a pie crust recipe that I made learned how to make in Home Economics class in the mid 1950’s. I just have half of a tattered sheet of The New Crisco Method of making pie crust. What a surprise to find this listed.

    Yvonne Boswell

  5. Lillian I used your dough recipe last week and it was wonderful very flaky and tasteful. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful recipes and photos and ideas.

  6. Wow, I’m going to try this. I’ve made the Crisco pie recipe and like it but going to try it with the ice water. Thanks for sharing this great tip!

  7. Yeah, your cookbook looks well used and loved. Mine would be closer to the one you found in the Antique market! Yes, I cook but not so much and I’m not messy either.

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