Essential Recipe: Easy Buttery Pastry Dough

This incredibly easy buttery pastry dough is one of my absolute favorite “secret weapons.” It doesn’t matter if it’s going to end up in a sweet or savory recipe, or if it’s for a fancy holiday dinner or rustic no-frills office lunch, this crust will always makes my buttery, tender pastry dreams come true–without the frustrations that buttery pastry tends to be notorious for.

Everybody needs at least ONE go-to pastry recipe.

There are so, so many types of pastry doughs. Delicate cream cheese based crusts, cookie-like Italian pasta frolla, classic buttery puff pastries… Frankly, I think I love them all. But, when I want to bake something with minimal fuss and maximum reliability, I always return to this buttery pastry dough. It’s incredibly user-friendly and results in a flakey, delicate, and ultra-delicious crust for pretty much any and every application. If you are in the market for your own go-to, true-blue pastry recipe, I highly recommend that you give this one a whirl.

If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of buttery pastry crust, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Erin McDowell’s The Book on Pie. It’s a truly excellent resource, regardless of skill level! (And if you buy through this link, I get a tiny sales commission that helps keep Small Pantry stocked with pie ingredients–thank you!!)

If you're intimidated by pastry dough, this easy, buttery pastry might be your solution.

Buttery pastry dough tends to be viewed as a finicky beast. Hard to handle, difficult to roll out, bakes up tough, leaks out all its butter… What if I promised you that this one will be kinder to you? Here’s why:

  1. There’s no guessing about how much water to use. Too much water will make your dough tough. Not enough will make it too crumbly to roll out. So when a recipe gives you a range for how much water to use, it can be frustrating. For one batch of this dough, you use 3 tablespoons of water. Period. Combined with the rest of the method, this will give you a dough that holds together but doesn’t get tough. And speaking of the rest of the method…
  2. You don’t need to get your butter pieces “just right” in order to get perfect texture. Rather than obsess over perfectly sized lumps of butter, we just focus on whizzing very cold butter and flour until the dough starts to come together. And because there’s no worry about perfect sized pieces, the process is faster, so your butter is infinitely more likely to stay cold.
  3. Cold butter and cold flour: simple, but crucial. Every recipe tells you to cube your butter and stick it in the fridge before tossing it into the food processor. But that leaves in too many variables, like getting impatient with long refrigeration times, letting the butter cubes stick together, and too-warm flour. Here, you cube the butter and toss it with the dry ingredients before sticking it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Tossing with the dries separates the cubes, which ensures even butter distribution. Freezing everything, butter and dries, means all ingredients start very cold. And freezing helps ensure that you get your butter cold enough much faster than when using the fridge.

A reliable buttery pastry that can go with you on any baking journey...

The wonderful thing about pastry (in my opinion) is that it doesn’t have to be wedged into one category. Pastry can be sweet, dessert. Pastry can be savory. It can be saved for a special occasion. Or it can be for the everyday.

As long as you have a reliable crust recipe, the only thing holding you back is your imagination! A buttery crust will work with sweet and juicy fruit, smooth and creamy custards, and rich frangipane fillings. It will also cradle your silky quiches, catch your melty ham and cheese, and wrap up your wild mushrooms and jammy summer tomatoes.

Notes for Success:

Make sure your butter stays cold. Seriously. If the recipe says to chill for a certain amount of time, do it! When you’re rolling out the dough, if it starts to feel sticky and/or greasy, slide it onto a plate/baking sheet/cutting board and pop it back in the fridge or freezer until it has firmed back up. If it’s the height of summer and you don’t have air conditioning, you WILL have to do this at least once. Don’t fight it, it’s part of the process with any high-butter dough.

If you forget your butter cubes in the freezer and they turn to super hard butter rocks, let them soften on the counter for a few minutes. They don’t need to fully thaw, they just need to soften enough for the food processor to be able to whiz them up.

Essential Recipe: Easy Buttery Pastry Dough

This simple and easy crust will make your buttery, tender pastry dreams come true. It comes together easily and quickly, and can be used with any recipe, from rustic savory galettes to perfectly crimped pies.
YIELD1 12-inch Crust
TOTAL TIME 1 hr 20 mins


  • 165 grams (1⅓ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 33 grams (2½ tablespoons) white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cold water


  • Step 1
    Whisk together the flour, white sugar, and kosher salt. Add the butter cubes and gently toss and separate, evenly coating each cube with flour to prevent sticking. Transfer to the freezer and chill for 10 minutes.
  • Step 2
    Transfer the butter-flour mixture to a food processor. Pulse until the butter chunks are about the size of a frozen pea—a few larger pieces here and there are okay. Add all of the water and process until the mixture begins to clump up on itself, but doesn’t form a cohesive ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Step 3
    Turn the dough onto the counter and press into a 1-inch thick disc (roughly 5 inches wide). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. If your edges look a bit raggedy, you can press and smooth them through the plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
  • To freeze:
    Add a layer of tightly wrapped foil and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • When Ready to Bake
    Pre-heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Lightly flour the counter. If your dough is very firm from chilling, let it soften for about 10 minutes. Dust the top of the dough disc with flour and roll into a 12-inch round, rotating frequently to prevent sticking and dusting the counter with flour as needed. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to your prepared baking sheet, pie pan, or tart pan.

Yield: One 12-inch Crust, enough for One 9-inch tart or galette

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