Recipe Idea: Homemade Pies – Butter and Shortening Crust

Having the most frugal grocery budget in the world isn’t going to help you and if you can’t put together at least a few healthy, tasty, and cheap eats! Every month, The Outlier Model features a cheap recipe idea, along with the cost breakdown.

Making your own pies is a great way to impress family and friends while saving money at the same time.  Store bought pie shells are often too sweet, too bland or just not quite right.  Making your own pie shells gives you the flexibility to adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes and health needs.  This is the basic dessert pie shell recipe that I use.


Photo credit: jazzijava via Flickr

Butter and Shortening Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ($0.12 a cup based on ~40 cups per 11lb bag at $4.99)
  • 1 tsp salt (< $ 0.05)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (< $0.05)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter ($3.29)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening ($1 – less in bulk but I don’t usually buy shortening)
  • 6-7 tbsp ice water

Combine flour, salt, and sugar and mix. Add the butter using a pastry cutter (or if you’re cheap like me, two knives in a cutting motion!). Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks and cut into the mixture. By now, it should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water into the mix, but only just enough to hold the dough together.

Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each ball slightly, but do not over-knead it.  Dust each ball lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days.

After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, it is ready to be rolled. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean surface and on top of the dough itself. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll outwards from the center of the dough. Lift the dough once in a while to make sure it is not sticking.  Add more flour if necessary.

When the dough is flattened to the right size, gently lift it up and place it into the pie dish. Be careful not to stretch it.

And you’re done!  The recipe makes enough for two open pies (pumpkin pie style) or one pie with a top.  If you add a top, don’t forget to pierce vents in the pie before baking!

* We use a butter AND shortening crust to gain flavor and flakiness.  If you want a flakier crust, use more shortening.  If you want a more flavourful crust, use more butter.

Servings: 6 large slices if making 1 pie or 12 slices if making two open pies

Cost per serving: For two pies: Less than 40 cents per slice, plus the cost of filling.  If you’re making a pumpkin pie, for example, your filling cost will be around $5 ($3.50 pumpkin, $1 evaporated milk, ~0.50 for seasonings) – so less than $1 per slice.

Frugal hack: The crust is pretty frugal.  :p  But to cut down on the cost of the filling, you can try buying fruit from the bruised and damaged bags at your local market for pie filling.  I can get a giant bag of apples for $1, which is more than enough for several pies.  Once you peel them, they’re fine!

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