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Never-Fail Pie Crust recipe

Never-Fail Pie Crust

From the “Bentley Farm Cookbook” by Virginia Williams Bentley

Yield: enough pastry for a 9-inch one-crust pie  

(double recipe for a 2-crust pie)


2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ C. vegetable oil
¼ C. cold milk


Stir ingredients together–gently–in the order given.  Form dough into a ball.  Flatten dough and shape into a circle on a piece of waxed paper.  Cover dough with another piece of waxed paper and roll out with a rolling pin to a circle about 2 inches larger than the size of the pie pan.  The dough should be 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick.  Peel off the top piece of waxed paper and invert dough into pie pan.  Crimp edges.  Follow baking instructions for desired pie filling.


Notes: Do not chill dough before rolling and shaping. 

My family has made this pie dough for years.  It is flaky and delicious, but it defies all laws of baking science since it uses liquid oil instead of shortening or butter.  But it lives up to its name: it turns out perfect every time and is so easy to mix up quickly—no need for resting or chilling the dough. 


5 comments to Never-Fail Pie Crust recipe

  • jonathan

    As infallible as this recipe is, the America’s Test Kitchen people in Cooks Illustrated published a recipe for pie crust that incorporated the use of Vodka in addition to the usual amount of water. The idea is that the alcohol found in vodka burns off when baking, and it’s tasteless and odorless, so it doesn’t change the pie crust in a negative way. But it does allow you to add half again as much liquid to the pie dough as normal, without increasing the amount of gluten being formed by the water-flour combination. Thus, the pie crust is much more pliable than if you used water alone. It really does work!

  • Jay Idle

    I’m very excited to try this pie crust. I make a mean pie, but my crusts always end up too crumbly. (I choose to error on the side of crumbly rather than overly moist and gross.) Eileen Epstein hipped me to your website and I’m anxious to see how this crust works out for me!

  • I hope you like this pie crust, Jay! You really can’t go wrong with it, which is why it is called “Never Fail’ pie crust. Be forewarned, though: the texture and consistency is different than a traditional pie crust because of the oil and milk. But that is what makes it so easy to handle, and it still produces a very tender and flaky pie crust without shrinking and crumbling. Good luck, and thanks for your comment!

  • Kathy Horton Ethier

    Laura – Thanks a heap for posting this recipe! I have my Aunt Virginia’s cookbooks, but when a friend wants this recipe I can’t even Xerox the page any more, as it’s so greasy. Now I can refer people to you! Never been able to beat this crust, tho’ now that we try to be low carb I’ve found I can sub some almond flour and it still comes out great.
    Thanks again, Kathy E. Maine

  • Hi Kathy! Is your Aunt Virginia the one and only Virginia Williams Bentley, by any chance? If so, I’m thrilled to make this connection with you!

    My family’s history with the Bentley Farm Cookbook dates back to the mid-1970’s when I was a child. I am the middle child between my older brother, Bentley, and my younger brother, Jonathan. Jonathan found the Bentley Farm Cookbook at our local library in small town South Dakota, of all places, and he checked it out because of the connection to our older brother’s name. While the cookbook was on loan from the library, my mom made many recipes from it, and our family loved the recipes so much that my mom bought her own copy of the cookbook for our collection.

    Many years later – when my brothers and I were young adults and leaving home – my mom wanted to buy each of us our own copy of the cookbook for our own reference, but at that time, the Bentley Farm Cookbook was out of print. So instead, mom bought us each a copy of the New Bentley Farm Cookbook, but unfortunately, it didn’t have all of our family’s favorite recipes, including this Never-Fail Pie Crust.

    Many years after that – when I was a new mother myself, I happened across a used copy of the first Bentley Farm Cookbook at a thrift store in Virginia Beach, VA – where I was going to cooking school. Imagine my utter delight to finally have my very own copy of the Bentley Farm Cookbook! It is still one of my most prized cookbooks in my collection, and I love sharing all my favorite recipes with my children – just as my mom shared them with me.

    I suppose in this day and age of on-demand ordering from the internet, it is possible to find used copies of the Bentley Farm Cookbook from many sellers. But in the era of pay-per-minute internet use and slow dial-up connections in the early 1990’s (remember that?), shopping for used books on-line wasn’t an option. 🙂

    I’m so glad you shared that the Never-Fail Pie Crust works even with almond flour. This is great news to me!! My husband has very recently decided that he can no longer tolerate gluten, so I have lamented that I can no longer make pies – at least for him. I will definitely try this recipe with almond flour – thank you for that suggestion!

    Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, Kathy. Thank you for writing!

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