Skill Level: Intermediate | Time: 35-40 minutes | Servings: 1 pie shell
Learn how to make a simple, buttery and unbelievably flaky vegan shortcrust pastry that’s perfect for making pies or tarts! This recipe uses a vegan butter substitute to create delicious pastry that’s super versatile and doesn’t require any fancy tools to make.
Pastry can be such an intimidating recipe to attempt, so read along for my best tips and tricks to get it right (it’s not too hard, I promise!). I don’t use any special tools or techniques, just my hands to get the perfect pastry every time!
This recipe makes one pie shell. If you need a top layer, double the recipe.
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Is Shortcrust Pastry Vegan?
Shortcrust pastry is used to create pie or tarts and contains butter as the fat source. This is different from a “typical” pie dough recipe that uses lard or vegetable shortening for fat.
Since classic shortcrust pastry uses butter, it’s not a vegan recipe. However, using vegan butter substitute is a simple switch that allows for it to be made dairy free!
With vegan butter instead of vegetable shortening, this pastry has more flavor and some added salt content; perfect for savory recipes or to contrast sweet recipes nicely! If you prefer less salt, use an unsalted vegan butter substitute (if you can find one).
Ingredients to Make Vegan Shortcrust Pastry
Eggless, dairy free shortcrust pastry uses four simple ingredients that most people keep on hand! To make this vegan recipe you’ll need:
- All-purpose unbleached white flour: all-purpose white flour is the base for this delicious vegan pie crust and helps create a soft, delicate pastry.
- Salt: a touch of added salt brings out the flavors of pastry and vegan butter. This is optional depending on how salty your vegan butter substitute is.
- Vegan butter substitute: the key ingredient for any pastry is a source of solid fat. For shortcrust, that fat is butter. Look for a vegan butter substitute that’s firmly solid at room temperature and quite solid when cold (in the fridge). Margarine will not work as it’s too soft to create the right texture for a flaky crust. I use Earth Balance original for this recipe as it’s the easiest vegan butter substitute to find, but any similar product should work!
- Ice cold water: for the best texture, keep the dough as cold as possible before baking. By ice cold water, I literally mean water with ice cubes in it to ensure it’s as cold as possible!
That’s it! Just four ingredients for a decadent and flaky vegan pie crust.
How to Make Dairy Free Shortcrust: Instructions and Video Tutorial
As noted above, only four simple ingredients are needed for this recipe.
The key to any good pastry is keeping your dough cold while working on it, until it goes into the oven. Before starting, make sure the dairy free butter substitute you’re using is nice and cold in the fridge and you have some ice water handy!
This recipe makes one pie crust. Double the recipe if you need a top layer for your pie.
Step 1: Measure Ingredients
To keep the pastry as cold as possible, work quickly. Make that easy and stress-free by preparing all the ingredients before you start.
Begin by measuring the flour. To measure flour in cups (without using a scale), carefully spoon flour into the measuring cup until it’s heaping. Then use a flat edge (the back of a knife works perfectly) to scrape excess flour off. You now have a perfectly measured cup.
Scooping flour straight from the bag can compress it, leaving you with excess.
Salt can be taken out of its container directly with a measuring spoon.
For the butter, press it down into a ½ C measuring cup so there’s no air pockets left. It’s best to use the same technique as with the flour; measure to a slightly heaping amount then scrape off excess with the back of a knife. Keep the butter in your fridge until ready to use.
For the water, get a bowl and fill it with ice and cold water. Keep a tablespoon close by to measure the water when needed.
Step 2: Whisk Dry Ingredients
Place the measured flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and gently whisk together.
Step 3: Cut Butter into Flour
Cutting fat into flour can be intimidating the first time (or few times) you try it. There are a few techniques that work but I strongly prefer to use my hands.
An argument against using your hands is that they’re warm and can melt the butter. This is a valid point, however if you work at a quick pace and chill the dough before rolling, you can still achieve a wonderful flaky texture without tools like a pastry cutter or food processor.
To cut vegan butter into flour, remove small pieces of butter from the ½ C you measured (use a knife to scrape out small amounts and toss them into the bowl of flour). Once about half the butter is in pieces throughout the flour, begin to “cut” it in by pressing on the butter with your fingers. This breaks the butter into smaller pieces and allows them to become coated in flour.
For the first half of the butter, continue cutting until most pieces are the size of a chickpea (or as small as a green pea).
At this point, add the remaining butter the same way, using a knife to drop small pieces into the flour. Cut this butter into the flour using your fingers, but don’t break them down as small. These butter pieces should be left about the size of a nickel or penny.
If you like a denser pastry (as opposed to a flaky one) you can certainly cut all the butter into small pea-sized pieces. The larger you keep the pieces, the flakier the crust (but don’t keep the butter pieces overly large).
Step 4: Stir in Water and Form a Disk of Dough
Carefully add 3 tablespoons of water from the bowl of ice water. Use a fork to stir this water in until a ball of dough begins to form.
At this point you can carefully use your hand to press the dough into a ball, making sure all the flour and butter are incorporated. The dough should easily hold together when pressed but not feel sticky.
If the dough crumbles when pressed, add more water (one tablespoon at a time) until it holds together. If the dough feels sticky, stir in some extra flour. It’s far more likely that the dough is too dry; this is by design since it’s much easier to add extra water than flour.
Grab a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap your disk of dough (shape it into a round, flat disk to make rolling easier). Place the shortcrust dough into your fridge to rest and chill for at least 20 minutes. Overnight chilling is fine if you want to make the dough one day and use it the next day.
Step 5: Roll Vegan Pastry Dough
When the dough is rested and chilled, it’s ready to roll. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 400 F since it needs to be hot when you’re ready to cook the pastry.
To roll the dough, sprinkle a layer of flour over your counter (or whatever surface you’re using) and place the dough onto the flour. Sprinkle some flour on top of the pastry too. If possible, dust your rolling pin with flour.
Begin rolling the pastry using gentle pressure from the center and push outwards. Take your time and keep the vegan shortcrust pastry well coated with flour so it doesn’t stick to the counter or rolling pin. You’ll likely need to keep dusting the pastry with flour (on the top and bottom).
Once the pastry is about ¼ inch (1/2 cm) thick, transfer to the baking dish you’re using. In my pictures and videos, I use a small glass pie dish.
Step 6: Transfer Pastry to Baking Dish
The best way to transfer pastry is to carefully roll it onto the rolling pin, place onto one edge of the pie plate and unroll, leaving enough slack in the pastry so it can sink down and fill the dish.
Gently maneuver the pastry around so it covers your baking dish. Cut excess pastry from the edges (I run a knife along the edge).
You can now shape the edge; the easiest way is to gently press your thumb in even spaces. This creates a slightly wavy pattern, but decoration is optional so use whatever technique works best for you.
Step 6: Blind Bake or Fill and Bake Vegan Shortcrust Pastry
The pastry is ready to fill and use in whichever recipe you like. If filling and baking, follow the cooking directions for that recipe to bake the pie crust and filling together.
If you want to blind bake the vegan shortcrust pastry (cooking the pastry with nothing in it, then later filling with something that doesn’t need to cook), poke lots of holes with a fork along the bottom of the pastry.
It’s also helpful to use some sort of weight to hold the pastry down. To do this, place a layer of parchment paper across the pastry and fill with a weighted object that can go in the oven. You can buy stones or marbles specifically for this purpose.
I’ve blind baked this recipe a couple times without weighing it down. I found if the oven is hot, and plenty of holes have been poked (see pictures), added weight isn’t required.
How to Store Shortcrust Pastry: Refrigerating and Freezing this Recipe
This recipe can be used in many ways, so it’s best to store according to the recommendations for your specific recipe.
On its own, cooked shortcrust can last up to 5 days on the countertop (assuming the filling in it is okay to be stored this way) or for up to a week in the fridge (if the filling needs to be kept cold). Depending on the filling, the bottom may become soggy as the dish sits, so keep this in mind as you eat your delicious creation!
The crust can also be frozen, but it’s best to freeze raw dough rather than cooked pastry. To freeze the dough, simply prepare it to the point where you have a disk of dough wrapped in plastic wrap. Place this into a freezer bag and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
To use frozen dough, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. Don’t thaw at room temperature as it should be chilled when rolling. Make sure it’s thawed completely as frozen dough won’t roll well.
I hope you enjoy this recipe; let me know what you use to fill your vegan shortcrust pastry in the comments below! If you make this recipe, tag me @lettucevegout on social media so I can see what you make (truly the highlight of any day is seeing what you’ve made!).
Vegan Shortcrust Pastry (Butter Pie Crust)
- Large bowl
- Rolling Pin
- Plastic wrap
- Pie plate/ baking dish
- 1 ¼ C all-purpose white flour , unbleached
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ½ C vegan butter substitute , cold
- 3 tbsp ice water
- Begin by measuring the ingredients. Measure flour by gently spooning a heaping amount into the measuring cup then use the flat edge of a knife to scrape off excess.
- Add flour and salt to a large bowl and whisk together.
- Add half the ½ C butter in small pieces to the flour. Use your hands to cut this butter into the flour until the pieces are about pea-sized. To cut the butter in, press on the pieces with your fingers to make the butter smaller and ensure each of these smaller pieces are coated in flour. Work as efficiently as possible to help keep the butter cold.
- Add the remaining half of the ½ C vegan butter to the flour and cut this butter in, using the same technique as above; this time, keep these butter pieces larger, about the size of a nickel or penny. At this point there should be flour-coated pieces of butter throughout, but the mixture will still look grainy and there will be loose flour (it won’t look like dough yet).
- Create a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture and add 3 tbsp ice cold water (literally water with ice cubes in it to make sure it’s very cold).
- Use a fork to mix water into the flour until everything is just mixed (as soon as there are no more dry pieces of flour, stop mixing). At this point the dough should be forming. If you press the dough together it will stick to itself and not just crumble away. It shouldn’t be so sticky that it’s sticking to your hands. If the mixture is too dry (not holding together) slowly add more water, ½ tbsp at a time. If it’s too sticky, add some additional flour 1-2 tbsp at a time.
- Shape the dough into a round, flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight. If you want to freeze the dough, this is the time to do that.
- When ready to roll the dough, preheat the oven using the temperature indicated in the recipe you’re using to fill the pastry with. If blind-baking, set the oven to 400 °F.
- Sprinkle flour over your rolling surface and place the dough in the center of this. Sprinkle more flour over the top of the pastry dough.
- Gently roll using light pressure from the center of the dough to the edges. If the edges begin to crack, lightly press them together, avoiding getting extra flour in between the cracks (it shouldn’t crack too much; if it is, not enough water was added to the dough).
- Continue rolling, adding extra flour to the top and bottom of the dough as needed (you can peel the dough up to add extra flour to the bottom). Roll to ¼ inch/ ½ cm thick.
- Transfer the dough to your baking dish. It’s easiest to roll the dough onto the rolling pin then lift to transfer, unrolling loosely over the baking dish.
- Shape the pastry as needed, cutting excess dough from the edges.
- If blind baking, poke holes with a fork across the bottom (see pictures for indication of how many holes to poke). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top edges have browned and the crust is lightly crisped all over.
- If adding filling before baking, refer to the other recipe for baking directions.
- Enjoy your delicious, buttery and flaky vegan pastry!