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Baking 101: How to Roll Pie Dough

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

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Does your rolled dough look uneven, stick to your counter, or end up nowhere near the size or dimensions of your pie plate? Here's what to do.

Pies take a star turn on the Thanksgiving table, and there’s nothing worse than doing all the work only to destroy the dough when you roll it out and transfer it to the pie plate. Preparation and knowledge—as well as practice—are the secrets to rolling out pie dough that’s of an even thickness throughout and won’t tear when you work with it.

First, always work with well-chilled pastry; otherwise, the dough will stick to the counter and tear. Second, never roll out dough by rolling back and forth over the same section; each time you press on the same spot, more gluten develops that can toughen the dough.

PROBLEM: Dough sticks to counter.

AVOIDING IT: Start with very cold dough, work as quickly as possible, and make sure to lift and turn dough as you roll.

SOLVING IT: Add more flour to counter each time you lift dough to turn it; add more to top of dough as necessary. If dough still sticks, transfer to rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

PROBLEM: Dough is not round.

AVOIDING IT: Start with dough formed into a flat, even disk and check often as you roll.

SOLVING IT: Use your hands or bench scraper to push in dough and round out circle.


1. Place well-chilled dough on floured counter and sprinkle lightly with flour. Place tapered rolling pin in center of dough with ends at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock and roll dough outward from center to edge, applying even, gentle pressure.

2. Using dough scraper, lift and turn dough 90 degrees. Roll outward again from center, making sure to keep hands at 9 and 3 positions. Lightly flour underneath dough as necessary to prevent sticking.

3. Repeat rolling and turning steps (keeping hands at 9 and 3) until dough is wide enough to overhang pie plate by 4 inches.

VIDEO FOR MEMBERS: Watch these steps in our video on rolling dough.

RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Apple Cranberry Pie

We wanted to combine these two classic fall fruits so that the full flavor of both came through and the crust remained crisp.

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