Why This Recipe Works

Perfect pie dough has just the right balance of ­tenderness and structure. The former comes from fat, the latter from the long protein chains, called gluten, that form when flour mixes with water. Too little gluten and the dough won’t stick together; too much and the crust turns tough. So presumably we would face mostly a structural issue with a ­gluten-free dough, since gluten-free flours are naturally low in protein. As our first step, we swapped in our gluten-free flour blend for the wheat flour in all the pie dough recipes the test kitchen has ­developed over the years. We produced workable doughs in every case, but an all-butter dough (which includes sour cream for tenderness) had the necessary richness to stand up to the starchiness of the gluten-free flour blend and was clearly the best starting point. Although we weren’t surprised to find that the dough was still too soft and lacked structure, we were taken aback by how tough it was; on its own, the sour cream was not sufficient to tenderize a gluten-free dough. We solved the structural problem easily with the addition of a modest amount of xanthan gum, but flakiness and tenderness were still elusive. In an effort to further tenderize our dough, we tested ingredients that are known to tenderize: baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. Vinegar was the clear winner, producing a pie crust that was not only tender, but also light and flaky.


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6 tablespoons ice water
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
13 ounces (2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see related content)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 10 to 15 minutes

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Makes enough for one 9-inch pie

Like conventional recipes, this pie dough can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for 2 days; however, it is not sturdy enough to withstand freezing.

1. Combine ice water, sour cream, and vinegar together in bowl. Process flour blend, sugar, salt, and xanthan gum together in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter butter over top and pulse until crumbs look uniform and distinct pieces of butter are no longer visible, 20 to 30 pulses.

2. Pour half of sour cream mixture over flour mixture and pulse to incorporate, about 3 pulses. Add remaining sour cream mixture and pulse until dough comes together in large pieces around blade, about 20 pulses.

3. Divide dough into 2 even pieces. Turn each piece of dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into 5-inch disk. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. Before rolling out dough, let it sit on counter to soften slightly, about 30 minutes. (Dough cannot be frozen.)