Non-Vegan Fat in a Pie Crust

In this article, we will discuss the various non-vegan fats used in pie crusts, their characteristics, and the reasons why some bakers choose to use them.

When it comes to baking delicious pies, one crucial element is often overlooked: the pie crust. While many bakers focus on the filling, it’s essential not to forget about the foundation that holds it all together. In this article, we will delve into the world of pie crusts and explore the use of non-vegan fats in pie crust recipes.

Pie crusts are a fundamental component of many beloved desserts, from classic apple pies to savory quiches. Traditionally, pie crusts have been made with ingredients like butter, lard, or shortening, all of which are non-vegan fats. In recent years, as the popularity of vegan and plant-based diets has grown, there has been an increasing demand for vegan-friendly alternatives to these non-vegan fats in pie crust recipes.

In this article, we will discuss the various non-vegan fats used in pie crusts, their characteristics, and the reasons why some bakers choose to use them. We will also explore vegan alternatives and provide tips for creating a perfect vegan pie crust that’s just as delicious as the traditional version.

Non-Vegan Fats in Pie Crusts

  1. Butter: Butter is perhaps the most common non-vegan fat used in traditional pie crust recipes. It adds a rich, creamy texture and a distinctive flavor to the crust. While delicious, butter is made from dairy, which means it’s not suitable for those following a vegan diet.
  2. Lard: Lard is another non-vegan fat often used in pie crusts, particularly in savory recipes like meat pies or pot pies. It provides a flaky, tender crust due to its high fat content. Lard is derived from animal fat, typically pork, making it unsuitable for vegans.
  3. Shortening: Shortening is a vegetable-based non-vegan fat commonly used in pie crusts. While it doesn’t contain animal products, it is hydrogenated and typically made from partially hydrogenated oils. Some health-conscious individuals avoid shortening due to concerns about trans fats and their impact on heart health.

Why Use Non-Vegan Fats in Pie Crusts?

There are several reasons why bakers continue to use non-vegan fats in pie crust recipes, despite the availability of vegan alternatives:

  • Flavor: Non-vegan fats like butter and lard impart a distinct flavor to the pie crust that some people find irreplaceable. The rich, buttery taste of a traditional pie crust can be hard to replicate with vegan alternatives.
  • Texture: Non-vegan fats often result in a flakier and more tender crust, which is highly desirable in many pie recipes. Achieving the same texture with vegan fats can be challenging.
  • Tradition: Many traditional pie recipes have been passed down through generations, and people often prefer to stick to the tried-and-true methods they grew up with, which may include non-vegan fats.

Vegan Alternatives to Non-Vegan Fats

Fortunately, there are plenty of vegan alternatives to non-vegan fats that can be used in pie crusts. Here are some popular options:

  1. Vegan Butter: Vegan butter substitutes made from plant-based oils and fats have become increasingly accessible. They offer a similar rich flavor and can be used as a one-to-one replacement for traditional butter in pie crust recipes.
  2. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a versatile and popular choice for vegan pie crusts. Its solid consistency at room temperature helps create a flaky texture. However, be mindful of its coconut flavor, which may not suit all pie varieties.
  3. Vegetable Shortening: Non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening is a vegan-friendly alternative to traditional shortening. It can produce a flaky crust without the concerns associated with trans fats.
  4. Nut Butters: Nut butters like almond or cashew butter can be used in vegan pie crusts, adding a unique nutty flavor to your desserts. They work best in recipes where the nutty taste complements the filling.
  5. Aquafaba: Aquafaba, the liquid from canned chickpeas, is a surprising vegan alternative. It can act as a binder and add moisture to your crust, creating a tender texture.

Tips for Making the Perfect Vegan Pie Crust

Creating a vegan pie crust that rivals the taste and texture of a non-vegan one may require some experimentation. Here are some tips to help you achieve the perfect vegan pie crust:

  • Keep Ingredients Cold: Just like with traditional pie crusts, it’s crucial to keep your vegan fats and water cold. Cold ingredients help maintain the flakiness of the crust.
  • Use Vegan-Friendly Binders: To replace eggs in traditional pie crust recipes, you can use vegan binders like flax eggs (ground flaxseed mixed with water) or aquafaba.
  • Experiment with Different Fats: Don’t hesitate to try various vegan fats like vegan butter, coconut oil, or vegetable shortening to find the flavor and texture that suits your taste best.
  • Add Vinegar or Lemon Juice: A teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice can help improve the texture of your vegan pie crust by strengthening the gluten in the flour.
  • Chill the Dough: After mixing your pie crust dough, be sure to chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This rest allows the fats to solidify, making the dough easier to roll out.
  • Handle with Care: When rolling out the dough, handle it gently to avoid overworking it, which can make the crust tough.
  • Blind Bake if Necessary: For certain pie recipes, blind baking the crust (partially baking it before adding the filling) can help ensure it stays crisp.

Mastering the Art of Pie Crust: Advanced Tips and Techniques for Bakers

The quest for the perfect pie crust has been a culinary adventure for bakers worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned pastry chef or an aspiring home baker, the art of creating a flawless pie crust is a rewarding journey. In this section, we’ll explore some advanced tips and techniques that will elevate your pie crust game, regardless of whether you choose to use non-vegan fats or their vegan alternatives.

  1. Flavorful Additions: To infuse your pie crust with extra flavor, consider adding herbs, spices, or even citrus zest to the dough. For sweet pies, a touch of cinnamon or vanilla can create a delightful aroma, while savory pies benefit from herbs like thyme, rosemary, or grated Parmesan cheese. Experiment with different seasonings to complement your pie’s filling.
  2. Nut-Based Crusts: For a unique twist, try nut-based pie crusts. Ground almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts can be mixed with vegan fats and a bit of sugar to create a rich, nutty crust that pairs beautifully with fruit or chocolate fillings. Nut-based crusts add an extra layer of complexity to your pie’s flavor profile.
  3. All-Purpose Flour Alternatives: Traditional pie crusts use all-purpose flour, but if you’re looking for a gluten-free or grain-free option, consider using alternative flours like almond flour, coconut flour, or chickpea flour. These flours can produce fantastic results in both sweet and savory pies, and they offer a unique taste and texture.
  4. Mix and Match: Don’t limit yourself to a single type of fat. Mixing different vegan fats can yield excellent results. For example, a combination of vegan butter and coconut oil can balance flavor and texture, creating a crust that’s both flaky and flavorful.
  5. Practice Proper Crimping: Crimping the edges of your pie crust not only ensures a secure seal but also adds an attractive finishing touch. There are various crimping techniques to choose from, including the classic fork crimp, rope edge, or scalloped edge. Experiment with different crimping styles to find the one that suits your pie best.
  6. Play with Decorative Cutouts: Creating decorative cutouts from extra pie dough and placing them on top of your pie adds a visually appealing element to your baked masterpiece. These cutouts can be as simple as leaves, stars, or hearts or as intricate as your imagination allows. Remember to brush them with a bit of vegan milk for a golden finish.
  7. Master Blind Baking: Blind baking is a technique used when your pie filling doesn’t require as much time in the oven as your crust. To prevent a soggy bottom crust, line your unbaked pie crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake it partially before adding your filling. Blind baking ensures a crisp, flaky crust every time.
  8. Customize Crusts for Fillings: Different pie fillings require different crusts. For example, a cream pie may benefit from a pre-baked, fully cooked crust, while a fruit pie might do better with a partially pre-baked crust or no pre-baking at all. Consider the specific needs of your pie’s filling when preparing the crust.
  9. Mind the Temperature: Maintaining proper temperature control throughout the pie-making process is crucial. Keep your fats and water cold, as previously mentioned, and be sure to bake your pie in a preheated oven. Cold fats create a layered, flaky crust, while a hot oven ensures even baking.
  10. Embrace Imperfection: Remember that homemade pie crusts, whether vegan or not, are meant to have character. Don’t stress over achieving absolute perfection. The beauty of a homemade pie lies in its rustic charm and the love and care that went into making it.


As we wrap up our exploration of pie crust perfection, it’s clear that the art of crafting the ideal crust is an ongoing journey. Whether you choose to embrace the richness of non-vegan fats or opt for vegan alternatives, the possibilities are endless. With each experiment, you’ll refine your skills and uncover new dimensions of flavor and texture.

The world of pie crusts has seen traditionalists uphold the virtues of butter, lard, and shortening for generations, bestowing upon us rich, flavorful creations. However, the rise of veganism and plant-based diets has ushered in an era of innovation, offering those with dietary preferences or restrictions the opportunity to savor the delights of pie crusts without compromise.

So, as you venture into the world of pie baking, don’t be afraid to tread new paths. Mix and match ingredients, experiment with flavors, and don’t shy away from the creative possibilities that await. Remember, perfection in pie crusts is subjective, and what truly matters is the joy and satisfaction you bring to your own taste buds and those of your cherished friends and family.

In the end, whether you choose to follow tradition or explore the exciting realm of vegan pie crusts, the ultimate reward lies in the delicious pies you create and the smiles they bring. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embark on your very own pie crust adventure. Happy baking!

Whether you choose to stick with tradition or embark on a vegan baking adventure, the key to a perfect pie crust lies in your technique and the quality of your ingredients. So, go ahead and experiment with different fats, binders, and flavorings to find the ideal combination that suits your taste buds. In the end, a well-crafted pie crust, whether made with non-vegan or vegan fats, will elevate your pies to new heights of deliciousness.


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