Pat-in-the-Pan Shortbread Crust

I hate–not abhor–making rolled pie crust. Not because I don’t love the flakiness of the final product, because I do. I hate the process. Ugh. Not a talent I possess.

My mom’s Dutch Apple Pie recipe uses a pat-in-the-pan crust that is very good. So, why not for other pies? (I’d been wondering for years.) I mean, it won’t work for say, a peach pie topped with a lattice. But for creamy pies, it’s perfect. Genius, actually.

In The Joy of Cooking (affiliate link), there are numerous recipes for pat-in-the-pan crusts. I use them all the time, and the Shortbread Crust is by far my favorite. Another favorite pat-in-the-pan crust is Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet Tart Dough. It’s AMAZING, like this one. It’s hard to pick a favorite!

This crust is definitely good for any pie or tart that needs a pre-baked or partially baked crust, particularly if there is a fruit or cream filling, which I suppose it just about every pie or tart! The crust gets a quick brush with egg white and is popped back in the oven for a few more minutes. This helps “seal” the crust so it doesn’t get soggy.

Here are a few of my recipes that I recommend using with this crust:
Banofee Pie
Four Layer hocolate Cream Pie (the recipe has its own crust, but you could certainly substitute it)
Orange Ricotta Cheesecake with Orange Curd
Creamy No Bake Key Lime Pie
Oatmeal Pecan Tart (gluten-free version of the crust)

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Pat-in-the-Pan Shortbread Crust

Pat-in-the-Pan Shortbread Crust from The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 mins
  • Yield: 1 crust 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a little cream or milk–may need more or less depending on how the dough holds together
  • 1 egg white, beaten


  1. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Using your hands, a food processor, a pastry cutter, or two knives, work/cut the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should look like cornmeal with a few larger lumps of butter.
  2. Break up the egg yolk with a fork and add to the flour/butter mixture. Pulse for a few seconds at a time if using a food processor, or if making by hand, stir with the fork until the dough comes together in a ball. You may need to add a little cream at this point if it’s too dry.
  3. Don’t overwork the dough–it will become tough. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.
  4. Pat the crust into a 9″ or 10″ pie or tart plate. Prick all over with a fork and chill for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, or until it starts to become lightly golden.
  6. Remove from oven and brush the inside with the beaten egg white. Return to the oven and finish baking until crust is golden, about 5-10 minutes more.
  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25 mins


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  1. I know I shouldn’t ask, but did you use fresh lime juice or the bottled stuff? I am sure you used fresh, but I want to hear that you used the bottled stuff! Now I know what we are having for Easter dessert! Thanks a million.

  2. I hate rolling pie crusts too. I find that I don’t have to for certain less-formal type crusts like for quiche. I just make the pie crust a little more pliable than usual (just a tad more water) and then I press it into the pan. I also like to add a little rosemary to the crust. This works best with margarine or butter instead of shortening.

    I also made a key lime pie yesterday. Crazy. It was my first time and I think it was pretty good for a first attempt. Juicing all those little limes was a task. I had to do about 12 to get the amount of juice I needed. I’ll remember the bottled juice next time.

  3. I found this recipe on your blog and used it for some pecan squares. Do you mind if I credit you for leading me to this recipe? Thanks :)

  4. I used this recipe to make a sour cream pecan tart. wonderful… Family LOVED it… wants it for the HOLIDAYS! Thank You! ;)

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