Pies/ Recipes

Tenderflake Recipe for Pie Crust : Don’t Fear It

Tenderflake Recipe

This PieDay I am going to mix things around and post a Tenderflake recipe for pie crust today instead. In all my internet travels eyeballing delicious delights by other creative cooks, I sometimes have the feeling that pie pastries using lard are presented as almost passé. So very many now use butter – and I am a butter lovin’ gal! – with various methods of combining ranging from food processing to stand mixers. Everyone seems to almost be chanting “the taste…the taste…the taste!!” while singing the praises of butter.

Butter is great. I love butter. I love the taste, what it does in cooking and that it’s natural compared to margarine. I even like pie pastries that use it.

But when it comes down to what your gramma made?


Baby, it’s lard. And getting your hands dirty.

My grandmother’s recipe is her adaptation on the Tenderflake recipe that’s right on the box, or as one of my favorite chefs here in Edmonton, Chef Stanley Townsend once wrote  in his description of his last meal:  “tennerflake”.  He too, insists that the pie made for his last meal would be pure lard. (on a side note, go and read what he wrote. That man needs to write his memoirs.)

Tennerflake is a Canadian prairie institution. Yes, I’m singing the praises of lard. The original Tenderflake recipe has the added zing of vinegar which is unique to it. There’s just nothing like it, at least to me. Lard pastry combines the taste and the flake in a combination that I think is perfect.

I made this the other day to play around with pie dough and hone my skills. It also topped my chicken pot pies that night – recipe soon- and they were out of this world.

I baked up a rolled and cut out piece of the dough, just to show everyone what this pastry is capable of when gingerly handled and done right.

Look at the rise and flake.

I bit into a piece and almost teared up, thinking of my Grandma Marion and the pies she used to make. That vinegar tang with Saskatoon filling…there is no other taste in this world that has such tangible, instantaneous memories for me. Summers at her place, exhausted from playing the creek, running around her farm, fishing, swimming, you name it, only to tumble into her small kitchen at the end of the day for her dinner of deer or duck, always ending with her Saskatoon Pie.

Yes, there’s quite a bit of bias going on here at my end of things, so forgive me that. Some people wax poetic about butter in their pastry, I tear up over lard and vinegar.


Tenderflake Recipe for Pie Crust

  • Author: Karlynn Johnston
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 1 min
  • Total Time: 11 min


  • 5 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb Tenderflake® lard 464 g
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten

Ice Water


    1. Whisk together flour and salt.
    2. Cut in Tenderflake with pastry blender or 2 knives until the lard is pea sized within the flour.
    3. In a 1 cup measure combine the vinegar and egg.
    4. Add the ice water to make 1 cup.
    5. Gradually stir liquid into Tenderflake mixture, adding only enough liquid to make dough cling together.
    6. Gently gather the dough into a ball and divide into 6 equal portions.
    7. Wrap the portions and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes (if you are using right away) or freeze for future use.
    8. When you are ready to use and the dough has chilled for at least another 15 minutes, roll out each portion on lightly floured surface. If the dough is sticking, chill again for another hour or two. The dough must be cold to be flaky!
    9. Transfer the prepared dough to pie plate.
    10. Trim and flute shells or crusts and bake according to your pie recipe.
    11. Yield: 3 9-inch double crust pies or 6 pie shells.

    The key to the dough is not overworking it. I know, I know, that’s what every recipe says. The truth is, when you think you have it mixed enough, you have probably gone too far.  Combine to the point where you think it’s not really done. By the time you gather it into a ball and divide, then roll out, that dough is going to be combined enough. I also suggest if you are truly going for impressing people with your pie crust, don’t use the stand mixer or food processor to mix the dough. I can truly say that the time it takes me to mix by hand is a mere 4 minutes, the cutting in of lard about 3 and then barely a minute of mixing.

    I’d encourage everyone to make a batch to practice on, like I did. I froze half of it for future use, played with one portion seeing how much “flake” I could get and then topped my chicken pot pies with it.

    I’m not a pie expert by any means. PieDay was my challenge to myself to get better at pie baking over the next year, a personal goal.

    So knowing I am far from an expert and almost all thumbs sometimes, look at this crust!

    If I can do that, so can you. Seriously.

    Think of it like children’s play dough. Don’t get stressed out. Practice with your dough, roll it out and heck, make shapes out of it and bake them up. Break it too see how flakey it is inside. Have fun and be amazed at what you can do!

    Tenderflake Recipe

    I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!


    The Thinking of Saskatoon Pies Already Magpie


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  • Reply
    Cynthia Fedak
    December 13, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I do not chill my lard, easier to work with warm lard, then I put my pie crust to set for an hour or so in the fridge, then I roll it out. I have great crusts. I only use Tenderflake, never anything else, I have never tried butter. My mom and grandmother always used lard and so do I. My crusts are flaky and tender.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Did you chill your lard? The tenderflake recipe says room temp, but so many cookbook and online recipes all day chill, chill, chill…..

  • Reply
    October 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Making this now for my Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie. My mother always used Tenderflake and I continue the tradition.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Fedak
    June 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I agree with you 100%, I am 71, my pies use this same recipe, they always turn out flaky. My mom and grandma both used lard and were excellent cooks and bakers.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2017 at 11:44 am

    How much of the liquid do you usually leave in the cup ?

  • Reply
    October 31, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Always made pies that were picture perfect, but you needed a jack hammer to cut into them,……..then I tried Tenderflake, the same my mother and grandmother used.  So flaky, picture perfect,……….and you can eat them too!!! Love Tenderflake, the only trouble now is I find everyone wants me to make pies, lol

  • Reply
    November 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    My Mum used the Tenderflake recipe and made amazing pies. And now I’ve been using the same for over 30 years. I was taught by my Mum to use a knife to ‘stir’ the liquid in. She said it made a flakier crust…not sure why, but I do what my Mum told me and it turns out every single time! (She was a smart lady!) I’m just in the middle of making my 12 dozen annual Christmas butter tarts…

  • Reply
    January 8, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    I just made a scratch pumpkin pie with this crust. It is baking now. I
    am in Romania and so far have not been able to find leaf lard.I did
    find some that has a bit of a bacon aroma but thought that would not be
    suitable. Then I read a comment from a lady who said not to dismiss the
    smoky lard, that it goes quite well with fruit pies. So, I decided to
    give it a try. It came together beautifully. I will report back on
    flavor. This is my very first lard crust and I have been baking for
    nearly 50 years. .

    • Reply
      January 8, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Well, it turned out perfectly! Even the slightly smoky lard didn’t interfere…flaky to perfection. Thank you!!

      • Reply
        January 9, 2015 at 12:26 am

        rx7chick That’s wonderful! Thank you for letting me know! I love hearing it! Take care!! 

  • Reply
    January 8, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I just made a scratch pumpkin pie with this crust. It is baking now. I am in Romania and so far have not been able to find leaf lard.I did find some that has a bit of a bacon aroma but thought that would not be suitable. Then I read a comment from a lady who said not to dismiss the smoky lard, that it goes quite well with fruit pies. So, I decided to give it a try. It came together beautifully. I will report back on flavor. This is my very first lard crust and I have been baking for nearly 50 years. .

  • Reply
    October 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Wonderful! Now if you can tell us where to buy this brand (or any other brand) of pure, non-hydrogenated leaf lard then it would make the story complete.

  • Reply
    Happy Gourmand
    September 19, 2014 at 12:22 am

    So true! My Mom used this one, and I cut the recipe from a Tenderflake box to put in my first ever book of recipes 🙂

  • Reply
    Rick Black
    September 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I tried Crisco once for pastry…turned out rock hard. Never tried using is again.

  • Reply
    Rick Black
    September 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Best pie crust ever!! I tell everyone about this recipe.

  • Reply
    Lana Moffatt Wilmot
    September 18, 2014 at 2:56 am

    It is the best !

  • Reply
    Shannon A. McDonald
    September 18, 2014 at 2:27 am

    I used to make pies all the time and my pastry was awesome. (Always lard, always tender flake but my grama’s recipe). Then I had kids or something and it all stopped working (hard nasty stuff). Maybe I’ll try again… Thanks for the inspiration

  • Reply
    Caity Klaudt
    September 18, 2014 at 1:28 am

    I used tender flake too!

  • Reply
    The Kitchen Magpie
    September 17, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ! 😉

  • Reply
    Rick Black
    September 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I used this recipe once when I was a child and my pastry turned out better than my grandma’s. Ever since that time I was always asked to make the pastry for the pies. I’ve been using this recipe for over 40 yrs now.

  • Reply
    The Kitchen Magpie
    September 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Haha I know, right? As amazing a baker as my grandma was, this was her pie crust recipe!

  • Reply
    Diane Grace
    September 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    I have always used this recipe. I have tried to make the Crisco recipe but it just doesn’t work for me.

  • Reply
    Haley Radke
    September 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I asked my Grandma for her secret pie crust recipe and she handed me the Tenderflake recipe cut off the Tenderflake box.

  • Reply
    Sarah Schultz
    September 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Yup! Tenderflake is the bomb. Both my grandmas only use Tenderflake!

  • Reply
    Melody Kennedy
    September 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree. Look no further than the Tenderflake!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I use this recipe all the time. My pies are flaky and taste fabulous!! Butter crusts have NOTHING on this one!!! 

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    baking temperature and time????????????

    • Reply
      February 22, 2014 at 12:41 am

      JerryKing  No temperature, in the instructions it says to bake according to pie recipe directions. All recipes are different!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2013 at 12:08 am

    This IS my reicepe why can’t u tell me how long 2 bake it?

  • Reply
    August 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Yup … the tenderflake pie crust recipe is the best … bar none!

  • Reply
    Karlynn Johnston
    June 27, 2013 at 12:54 am

    Mmm butter tarts…..and yes, lard baby, nothing but lard! I scoff at butter crusts. Not that they aren’t good….but it’s NOT the same at all! I enjoy a good buttery crust sometimes, but some pies are sacred and must have lard! (apple& saskatoon for starters)

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Yes! I Always use lard- I love the taste and the flaky-ness, I find the butter pastry way too rich- which sounds funny- we’re talking about pig fat here- obviously it’s also rich. I mix it quick by hand with my spoon, then turn it out and actually knead it for, like, 20 seconds. It always comes out flaky- I think it’s harder to beat the gluten- and therefore toughen it up, than people think.

    I am about to try your butter tart recipe.

  • Reply
    Donna Driver
    October 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you copied it down for future

  • Reply
    June 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    My Grandma’s amounts are slightly off from Tenderflake’s recipe, her own version of it, making the difficulty level harder for first timers. I always wonder about the Company’s Cooking recipes, especially the older ones, since so many are the exact same as my grandma’s but slightly different and some of those are DEFINITELY family recipes from my great Baba, before Company’s Coming was around. Rural prairie recipes depend on who publishes it first, I guess. What came first, the recipe from Baba’s or the cook books? I’m pretty sure it’s the recipes from prairie Baba’s!

  • Reply
    June 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    This is the recipe I always use – and my mother used – and her mother – maybe Tenderflake got it from our family!


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