Tenderflake Recipe for Pie Crust

How to make a flaky, decadent pie crust that is just like your Grandma made. This is the classic Tenderflake recipe!

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The Tenderflake Recipe for Pie Crust is my favourite pie crust recipe, bar none. The effort you have to put in is worth the end result, trust me!

Tenderflake Pie Crust used in turkey pot pie

How to Make Pie Crust

Making a pie crust is definitely not effortless, but there are certain things in life that are worth the extra time. A flaky homemade pie crust is one of them! A disclaimer as well : I am still practicing my own pie dough making, so I’m not an expert at this either! It’s still going to take me a while to make the perfect pie crust! 

  • Whisk together flour and salt. Cut in Tenderflake with pastry blender or 2 knives until the lard is pea sized within
    the flour.
  • In a 1 cup measure combine the vinegar and egg. Add the ice water to make 1 cup.
  •  Gradually stir liquid into Tenderflake mixture, adding only enough liquid to make the dough cling together.
  • Gently gather the dough into a ball and divide into 6 equal portions.
  • Wrap the portions and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
  • Roll out each portion on a lightly floured surface.
  • Transfer the prepared dough to pie plate.
  • Trim and flute shells or crusts and bake according to your pie recipe.

Flaky Pie Crust with Lard or Shortening

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 (former head of the culinary department at NAIT so he knows his stuff) 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.

Pie Crust of turkey pot pie in a pie pan over red cooling rack

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.  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.

close up turkey pot pie with Tenderflake Pie Crust

Tips & Tricks for Making Pie Crust

  • 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.
  • 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 flaky it is inside. Have fun and be amazed at what you can do!

I’m not a pie expert by any means.  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. And my pie crusts are just going to get better and better as I practice more. I just made this pie crust again last week with my new Turkey Pot Pie recipe, so I’m still at it!

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!



Tenderflake Recipe for Pie Crust

How to make a flaky, decadent pie crust that is just like your Grandma made. This is the classic Tenderflake recipe!
4.96 from 46 votes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Total Time
11 minutes
6 pie shells
Karlynn Johnston


  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound Tenderflake lard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ice water


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

Recipe Notes

This is a great recipe as it yields 3 double pie crusts, which means you do the work once and have three crusts!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 1096kcal, Carbohydrates: 87g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 77g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 790mg, Potassium: 132mg, Fiber: 3g, Vitamin A: 40IU, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 5.5mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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How to make a flaky, decadent pie crust that is just like your Grandma made. This is the classic Tenderflake recipe! #pie #crust #lard #dessert

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Renda says

    Who wants to make that much pastry?! Can we just have a recipe for one double crust pie?! 😊

    • Phyllis patterson says

      Yes, I only want to make enough for one pie.

    • Shelda Saunders says

      I freezes like a dream and you can make pie dough cookies too!

  2. Leslie says

    I have been making lard pastry for over 50 years…Tenderflake of course… I have used other lard brands when TF not available and it was fine. I do add a couple T of brown sugar for fruit or sweet pies… and if making berry pies I also add to the berry mix about half a cup of MINI tapioca beads it absorbs the juice and the bottom never gets soggy and the tapioca takes on the taste of the filling. Half a cup would be for a large pie… (I just eyeball it,,some berries are not as juicy but you really need it for blueberries, but apple not much if any, I also add cheddar cheese ( about 1/2 C ) to my apples in the cinnamon mix along with a few raisins or dried cranberries, it is the most asked for pie that I make. I always use granny Smith and sometimes mix with a couple of sweet apples. just a few suggestions for others who might like to jazz things up sometimes. 🙂 ps.. I use apple cider vinegar in my crust… interesting flavour!!

    • Marilyn Carleton says

      Magpie, 2 things ,butter is so so expensive I can’t afford it and with my arthritis fingers it i would be nice to have a recipe for crust using the stand mixer. I know it won’t be perfect but🤗

  3. Carol says

    I’ve never had success with pastry until today when my neighbour walked me through this recipe with her own little steps. My lard was chilled, but the eggs were at room temperature. She had me slice through the lard at half in interval then cut each slice into 9 cubes. To the flour & salt she adds 1 tsp sugar & 1 tsp baking powder. We also had additional cold water to add, my flour is very dry so needed more hydration. With this recipe we made 45 butter tarts. Yummy5 stars

  4. Cheryl says

    Best pie crust I have ever made! I had so many compliments on it!5 stars

  5. Rosemary Breschuk-Chiu says

    I want to try this recipe tomorrow, but I can’t find the baking instructions!! How long does it take to bake a pie or tart shell, at what temperature, and are there any other instructions? Can you freeze a baked pie shell? How best to protect it from freezer burn? How long can you freeze raw or cooked pie shells?
    Thanks for any recommendations!

    • Mimi Craig says

      Baking temp and time depends upon what’s in it. Check recipes for individual time and temp. I weigh my dough and divide it as evenly as possible into 6 discs ready to roll. Wrap each disk well in wax paper and place in a large freezer bag. And freeze. Take what you need a day ahead and place in fridge. I prefer not to do pie shells in the freezer as they are fragile and can get freezer burn. I suggest a max of 6 months in the freezer.

  6. Sue says

    This is the recipe I was looking for. We’re down south so I found lard but not Tenderflake. Back where I’m from, Quebec and Ontario, that’s what we used. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Belinda N says

    My mom always used lard and shortening in her pie crust and they were phenomenal! Have you ever heard of this? Lost the recipe and I’m not sure of how much of the lard and shortening to use. Suggestions?4 stars

  8. Jill says

    Great post and great recipe, Karlynn — the best crust ever, imho. But I’m biased too, as an east-coaster whose grandmothers (in the east and west) made fabulous pies with lard. I love Saskatoon berry jam (!) but apple season has just begun here so . . . time to pick some apples and play dough.5 stars

  9. Jackie says

    Hi. Jackie from Ontario here .. I use my moms recipe which is very similar to yours except I use Fluffo shortening and add 2 tsp white sugar. Always turns out flaky and delicious. One thing I just started doing was using 2 1/8” dowels I got at Home Depot and set them on each side of my pastry. As long as I have the rolling pin going over them as I roll out the dough, my pastry is an even thickness for pies and tarts. I also just started using a pastry cloth and will never go without it again. I had a Tupperware pastry mat and did not like it at all. I searched Amazon for a new silicone mat and there were a lot of replies saying not to use a mat but an old fashioned pastry cloth. I had never heard of such a thing but I ended up making one for myself and love it. No more pastry sticking to mat, it’s easy to move around while rolling’s wonderful.

    • Jackie says

      Just also wanted to add that my mom always used Monarch cake and pastry flour as opposed to all purpose flour and so, of course, that is what I use as well.

    • Marilyn Carleton says

      How did you make the pastry mat? Would love to have s pastry recipe for a stand mixer as I have arthritis in my fingers.

      • Iris says

        Tenderflake is truly the best. In this recipe or the one on pkg I don’t add the full 5-1/2 c of flour. Only 5.4 stars

    • Joan riss says

      Just reading your tio above, you mention a Pastry Cloth, where did you find one what type of fabric is it? I have a Tupperware mat and agree that the pastry sticks.

  10. Jackie says

    I can’t get Tenderflake lard where I live. I use Crisco. How many cups would I use to get a pound of Crisco lard for this yummy recipe? Thanks!

    • Janis Thompson says

      Jackie, Crisco is vegetable shortening not lard. It makes a fair pie, but I agree with Karlynn and will stick with lard! There must be other makers of lard out there! Lard is not as commonly used now, I think, because it is rendered pork fat. Pure, white, tasty fat! Butter, shortening, shortening and butter mix are all good, but…! I’ve been making pies like this (the Tenderflake recipe) as taught by my Mom and my English Granny and Yankee Grandma and great uncle camp cook!! So a long history. I make the same crust for sweet and savoury and it’s the best. My humble opinion!

      • Melissa Howe says

        I use Lard and butter to make my crust. Don’t use vinegar or egg. My crust is very flaky and light. Ppl is always asking for my crust recipe. It had taken me yrs to get it where it’s just right. I’m sure many has their favorite they like to use. I don’t give mine out. I use an extra ingredient that I don tell anyone. Not even my husband. I use it for all kinds of pies. I was a baker in a large grocery store back when we actually mixed and baked everything but pies. They came in frozen even back then. I learned many things from the head baker. He was a great baker.

    • jep says

      One pound of lard converted to US cup equals to 2.21 cup US

  11. Lesia Betskal says

    I think your recipe has a typo. It says 1 teaspoon of lard.

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      This recipe has been up for 8 years so that’s really weird, it’s definitely a POUND of lard!!!

  12. Carol Reder says

    This recipe says to use 1 teaspoon of Tenderflake lard…. is this a typo?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Yah something went wonky there with the recipe card, it’s always been a POUND of lard for this recipe!

  13. Karen Joy says

    I could’ve written this!I think of my grandma e wry time I’m making pies.She taught me how.I use nothing but tenderflake lard and you do it just as I do…DO NOT OVER WORK IT!Best advice to get the super flaky crust.The only thing I’ve changed is went from making six crusts your five.It seemed like I wasn’t having enough dough to work with all of a sudden and I roll pretty thin.Weird eh?
    So now I’m off to make a saskatoon pie!love how I can relate to you and your cooking/baking so much.

  14. Amma says

    Hi Karlynn! I created an account here just to let you know I am very impressed with the recipes on your site! This is the first recipe of yours I used …. best one I have ever found for pie crust. Works awesome for meat patties as well. 😉 Tonight I am making a chicken pot pie using your crust and turkey pot pie recipes! Hubby loved it last time I made it, and believe me, he speaks his mind!
    Thanks so much for your recipes!

    Amma5 stars

  15. deborah donnelly says

    I have only made crust with this recipe ,as a new bride I got recipe from my sister-in-law,I made a meat pe for supper & my husband was sure my mother made the crust.
    I tried once to make a pie from Crisco shortening was worse thing I ever tasted .
    I use this pastry for everything from meat pies to butter tarts .
    Only thing different I add 1 tblsp of brown sugar,which makes it brown nicely & add’s flavor.
    I keep my lard in fridge & take out about an hour prior to making crust.5 stars

    • Cheryl says

      Yes! My great aunt taught my mom to make pastry using the tender flake recipe. She too added brown sugar….though think she added 3 tbsp. It is delish! ?

  16. mindy says

    I’ve used this recipe for years and just love it. The only 2 things I do differently then this here is I never chill my dough,I find it easier to roll when its at room temp. I cut back on the salt to 1 tsp as I find my dough a bit overly salty. The dough turns out perfectly every time.

  17. Cynthia Fedak says

    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.5 stars

  18. Melanie says

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

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