The Surprising Reason You Should Add Vodka To Your Pie Crust

Anyone who has made a pie crust from scratch knows that it can be a tricky pastry to work with and get just right. After all, no one wants a wet, chewy, or dense homemade pie, do they? But making one that's light, flaky, and perfectly tender can be difficult to achieve without overworking the dough and making it tough. Fortunately, adding vodka to your list of ingredients can help make your homemade pie crust turn out practically perfect every time.

According to Serious Eats, vodka is something of a secret weapon for amazing pie crust. Eighty proof vodka is made up of just 60% water and 40% alcohol which makes it a great substitute for water in pie crust. The reason vodka is such a great addition to pie crust is that it does not cause gluten to develop when mixed with flour, according to Cook's Illustrated. Related to eliminating the toughness that overworked water-based dough can develop, vodka can also make the dough easier to roll out, as you can use more liquid overall. And, no, it shouldn't get too soggy, because alcohol will cook out of the dough more quickly than plain old water.

You can use other kinds of liquor, too

The heat of the oven that bakes the pie crust also causes the alcohol from the vodka to evaporate out of the mixture rather quickly, as Cook's Illustrated reports. While the alcohol doesn't completely disappear from the pastry, enough departs that the vodka cannot be tasted by most people. That's precisely why you can use other kinds of liquor in your pie crusts, too. 

To demonstrate the versatility of alcohol-based pie crusts, Cook's Illustrated tested crusts made with rum, whiskey, and gin instead of vodka. All of them made for great-tasting and flaky pastries without any lingering flavors of alcohol or odd textures. This means that, even if you don't typically keep vodka at your house, you can use a different liquor that you do happen to have on hand. Just make sure to use a spirit that's 80 proof for the best results.