Pie Crust versus Tart Crust

July 17, 2019

Greetings fellow foodies and bakers,


'Tis the season for apple pies and fruit tarts! Summer is a perfect time for creating something light and refreshing in a form of a pie or tart. Both are similar, tasty, and equally delicious. 



What is the difference between a tart and a pie? There are 2 main differences:

Shape: Pies are taller and deeper in volume. Tarts are short, and less volume. Both are normally round, and both can also be made into squares or other fun shapes based on the pan.

Crust: Pie crust is flakey and has layers. The butter is 'cut' into the dry ingredients until pea-size butter is formed and left over in the dry ingredients. 

Tart crust is more like a shortbread cookie, more crumble-like. The butter is 'cut' into the dry ingredients until it looks like sand-like. The butter bits will be quite small and not as obvious. 


If you are thinking, what does 'cutting' in butter to dry ingredients mean?

Simply put, butter is 'rubbed' into the dry ingredients (using your hands, pastry cutter, or kitchen mixer with a paddle attachment) to create flakes and layers.

Need a super flakey layers like for pie crust or biscuits? The butter should end up pea-size.  In this case, your hands work best when mixing.

Need no layers and just a simple butter-y crust for a tart or shortbread cookie? The butter should be fully blended in the dry ingredients. In this case, using a standing kitchen mixer with a paddle attachment works best. 


What about filling?

In both, it is possibilities are endless. From seasonal fruit to chocolate based to savory ingredients, the fillings can easy be interchangeable too.

Tarts, of course, tend to hold a lower volume of the filling itself. Pies can easily be piled up with a variety of toppings, like whipped cream or egg whites. Feeling like a giant slice of something sweet? Go pie! Feeling like a small piece of something delicious? Go tart!


What is the easiest to make for a beginner?

Both have the same difficulty level, medium. The crust, the filling, and topping all have to be made separately. Choose a recipe with easy and familiar ingredients to you. 

Need a couple shortcuts? Buy pre-made pie crust. Using frozen, cut fruit. Buy topping. 


Are pie crust and tart crust ingredients the same?

Generally, yes. Both crusts are composed of all purpose flour, butter (or other fats, like shortening), sugar, and salt. Pie crust has ice cold water added. Tart crust does not. Water gives pie crust the texture it needs. Pie crust only needs enough water to hold it all together. 

Some tart crust recipes, the crust will not be mixed together 100%. It will look like streusel, thus you press it into your tart pan. Other tart crust recipes, you mix it like a sugar cookie dough and roll it out like a pie crust.  Both are tasty! 




Happy baking,





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