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Pricking chocolate tart dough in pie tins with fork on white marble surface.

How to make Chocolate Pie Crust

We all need a simple yet richly flavored chocolate pie crust. This recipe is the result of several experiments until I got what I wanted: deeply chocolate, easy to roll, good for pies, tarts, and cookies. A winner!

  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: One 9-inch tart or 6 individual tarts 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 1/4 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup (50g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, cold and in small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice water if needed (see Notes below)


In the food processor:

  1. Put dry ingredients in the bowl of the processor. Mix to combine. 
  2. Add butter cubes and pulse a few times to mix. The butter should be the size of peas, roughly. 
  3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla if using and pulse a few times until it moistens the mixture but be careful not to start making a ball. 

By hand:

  1. Put dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine. 
  2. Scatter butter cubes on top. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter into the flour until it's the size of peas. 
  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla if using and mix with a fork until it is moistened. The dough will be irregular, as it's harder to incorporate it evenly by hand. 

For both methods:

  1. Dump the shaggy mass onto a counter or working surface.
  2. Start bringing it together with your hands. At first, it will appear as though it will never bind or come together properly. But it will. 
  3. Keep turning it onto itself until you have a solid dough. 
  4. Wrap it in a plastic or freezer bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This is a crucial step for getting tender and flaky doughs. 


  • Cocoa powder: always use unsweetened. I like Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli Premium baking cocoa, and Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder. And, in my experience, the dark ones are the best (this does not apply to the super dark used for making homemade oreo cookies known as dark cocoa powder).
  • Powdered sugar: also called confectioners' sugar or icing sugar, it acts very differently than regular sugar making the crust smoother so don't substitute it.
  • Flour: I use cake or all-purpose and have great results with both. Each country tends to have its own definition of what each one should or shouldn't contain, so use the one you always do.
  • Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
  • Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works. 
  • Resting and rolling: make sure the dough is rested before rolling. And that the pie dough is softened enough to be rolled but still cold, as cold as possible.
  • Ice water: this recipe doesn't use liquid and though it might seem like the dough will never come together into a ball, it does. BUT if you make it by hand it might be harder to form into a ball as the butter distributes differently than when using the food processor. You can add ice water by teaspoons at a time (put some ice cubes in a glass, cover with water, and use the cold water) that will help everything bind together. Don't add too much that you end up with a wet dough.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Resting time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Pies & Tarts
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: International


  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 203
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 76 mg
  • Fat: 12.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20.8 g
  • Fiber: 0.9 g
  • Protein: 2.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 53.6 mg

Keywords: chocolate pie crust