Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust seemed too good to be true with its promises of flaky tenderness “just like grandma used to make”.
As a time-starved home baker, I’m always looking for shortcuts to enjoy delicious homemade pies and tarts without spending hours on finicky pie dough. Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust seemed too good to be true with its promises of flaky tenderness “just like grandma used to make”. But could this convenient pre-made crust really match the flavor and texture of pie pastry made completely from scratch?
I decided to put Trader Joe’s famous crust to the test to see if it lives up to the hype.
An Easy Shortcut Crust
Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust comes neatly packaged as a roll of two flattened crust rounds weighing 14 ounces each. You simply thaw, unroll, and fill to make a classic 2-crust pie in minutes.
The ingredient list is refreshingly simple – it contains just wheat flour, butter, water, salt, and sugar. There are no hydrogenated oils or scary preservatives. TJ’s has also perfected the butter to flour ratio for an ideal tender and flaky texture.
The Proof Is in the Baking
To truly evaluate how Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust compares to my personal homemade recipe, I decided to bake two identical pumpkin pies.
For the homemade version, I used my trusted go-to recipe with:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6-8 tablespoons ice water
I prepared the dough by cutting butter into the dry ingredients, adding a spoonful of water at a time until it just came together. After chilling and rolling out, I lined a pie dish and crimped the edges.
For the second pie, I simply thawed a Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust round at room temperature for 30 minutes. I carefully unrolled it and eased it into another pie dish, trimming excess dough from the edges.
I blind baked both crusts before filling them with the same pumpkin pie filling recipe. The true comparison would be in how the crusts baked up.
Crisp, Golden Brown Beauty
Once cooled, both pie crusts were beautifully golden brown on top with a crisp sugary edge. The Trader Joe’s crust puffed up higher with more defined layers. It passed the fork test – a clean fork inserted came out clean.
First looks certainly didn’t give away which crust was homemade versus pre-made!
Flaky Layers of Pastry
Taking a slice reveals Trader Joe’s pie crust has wonderfully distinct layers just like a good homemade crust.
It flakes apart beautifully with the layers of butter nicely dispersed throughout. The texture is tender with just the right amount of richness from premium butter.
My homemade crust has slightly better crumbly crumble in texture with more pea-sized bits of pastry. But the differences are subtle.
A Worthy Substitute for Homemade
After tasting both pies, I have to admit Trader Joe’s all butter crust holds its own against my from-scratch version!
It delivers on the following qualities:
- Flakiness – Distinct layers that peel apart easily with a fork
- Tenderness – Melts in your mouth without being overly soft
- Buttery richness – Real butter flavor comes through beautifully
- Flavor – Clean, sweet taste without greasiness or artificial tastes
- Appearance – Full shapely crust with gorgeous golden browning
For a ready-made crust, I’m thoroughly impressed by how delicious Trader Joe’s version is. It’s miles ahead of other pre-made or frozen pie crusts.
Quibbles and Cons
If I’m being ultra-picky, these would be my only complaints about Trader Joe’s pie crust:
- The texture could be slightly more crumbly and crispy. My homemade crust has more distinct chunks of pastry throughout.
- Brushing egg wash on top can help the crust brown more evenly. The TJ’s crust has some pale spots.
- Frozen storage for months can make the butter seep out a bit after thawing.
- Those with food allergies should note the crust is made in a facility that uses wheat, milk, eggs and soy.
Is Trader Joe’s Pie Crust Really Worth It?
For convenience, taste and quality, Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust is absolutely worth keeping stocked in your freezer!
It delivers near homemade flavor and texture without any of the work. At under $5 for two crusts, it’s an amazing value.
I’ll still make pie pastry from scratch for special occasions when time allows. But for everyday baking, Trader Joe’s crust is perfect when you crave pie in a pinch!
Tips for Using Trader Joe’s all butter pie crust
Here are my tips for getting the best results when using Trader Joe’s pre-made pie crust:
- Always thaw the frozen crust slowly – either overnight in the fridge or at room temp for 30 mins.
- Gently unroll the crust and ease it into your pie dish. Do not stretch it or the layers will break.
- Avoid overly juicy or watery fillings that can make the crust soggy. Blind bake it first if needed.
- Brush egg wash on top and sprinkle sugar to help the crust brown evenly.
- Bake pies on a baking sheet to prevent spillovers from burning. Watch closely near the end.
- Let pies cool fully before slicing for clean slices. Use a serrated knife and gentle sawing motion.
More Delicious Ways to Use Trader Joe’s Pie Crust
Beyond pies and tarts, Trader Joe’s buttery crust opens up easy homemade treats like:
- Personal mini pot pies
- Quiches or crustless quiches
- Chicken or turkey pot pies
- Easy hand pies
- Savory Greek galettes
- Sweet fruit galettes or crostatas
You can even use it for snacks like homemade Pop Tarts! The possibilities are endless.
Trader Joe’s pre-made all butter pie crust truly delivers on its promise of homemade flavor and quality. It bakes up tender, flaky and buttery – not an easy feat for frozen pastry. I’m thoroughly convinced to keep a few boxes on hand for effortless pies on demand. If you like the taste of pie but not the work, this is your shortcut crust!