In the work bowl of a food processor, combine 1½ cups of flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine.
Add half of the butter. Process until very crumbly and starting to ball up, about 30 seconds. Scatter in the remaining butter and the remaining 1½ cups of flour. Pulse 2 times just to distribute.
Drizzle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. Pulse a few times. Add additional water, a tablespoon at a time, as needed, and pulse once or twice after each addition. The mixture should easily stick together when squeezed, but not feel wet or dry.
Transfer the dough onto the counter and form it into a ball. Cut the ball in half and press each half into a dish. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. The disks can also be frozen for a few months and thawed in the fridge overnight before using.
Use a scale to measure your flour. This will yield the most accurate results. However, if you don’t have a scale, fluff your flour with a spoon and then spoon it into your cups before leveling it off with a knife. This method is the best way to measure flour without overpacking the measuring cup, leading to a dry and crumbly pie crust.
Processing part of the butter with part of the flour coats some of the flour with fat, helping inhibit gluten formation when mixing the flour with water. This isn’t as necessary when making a crust by hand, but it’s nice insurance in a food processor that works that dough more.
If you don’t have a food processor, combine all of the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the butter to coat with flour, and then cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or by rubbing the pieces between your thumbs and index fingers. Work it until all of the butter is in about pea-sized pieces, then stir your water in with a spatula or fork. Continue as directed in step 4.
Keep everything cold! You do not want to use room temperature water or butter. Room temperature butter will yield a hard, crunchy, and greasy pie crust instead of a tender and flaky crust. The ice water will help keep the butter cold.
Do not overwork the dough, or you’ll end up with a tough crust. You should still see specks of butter in the dough.
If your kitchen is hot, you can ice the countertops to keep the dough cold. Keeping the counters cold helps prevents the butter becomes greasy.