When it comes to Italian baking, one of the foundational recipes you need to master is Italian Pasta Frolla, what we all know as Shortcrust Pastry. This versatile buttery shortcrust pastry is the basic recipe for many classic Italian desserts, from crostata (tarts) to Torta Della Nonna. In this guide, we’ll delve into what Pasta Frolla is, how it differs from Pâte Sablée, its ingredients, and step-by-step instructions on how to make it.

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Italian Pasta Frolla in a pan

What is Pasta Frolla

Pasta Frolla, translating to “short pastry dough” in English, is an Italian pastry dough characterized by its crumbly texture and buttery flavor. It’s akin to shortcrust pastry in other culinary traditions, like Pate Sablee, a classic shortcrust pastry, and it is a versatile dough and the base for many classic desserts like this Apple Crostata.

Pasta Frolla vs. Pâte Sablée

While Pasta Frolla dough and Pâte Sablée share similarities in their ingredients and use as a pastry base, they have distinct differences. 

  • Pate Sablee calls for 60% butter compared to the flour, while Italian sweet pastry dough calls for 50%, making the French version slightly more crumbly.
  • When mixing the Pasta Frolla recipe, we mix the dough into a smooth and stretchy dough, or paste (pasta translates to paste in Italian), which is why it is very easy to handle and manipulate. Pate Sablee is made like classic pie crust by pressing (not kneading) the dough into a very tender, crumbly ball, making it harder to roll and manage. 

​For more Italian recipes, check out this Tiramisu and this Torta Caprese.


  • ’00’ pizza flour. The ’00’ flour makes a difference in this recipe, which is now very common in most grocery stores. Otherwise, use bleached all-purpose flour. 
  • Salt.
  • Baking powder. Just a pinch to help with the crumbly texture.
  • Lemon zest. 
  • Cold unsalted butter.
  • Powdered sugar. Powdered sugar is critical in this recipe and is the best type of sugar. Because it contains some potato starch, it will help with the crumbly, tender texture of the dough.
  • Whole egg
  • Vanilla bean paste. Or vanilla extract.
Ingredients to make pasta frolla

How to Make Pasta Frolla

Using the Food Processor

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and baking powder. Pulse once or twice to incorporate.
  2. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch pieces, add it to the dry ingredients, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Beat the eggs and vanilla paste, then add it to the flour mixture and process until a smooth ball of dough is formed.
  4. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, press it onto a disk, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
making italian shortcrust using the food processor

By Hand Method

  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Use a vegetable grater to grate the cold butter over the flour mixture.
  3. Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it is well incorporated and no dry flour is left. This should take about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Make a well at the center of the bowl and pour in the beaten eggs. Mix the flour into the eggs with a small spatula or a fork.
  5. Once the mixture is too thick for the spatula, use your hand to bring the ingredients together into a smooth dough.
  6. Wrap the dough with a cling film, press it into a disk, and refrigerate until used.
making italian shortcrust in a large bowl
making italian shortcrust dough

Rolling and Transferring the Dough

  1. Once chilled, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to your desired thickness. Make sure to rotate the dough 90 degrees after every one or two rolls. (At this point, you can use cookie cutters to cut into cookies and bake.)
  2. Carefully fold the dough into half, then again into a triangle.
  3. Lift the dough and place it over a tart pan so the tip of the triangle is at the center of the pan.
  4. Gently unfold the dough and use your fingers to press it into the bottom and sides of the pan.
  5. Roll the top of the pan with a rolling pin to remove any access dough. Use the dough according to the recipe instructions.
steps to roll and line a pan with italian shortcrust
hand pressing dough into a tart pan

Blind Bake

Blind baking is sometimes necessary, especially when we fill our tart shell with pastry cream, crema pasticcera, fresh fruit, or other custards. 

  • Refrigerate or freeze the tart shell lined with the Italian sweet shortcrust pastry dough for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and use a fork to prick the crust.
  • Cover the shell with parchment paper and fill it with pie crust or dry beans. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 375F (190C) for par-baked. For full bake, remove the tart from the oven, wait 5-10 minutes, remove the pie crust, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Baking time might change depending on the size and thickness of the dough. The dough is ready when it is medium golden brown for full baking or light-medium par-baked baking.
Pasta frolla in a tart shell, covered with pie weights.
Partly baked vs. fully baked italian shortcrust

Flavor Variations

Pasta Frolla can be customized with various flavorings to suit your recipe or preference. Consider adding:

  • Almond extract or finely ground almonds 
  • Replace 15% of the flour with Cocoa powder for a chocolatey twist.
  • Use orange zest instead or in addition to the lemon zest.


  • Keep all the ingredients, especially the butter, cold throughout the process to ensure a flaky and tender crust. Room temperature ingredients might result in a very sticky dough, tough dough. 
  • Don’t overwork the dough, which can result in a tough pastry. Handle it gently and stop kneading once it comes together.
  • If the dough becomes too soft or sticky while rolling, place it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up.


Raw dough can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours. If it is too hard to roll, let it warm at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before rolling.

To freeze, wrap it with plastic wrap, place it in a freeze zip bag, and freeze it for up to 6 weeks. Place in the refrigerator the night before when ready to use.

Baked dough and cookies should be stored at room temperature for up to five days. Follow the filling storing instructions if filled or frosted with a perishable filing.


Can I make Pasta Frolla in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Can I use egg yolks instead of whole eggs?

 You can, but the dough might come out. Less crumbly and harder to work with (use two egg yolks for every whole egg)

Is it possible to use a standing mixer?

Yes. Use a grated cold butter and the paddle attachment and follow the food processor’s instructions.

Why did my crust shrink during baking?

It is very natural for shortcrust and pie crusts to shrink during blink baking. Ensure there is no gap between the dough and the edges of the pan.

Italian shortcrust cookies

More Tarts Recipes You Might Enjoy

Strawberry Tart, Chocolate Tart, Almond Pear Tart

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Pasta Frolla Recipe

Italian shortcrust pastry for pies, tarts, cookies and other desserts

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta frolla
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 1 9 or 10-inch double crust
Author Dikla


  • 3 3/4 Cups '00' flour (450g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Powdered sugar (120g)
  • 1 Cup Unsalted butter, cold (225g)
  • 2 Large Whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste or extract
  • Zest Of half lemon


Food Processor Method

  1. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl of a food processor and pulse 2-3 times.

  2. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces, add it to the flour mixture, and process until the butter is now tiny pieces.

  3. Beat the eggs with the vanilla paste, add it to the butter/flour mixture, and process until a smooth dough is formed.

  4. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, press it into a disk, and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to three days.

Bowl Method

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl using a fork.

  2. Grate the butter using a vegetable grader, add it to the dry ingredients, and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture.

  3. Beat the eggs with the vanilla bean. Make a well at the center of the bowl, then pour the beaten eggs into the well.

  4. Use a spatula or a fork to gradually mix the eggs into the flour, starting from the center.

  5. Once the eggs have been incorporated into the flour mixture, use your hand to bring the dough together.

  6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, press it into a disk, and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Rolling and handling the dough

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and roll it into a 12-inch circle over a lightly floured work surface.

  2. Fold the dough in half, then again, so you will end up with a triangle.

  3. Gently lift the dough and place it over a nine-inch tart pan so the tip of the triangle is at the center of the pan.

  4. Gently unwrap the triangle, then use your fingers to press the dough into the sides of the pan.

  5. Roll your rolling pun over the top of the pan to remove dough access.

Blind Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and place a baking sheet on the bottom rack.

  2. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough, and place a piece of parchment paper on top.

  3. Fill the tart shell with pie weights or dry beans and bake for 15 minutes.

  4. Remove from the oven, and allow the tart to chill for about 10 minutes before removing the weights.

  5. Remove the pie weights, and return the tart shell to the oven for an additional 5 minutes for a par-baked crust. Or 10-12 minutes for fully baked.

  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

Recipe Notes

  • Unbaked dough can be refrigerated for up to two days.
  • To freeze, place the wrapped dough in a freezer bag and freeze for up to six weeks. When ready to use, refrigerate overnight to allow it to defrost.
  • Don’t overwork the dough; once it comes together, stop and wrap it.
  • Blind baking it for unbaked filling such as custard and fresh fruit.
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