What Does Cutting In Mean in Cooking?

Cutting in is a culinary term used to describe the process of incorporating solid fat, such as butter or shortening, into dry ingredients, typically flour, to create a crumbly mixture. This technique is used primarily in baking to achieve a specific texture in pastry dough, biscuits, or crumbles. By evenly distributing fat throughout the flour, pockets of air are trapped during baking, resulting in a flaky and tender finished product.

The Significance of Cutting In

The proper execution of cutting in is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Texture: Cutting in fat coats the flour particles, creating a barrier that prevents gluten development. This is essential for achieving a tender, crumbly texture in baked goods.
  2. Flakiness: The fat’s distribution forms layers within the dough. During baking, these layers melt, producing steam and creating flaky pockets in the pastry.
  3. Consistency: Cutting in ensures that the fat is evenly dispersed, leading to consistent results throughout the dough.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting In

To master the art of cutting in, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Start with Chilled Ingredients Ensure that your fat, whether it’s butter, shortening, or lard, is cold and firm. Cut it into small pieces before starting the process.

Step 2: Measure Dry Ingredients Measure the flour, along with any leavening agents, salt, or sugar, into a mixing bowl.

Step 3: Add Cold Fat Add the chilled fat to the dry ingredients in the bowl.

Step 4: Incorporate Fat Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, work the fat into the dry ingredients. Pinch and press the fat pieces until they are pea-sized and distributed evenly.

Step 5: Watch the Texture Be cautious not to overwork the mixture. The goal is to achieve a crumbly texture with visible pea-sized fat pieces throughout the mixture.

Step 6: Add Cold Liquid (if necessary) If the recipe calls for liquid, such as water or milk, add it gradually. Mix the dough just enough to bring it together, avoiding overmixing.

Step 7: Chill the Dough Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before rolling or shaping.

Use “Cut In” in a Sentence

To make the perfect biscuit dough, gently cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, ensuring a light and flaky texture when baked.


The technique of cutting in is a fundamental skill in baking that every aspiring baker should learn. From the flakiest pie crusts to the most delicate scones, mastering this art allows you to create bakery-quality treats from the comfort of your kitchen. With practice and attention to detail, you’ll be able to confidently produce a wide variety of mouthwatering pastries that will delight family and friends.