Buttermilk Pie Recipe
This buttermilk pie is easy to make and boasts a slightly tangy, slightly sweet filling that is smooth and creamy, with a lightly crackled sugary top. This classic, old-fashioned Southern recipe doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves; give it a try the next time you want something different for dessert!
It may seem shocking but I had not seen a buttermilk pie recipe until nearly a decade ago. Not growing up in Texas (where it is wildly popular), I was surprised to find a whole new baking world using one of my favorite ingredients. I love the moist, subtle tang that buttermilk gives to baked goods, and use it constantly. (My buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk waffles are both on weekly rotation here!)
The deal was sealed when I realized that this dessert’s hallmark is a burnt, crackly crust like creme brûlée.
Creme brûlée is one of the great loves of my life. I needed to try this immediately.
What is buttermilk pie?
Originally made popular in the United Kingdom, buttermilk pie came to the U.S. by settlers in the south. Since buttermilk is easy to come by in various climates, for very little money, it quickly became a staple. It is often confused with a classic Chess Pie (which includes cornmeal) or a sugar cream pie (which has cooked filling prior to baking), but it is just as delicious!
Passed down for generations, recipes for buttermilk pie have been tweaked and mastered, remaining one of the first custard pies many in the south learn to bake. The sugar topping here is what blows my mind. The snap of the crème brulee-style crust, with the smooth custard base is absolutely incredible. Adding a creamy dollop of whipped cream makes it even more luxurious.
How to make buttermilk pie
The beauty of custard-based pies is that they are super simple to make after you get your crust together. Though the dough prep process may feel intimidating, I have some tips posted below, and I promise it is worth it!
- Start with your pie dough and get it into the fridge. (This is the best pie crust I’ve ever used, and it’s great with this buttermilk pie.)
- Let chilled dough get to room temperature for about 10 minutes, then roll out into a 12-inch circle.
- Lay dough into your pie plate and put back in the fridge for 40 minutes. After that, the plate heads into the freezer for 20 more minutes.
- Par-bake your dough, using pie weights. (If you are new to that process, check out my post about how to blind bake pie crust!)
- While blind baking the crust, prep your custard filling.
- Once the crust is parbaked, turn the oven down to 300 degrees and pull the oven rack out slightly with the door ajar. Pour the custard into the hot pie crust and bake for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, pull the oven rack out again. Add sugar on the top and bake for 30-40 minutes, until your center is slightly jiggly with a crispy top and edges.
- Cool for 30 minutes and chill for at least three hours before serving!
Substitutions and variations
This is a fundamentally basic pie in terms of ingredients. What that means is that it works for various seasons, holidays, and ingredients. Here are some ideas for ways to jazz up this buttermilk pie recipe.
- Add a bit of lemon or orange zest to the filling for some citrus zing.
- Add blueberries to the base of the crust prior to pouring over the buttermilk, and you’ll have an incredible summer dessert.
- The tang of buttermilk is enhanced with a small amount of vinegar. If you prefer a little less tang, then you can omit the vinegar.
- Include espresso or raw cocoa powder into the custard to bring more flavor.
- If you are looking for less real dairy, vegan buttermilk replacements are available, and you can even make your own with only a few ingredients.
Storing tips and tricks
Buttermilk pie does best when refrigerated and should be covered (unless you’re sneaking a bite at 12am!).
During the holidays, I like to prepare as much as possible in advance, including pies! This pie can be made ahead through one of two options:
- Freezing a baked pie: This is riskier than the alternative option, but it can be done! After letting the pie completely cool, put it in the fridge for an hour (make sure it sets completely to avoid getting a sad, drippy pie!). After that hour, wrap the top of the dish completely with plastic wrap, and aluminum foil as airtight as possible.
- Preparing buttermilk pie in advance: Instead of baking, wrap the dough and put it in the freezer. At the same time, freeze the filling in an airtight container (make sure it is something easy to scrape out!).
- Mark the date: Whether stored as a whole pie or just the components – eat it up within three months!
Love buttermilk? Me too! Here are some of my favorite recipes using it!
- Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits
- Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake
- Buttermilk Doughnuts
- The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
I would absolutely love it if you tried this buttermilk pie for dessert soon! If you do, please stop back and leave a rating and let me know how you liked it! ENJOY! 😍
Buttermilk Pie Recipe
For the Pie Crust:
- 1¼ cups (156.25 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
For the Filling:
- ¾ cup (150 g) + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) salt
- 2 eggs
- 5 egg yolks
- 1¾ cups (420 ml) buttermilk
- ¼ cup (59.5 ml) heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- Make the Pie Crust: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground (about 5 to 6 pulses). Add the chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 10 pulses). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir the mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Let the chilled dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the dough to a pie plate and fold any overhanging dough underneath itself so the edge of the dough is flush with the outer edge of the pie plate. Crimp edges as desired. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate for 40 minutes, then place in the freezer for 20 minutes. While the crust is in the freezer, adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line the chilled pie plate with two pieces of parchment paper, allowing the parchment edges to hang over the edges of the pie crust. Fill the lined pie crust with pie weights, place on a lined baking sheet and bake on the lower-middle oven rack until lightly golden around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights, rotate the baking sheet and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown, 5 to 7 more minutes. Brush the surface of the hot crust with the egg white and bake for an additional 1 minute.
- Make the Pie Filling: While the crust is baking, prepare the pie filling. In a large bowl, whisk together ¾ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk to thoroughly combine. Add the buttermilk, heavy cream, melted butter, white vinegar and vanilla extract, and whisk until completely combined.
- Once the crust is done, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. If the pie filling has been sitting for a few minutes, give it a short whisk to recombine, then transfer to a 4-cup measuring cup (or other large bowl/cup with a spout). Leaving the pie crust in the oven (just slide the oven rack out a bit), carefully pour the filling into the hot pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Again, leaving the pie crust in the oven and just sliding the oven rack out, sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the top of the pie. Continue to bake until the center jiggles very slightly when the pie is shaken, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Once the oven comes to temperature, place the pie on the upper-middle rack and bake until the top is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place the pie plate on a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
- I use and recommend this pie plate.
- You can substitute my all-butter crust, best-ever pie crust, or your favorite pie crust recipe (or store-bought, if you must) for the one listed above.
- You can omit the vinegar if you want to cut the tanginess a bit.
- I recommend my homemade whipped cream recipe for topping this pie.
- Storage: Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
[Photography by Dee Frances]