Old-fashioned buttermilk pie features farm-fresh ingredients like eggs, milk, buttermilk and lemons, all carefully crafted together into one delicious pie. Our buttermilk pie recipe showcases a tangy, luscious custard filling that’s spiced with cozy cinnamon and baked into a flaky, tender pie crust. Serve up a slice of this classic old-fashioned buttermilk pie at your next social gathering.
What is buttermilk pie?
With a conversation-starting history as rich as the pie itself, buttermilk pie is a custard pie that’s strongly associated with southern cuisine. The pie hails from the era of “desperation pies,” pies that came about during the Great Depression and World War II when ingredient rationing was necessary and only the simplest staple ingredients were available to cooks.
Ingredients for Buttermilk Pie
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour gives the pie crust a strong structure and thickens the custard filling.
- Shortening: Shortening makes for a flaky, tender and manageable pie dough.
- Sugar: Sugar sweetens the custard filling and creates a soft texture.
- Eggs: To create the silkiest custard possible, bake with room-temperature eggs. They’ll mix with the filling ingredients better than cold eggs would.
- Buttermilk: A rich, tangy buttermilk is the star of the show in this buttermilk pie recipe. We don’t recommend swapping it out for any other type of milk.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon adds a subtle coziness and warmth to the pie. Feel free to add other fall spices to dress up the pie as you see fit.
- Lemon juice: A hearty splash of lemon juice gives this buttermilk pie recipe some much-needed brightness.
Step 1: Make the pie dough
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly and the shortening pieces are pea sized. Gradually stir in the milk and egg.
Step 2: Roll out, and shape
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the crust to 1/2 inch beyond the rim of the plate, and flute the edge.
Editor’s Tip: Get fancy with your fluting, and learn how to make decorative pie crusts.
Step 3: Create the filling
In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon juice.
Pour the filling into the crust.
Step 4: Bake
Bake the pie until the center is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack. Serve the pie or place it in the refrigerator within 2 hours. If desired, top each slice with whipped cream and fresh berries.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar: Want a simpler topping than whipped cream and berries? Dust slices with a fine coating of confectioners’ sugar.
- Garnish with other toppings: Transform this buttermilk pie recipe for the holidays! Omit the garnish of berries, and instead sprinkle the pie with candied pecans or sugared cranberries.
- Swap for a different crust: For a lovely contrast to the silky-smooth custard filling, try baking this pie with a crunchy crumb crust. There are a ton of genius crumb crust ingredients to choose from, like graham crackers, Nilla wafers, gingersnaps and even crushed ice cream cones.
How to Store Buttermilk Pie
To store, cover the buttermilk pie tightly in storage wrap, and keep it in the fridge for up to three days. You could also store slices of the pie in an airtight container in the fridge.
Can you freeze buttermilk pie?
No, we do not recommend freezing buttermilk pie. If you know how to freeze a pie, you’ll know that custard-based pies do not freeze very well.
Buttermilk Pie Tips
What’s the difference between chess pie and buttermilk pie?
The difference between chess pie and buttermilk pie is their ingredients. Chess pie filling contains vinegar and cornmeal, while buttermilk pie uses buttermilk and sometimes cinnamon.
Why did my buttermilk pie not set?
Your buttermilk pie may not have set if you didn’t let it cool completely to room temperature. Custard-based pies continue to cook after coming out of the oven, so digging in during this precious setting time can be detrimental.
Another potential cause for a pie not setting is if you underbaked it. To test if your pie is done, gently shake it in the pie plate. The filling should be mostly set with a tiny bit of wiggling in the middle.