Buttermilk Pie is outrageously easy, with a luxuriously custard-like creamy filling and a lightly crackled sugar top. Despite being an old-fashioned recipe, this Southern classic doesn’t receive the notoriety it deserves!
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Why You’ll Love This Easy Buttermilk Pie Recipe
- An Old-Fashioned Favorite. If you’ve never had a classic Southern buttermilk pie, please run to your kitchen and bake this recipe immediately! Buttermilk pie is an easy custard pie that tastes similar to crème brûlée. It’s creamy, buttery, delicate, and delicious. I owe my appreciation for classic Southern desserts like buttermilk pie (and Sweet Potato Pie) to my grammy.
- Creamy Custard Filling, Crisp Crackly Top. In one of baking’s best magic acts, the filling transforms into a smooth, buttery custard while the pie bakes in the oven, but the top is delicate and crackly. Delightful! (This may be why you sometimes see it called “impossible buttermilk pie.”)
- Easy to Make, Simple Ingredients. Buttermilk pie is one of the easiest pies you can make and it has a short ingredient list. (Any extra buttermilk you can use for Buttermilk Cake). Unlike other custard pies (like Lemon Cream Pie), you don’t need to temper egg yolks.
- A Taste of History. Believe it or not, buttermilk pie got its start in England and was brought to America by settlers. The pie quickly became popular in the South, where buttermilk was plentiful.
5 Star Review
“Simple to make just like you said it would be. It was great hit with everyone that had it.”— Bill —
How to Make Buttermilk Pie
- Pastry Crust. A flaky, buttery crust is critical for this recipe. I love using my Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust. Scared to death of pie crust? If you opt for store bought (which would officially make buttermilk pie THE easiest pie ever), I will not judge.
- Buttermilk. It goes without saying that the key ingredient for this old-fashioned pie recipe is buttermilk. Its subtle flavor and tang are what makes this recipe so special.
- Eggs + Sugar + Butter. Once mixed and baked, these three ingredients form an impossibly creamy and delicious filling.
- Lemon Zest + Juice. For fresh, zippy flavor.
- Booze. OK, this is admittedly not a classic buttermilk pie ingredient, but it’s sooooo tasty in pie. Also, anytime I have the chance to spike the dessert (hello, Bourbon Balls), I take it.
- Vanilla. The perfect match for bourbon (or any dessert!). Use real vanilla for the best flavor.
- Nutmeg. Warm flavors and just a touch of spice. You can make buttermilk pie without nutmeg in a pinch, but I do think it’s worth including. It’s a wonderful pairing with creamy flavors.
- Prep the Crust. Chill while you make the filling.
- Start the Filling. Beat the eggs until mixed, then add in the dry ingredients.
- Add Melted Butter. Stir it in.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients. Stir those in too.
- Assemble. Pour the filling into the crust.
- Finish. Bake buttermilk pie at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes in the lower third of the oven, then transfer the pie to your oven’s center rack and continue to bake for additional 40 minutes. Let cool and ENJOY!
- To Store. Cover leftover buttermilk pie and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. If you prefer to eat your leftover pie warm, gently reheat it in the oven at 325 degrees F until warmed through.
- To Freeze. Cover the buttermilk pie very tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the day before you want to serve it.
What to Serve with Southern Buttermilk Pie
- Buttermilk Pie Toppings. While homemade whipped cream is my preference because it lets the flavor of the custard shine above all, you could also top your buttermilk pie with with blueberries or try buttermilk pie with raspberry sauce. A drizzle of melted chocolate is never a bad idea, either. Want to make a topping from scratch? Try my Cranberry Orange Sauce, Cherry Pie Filling, or Apple Cider Caramel Sauce.
- Other Pie Recipes. Set out a selection of pies for your next get-together! Pumpkin Pecan Pie and Crustless Pumpkin Pie have nice fall vibes, while Blackberry Pie is perfect for summertime.
- Southern Favorites. Make a proper Southern dinner with Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Sweet Potato Cornbread, Baked BBQ Chicken, and old-fashioned buttermilk pie for dessert.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Rolling Pin. This one is nonstick!
- Pie Plate. My go-to pie plate for fruit pies, cream pies, and every kind of pie in between.
- Mixing Bowl. I love the non-slip bottoms on this mixing bowl set.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use Actual Buttermilk. You’ll often see recipes that contain buttermilk suggest making your own using milk and a bit of lemon juice or vinegar (ahem, Banana Cake). While this easy swap works like a dream in many baked goods and savory recipes, buttermilk pie is not one of them. Since the buttermilk is the star here, I highly recommend buying the real deal for this particular recipe. It’s worth it!
- Cold Butter + Cold Crust = Flaky Perfection. The biggest rule of flaky pie crust is to keep it COLD. Use ice cold butter, ice cold water, and then after shaping, be sure to pop your crust in the fridge until it’s ready to be filled.
- Keep an Eye on the Crust. If you notice that it’s browning faster than you’d like, you can shield the pie crust with foil or add a pie crust shield. This will protect the crust from the direct heat of the oven, while still allowing the filling to bake.
- 1 unbaked whole wheat pastry crust or 9-inch pie crust of choice
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons whiskey such as bourbon, or rum, or additional 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1 small lemon)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated if possible
- Homemade whipped cream optional, for serving
- Prepare and roll out the pie crust. Transfer it to a standard 9-inch pie dish. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
- Position one rack in the center of the oven and one in the lower third. Preheat to 325 degrees F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs on low speed just until mixed. Add the sugar, flour, and salt. Mix again on low speed, just until the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Add the melted butter and mix once more.
- Add the buttermilk, whiskey, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Gently stir until combined.
- Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Slowly pour in the filling. Pour into prepared pie shell. Gently place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Carefully place the pie on its baking sheet onto the bottom third rack. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Slowly and gently transfer the baking sheet with the pie to the oven's center rack. Continue baking for 40 more minutes. You will know the pie is done when the center is set and a thin, crackly crust forms on top. Check the pie a few times as it bakes to make sure the crust isn't browning too fast. If the crust starts to become darker than you'd like, use a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil to cover and protect it. Continue baking as directed.
- Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool. You can serve it warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Top with lots of whipped cream and enjoy!
- TO STORE: Cover leftover buttermilk pie and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: If you enjoy buttermilk pie warm, you may gently reheat it in the oven at 325 degrees F until warmed through.
- TO FREEZE: Cover the pie very tightly and store it in a freezer for up to 2 months.
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Frequently Asked Questions
It may not be fully cooked, OR it may be fully cooked but not fully cooled. You want to make sure to fully let the pie cool at room temperature (at least 2 hours) before you slice it to avoid it being runny.
Most likely, you added the buttermilk (an acidic ingredient) at the same time as the other ingredients. To avoid this, add the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) to the eggs first and then add the buttermilk. This is how the recipe is written, so as long as you follow it, you will bake the best buttermilk pie.
Buttermilk pie can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. I recommend trying all three ways to see which you prefer. I’m partial to just a bit cooler than room temperature.
Buttermilk pie is sometimes confused with chess pie, but there are two major differences. Buttermilk pie is the only one of the two that uses buttermilk. Chess pie uses evaporated milk. Chess pie uses cornmeal for the thickener, while classic buttermilk pie uses flour.