Buttermilk Pie is my nominee for this year’s perfect party dessert. It’s outrageously easy, and the filling is luxuriously creamy on the inside with a lightly crackled sugar top. Despite being an old-fashioned recipe, this Southern classic doesn’t receive the notoriety it deserves.
I owe my appreciation for classic Southern desserts like buttermilk pie (and Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie) to my grammy, who often made them growing up.
Chess pie (a close relative of buttermilk pie) was one of her signatures.
If you’ve never had a classic southern buttermilk pie, please run to your kitchen and bake this recipe immediately.
It looks unassuming, but every bite is positively luscious (like the best Lemon Pie, also my grammy’s recipe).
The filling is velvety smooth and delicate with a rich, buttery flavor.
As you might imagine, it’s dynamite when eaten from a buttery, flaky pie crust.
5 Star Review
“Simple to make just like you said it would be. It was great hit with everyone that had it.”— Bill —
What is Buttermilk Pie?
Buttermilk pie is a classic, old-fashioned southern dessert that tastes like a custard pie or sugar cream pie but is SO. MUCH. EASIER. to make.
No tempering egg yolks, heating milk, or other unpleasant tasks typically associated with a custard pie are required.
- Buttermilk pie tastes similar to crème brûlée.
- It’s creamy, buttery, and delicate.
- Buttermilk pie forms a crackly lid on top. As with crème brûlée, cracking your fork through the top and into the creamy custard below is one of life’s great small pleasures.
- Buttermilk pie is made of simple pantry ingredients (like Buttermilk Cake) that you beat up in a single bowl.
Where Did Buttermilk Pie Originate?
Paula Deen and Pioneer Woman buttermilk pie were not the first.
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.
Texas residents in particular had ample access to affordable buttermilk. Residents began to turn to Texas Buttermilk Pie when fruit was out of season.
As others became familiar with this easy and delicious pie recipe, it spread across the country. Restaurants even began to offer it on their menus (Cracker Barrel buttermilk pie anyone?).
How to Make the Best Buttermilk Pie Ever
I cannot overstate how simple buttermilk pie is to make, and the results are superb.
In one of baking’s best magic acts, the filling transforms into a silky custard while the pie bakes in the oven.
The next time you need a standout dessert for a party but want to keep your prep as stress-free as possible, bake this pie. (This Strawberry Pie is another easy-to-prep favorite.)
The one fault I find with buttermilk pie is that it can be overly sweet, so I reduced the sugar in this recipe just a bit, placing it squarely in the dessert danger zone—sweet enough to make you crave more, but not sweet enough to force you to stop.
- 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. My grammy always adds it to her chess pie, and I love fresh lemon juice and zest in buttermilk pie too.
- 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.
- Fit your pie dish with the crust, fluting if you like, then chill.
The biggest rule of flaky pie crust is to keep it COLD. After shaping, be sure to pop your crust in the fridge until it’s ready to be filled.
- Make the filling: beat the eggs until mixed, then add in the dry ingredients. then the wet. Pour the filling into the chilled crust.
- Add melted butter.
- Add the buttermilk and remaining ingredients.
- Pour the filling into the crust.
- 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!
Shield pie crust with foil or add a pie crust shield as needed if the crust browns too quickly before the filling is set.
- 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.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Rolling Pin. This one helps you roll your pie crust to the perfect thickness every time.
- 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.
My Favorite Pie Pan
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Whether you’ve been baking buttermilk pie for years, or it’s a new dessert for you, I hope you’ll add it to your holiday table this year (alongside the Pumpkin Pecan Pie).
It’s unassuming and tastes outstanding. My kind of leading (dessert) lady!
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 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.
Both are rich and delicious, but if I had to pick one for the rest of my life, it would be buttermilk pie. I like the smooth tanginess from the buttermilk and find the flavor a bit more interesting.
- 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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