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.
What to Serve with Buttermilk Pie
Sauces & Dressings
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
Sauces & Dressings
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Cherry Pie Filling
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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I have two buttermilk pies in the oven right now. My house smells heavenly! I will definitely try it with bourbon next time. I’m also thinking about Rum Chata too. I think that would be super yummy, but now I’m concerned about this separating issue…… I didn’t know it would do that. Thanks for sharing! I’m trying your recipe next!
Buttermilk pie is one of the best, most wonderful smells, and your idea about playing around with different liquors I think sounds wonderful. Just don’t exceed the amount in the recipe, and I think you’ll be just fine!
Swooon hardly says it! I just made and we ate straight away this wonderful pie. I have always thought bourbon belonged in especially Christmas puddings, etc. and this did the trick in a different and delicious way. It couldnt be easier. I too cut back a bit on the sugar but there was enough to leave a little sugar crisp on top. This will surely show up more than holidays now. (It will be the cause for even more Aqua Zumba classes but I love them anyway!)
Barbara, I am so incredibly happy to hear this! And pie is definitely worth an extra trip to Aqua Zumba :-) Thanks so much for taking time to let me know how it turned out!
Just made this pie and it looks great. Will taste it later today with company. Can’t wait!!
Thank you for taking the time to try this recipe, Heather! I hope you enjoyed it!
this recipe does not say to bake the crust before pouring the filling in…should the crust be pre-baked?
Hi Laurie! No, you do not need to bake the crust first. I hope you love the recipe!
Erin, thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!
I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was a hit and very delicious.
This pie is easy to make, has the perfect balance of flavors, and isn’t too sweet. I’m making it again this Saturday for our second Thanksgiving!
We’re non white-sugar eaters and splurged for the holiday. Perhaps at a later time, I’ll try stevia or monk fruit with a “0” Glycemic index.
Great recipe, thank you again!
I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit, Nicole! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!
First time ever making this pie, and also the first time eating it, I must say I follow the recipe, and it was a hit, my 24 year old son liked it, he is a hard one to please…lol.,thanks again for the recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Mable! I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit!
The pie is good, good texture and flavor. Except the lemon overpowers the whole thing. It’s very strong lemon for a delicate flavor like buttermilk. Next time I’ll use the zest of one lemon but omit the tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice.
I’m happy you enjoyed the recipe, Roni! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!
I made a batch  using the mini Graham Cracker Crust for the pies…I wanted to share this idea with my Gluten-Free neighbors. I did not have any Bourbon. It took 45 minutes and taste like a Lemon Pie. Workers nearby asked my husband what kind of Bread was the wife making ( -:
Thanks for taking the time to share your results, Carol! I hope the recipe was a hit!
Mom made great buttermilk pies so I had to find a recipe for one. This one looked good and proved to be great! I did, however alter things a bit based on what I had on hand. I had a big canister of turbinado sugar which is much courser than regular granular sugar and did not have regular burbon but had a bottle of Grand Marnier. The turbinado sugar worked out quite well. The orange flavor of the Grand Marnier turned out to be absolutly perfect. Seems as though if you splash a bit much Grand Marnier into the mix by accident, there is absolutely no harm done! Really appreciate this recipe and getting ready to make a third pie.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, James! Thank you for sharing this kind review and your adaptations!
I used a store frozen crust and added a tablespoon of cornmeal to the batter since I’ve used it with other buttermilk pie recipes and enjoy the crust it makes on top! This recipe was much more flavorful and well-rounded than others I’ve had, (probably because they didn’t include the wonderful addition of whiskey, lemon zest, or nutmeg)! I had some sweet southern Tennessee Honey on hand, and I think it worked perfectly for this. Next time I bake this, I might try a blend of lemon AND orange zest to see how that tastes. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
This pie recipe was beautiful, aromatic, and leaves everyone wanting more! Honestly it’s so easy too!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Iris! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
I’m from the south… never in my life have I had a buttermilk pie! But I made this one tonight! Just came out of the oven and I’m anxious to try it…especially since I made a little boo boo with the lemon juice (added all of it from the small lemon ??♀️??♀️) I was able to scoop some out and added some extra vanilla. So it may be more lemony zesty than it was intended. But it smells divine. We shall see! ??♀️? I’m excited to taste it. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
I hope you enjoy the pie, Sara!
Sounds great Erin, can’t wait to make it. I love European type desserts for their simplicity and just enough but not too much going on! That was supposed to be a compliment btw…. Just wondering if I can do the buttermilk the same way I do other recipes that call for buttermilk – 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice per cup of milk? I’m betting you will say it’s too important an ingredient in this pie to wing it like that but just thought I’d ask! Thank you!
Trish, I am afraid you nailed it—the lemon juice + milk trick is great for baked goods, but for the star title of this recipe, you do need actual buttermilk. I promise it is worth it!
Hi Erin! I made this for Thanksgiving and it was great! A little too sweet but hopefully that’s an easy fix (remove the 2 TBSP sugar). When it came out of the oven, I had a pool of clarified butter on top; in the middle fortunately, so I actually used the turkey baster to remove it lol! About 1 TBSP I took off. Any idea how/why this happened? It’s a delicious pie I’ll make again, either way.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Patricia! Unfortunately, it’s so hard for me to say what might’ve happened without being in the kitchen with you. I hope it goes even better next time though!
I made this pie. It was simple to make just like you said it would be. It was great hit with everyone that had it. Thank you. Can this be made into tarts? If so how long should it be baked for?
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Bill! Thank you for sharing this kind review! I have only tested the recipe as written, so it would be a complete experiment. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!
Do you think this recipe would work as written with a graham cracker crust?
Hi Amy! While I haven’t tried it myself, another reader has reported success with it. If you decide to experiment with it too, I’d love to hear how it goes!
It came out perfect the first time; loved that it did not use 2-3 cups of sugar. Nutmeg and whiskey definitely round out the flavor.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Claudia! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
We use a propane gas oven. @ 325 this pie took 1.5 hours to bake. I’ve copied the recipe and put a note :400 for 5 minutes for crust (homemade, cuz always) then remove drop temp to 350 put in filling then put in oven bottom rack for 20. Move up to middle for 40.
This should work for us.
Thanks for sharing your results and tips, Brandon!
This has become my “go-to” summer hostess pie. I’ve made it twice already. I used less sugar the second time and added thinly sliced strawberries and blackberries on the top for decoration and a note of freshness. Love it!
Hi SK! Yay! So happy you enjoy the pie! Thank you for this kind review!
Easy and delicious! This will become a staple at our house!!
Hi Lori! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Would maple syrup or honey work to substitute sugar? I’m looking for a recipe with no refined sugar but not sure how that would affect the flavor and texture?
Hi Lilly! I’ve only tested this recipe as written, so I am unable to advise if either of those substitutions would work. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!
I made this recipe the other day and it is fabulous. My husband, however, does not like nutmeg. Feeling the need to add something in its place, I thought about cinnamon. That didn’t seem like a good replacement, so I decided, why not think outside the box a little. So, I added cumin. Not the full 1/8 teaspoon as indicated for nutmeg, but 3 or 4 good dashes of it. It was amazing!
Hi Melinda! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and feedback on the cumin!
Hello, I want to try this recipe but was wondering if using spiced rum instead would work?
Thanks in advance
Hi Misty, yes that should work. Hope you enjoy the pie!
I was actually wondering about rum extract?