This classic Southern Buttermilk Pie starts with the creamiest custard filling made with rich tangy buttermilk and flavored with wonderful vanilla bean essence which bakes in an all butter crust! Pure pie perfection! If you love my Honey Pie, Shoofly Pie, Classic Chess Pie , Toasted Coconut Pie, and MapleChess Pierecipe, the custardy filling of this Egg Pie, gooey inside of my Pecan Pie or even my Gooey Butter Cake, you will adore the texture of this wonderful pie!
CLASSIC SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK PIE RECIPE
There is seriously nothing in the world that gives me the joy of keeping my family traditions. Our traditions come in many forms but the most prevalent are the recipes we share. For generations we have imagined, developed and shared countless recipes, most of which I learned to make in my Big Mama’s Mississippi kitchen.
As the holiday season approaches, my excitement revolves around the thought of a table crowded with dishes I’ve enjoyed for as long as I can remember. Fried Turkey, Mama’s Macaroni and Cheese, Collard Greens and so much more fill the table. However, the best part of it all is family. Generations of mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, uncles, aunts and cousins gather around to cook and eventually eat all the familiar flavors of our past.
Today I’d love to share with you one of my favorite traditional family recipes. Two words: Buttermilk Pie. No holiday season is complete without it. The rich, creamy custard along with the tart taste of fresh buttermilk are what this pie is known for. It’s incredibly crunchy topping coupled with a smooth textured filling make each bite complex and delicious.
Some people get Chess pie and Buttermilk pie confused with each other, but there is a difference in how they are made. Only buttermilk pie uses buttermilk where chess pie does not. Chess pie also uses corn meal as one of the ingredients where buttermilk pie does not. Both pies are delicious Southern classics but personally, I prefer that irresistible buttermilk tang.
WHAT IS BUTTERMILK PIE?
Just as with almost every other food, Buttermilk Pie carries its own rich history. Vinegar pie, buttermilk pie, mock apple pie—where the filling, rather than being made of seasonal fruit, is made of mashed up and seasoned crackers—are known as “make-do,” pies. They’ve been part of the American culinary tradition since the beginning of the country, when resourceful farming families put together dessert with whatever they had on hand.
Buttermilk Pie is believed to have been invented in England. The recipe was brought to the United States by Southern settlers. It was predominately made in Texas where they were very resourceful with buttermilk because it was in large abundance and inexpensive. When fruit was not in season, this pie could be made all year round with ingredients from the pantry.
The buttermilk pie recipe itself comes from my grandmother “Big Mama”, the matriarch of my family. Since I was a little girl Big Mama always taught me the importance of understanding our past through carrying on tradition. She dedicated her time to taking me into the kitchen and walking me through the same cakes and pies her grandmother taught her. We shared what we made with family or simply sat and enjoyed them together. Baking with my Big Mama taught me patience, skill and most of all, true joy. To this day I carry the values I learned in that kitchen with me so that they may be passed on to my children. The recipes we make are more than just food; they represent those before us who valued the importance of love and family.
WHAT IS BUTTERMILK PIE MADE OF? BUTTERMILK PIE INGREDIENTS
Because Buttermilk Pie starts with a wonderful custard, the key ingredients are:
- Butter (I always use unsalted to control salt content, plus it is fresher!)
- Granulated Sugar
These are the key ingredients in the custard base of this custard. Eggs are crucial for this custard because they will build the structure for this pie and create the wonderful texture we want!!
IS BUTTERMILK PIE SUPPOSED TO BE RUNNY?
Absolutely not! This happens when you don’t start with ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS! It is key that your typically cold ingredients like your eggs and buttermilk are not right out of the fridge. Your PIE WILL NOT SET UP!
BUTTERMILK PIE CRUST RECIPE
This really comes down to personal preference. If you love the buttery flakiness of a classic All Butter Pie Crust, definitely use this recipe for my Pie Crust. I use this crust for a ton of my pies like my Sweet Potato Pie, Peach Cobbler and Chocolate Pie.
If you love the crunch and simplicity of a cookie crust, definitely use this recipe for my Graham Cracker Crust! I use it religiously for recipes like my Key Lime Pie and Kool-Aid Pie.
BUTTERMILK PIE VERSUS CHESS PIE
If you are a chess pie lover, you will love Buttermilk pie! They are essentially cousins. With both being a custard based pie, the only real difference is chess pie contains cornmeal giving it a very distinct flavor difference.
This year, I have truly felt the need to understand more about my family’s history, so I’ve partnered with Ancestry to do so. Ancestry gives people the best tools to discover a deeper family story because of their dedication to generational heritage.
I must tell you about my seriously new favorite feature: AncestryDNA Traits. It is so cool! It connects us users with our family history in more detail. It includes 18 traits experiences that help us discover even more about ourselves. Think appearance traits like eye color, hair color, hair type, skin pigmentation and even earwax type or even things like what we like to eat! I think that’s my favorite detail!
Also the new “Around the World” feature will link back to your traits on a more global scale. Not only can you connect to immediate family and to those who lived before you here in the United States but you can also connect with those around the world who have influenced the traditions you adhere to today.
If you want to gift your family with the opportunity to learn more about their traits this holiday season, definitely head to Ancestry.com on Cyber Monday or during the incredible holiday sale and purchase a kit that includes the Traits option. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
So as you slice into my Big Mama’s Buttermilk Pie recipe, and enjoy your own families delectable dishes around your holiday table, take a second to reflect on the many people came together to make each recipe possible.
Vanilla Buttermilk Pie Recipe
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature and beaten
- 1 tbsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 pie crust in pie plate
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Add butter and sugar to bowl of your stand mixer and beat together until light on medium speed for about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the eggs and vanilla paste in increments and mix together until incorporated.
- Next add flour, cornstarch and salt then buttermilk and mix until well combined.
- If using my pie crust recipe, roll one of the disks out into the pie plate then use a fork to poke holes along the sides and bottom of the pie crust. Line the pie crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights, making sure the weights are evenly distributed around the pie dish. Pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper/pie weights. If you would like, you can brush some egg wash on the outside of the crust as well (just take 1 egg and whisk together with a teaspoon of water).
- Pour pie filling into pie crust shell and bake at 400F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and bake for 60-70 additional minutes then turn off the oven and allow to sit in oven for 30 minutes. Pie should turn a nice golden brown and a knife inserted should come out clean. If you find that the crust is browning too quickly, add a pie shield or foil on the outside halfway through the bake.
Jenny Danielson says
Hi Jocelyn, should the pie shell be unbaked or par baked before filling? Thank you!
Been trying out various buttermilk pie recipes and this one is by far the best! Number 1, it had vanilla! Others had lemon extract and that is just WRONG! Number 2, it is very specific about how to mix it up. Without these instructions you might be tempted to stir this pie up with whisk and that just doesn’t work. My pies would separate and have some runniness. This is the very best buttermilk pie recipe I have found and I highly recommend it!
Thank you for a buttermilk pie recipe that doesn’t have lemon juice in it! I can’t wait to make this
Kathy Hudson says
While researching “best” Buttermilk Pies, I found you!
As a Ms girl myself, I loved hearing about your Big Mama because some of us are so blessed to have those grandparents that teach us those traditions we love so much. Mine was actually my grandpa. He was the baker and cook when home from the Merchant Marines.
What part of Ms did your Big Mama live?
I’m near the coast in Lucedale but the Delta would be my next choice. For some reason it grabbed my heart a few years ago and the people there are so resilient and special I can’t even describe it.
I’ll be hunting up your cookbooks and I hope you stay safe and healthy
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
Hi Kat, my Big Mama lived in Winona, MS. Are you familiar with it?