Buttermilk Pie Recipe: A Classic Southern Dessert

Introduction to Buttermilk Pie


Buttermilk pie is a traditional Southern dessert known for its smooth, custard-like filling and flaky crust. It’s a simple yet indulgent treat that combines the tangy flavor of buttermilk with the sweetness of sugar and the richness of eggs. This pie is often associated with comfort food and family gatherings, making it a cherished recipe passed down through generations.

History of Buttermilk Pie

However, it was in the American South that buttermilk pie truly found its home. During times when resources were scarce, Southern cooks turned to buttermilk, a readily available ingredient, to create this delicious dessert. Over time, it became a staple in Southern cuisine, celebrated for its simplicity and comforting flavors.

Essential Ingredients and Variations

Key Ingredients

The magic of buttermilk pie lies in its simplicity. Here are the key ingredients that form the heart of this comforting dessert:

  • Buttermilk: The star ingredient, buttermilk, provides a tangy flavor and creamy texture that sets this pie apart. It’s the acidity in buttermilk that reacts with the other ingredients to create the pie’s signature taste.
  • Eggs: Eggs are crucial for giving the pie its custard-like consistency. They help thicken the filling and add a rich, smooth texture.
  • Sugar: Sugar balances the tanginess of the buttermilk and adds sweetness to the pie. It’s essential for creating the perfect flavor profile.


  • Lemon or Vanilla Flavoring: Adding a bit of lemon zest or vanilla extract can enhance the pie’s flavor, giving it a refreshing citrus note or a warm vanilla essence.
  • Adding Fruit or Nuts: For a bit of texture and added flavor, consider folding in some fresh berries, sliced peaches, or chopped nuts into the filling before baking.

Step-by-Step Recipe Guide


Before diving into the baking process, there are a couple of important steps to ensure your buttermilk pie turns out just right:

  • Preparing the Pie Crust: Start with a homemade or store-bought pie crust. If you’re making your own, roll out the dough and gently place it into a 9-inch pie dish. Crimp the edges for a decorative touch.
  • Preheating the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). A properly preheated oven is crucial for even baking and achieving the perfect texture.

Mixing the Filling

Now, it’s time to mix together the key components of your pie filling:

  • Combining Wet and Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, and melted butter until smooth. If you’re adding flavorings like lemon zest or vanilla extract, mix them in at this stage.
  • Tips for a Smooth Mixture: Ensure that all your ingredients are at room temperature to avoid lumps in the filling. Whisk gently but thoroughly to fully incorporate the ingredients without incorporating too much air.

Baking and Cooling

With your filling mixed and your pie crust prepared, it’s time to bake:

  • Baking Time and Temperature: Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes, or until the center is set but still slightly wobbly. The pie will continue to set as it cools.
  • Cooling and Setting: Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack. This step is crucial for the filling to set properly and for the flavors to meld. Once cooled, refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serving and Storage

Serving Suggestions

Buttermilk pie is a versatile dessert that can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some tips for serving:

  • Accompaniments and Garnishes: Serve the pie with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for added richness. A sprinkle of fresh berries or a dusting of powdered sugar can also enhance the presentation and flavor.
  • Serving Temperature: While buttermilk pie can be served at room temperature, chilling it in the refrigerator before serving can provide a refreshing contrast to its creamy texture, especially on warm days.

Storage Tips

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and flavor of your buttermilk pie:

  • Refrigeration and Shelf Life: Once cooled, cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freezing and Reheating: Although buttermilk pie is best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze it for longer storage. Wrap the pie tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. When ready to serve, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then bring it to room temperature or gently reheat it in the oven.
  1. What are the ingredients in a buttermilk pie? The typical ingredients for a buttermilk pie include buttermilk, eggs, sugar, butter, flour (for thickening), and a pie crust. Optional flavorings like vanilla extract or lemon zest can be added for extra taste.
  2. What’s the difference between a chess pie and a buttermilk pie? Both chess pie and buttermilk pie are Southern custard pies, but the main difference lies in their ingredients. Chess pie usually contains cornmeal and vinegar, which are not found in buttermilk pie. Buttermilk pie, as the name suggests, uses buttermilk for its distinct tangy flavor.
  3. What does a buttermilk pie taste like? Buttermilk pie has a creamy, custard-like texture with a tangy yet sweet flavor, thanks to the buttermilk. It’s rich and smooth, with a balance of sweetness and a subtle hint of tanginess.
  4. Why won’t my buttermilk pie set? If your buttermilk pie isn’t setting, it might be due to underbaking or an incorrect ratio of eggs to liquid. Make sure to bake the pie until the center is set but still slightly wobbly, and double-check your recipe to ensure the right proportions of ingredients.


In conclusion, buttermilk pie is a timeless dessert that epitomizes Southern comfort food. Its creamy, tangy filling and flaky crust make it a favorite for any occasion, from family gatherings to holiday feasts. By following the tips and variations outlined in this article, you can create a buttermilk pie that’s sure to impress. So, go ahead and embrace the simplicity and charm of this classic dessert – your taste buds will thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *