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Southern Buttermilk Pie

One of the creamiest mixtures of gooey sour and sweet, this Southern buttermilk pie, like this Buttermilk Pound Cake, is a family staple meant for every dinner gathering and holiday. If your heart beats crazy for creamy pies, have a look at my Kool-Aid Pie, Atlantic Beach Pie, and Southern Egg Pie!

A slice of Southern buttermilk pie on a white plate with a fork ready to serve.

What is the History of Southern Buttermilk Pie?

Would y’all believe me if I said that this creamy, filling pastry was a result of barren fruit trees, random pantry items, and improvising? Now, I love fruit just as much as the next girl (which you can probably tell with my Apple Pie and Banana Pudding Pie, and various others) but thank goodness, there was no fruit in the season when this pie was created! 

Smart southern settlers and farmers often used common, everyday ingredients to stretch recipes with less waste. Buttermilk happened to be one of those victorious ingredients lying around in abundance, especially in states like Texas. 

Toss a well-known, distinctly flavored ingredient like buttermilk into a regular run-of-the-mill flaky pie and there you have it. A southern classic for the ages born overnight.

A buttermilk pie sliced against a white background

What is Buttermilk and Why is It Used?

If you’ve never heard of buttermilk, you’re probably reading this and saying to yourself, ‘Forget the history of buttermilk pie…what the heck even is buttermilk, to begin with??’ 

My Southern sisters and brothers that know their way around a kitchen already understand the answer to this and can probably throw down a couple of buttermilk recipes on the spot too! 

(I can definitely teach you a thing or two about my Buttermilk Waffles and Buttermilk Fried Chicken!) 

But everyone has to walk the walk in learning new things before they can talk the talk- so I’m happy to school y’all anyways! 

Let’s get one thing noted: buttermilk is not like regular milk. It’s not supposed to be, it wasn’t meant to be, it never will be. We all love our milk (or vegan dairy choices) but there’s a time and a place for traditional milk. That place is not here in a buttermilk pie. 

You can tell when you are gulping down a glass of buttermilk by its thick, buttery, and tart flavor. You read that right. This milk gets a little bit tangy. 

But, why in the world would anyone want to add sour-tasting milk to their recipes let alone a pie? 

Just let me tell you about the wonders of buttermilk pie.

A slice of Southern pie on a white plate with a fork cutting through it to serve with whipped cream

What Does A Buttermilk Pie Taste Like?

When I say perfection on a plate, I mean perfection on a plate! Within this one pie you will experience a harmonious combination of delicate sweetness with tender tartness. Rich, creamy custard fillings couple perfectly upon golden, flaky crusts to deliver sensations of buttery goodness!

This pie not only tastes good from a physical space on your tongue, it also tastes good historically. Buttermilk pie is a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. The refreshing taste of ancestral pride and community coming together to inspire the next line of children and grandchildren is simply beautiful.

There’s nothing more nourishing than cherishing a classic recipe with people you love.

Butter and sugar being created together in a clear bowl next to a pie crust before baking.

How to Make Southern Buttermilk Pie

To start the recipe, we begin with creaming butter and sugar together. This is very similar to the beginnings of making a cake.

Pie mixture being whisked together with flour and cornstarch in a clear bowl.

However the next step involves adding room temperature ingredients to set up a custard type base. From eggs to buttermilk, those are the liquids that are involved. It may seem like a lot of liquid but it will set up if everything comes together correctly.

A pie crust filled with a pie filling before baking.

To help thicken the custard, we are using flour and cornstarch. While it will still appear pretty runny, once in the oven it will set up wonderfully.

What is the Difference Between Southern Buttermilk Pie and Chess Pie?

Oh. My. Goodness.

This question is constantly asked by people all over the states trying to pinpoint the difference between buttermilk pie and chess pie. 

Do they look very similar? Yes.

Are they both custard-based pies? You betcha. 

Do they taste somewhat the same? In a way. 

Are they the same recipe with different names? Absolutely not!! 

The presence of buttermilk is what gives buttermilk pie its unique flavor and makeup. 

Chess pie, on the other hand, prides itself in using cornmeal for its rich filling. Two very different ingredients with two very different outcomes. 

Super sweetness within a Chess Pie and tangy zest amongst a Buttermilk Pie.
When it comes to pie, it’s hard for me to discriminate. Both my Vanilla Buttermilk Pie and Chess Pie are some of my favorite pie recipes to date!

A slice of Southern custard pie being lifted before serving.

What Can I Substitute for Pie Crust?

Some people may find pies without fruity fillings to be a bit more mundane. I think those people are bonkers but to each their own. 

Now I know you reading this aren’t bonkers, but you may be serving this pie up for the first time for people who don’t believe in its goodness. If that’s the case, you can definitely get creative with the pie crusts! 

It’s always good to start at the beginning and learn how to make a pie crust.

But after you get cozy with that, you can make all sorts of the crust using doughs, cookies, crackers- the possibilities are endless! I personally love to make Graham Cracker pie crust and use it for some of my best pies! 

After you’ve set out to make your delicious crust and jumped into whisking the thick buttermilk filling together with eggs, butter, and sugar, you’ll eventually have a mini-masterpiece of your own that you can serve at any gathering! 

A slice of buttermilk pie being eaten with whipped cream on top

Do You Have to Refrigerate Southern Buttermilk Pie?

YES. Anytime a pie is made with dairy ingredients that can build up bacteria such as eggs, milk, or creams, it needs to be refrigerated. 

You should be fine leaving a freshly baked buttermilk pie out at room temperature for a few hours. But I wouldn’t go past a day of letting it sit out. The easiest way to store it in the fridge is either inside an airtight container or with plastic foil lightly covering the top. 

Your pie should last around 2-3 days in the fridge after being safely stored.

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4.19 from 16 votes

Southern Buttermilk Pie

One of the creamiest mixtures of gooey sour and sweet, this Southern buttermilk pie is a family staple meant for every dinner gathering and holiday.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 400kcal
Author Jocelyn Delk Adams

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature and beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 8 inch pie crust

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5-6 minutes until light.
  • Gradually add eggs and vanilla paste, mixing until incorporated.
  • Add flour, cornstarch, salt, then buttermilk; mix well.
  • If using homemade crust, roll out one disk into the pie plate. Fork-poke the crust, line with parchment, and fill with pie weights. Pre-bake for 10 minutes, then remove weights and parchment. Optionally, brush crust with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tsp water).
  • Pour filling into crust. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350°F and bake for 60-70 minutes. Turn off oven; let pie sit inside for 30 minutes until golden brown and knife comes out clean. Cover crust with shield or foil if browning too fast.

Notes

It is essential that all of your ingredients are room temp so that the pie sets up properly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Sugar: 40g

Recipe Rating




Elisa

Friday 22nd of December 2023

Sorry wrong name—Joycelyn:) ❤️

Jocelyn Delk Adams

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

Hi this is Jocelyn here. Everything must totally be room temperature or the custard won't set up correctly. It may be too cold still.

Elisa

Friday 22nd of December 2023

Hi Brandi

My pie batter is lumpy and I already threw out one batch for the same reason. I know this is a temperature issue and can happen when tempering eggs….this is what it looks like. I thought all of my ingredients were room temp? The buttermilk was out of the fridge the shortest amount of time so I would guess it was still too cold? It’s winter and prob 68 degrees inside so maybe I underestimated the items being room temperature? Any idea what I did wrong? The batter tastes amazing so im sure the pie will be delicious if I can just get the room temperature issue correct! Thank you!

Kristen

Saturday 11th of November 2023

Looks delicious! Beautiful photos!

Brandi Crawford

Sunday 12th of November 2023

Thank you!