Christmas / Desserts / Holidays / Pies / Thanksgiving

Southern Buttermilk Pie

This creamy, dreamy Southern Buttermilk Pie recipe is a no-fail dessert that’s perfect for the holidays, or any day! Everyone will rave about the sweet, old-fashioned custard and flaky homemade crust.

Close-up shot of a pie with a slice removed, showing the texture of the custard.

An Old-Fashioned Holiday Pie Recipe

What’s your favorite pie in the lineup? Pumpkin, pecan, or maybe a classic apple pie? For me, they’re all winners, but I have to admit, there’s a special place in my heart (and/or stomach) for the creamy custard of a good buttermilk pie.

This Southern delicacy might sound a bit strange if you’ve never tried it, but trust me, it is ah-mazing! Ultra-creamy buttermilk is the base for a custard that’s somehow light and thick, yet soft and sturdy, all at the same time.

It’s as sweet as, well, pie, thanks to a generous amount of sugar and a splash of vanilla, but balanced by the tanginess of the buttermilk, and a little bit of lemon juice, too.

overhead shot of black plate with buttermilk pie cut into 4 slices and dusted with powdered sugar.

Is Buttermilk Pie the Same as Chess Pie?

Well, sort of! Buttermilk pie is considered a type of chess pie, since it is made with both custard (dairy and eggs) and starch (flour). But, there are a number of other chess pie recipes, which are made with various ingredients like whole milk, instead of buttermilk, cornmeal, instead of flour, vinegar, instead of lemon juice, and more.

What Does Buttermilk Pie Taste Like?

Basically, buttermilk pie tastes like a really good vanilla custard – think creme brulee or flan, almost, but without the caramel – in a flaky pie crust. It’s just delicious! And the best part? It’s very, very easy to make. It’s a no-fuss, no-fail recipe!

Clockwise from top left: Butter, buttermilk, nutmeg, eggs, flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar.

A Closer Look at the Ingredients

This sweet and simple pie recipe only uses a handful of basic pantry items, making it an easy dessert to make, even on short notice. You probably already have everything you need! Here’s a rundown of those ingredients:

  • Eggs: Large, whole eggs form the base of the custard. Room temperature eggs are best!
  • Butter: I generally use unsalted butter when baking, but you can definitely use salted butter if you prefer. Let it soften before using.
  • Flour: You’ll need a little bit of all-purpose flour to thicken the custard and help it set.
  • Sugar: For this pie, I use plain granulated sugar. Raw sugar would also work just fine!
  • Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can sour regular milk with a teaspoon of vinegar. Mix the vinegar into the milk, and let it sit for 5 minutes before using.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh or bottled lemon juice is fine.
  • Vanilla: For the best flavor, use pure vanilla extract.
  • Nutmeg: Just a couple of pinches of nutmeg bring out the best in this old-fashioned pie.
  • Pie Crust: You’ll need one unbaked pie crust (I use the crust recipe from this Perfect Pumpkin Pie recipe).
overhead shot of homemade buttermilk pie set on a black plate.

How to Make Buttermilk Pie from Scratch

So just how do you make buttermilk pie? It’s so easy, you guys! You are going to fall in love with this recipe, because it truly is a mix-and-bake recipe that tastes like you worked on it all day.

  1. Prep the Oven and Pie Crust. First, set the oven to preheat to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish, and line it with your pie crust. There’s no need to pre-bake the crust.
  2. Mix Up the Filling. Crack the eggs into a large bowl, and beat them until frothy and light (I use an electric mixer to do this, but you could also use a stand mixer, or beat them by hand with a whisk). Add the softened butter, along with the sugar and flour, and beat the mixture until smooth. Then pour in the buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla, and nutmeg, and mix again to combine.
  3. Pour and Bake. Pour the buttermilk custard mixture into the uncooked pie crust, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the pie is mostly set. You’ll know it’s ready when the outer edges are set, while the center inch or so is a little jiggly when you shake the pie dish. Don’t overbake, or the pie won’t be as creamy.
  4. Cool. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool on a wire rack for at least a couple of hours before serving.
overhead shot of buttermilk pie cut into 4 slices and dusted with powdered sugar.

My Favorite Tips and Variations

  • Easy Does It: When you pour the filling into the pie crust, do it the easy way! Put the unfilled pie crust onto the oven rack first, and then pour the filling into it. Slide the oven rack into the oven, and you’re done—no spills.
  • Add Cornmeal: Substitute a tablespoon or two of cornmeal for some of the flour, for a traditional texture to your custard.
  • Make It Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free crust, and replace the flour with cornstarch, for a gluten-free option.
  • Watch the Crust: If the crust begins to brown too much before the filling is set, lay strips of foil over the crust to shield it from the heat while the pie finishes baking.
  • Lemon Buttermilk Pie: Increase the lemon juice to 1/4 cup, and add a tablespoon of lemon zest, to make a beautiful creamy lemon pie!
  • Chocolate Buttermilk Pie: Omit the lemon juice, and add 1/4 cup of good cocoa powder to the recipe to make a chocolate version of this beloved pie.
A slice of buttermilk pie on an earthenware saucer with a small dessert fork.

How to Store Leftover Buttermilk Pie

  • Store leftover buttermilk pie in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days.
  • Serve cold, or take out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes ahead of time, to allow the pie to come to room temperature.

Can I Freeze This Pie?

  • In general, I don’t recommend freezing buttermilk pie, since the custard may break down and become watery after freezing and thawing. If you do freeze your pie, make sure to cool it completely, and then chill it in the refrigerator until it’s completely cold. Then wrap it tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil.
  • Freeze for up to three months, and thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
  • If the surface of the thawed pie is watery, pat it gently with paper towels.

Southern Buttermilk Pie

This creamy, dreamy Southern Buttermilk Pie recipe is a no-fail dessert that's perfect for the holidays! Everyone will rave about the sweet, old-fashioned custard and flaky homemade crust.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chess pie, easy desserts to make, easy pie recipes
Servings: 8
Calories: 382kcal



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch pie dish.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the butter, sugar, and flour, and beat until smooth.
  • Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla, and nutmeg, and mix well.
  • Pour the mixture into the uncooked pie crust, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the pie is mostly set with the center jiggling slightly when shaken.
  • Remove from the oven and let the pie cool on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
  • Top with powdered sugar, if using.
  • Cut and serve.


Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 159mg | Potassium: 99mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 494IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg

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1 Comment

  • Phyllis
    Dec 28, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    I made a Buttermilk Pie for Christmas. It was a big hit. I used my recipe that was like yours. I had to make my own buttermilk also. I let it sit for about 10 minutes before I could get around to using it. Boy did it churn! Next time I made them I will have to make 3 of them. Two of the people requested their own pie it was so good! They are so easy to make don’t know why we wait fir holidays to make this delicious pie!!


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