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Anne Byrn's Shaker Buttermilk Pie

Anne Byrn's Shaker Buttermilk Pie

Serves: 12

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Total Time: 


1 recipe for a single unbaked pie crust
1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup full-fat buttermilk
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons lightly salted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the pie dough on a well-floured counter and transfer it into a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the dough into the edges of the pan and trim off any excess. Crimp the edges as desired and prick the crust with a fork about a dozen times to vent it.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, buttermilk, eggs, butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until well-combined, 40 to 50 strokes total. Pour the batter into the pastry-lined pan.

Bake until the pie is well browned and mostly firm to the touch, but still a little jiggly, 40 to 45 minutes. Let rest at least 30 minutes before serving. For best results, let the pie rest for several hours.

Photo: Danielle Atkins

About the recipe

Buttermilk pie was designed to be baked when fruit was scarce in the winter, or on farms where fruit didn't grow. Thick from whole-fat buttermilk, rich from butter and egg, and flavored with sugar and vanilla, this pie is a Southern and Midwestern mainstay. It's a cousin to chess pie, which has roots in England and is popular in Tennessee, where it is thickened with a little cornmeal and seasoned with a little vinegar to give it the acidic twang of lemon.

This is a dead-simple recipe, but keep in mind that it tastes best made with full-fat buttermilk — try to find it. Feel free to make your own pie crust, or use a prepared or frozen crust. We think it's best made with lightly salted butter if you have it; if not, add a pinch of salt to the recipe. Start with your eggs at room temperature to make blending easier.

If you'd like to make a bigger pie, roll the crust to fit in a 10-inch pie pan. Use nearly 3 cups sugar, 6 large eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 10 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Bake about an hour. If the pie browns on top before it has set, gently lay a piece of foil on top of the pie and bake until done.