Buttermilk pie

Buttermilk pie DSC9813

“Two cups of sugar?” I said to myself as I read over my great-grandma Blanche’s recipe for buttermilk pie. That amount sounded outrageous! But when I mentioned this to a smart bunch of folks, they nodded their heads and said, “Ah, that must be a recipe for buttermilk pie.” And even though I was dubious, I decided to adhere to the wisdom of my elders and bake this sugar-loaded pie as apparently that is just how this pie is done.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with this old Southern dessert you may be asking, “What is buttermilk pie?” Well, as the name implies, it’s a custard pie made with buttermilk. And while it may sound strange to the uninitiated, take note that Texans have long been resourceful with buttermilk, as for many years it was both inexpensive and widely available. But here’s where defining buttermilk pie becomes tricky, at least for me.

Buttermilk pie | Homesick Texan

The interesting thing about my recipe is that Grandma Blanche titled it buttermilk chess pie, which begs the question: are chess pie and buttermilk pie the same thing? I used to think that they were not, as I have a chess pie recipe that does not include buttermilk. But perhaps it is simply a variation. I wish I had the answer to these questions, but I don’t. But as I wait patiently for one of you to shed light on this topic I will occupy myself by baking my great-grandma’s buttermilk pie.

Now, to make this pie is a cinch as you simply mix together a custard filling that includes buttermilk, eggs, flour, corn meal and vinegar, and then you pour it into a partially baked pie shell and cook it until it’s set. The hardest thing about making this pie is being patient as you’ll be keeping it in the oven for a while and your home will begin to smell divine.

Not a fan of buttermilk? I wouldn’t worry as this is a luscious dessert. It has a sweet and slightly tangy custard that is wonderful to eat as is, completely unadorned. But if you desire, you could spiffy it up by topping it with some seasonal fruit, candied nuts or a drizzle of sorghum syrup. Many people serve it at Thanksgiving as it sits well on the holiday table with the pecan and sweet potato pies. But you certainly don’t need to a cold-weather holiday to enjoy a slice or two.

Buttermilk pie | Homesick Texan

And yes, in case you’re wondering, those two cups of sugar do make for a sweet pie but I wouldn’t cut it back too much or it will just taste wrong. Don’t worry as I did: Great-grandma Blanche knew what she was doing.

Buttermilk pie DSC9813
5 from 1 vote

Great-grandma Blanche’s buttermilk pie

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 9-inch unbaked piecrust
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), softened
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees. Place the piecrust into pie pan then slide into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

  2. Combine the sugar with the flour and cornmeal, if you’re using. Cream the butter. Add the sugar mixture to the butter and then stir in the eggs, salt, buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla extract and vinegar.

  3. Pour filling into the partially baked piecrust and bake in the oven uncovered until brown on top and the custard has set, about 45-50 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Great-grandma’s original recipe called for margarine, but I changed that to butter. I don’t think she’d mind too much. And feel free to add a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon if you want to spice up the custard a bit.

  1. WomanWhoRunsWithHorses

    Mmmm…I love chess pie, buttermilk pie, buttermilk chess pie …all of the above. Unfortunately, no matter how careful I am when I eat it, it always seems to end up stuck to my hips!!

    : )

  2. devinemissk


    That is all.

  3. I just wanted to say that your Grandma Blanche (Goodness, is that not the PERFECT name for a Texan grandmother?!) has penmanship similar to my own grandmother. It makes me want to dig up her handwritten recipes when I'm back in Texas for Christmas.

    I've never had buttermilk pie, but I do like custard-y things. This goes into "Must Try Soon" file!

  4. There's a restaurant in Southern Utah that serves unusual pies including Pinto Bean Pie, Dill Pickle Pie, and (you guessed it) Buttermilk Pie. Wish I could remember the name, but I've eaten this type of pie there many times. Wish I lived next door so I could come over and have a slice. (I'd even splurge on the sugar for this pie!)

  5. Goodness, do all grandmother's have the same handwriting? My granny (Della Ruth) has dozens of recipe cards that look just like that. Makes me want to pick up the phone and give her a call.

    …and I think I might just make this buttermilk pie – love it's simplicity and the way that it can be transformed with toppings. Good stuff. Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Stephanie

    I've never heard of buttermilk pie before. But, I love custard and buttermilk and pie sooo I'm going to assume that I would love this.

    Can't wait to try it

  7. Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady")

    My mom said that chess and buttermilk are the same. I think buttermilk is the southern version and chess is the Yankee one. 🙂 I remember asking her this when I was a girl (60's) and was reading all those Texas Panhandle pioneer stories ("Where the Wind Blows"and other Lola Grace Erdman books) where buttermilk pie was mentioned. My mom's people made chess (she's from Missouri) while I was raised in west Texas.

  8. Mary at Deep South Dish

    A definite well loved southern favorite! I'm the same way with the sugar and was taught a good chess pie or buttermilk pie should always be served with very strong coffee to cut the sweetness of the pie.

    I was also taught that the difference between the two pies rests in whether or not it has cornmeal in it.

    Chess pie, whether it has buttermilk or not, always has cornmeal in it. That creates the crusty top. Most people do not put buttermilk in their chess pie – but I do, though I guess that is a variation from the original. I like the tartness that buttermilk gives against the super sweetness of a chess pie.

    A regular buttermilk pie is more custardy, lacking the crunchy top, and does not contain cornmeal.

    Probably way more than you wanted to know, and I have no idea if any of this is valid, but that is what I have learned.

  9. I don't know if it's true, but I think of that kind of gooey, sticky, custardy consistency as being what makes a pie "chess". I grew up on chess tarts made by my grandmother which seem to be the same consistency, but that are pretty different from your chess pie recipe. (My recipe is just eggs, butter, vanilla, and brown sugar, and is a deep golden brown.) And I've also had chocolate chess pie. And the only thing I can think of in common with all of these is the texture, but maybe I am missing something.

    At any rate, I'm now sorely tempted to try your buttermilk chess pie, as I have some buttermilk in my fridge that really should be used up!

  10. DessertForTwo

    I'm so excited that you posted this recipe! I've been working on a smaller scale version of buttermilk pie. I noticed your recipe doesn't call for nutmeg to be sprinkled over the pie before being baked. I've never seen that before. How interesting!

    Also, I frequently ponder about the origin of chess pies. Southern Living says that any custard pie with just a few ingredients is what makes chess. My grandmother made lemon chess and pecan chess pies, but never lemon pie or pecan pie. Not sure why. I think the origin of chess is a mystery.

  11. Lisa Fain

    WomanWhoRunsWithHorses–I have a similar problem with those pies!


    Kallee–it must be how they taught them to write, back in the day. And you should definitely dig up those recipes–they're treasures!

    Kalyn–If you lived next door I'd definitely share this pie with you. And I've made pinto bean pie–it tastes like pumpkin. Though I've never heard of Dill Pickle Pie–must research!

    Maggy–I think they do! Call your granny! She'd love to hear from you!

    Stephanie–If you love custard and you love buttermilk I reckon you'll love this pie, too!

    Cheri–Maybe, but there's no buttermilk in some chess pie recipes, which confuses things.

    Mary–But see, my great-grandma put cornmeal in her buttermilk pie. Hmmmmm…

    Mary–Chess pie is more gooey–I think of it as pecan pie without the pecans. Now chocolate chess pie–I have to make that!

    DessertForTwo–How is pecan chess different from regular pecan? Very curious!

  12. Kim West

    Oh my goodness! I was just commenting to a friend that my grandmother used to make buttermilk pie and I would have loved to have her recipe for it (she passed away 8 years ago).

    My grandmother made this and put pecan halves on top. :::drool:::

  13. I've never had buttermilk (or chess) pie! In fact, the first time I found out about it was via another blog (Joy the Baker), and the recipe she used included a blackberry sauce. My Texan grandma also has that handwriting, by the way. 🙂

  14. Lisa Fain

    Kim–I love the idea to put pecan halves on top of the pie. Yum!

    Jessica–Joy's wonderful and that blackberry sauce sounds superb! And all Texan grandma's seem to have the same handwriting!

  15. Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady")

    Oh, I thought of another similar pie that I'd read about – vinegar pie. It's supposed to be like pecan-less pecan pie but slightly tart I think. Ever heard of/made one of those?

  16. Lisa Fain

    Cheri–Yep, my family ate that, too.

  17. Anonymous

    I made this pie last week and it was so good! Also made a transparent pie which ended up being basically the same thing only it used cream instead of buttermilk and didnt contain corn meal. I think the buttermilk pie was the best though. And btw, my Alabama grandmother had that identical handwriting, must be a southern thang! 😀

  18. Lisa: I've been following your blog ever since the amazing chicken fried steak recipe! Your'e an awesome collector of Texas history for this Texas-expat who has been in DC since the late 70's. This one got my attention for two reasons: your grandmother's handwriting looks just my Mom's (who passed on down our buttermilk pie recipe). Mom was a 6th generation Texan from Amarillo, who got her recipe from her grandmother. The only changes I see between hers and yours are no cornmeal in ours, no vinegar in ours. The other thing I have learned about baking this pie is about 40 minutes into baking, you sometimes have to press a tablespoon gently into the top to "sop" up the excess butter that rises to the top. I was always told that a chess pie had cornmeal, a buttermilk pie had none, but they're both awesome. Thanks again for all your good work. Can't wait for the cookbook. Best, Bob

  19. FreeRange Pamela

    I've made buttermilk pie the last two Thanksgivings running, and it was a huge hit. I remember my East Texan grandmother used to make it, and it was lovely. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  20. It has been years..literally..since I've had buttermilk pie. Why have I waited so long? Gonna have to make this one very soon! Thanks

  21. I love buttermilk pie! and lemon chess pie! and I'm pretty sure that all the grandma's have "Palmer" penmanship from hours and hours of circles and push-em, pull-ems. My mom has the same writing (I know she's not my grandma, but she is 93 so I'm pretty sure it's the same era). My mom never made buttermilk pie. She was from Iowa. I learned to make it as soon as I moved to Texas from CA. Must be a southern thing…lol.

  22. I use my grannie's recipe for buttermilk pie. It has always been a favorite of mine. She said she made lots of buttermilk pies because they milked several cows and that was one way to keep the milk from going to waste. My youngest granddaughter, Katy, wanted buttermilk pie instead of a birthday cake for her 16th BD. Is she a country girl or what?

  23. Anonymous

    We are collectors of old family recipes and old cookbooks. We agree buttermilk pie has cornmeal in the recipe, reason it was a southern staple, and it was cheap. Several sets of great great parents, great aunts and grand parents called their pie Buttermilk Chess pie, and used cornmeal.

  24. buttermilk pie is my favorite! my me-ma makes hers very similar to your grandma's but without vinegar. The writing on the card looks like her writing as well. buttermilk pie is definitely a texas thing because when i moved to oklahoma no one had heard of it.

  25. I love the pies talked about here (except the dill pickle pie and pinto bean pie – I've never heard of them). I've eaten and made many, many buttermilk pies over the years. My mother made fabulous buttermilk pies, chess pies, brown sugar pies, and pecan pies. She's been gone for over 31 years now; I still taste her pies. My great grand-mother's handwritten cookbook was destroyed in one of our house fires, so I absolutely LOVE the fact that you have posted so many of the old recipes that I grew up with, Lisa. Thanks a million! I love your blog.

  26. michaelinasmom

    I think the addition of corn meal is what defines a "chess" pie, although I have only heard that phrase from those in the northern states. Here in Kentucky, it's just pie. =)

  27. Kelly @ EvilShenanigans

    My grandmother, Lola, and my great aunt, Ruby, both made Buttermilk Pies, and both called them Buttermilk Chess Pie … I suspect it was that they have a similar texture – creamy, smooth, and rich – but when I asked Ruby about it she said that is just what they called it. I am not sure anyone really knows. I don't care what you call it, I adore buttermilk pie!

  28. Okay, possibly oddball question – do you suppose this would work with egg nog? I usually drink one half-glass at the holidays and never know what to do with the rest of the carton.

  29. Lisa, this is so intriguing to have cornmeal in a pie. This recipe reminds me very much of a regional pie tied to southern Indiana which is called Sugar Cream Pie. It's simple and custard-y too, but has fewer ingredients. I like to think these pies, along with chess pies, were just the most basic home cooking a woman could do–literally mix up what you had in your pantry all year round and make something special out of nothing but ordinary.

    I just love old recipes written by hand!

  30. calistalee

    I love the way your Grandma Blanche makes her cursive p. This pie looks delicious and I'm going to have to try it the next time I have a hankering for pie.

  31. Lisa I love your grandmas recipe card! I've never had buttermilk pie but maybe thanksgiving this year will include this recipe!

  32. Sharon M

    I love grandma recipes! My great-grandmother had a fantastic Boston Cream Pie she used to make, and to this day, I STILL make it the way she showed me. I must say though, my experience with buttermilk pie has mostly been in restaurants – I'll have to put it on our Thanksgiving pie menu this year.

  33. Wow, yeah, 2 cups of sugar. That's a lot!
    I recently made one of my long lost ancestor's recipes and was equally confused by various things. That's what makes heritage baking, as I like to call it, interesting!

  34. I made your Uncle's sweet potato pie again for our Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. Huge hit. Everyone thought it was pumpkin, until I told them otherwise.

    This buttermilk pie sounds divine.

    I'll give it shot on the weekend. Thanks.

  35. To sweeten this up even more, my grandmother would make one "plain" and another with chocolate chips in the filling. Just sprinkle a couple handfuls on top before putting in the oven and they'll sink into the filling while cooking.

  36. I have never heard of this pie. I'm from northern IN though. And that looks like my Grandmothers writing too so you have to modify your "southern" grandma theory.

    Ok, this is probably a dumb question, but here goes. Does this need to be refrigerated after baking? Thanks!

  37. I see that your grandma had margarine on her recipe but you used butter…thanks for using real food!

  38. suburban housefrau

    We just about always have buttermilk pie on the table at Thanksgiving – but I've never had it with cornmeal. Ours has pecans in the filling, which rise to the top and form a crust.

  39. Jenn in Philly

    Oh my goodness… I LOVE buttermilk pie! One summer I was living in a small town in TX for an internship, and would go with my boss to the local retirement home for lunch once a week. The cook there would always make the BEST buttermilk pie. I admit I always looked forward to that lunch!

    I made a chess pie from a southern cookbook last summer. I may have to make a real buttermilk pie this fall! Thanks for the recipe! You make this homesick Texan in PA a little more inspired. And hungry.

  40. Surprisingly, you'll find buttermilk in some Indian recipes as well. A "Mango Lassi" is the best damn fruit smoothie you'll ever enjoy whether it's to cool down the heat of a fiery curry or just as a cooling snack for the heck of it.

  41. Anonymous

    My sister recently made a buttermilk pie and had extra filling. She crushed up vanilla wafers and mixed them with melted butter and poured the leftover buttermilk mixture in there. Best creation ever!!

  42. Judy and Bill aboard S/V BeBe

    A big thank you for reminding me how much I enjoy buttermilk pie. Had not thought of it in years. Now I know what I will be bringing to our family gathering at Thanksgiving this year!

    BTW, I have the exact identical recipe. Also hand-written on a 3X5 card by my grandmother (born 1885 in SE Texas). Now I will pass this recipe on to my 9-yr-old granddaughter this year.

    From another Homesick Texan currently on a sailboat in Malaysia — but flying home to Houston for Thanksgiving this year!!!

  43. harlow727

    My gramma Rosie Belle was a Texan. She talked about buttermilk pie, and how much she loved it, but I never had the opportunity to have it. I did, however learn how to cook under her wing, when she lived with us when I was 10-17. I'll have to make this for my Mama and see what she thinks…I know she's had gramma's pie 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

  44. Lisa Fain

    Anon–I need to make that transparent pie!

    Robert–That's a good tip about the butter!

    FreeRange Pamela–I can't wait to make it for this Thanksgiving!

    Texana–Why have you waited so long? You need to have a slice soon!

    Sandy–It's definitely a Southern thing. And I wonder why they stopped teaching the Palmer method?

    Brenda–Absolutely! And Texans know how to be resourceful with all that extra buttermilk!

    Anon–Good to know!

    Lynsey–I love the addition of vinegar as it gives it such a nice tang.

    Avery–I'm so sorry to hear that you lost your great-grandmother's recipes; I sometimes wonder if I should keep mine is a safe deposit box.

    Michaelinasmom–Oh, no! People call it chess pie all over the South, too.

    Kelly–They are indeed similar in texture. Though my sister-in-law's grandmother who's from the West Coast calls chess pie, cornmeal pie. But yes, doesn't matter what you call it as long as you give me a slice!

    Sabrina–Hope you find the time! It doesn't take long.

    Julie–It might work, give it a try!

    Celeste–Exactly–I think these pies were a delicious way to use up extra food they had on hand that good go bad, such as dairy.

    Calistalee–I love that old handwriting, too!

    Katie–I think it should!

    Sharon–I've never made a Boston cream pie, I should definitely try one!

    Rachel–It is a lot! I bet you could cut it down to 1 1/2 cups, though. And I love heritage baking, especially when there are very few directions–it's like solving a mystery.

    Tommy–Ah, that's such the Thanksgiving classic! Glad it was a hit!

    Rob–Oh! I can't wait to try it with chocolate chips!

    Me–I would refrigerate it.

    Teresa–Ha! I love butter.

    Suburban Housefrau–I love that they rise to the top–will try it with those next time!

    Jenn–Those local restaurants always have the best pies.

    Denise–Of course! I'm a big fan of lassi.

    Anon–Oh, my! That sounds like total decadence!

    Judy–That will be such a treasure for your granddaughter!

    Harlow–I just love the name Rosie Belle! Enjoy!

  45. My great-grandmother's handwriting looked like this, too, and so does my grandmother's (both Texans). 🙂

    My husband insists that the buttermilk pie from Kelly's Cafe in Fredericksburg (TX) is the best he's ever eaten (we even had them at our wedding instead of a groom's cake), so I'm trying to replicate that at home. I've been trying to find a good one for ages and have been completely unsuccessful. This just went to the top of my list to try.

    Oh, and I also am not sure about the difference between chess pie & buttermilk pie. They seem nearly identical to me.

  46. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I just recently got my Mom's old recipe box and am looking forward to spending some quality time making/tweaking her recipes.

    But, first, I think I want to try Grandma Blanche's Butter Milk Chess Pie!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe…

  47. Heidi in Big D

    A friend of mine once said that chess pie got its name from the fact that when you take a bite it makes you exclaim, "Oh, chesssss, that is gooooood." 😉

    We always have an (over)abundance of pies at the holidays in my family, and my dad has already said he'll be making coconut cream pie for Thanksgiving. But I might have to add your family's buttermilk chess pie this year. Maybe we should just have turkey, cranberry relish and pies. That would be fine by me. Just being back in Texas this year for Thanksgiving will be a great thing.

    I'm still eagerly anticipating your book! I have ex-pat Texan friends who just adopted a baby and I want to send them one so they can raise their new little one with the proper nutrition! 😉

  48. Delishhh

    Wow what an awesome recipe. I just recently found your blog and love it. This is a recipe for me to save.

  49. Stephfret

    I'm no scientist, but seems to me that the addition of vinegar in your buttermilk pie, chess pie, and vinegar pie must have some important function in the chemistry of the dishes that ties them all together. They probably come from a similar historical root, some medeival English concoction or something. No matter, it looks delicious!

  50. Anonymous

    There are different types of chess pie — buttermilk chess, lemon chess, and plain ol' chess (which contains vinegar). My family's type is a buttermilk, but we also make a lemon.

    I have never understood what makes a chess pie – it must have something to do with using acid to set the custard, but I do love buttermilk chess. This recipe sounds good!

  51. I have been told (by my Texas Grandmother, Mouci) that what makes a pie "chess" is the addition of cornmeal, which rises to the top during baking to form a crust. She prefers lemon chess pie, while I always wanted lemon meringue (which she always referes to as "calf slobber").

  52. Oh, buttermilk pie. It's on the huge list of Texas foods I miss- right along with chicken fried steak, good quesadillas, cornbread, and so many other things.

  53. I am a native Texan now living in Nebraska. For any potluck at work or w/ friends – I take a Buttermilk Pie and bring a long several pre-written recipe cards. I mostly find that men love it more than women! Must remind them of their grandma's too.

  54. tasteofbeirut

    I moved and settled in Texas over 20 years ago and remember this pie as the highlight of my first year here. Loved it 2 cups of sugar or not!

  55. The first time I tried to tell someone who wasn't from the South what buttermilk pie was I finally realized not everyone knew the joys of Buttermilk in a Pie. As wonderful as this pie is I find that many different cultures have a very similar pie. Your recipe looks quite similar to our family recipe however one can never have too many Buttermilk pie recipes….I am bookmarking this one! Great pie photo, I am hungry now! Well done.

  56. Lisa Fain

    Kristy–I've never been to Kelly's but will definitely stop by next time I'm in Fredericksburg and check out their buttermilk pie.

    Rocky Mountain Woman–What a treasure to get your mom's old recipe box. Have fun with the recipes!

    Heidi–I can buy that!

    Delishhh-Welcome! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

    Stephfret–I though it was just for tang, but perhaps it is the chemistry as well.

    Anon–Lemon sounds fabulous!

    Geogg–I do love a good lemon meringue pie!

    Ashley–Yep! I hear you!

    Kellie–What a great idea! I bet your friends are very grateful. Thank you for spreading the Texas-food gospel!

    Dee-Yep, that's something that never fails to amaze me about food–how so many cultures can come up with similar dishes.

  57. folloder

    Hot damn! I know what is for dessert tonight!

  58. Hi!!!
    My name is Kirra Im an aussie!! I know ok its a little strange for an aussie to be reading a homesick texan blog. But hey, I can't help it delicous food. Amazing stories. I mean whats not to love? I grew up on a farm here in Australia not sure if you guys would call it a ranch or not about 3600 acres. Anyway we (my brother and sister and I) spent many hours racing around on our horses pretending we where cowboys in the wild west and I think I must have watched nearly every John Wayne movie there is with my Grandad. But I stumbled across your blog a while ago while chasing a recipe for some american food for my family and then I was HOOKED!!!! I love it. You have awesome recipes and I thoroughly enjoy the stories you blog. I have been trying out your recipes (although its not always easy to get the ingrediants here lol) on my family and they all agree your food is AMAZING!!! My fiance wants to go to Texas now for our honeymoon!!! So excited. Thankyou for all the amazing info. You are AWESOME!!!
    P.S. Any news on a recipe book?

  59. oala….good recipe….I can not wait to try this recipe.

  60. A couple of years ago my texan grandmother gave me (a transplant from Houston to Washington DC) a Luby's cookbook. Besides the recipe for cloverleaf rolls, the recipe I use most often is Buttermilk Chess Pie. It is the most delicious pie I have ever made and is always a taste of home for me! This recipe that you have sounds very similar. Enjoy!

  61. Bad Mommy

    OOo — Kristin, I second the Luby's cookbook. Good GOD, I miss Luby's. And it is a good buttermilk pie recipe. Also a big fan of the icebox chocolate pie. The thing I've made out of it, to be honest, is the enchiladas! I love their chili sauce, and my home Luby's was in McAllen: let me tell you, we had options for a cheese enchilada! Heck, that was the good day in the school cafeteria. And I'd take Luby's just about every time.

    Along with the Junior League cookbooks, it's another great Texas keepsake.

  62. When I was a young mother living in Texas, I learned to make buttermilk chess pie. I made it for my dad and he fell in love with it. It's the only dessert he ever asked me to make. He even asked for the recipe and made his own from time to time. This post gave me a warm fuzzy. Thanks!

  63. deb @ bearheadsoup

    HI Lisa, what an interesting recipe! All the comments have been great to read too. Not a pie i've heard of before. Think I'm going to have to give that a try, sounds pretty delicious.

  64. DessertForTwo

    Hi again Lisa, I just saw you replied to my comment about pecan chess pie vs. regular pecan pie. The custard for pecan chess pie is creamy, while the regular pecan pie custard is a corn syrup-custard. More dairy. Would you like my Meemaw's recipe? It's from Southern Living 100 years ago…

  65. LOve eating it but never tried making one. I think i'll try to have my own buttermilk pie.

  66. Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but that closeup of your grandmother's blue handwriting seemed even more warming to me than the picture of the buttermilk pie.

  67. Cornmeal is what makes a chess pie. A plain buttermilk pie has none. So grandma named her pie correctly its a buttermilk chess pie, meaning it has the ingredient. Plain buttermilk pie has no crispness at all. Also, it will likely have nutmeg sprinkled on top for some color and flavor.

  68. Mona @ la la by mona

    I am a Texan and L.O.V.E. buttermilk pie! I hate buttermilk – but love buttermilk pie!! My grandmother made it for me years ago and wouldn't tell me what it was until I tasted it. We ate the whole pie in a day! Thanks for bringing back that "sweet" memory!

  69. Anonymous

    I agree that Chess pie must have cornmeal in the ingredients. So, Buttermilk pie would not have cornmeal, and Buttermilk Chess pie would. Somehow this distinction has been lost, and now you will see a lot of recipes called chess, but are really not. I often wonder how this happened.

  70. Miss Mia

    I made this pie for Thanksgiving, and it tastes like scrambled eggs. What did I do wrong?

  71. Lisa Fain

    Miss Mia–I'm not sure what happened. Did you cut back on the sugar or overcook it? I'm sorry you didn't like the pie.

  72. Miss Mia

    It's possible I overcooked it. I had it in the oven for 45 minutes, but the top of my pie looked a lot more browned than the one in your photographs. Maybe my oven is running hot. I have a lot of buttermilk left over, so I'll probably try it again and check it at more frequent intervals. Thanks.

  73. Found this explanation for the possible origin of the name of the chess pie. I had previously read the pie safe theory elsewhere a few years back but can't exactly remember where that was.

  74. Years back I found a recipe in "Southern Living" for buttermilk coconut pie, and it has become one of my favorite pies. I love it, and I always get rave reviews when I make it. It's basically the same as your buttermilk pie, but with a half of a cup of sweetened coconut mixed into the custard before baking. Mmmm

  75. Misslalou

    I have been making buttermilk pie for 16 years. My receipe came from my mother who is from the South of course. Her writing was impeccable as she was a lefty and her aunt was her teacher. Her aunt made her were harder on her writing then the others. I've never made the chess pie, but am going to try it. My son's birthday in in a few weeks and the ONLY thing he has is the buttermilk pie, no cake. We'll see if he notices the deference Living in N.Ca most people have never heard of a buttermilk pie, but once they tast it they're hooked. I even had a resturaunt ask me for the receipe. Thanks for your family version.

  76. Just stumbled onto your great blog while googling "buttermilk pie." A friend of mine posted pictures of hers on FB. I had never heard of them…it sounded good…almost like egg nog. I love egg nog.

    After reading a bunch of comments here, it does sound similar to the derby pie (except the derby pie has nuts and choc chips in it), but I guess is more of a pie that tastes like a cookie. But in the same family of rich pies with a custardy texture.

    Definitely need to experiment with more pies over the holidays. Reading and researching desserts this week is not helping me with my cravings. I am being strict in January to battle the overindulgence of the holidays. But this is going on my list in Feb!!


  77. Anonymous

    Kalyn (8:45 post) mentioned a So. Utah restaurant serving unusual pies … so I had to googlin' and found:

    I enjoy roadtrips and can find my way through Utah … could see taking a route through Bicknell just to try this place!

    PS. Love your site – only have a son attending college in Texas (Rice U, Houston) & representing the family. We get our 'fix' when visiting him.

  78. Mmmm, buttermilk pie!

  79. Buttermilk pie is my favorite pie and Chess comes in second. 🙂 Actually had a piece of Buttermilk pie yesterday from the Tootie Pie Company. 🙂 I have never made one homemade – will have to give it a try.

  80. Anonymous

    Thank you for this easy sweet recipe. I baked one yesterday and everyone love them : ) 2 cups of sugar seem too much but I it just the right taste for my buttermilk pie. Thank you again.

  81. earthchick

    Oh, mercy. A friend of mine mentioned buttermilk pie on Facebook tonight. I'd never had it (despite being a southern girl) and went rummaging around the internet to find a good-looking recipe. After reading the first one, I thought – that sounds like chess pie, but with buttermilk!

    Anyway, then I found myself here, and yours looks and sounds *amazing*! I might have to give this a try.

    (ps – I'm a clergy friend of your mom's and heard her talk about your blog a few years ago. I thought it was fun when I saw your blog turn up in my Google search!)

  82. I have a huge sweet tooth so this sounds like the most delicious thing ever. I want to make it and spice it up with pumpkin pie spice!

  83. Derrick

    I came to this recipe from one of posts in another recipe. In that post, I just cannot recall which one, you mentioned buttermilk and lemon pie. But in the recipe above, no lemon. Being a man I am confused…. (If text could only convey tone.)

  84. Lisa Fain

    Derrick–Not sure what link you're talking about, but some people use lemon juice in their pies instead of vinegar.

  85. Derrick

    It took me a while to track it down, I remembered that the recipe with the post had nothing to with dessert.

    "Aiofe–It's a pie made with buttermilk, eggs, sugar and lemon juice. It was made by people who didn't have access to fruit. Very custardy and delicious!" I just made Robb Walsh's Taco Truck Salsa, simple and delicious. It can be viewed on YouTube.

    Even though I am not from Texas, I come from a place that has it's own unique approach to food and life, Newfoundland. Parked off the coast of Canada, nestled in the Atlantic Ocean. Like yourself I no longer live in my home province and fall into the homesick category.


  86. Amanda V

    I'm a little late to the commenting here… I am newly returned to Texas. I was in the military, stationed in Maryland. My husband and I searched for any restaurant that could come close to reminding us of home (East Texas).
    One day I was desperate for buttermilk pie. Not only was none available in Maryland, no one had even heard of it! I searched online for a recipe and found your blog. This pie is DIVINE! I made it for a friend's dinner party and it went over great. Then I made it for a pot luck at work…everyone loved this new, strange pie. All the bakers wanted the recipe 🙂 While this is the first of your recipes I tried, it's definitely not been the last! Keep up the cooking!

  87. I've never had a "chess pie". I've had lemon chess, buttermilk chess, pineapple chess, coconut chess, but never just a -chess- pie. All the recipes my family uses do call for cornmeal, but in those instances when we've been out of cornmeal, we just leave it out and everything's fine. The top texture is a little different, but still crusty.

    BTW, my 94-yr-old Texan grandmother also has that penmanship.

  88. L. Hitt

    Grandmas all have the same penmanship b/c they were taught it at school. It's called the Palmer method.

    Now, that being said, I can't figure out what happened to my pie. It is literally swimming in butter!!! I had something like this happen once, the first time I made a pie, when I was in college. I made a pecan pie, but I added too much butter. Now, I KNOW I followed your recipe to a "T". I only added 1 stick of butter. So, what could have happened??

  89. Lisa Fain

    L. Hitt–I'm so sorry the recipe didn't work for you! I have no idea what happened!

  90. Jessica L

    What type of cornmeal did your Grandmother use? White or Yellow, self rising or all purpose? I have both but don't know which one to use?

  91. Lisa Fain

    Jessica–I'm thinking probably yellow, all-purpose. Definitely not self rising!

  92. Anonymous

    I love buttermilk pie! I use my grandmother's family recipe and I get requests for it all the time. Our recipe makes two pies so it calls for 3 cups sugar and 6 eggs! You gotta have a big bowl. My pies never come out the same way twice but if you stir them too much they get kinda runny.

    Maybe the differences are that buttermilk pie has no cornmeal, buttermilk chess pie has cornmeal, and chess pies don't have buttermilk. Our recipe doesnot call for cornmeal but more flour and I have always been told that it is not a chess pie.

  93. Hi Lisa,

    I tried your recipe twice but both times, my pie came out runny. How do I get the same consistency as your pie in the picture?

    Thanks ahead,


  94. Lisa Fain

    Annie–Maybe try baking it longer so the custard can set.

  95. Anonymous

    My 1950s cook book has a buttermilk raisin pie that is the same as this recipe but has 1/2 cup of raisins in it. I do not like raisins so I just leave them out. I was raised by m grand parents and my granny made the pie both ways. She also made a pie that tasted like a pecan pie but it did not have pecans. So I guess she was just feeding us with what she had on hand. But we ate well and was healthy.

  96. Anonymous

    I have never heard of buttermilk pie until about 2 years ago when a co-worker mentioned it. I might be adventurous one day and make it. One of the earlier posts mentioned pinto bean pie. I've had bean pies over the years but I think some are made with different type of beans such as white beans. My mom experimented and learned how to make it. I wish she would make it more often. It is really good.

  97. Anonymous

    I will certainly give this recipe a try, but I will be making a sugar free version & see if i can pull it off!! By the way, your grandmas recipe card caught me off guard as the writing looks exactly as my mothers did! Thank you so much for sharing!

  98. My first attempt didn't turn out looking great and a bit runny. But I know what I did wrong to fix for next time. It really did fix my sweet tooth. Thanks! I miss living down there. I moved to Omaha, NE from Mesquite, TX just over 4 years ago. There are other foods that I miss.

  99. My favorite pie of all time is my grandmother's buttermilk pie. I've shared this with all of my friends and they all love it too. One claims my grandmother's buttermilk pie recipe is what got her accepted by her husband's family, though she now adds blueberries to the custard.

    I love this website! It's helped me cope with being so far from home.

  100. So excited! I have this baking in the oven right now. Recently had this pie for the first time at a restaurant and needed to replicate. The one I had in the restaurant had praline topping, so I'm going to have to experiment with that!

  101. Tammy Wright

    My 14 year old son loved the buttermilk pie at some restaurant so I looked up the recipe and here it is! So I made it and it is baking as I type this comment. I look forward to seeing his face when I serve it and can say I made it for you! I read some of the comments on the hand written recipe on this blog and WOW I think everyone is right it is the same penmanship my Grandmother Jane had! An amazing woman and had an amazing chocolate pie recipe too! 🙂

  102. Susan W. - MS

    Thank you for chronicling these recipes, especially this one. My great aunt used to make this pie every holiday. She died before I had the opportunity to get the recipe and none of her family had it either. I have searched the internet several times trying to find a recipe that even seemed near her's. I think this one fits the bill!

  103. I remember my great grandmother making this pie for us grandkids – there were about 20 of us – when I was growing up in Missouri. I hadn't thought of it for years until some folks in my office were talking about buttermilk pie. I got very nostalgic and thought I'd give it a shot. WOW! It is just as I remember it tasting. I brought it in to the guys at the office this morning and they loved it too.

    Thank you so much for sharing your grandmother's recipe and for helping me remember my dear Great Gran Ada.

  104. Rhiannon

    I just posted a link to your recipe on my blog. My husband loves buttermilk pie, but I've never made it. I stumbled across your recipe during a google search and made it for our Christmas dinner. It was a success! He said it was better than his mom's or his Aunt Sue's {and I can never make anything better than his aunt}. Thank you!

  105. Danielle

    Traditionally buttermilk pie does not have cornmeal. The chess pie has cornmeal and buttermilk pie just uses flour. Sounds like your grandmother combined the recipes to make a better pie.

  106. Anonymous

    I've just taken your Buttermilk Pie out of the oven!! It smelled so good while it was cooking…it took my oven a little longer to cook the pie than 45-50 minutes. I checked it at 50 minutes, but the middle was still shakey…I cooked it 15 extra minutes. I'm waiting for it to cool so I can try it….cannot wait!!
    I've lived in TX all my life and I've made Buttermilk pies, Lemon Chess, Coconut Cream, Chocolate, Sweet Potato, Lemon Icebox and what I'm wanting to make now is an Egg Custard…haven't made one in a long time. I will let you know how this wonderful smelling a looking pie taste just the minute it gets cool. I love your Web Site!!

  107. Anonymous

    Well, I said I would come back and tell you how the pie tasted. It was so good!! There's not enough adjectives to describe it!! I've been eating it for breakfast and dessert after every meal…too bad there wasn't anyone here to share it with, but, I'm going to my daughter's this week-end and I'll be making her one when I get there. It truly was the best Buttermilk Pie I've ever eaten.

  108. Anonymous

    I've baked quite a few Buttermilk Pies in my life and all the corn meal is used for is a thickening, like flour is. Some cooks just use flour (maybe 3 Tablespoons), not any corn meal. Chess pies do not always use corn meal, I've made them with only flour, it's only to your preference. They are good anyway.

  109. Marcia King

    Miss Blanche's handwriting is identical to both my grandmothers! As well as being quite close to my mother's. I have a theory…lol They used to teach penmanship in school. Then too, handwriting becomes shakier with age. Maybe that's why the writing looks so similar but it's quite deja vous whatever the reason.

  110. The Farmhouse restaurant Van, TX serves a pecan buttermilk pie, the waitress said someone put pecans in by mistake and it tasted so good that they put it on the menu.


  111. Anonymous

    Buttermilk Pie is different from Chess Pie. Buttermilk pie doesn't use the cornmeal and vinegar and no buttermilk. This recipe calls for both by the addition of cornmeal and vinegar which is what sets the Chess Pie apart. What a great idea that she mixed them together. Now you get the best of both worlds.

  112. Adding and 3/4 cup of regular baking cocoa makes an awesome Chocolate buttermilk pie that my kids cannot get enough of

  113. And I dont use the cornmeal

  114. Anonymous

    The difference between Chess pie and Buttermilk pie is the cornmeal, while Buttermilk pie does not always include cornmeal, Chess does. Hope this helps! 🙂

  115. Anonymous

    The cornmeal is what "makes" my lemon chess or just chess pie so good–it makes the crunchy crusty top.

  116. Anonymous

    Thank you for this recipe and your Grandma Blanche for writing it down! I am a Hoosier who married a Texan and we are living in Florida. I really have a Homesick Texan on my hands! After fourteen years of marriage I am finally able to make him his favorite, Buttermilk Chess Pie. Of course, since I'm from up North I had never heard of such a thing until I married my wonderful husband. For years I had tried to make him his favorite, but always failed until I made this recipe! He loves it! Tomorrow is his birthday and it is what he wants rather than a birthday cake. Also, this year we are in Texas celebrating with his parents. My husband ask me to make this Buttermilk Chess Pie for his mom and dad! I am excited and nervous. My mother-in-law is the one who taught me how to make chicken-fried steak and squash casserole. Now I'm going to teach her. I'm sure I'll have a happy bunch of Texans eating my pie tomorrow.

  117. Susan Boudreaux

    Hi Cousin,
    I loved seeing Danmamma’s recipe come to life. This was surely an awesome pie as my grandmother ( your great grandmother) was an awesome lady. Blanche Talullah Coffey Jernigan is surely smiling down from Baptist Heaven at the thought of so many folks making her favorite pie.

    • Lisa Fain

      Hi Susan! She was an awesome lady and it’s an honor to get to share her recipes!

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