Water Pie Recipe {A Classic from The Great Depression}

Water Pie Recipe {A Classic from The Great Depression}
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Water Pie Recipe
This nostalgic Water Pie is a simple, comforting dessert with a creamy filling and buttery crust. Perfect for any sweet craving!

Hey there, folks! Austin here from Beyond The Bayou Blog. Today I’m sharing a recipe that’s been passed down for generations in the South – the humble yet delicious water pie.

During the Great Depression, times were hard. Families struggled to put food on the table with limited rations and tight budgets. But resilient Southern cooks got creative, making use of every last scrap. That’s how water pie was born – a clever way to stretch basic staples like water, sugar, and butter into a tasty dessert.

I can’t help but think of my grandmama whenever I make this pie. She lived through those lean years as a child. Making water pie with her taught me not just how to bake, but the value of savoring simple pleasures and never taking anything for granted. Each bite is a reminder of her perseverance and the legacy of inspiring frugality.

While water pie originated from scarcity, it’s since become a beloved tradition representing the ingenious spirit of our ancestors. Simple as can be, yet so satisfying on a hot summer day. Shall we get started? Don’t forget to try Salted Caramel Apple Pie and Old Fashioned Apple Pie for your next craving.

What Is Special About This Water Pie Recipe?

We love old-fashioned recipes, and this pie is definitely one of them. It originated during the Great Depression when home cooks had to make do with limited ingredients. In my experience, simple recipes are often the best, and this dessert fits that description perfectly. Flour, butter, vanilla, and water are all it takes to make this fabulous homemade pie. As you can see, it has NO eggs! You won’t believe how easy it is to make, and it’s the perfect dessert for any gathering or holiday because it needs to be prepared in advance.

Overview: How To Make Water Pie?

Overview_ How To Make Water Pie

Let me tell you about my latest pie adventure – the Water Pie. This old-fashioned dessert is a delightful surprise, simple yet uniquely delicious. It all starts with an unbaked Perfect Pie Crust as the base. I mix water, vanilla, and cider vinegar right in the crust.

Then, I combine sugar, flour, and salt, sprinkling this mixture over the liquid. The final touch is adding thin slices of cold butter floating on top. Baking this pie involves two stages: first, at 400°F for 30 minutes, then at 375°F for another 30 minutes.

The filling will seem very watery when it comes out, but don’t worry! After cooling to room temperature and a good 8-hour chill in the fridge, it sets perfectly. This Water Pie is a nostalgic treat, perfect for those who appreciate simple, comforting flavors. Enjoy!

Water Pie Recipe {A Classic from The Great Depression}

Water Pie Recipe

This nostalgic Water Pie is a simple, comforting dessert with a creamy filling and buttery crust. Perfect for any sweet craving!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Chilling Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 10 minutes
Calories: 310kcal
Author: Austin Carter
Servings: 8


  • Pie Dish
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Oven
  • Aluminum foil or pie crust shield


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Perfect Pie Crust unbaked
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp cold butter cut into thin slices


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Pour water into the Perfect Pie Crust. Drizzle vanilla and vinegar over the water.
  • Mix sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the water mixture in the crust.
  • Place cold butter slices on top.
  • Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Shield the pie crust, reduce oven temperature to 375°F, and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pie from the oven (filling will be watery). Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  • Loosely cover the pie and refrigerate until fully set, about 8 hours.


Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 190mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g
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Tips that Are Bliss!

  • Par-Bake the Crust: Don’t skip par-baking the pie crust. This step ensures the crust won’t be soggy on the bottom as the filling won’t seep through.
  • Use Warm Water: For best results, use warm water in the filling. This helps it blend properly with the flour.
  • Butter Placement: Although it may look odd, place the butter on top of the filling, not inside it.
  • Check for Doneness: When the pie is done, it should have a slight jiggle in the middle but not be too watery. If it moves too much, cook it for a few more minutes.
  • Proper Cooling: Cooling the pie properly is crucial. It needs to be set fully before being cut into individual slices.

What to Serve with Water Pie?

What to Serve with Water Pie

Storing the Leftovers!

  • Refrigerator:
    Store Water Pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezing:
    Freezing is not recommended because the custard base will separate after thawing.

What Were Popular Foods During the Great Depression?

During the Great Depression, people relied on simple, affordable foods. Popular dishes included casseroles, soups, and stews made from inexpensive ingredients like potatoes, beans, and canned goods. Meals often featured homemade bread, biscuits, and cornbread along with this water pie. Creative recipes like Depression-era pie, which used minimal ingredients, were common. Stretching meals with rice, pasta, and cheap cuts of meat helped families make the most of their limited resources.

Can We Customize Water Pie?

Absolutely, you can customize Water Pie! Try adding a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg to the filling for a warm, spiced flavor. You can also mix in a bit of lemon or orange zest for a citrusy twist. If you like nuts, sprinkle some chopped pecans or walnuts on top before baking. Get creative and make it your own special version!

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