I love pie, especially “desperation pies,” or old fashioned pie recipes that made do with what was in the pantry, because in the dead of winter, there was no fruit for a fruit pie. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!
I define a desperation pie as a pie that doesn’t contain fruit. A pie you can make in the wintertime with just a few, simple ingredients you already have on hand.
Because when you’re desperate for pie, you don’t want to wait until the berries ripen or for the fall apple harvest. You want pie Right Now, thank you very much.
And if all you have on hand is cream, you’ll make a sugar cream pie. If all you have on hand is some molasses, you can make a shoo fly pie. And if all you have lying around is some vinegar, by crackie, you’ll find a way to use that in a pie, too!
Here are some of my favorite old fashioned desperation pies on my site. I hope they inspire you to make pie whenever you feel like it!
Pie Is Super Easy to Make
Seriously. If you’re scared of making pie dough, just buy store-bought. There are some really good ones out there. But do practice making pie dough, because it’s not hard once you get the technique down.
I really hope you love these old-fashioned pie recipes, you guys! If you make one or two of these, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
Round Up of My Old Fashioned Pie Recipes
Old fashioned pie recipes are sometimes the best pie recipes. This collection of “desperation pie” recipes all rely on pantry staples to produce a Very Excellent Pie, even when fruit is unavailable (or you don’t have any in your freezer)!
Indiana Sugar Cream Pie
Indiana Sugar Cream Pie is rich but not overly so since it doesn’t contain eggs. It is flavored with vanilla and nutmeg, so it’s somewhat reminiscent of eggnog without the egg part.
Use the best cream you can find and use freshly grated whole nutmeg. The flavor is worth it.This is the state pie of Indiana, y’all. Because winters are harsh, but lots of folks had cows, and therefore access to cream. See? Desperation pie!
Please click on the photo or the button to go to each post. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chess Pie
This chocolate chess pie is thickened with fine cornmeal and eggs, and the chocolate is reinforced with the addition of just enough instant coffee and salt to make it sing.Like lots of old fashioned pies, this pie is easily whipped up and is even easier to eat!
Cinnamon Sorghum Custard Pie
Of all the desperation pies on the site, this is one I pretty much made up. The crushed Graham crackers are a bit of a play on a chess pie with its cornmeal or flour and also on shoofly pie with it’s crumbly streusel.
You could just as easily use gingersnaps or leave them out altogether. But if you love sorghum like I do, you’ll want to make this pie. It’s delightful!
Butterscotch Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue
One of my favorite desperation pies, butterscotch pie is nostalgic, homey, comforting and so very tasty. I do hope you enjoy it–and if you think you don’t like butterscotch, be prepared to change your mind.
Classic Shoo Fly Pie
Classic Shoo Fly Pie is perfection in both texture and flavor. It’s not hard to make, sets up to a barely woogly center, and the crisp, crunchy-yet-sandy streusel is a fantastic topping.
The streusel that is baked in with the filling helps it to set up as the starches in the flour gel. It’s a genius pie for lean times and not so lean times. I do hope you give it a try.
Old Fashioned Vinegar Pie
This may be the most desperate of all the desperation pies, but it doesn’t sacrifice on flavor!
Many of the early American pioneers, who really came from all over the world to live here, were masters of making something delicious out of next to nothing. The humble and unlikely sounding vinegar pie is one of these pies made out of the desperate want of something sweet, even in the dead of winter.
This is an easy to make, comforting pie that tastes very similar to a lightly flavored lemon pie. Enjoy!
Chocolate Caramel Buttermilk Pie
This chocolate caramel buttermilk pie is a more complex twist on an Amish classic. It takes a bit longer to make, but the results are worth it.
It’s rich and light at the same time, and the flaky pastry goes beautifully with the chocolate. It slices like a dream too. Check the recipe notes for a less involved process.
Consider this guy a modern-day desperation pie from someone who had more to work with in their cupboard!
Coconut Custard Pie
This traditional coconut custard pie is equal parts creamy, smooth custard and chewy coconut. So comforting and delicious, it will remind you of your grandma’s pie, if your grandma was a great baker and made coconut custard pie!
This is a great example of an old-school pie recipe: shredded coconut and simply flavored egg custard baked in a simple pastry shell. You could fancy it up some, but it doesn’t really need it.
And there you have it, friends. I hope you enjoy these desperation pies–we certainly did–and do!
Do check back occasionally. As I add more old fashioned pie recipes to the site, I will update this post so you can find them all!
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.