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The Best Pie You Have Never Tried: Skillet Sugar Pie

The Best Pie You Have Never Tried: Skillet Sugar Pie

custard, pies & cobblers, Valentine's Day

Sugar Pie

Sugar pie (sometimes called sugar cream pie) tastes like crème brûlée in pie format.  It’s rich and decadent and the filling requires just six ingredients (sugar, butter, half and half, vanilla, nutmeg, and cornstarch).  Tasting sugar pie, you might assume that it is loaded with eggs like a traditional custard – but it’s the cornstarch that gives this dessert its thick texture.  I’m a sucker for cheesy romantic plans and I love the idea of serving sugar pie to my sugar pie on Valentine’s Day.

Sugar Pie

Sugar pie is typically served with a basic butter crust.  However, I think everything is better with shortbread so I baked mine with a shortbread crust and only put the crust on the bottom of the pie (not up the sides).

Lodge L5MS3 Mini Skillet, 5-inch

I chose to bake my sugar pie in two small cast iron skillets.  The skillets make for a rustic presentation and a group of four could just dig in with forks or eat slices as shown at the top of this post.

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Kitchen Supply 8 Inch Square Glass Baking Dish

If you don’t have skillets on hand, you could always bake the recipe in a traditional pie pan or a square baking pan.  If you opt for the square pan, you can slice the sugar pie and serve it as squares.  This would work nicely if you want to stretch the recipe to work for a larger group.

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Skillet Sugar Pie Recipe

The sugar pie filling recipe that I used for my skillet sugar pie is from AllRecipes.  I’ve rewitten those directions below in my own words and included instructions for baking the pies in skillets with shortbread crust.

Sugar Pie
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Skillet Sugar Pie


Shortbread Crust Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • heaping 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Sugar Pie Filling Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


Shortbread Crust Instructions

  1. Mix all shortbread crust ingredients by hand in a small mixing bowl until they just begin to stick together.
  2. Grease two 5" skillets and press shortbread crust into the bottom of each skillet.

Sugar Pie Filling Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter on medium heat.
  2. Once butter is melted, add cornstarch, sugar, and half and half.
  3. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to boil and becomes thick and creamy. This should take about five minutes. You'll know it's ready as there will be a dramatic shift from a soupy liquid to something porridge-like.
  4. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla.

Assembly and Baking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Distribute filling evenly over shortbread crusts in the two prepared skillets.
  3. Sprinkle nutmeg over the filling.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until tops are set. The filling will still be a little jiggly, but it won't move very much if you shake the skillet.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
  6. Refrigerate overnight.
  7. Serve cold straight from the skillet or cut into slices.

Recipe Notes

You can easily vary this recipe by using a traditional pie pan, larger skillet, or square baking dish. You can also replace the nutmeg with cinnamon or a mix of the two. Lastly, you may choose to use a more traditional pie crust or leave the pie crust off entirely.

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60 comments on “The Best Pie You Have Never Tried: Skillet Sugar Pie”

  1. Creme brulee in pie form? Solddd.

  2. Liz says:

    If we get the predicted snow on Thursday, I’ll be making this to keep us warm!

  3. Candice says:

    I followed the recipe exactly and it was a complete and utter failure. After reading the text above, I expected the filling to solidify, not swell and spill over. The oven was a mess. My curiosity for this recipe has been extinguished.

    • Stef says:

      I’m so sorry that you had this problem! I loved this pie. I have no idea what went wrong for you. :(

    • julie says:

      if you wanted to try this, try south african milk tart. it’ll change your life

    • Martha says:

      Could your pan have been too shallow for the amount of filling? I haven’t made this, but it strikes me as one of those fillings that swells up while baking, then sinks down. I notice the author used 2 5″ skillets, which hold a lot more than one pie tin.

    • Kyle says:

      I grew up in Indiana, and I knew what this article was about as soon as I saw a picture of the pie. The preparation is all wrong here. This is a very old recipe specific to the eastern midwest. In particular, eastern Indiana and central Ohio. The most authentic recipes state that the dry ingredients should be added first, then the liquid component. Over stirring the pie ruins the final product. The filling is traditionally stirred using your index finger. There is something very specific to this method as if does not incorporate air into the filling, and allows the “custard” to complex on it’s own in the oven. Think about biscuit dough. If you over knead, they don’t come out flaky because the butter or shortening acts differently when chunky. It’s a similar concept. The author of this article should do her homework and study Amish recipes as well as “desperation pies”. You’ll learn a thing or two about sugar cream pie. This is a delicious pie, at least when prepared properly.

      • Andrea says:

        Kyle, this recipe isn’t “wrong”. It’s a different interpretation of whatever beloved pie you’re waxing poetic about. Different doesn’t mean wrong nor does the author need to go out and do pie research. She never said this was an authentic Midwestern sugar pie or that this is an old fashioned recipe. In fact, if you have a huge issue with it, you should be complaining at the original site where the author clearly stated she got it from. Another newsflash – no region owns a recipe.

        I truly love reading cooking and recipe sites but I loath it when people are so up their own butts that they can’t fathom others not using whatever recipe that they use. It’s classless and tacky.

        • Hope says:

          I need a like button for Andrea.

        • Bob says:

          Wow, Andrea! Lighten up on poor Kyle. Yes, he may have been wrong but certainly it wasn’t as severe as to warrant such a response! Yikes!

          Perhaps, a little glass of wine before you start perusing the interwebs?

          • Doober says:

            But your last little condescending comment at the end was warranted?

            And the post she was replying to was pretty biting. Perhaps you should read it again.

          • STEPHANIE JONES says:

            Bob is it not possible that Kyle should lighten up?

          • Sandy says:

            so glad that I read your reply to Andrea before I replied to her. You sure were much nicer then I would have ever been. I mean all he did was express his opinion and his experience with this recipe, neither apparently was good, but that’s ok…isn’t it? She seems to have the market covered on what is classless and tacky! My vote is for a bottle not just a glass of wine!

      • Katherine says:

        Kyle, you may or may not know how to make a great tasting sugar cream pie; however, your comment is not only condescending, it also lacks “taste.”

      • Bea says:

        Thanks for sharing! I would like to research the desperation pies? Never heard of that.

        • donna says:

          They may have meant Depression pie.So many things were in short supply or unaffordable during the depression that many dishes substituted ingredients. If
          you google depression cook book you will see the whole history cooking during that time.

      • STEPHANIE JONES says:

        Sorry Kyle, this recipe predates the ‘eastern midwest’ by a couple of centuries. You are simply doting on your version of a timeless recipe. Why not can the hostiliy and simply stick to your recipe. Personally, I find it offensive that someone might stir food with their fingers, but that is just me. One can always use the handle of a wooden spoon and achieve the same stirring method.

  4. Becky says:

    OMG! I used to buy a frozen sugar pie in Ohio over 30 years ago. I’ve tried and tried to locate a recipe but only came up with lemon chess. So happy I’ve found this recipe for sugar cream pie! At least it looks like what I remember!

  5. Mike says:

    My grandmother in Indiana used to make sugar cream pie for us whenever we would visit. It was my favorite. I’ll give this a try, thanks!

  6. sharon du toit says:

    maybe this could be easier – just add a tablespoon of flour to the hot milk mixture to form the firmness of the porridge (thick ingredient). In South Africa we will add 4 eggs to the mixture. we beat eggs, sugar, flour, starch, vanilla etc in separate bowl. the milk and butter preheats – the secret is to NOT let the milk boil. when you see the milk sending those little vapours, then whisk in your flour mixture and keep stirring till its thick. ditch the nutmeg and replace with cinnamon. the base you can also replace with grahams crackers crumbled to form a base. hope it helps :-)

    my recipe

    1litre milk
    125g butter
    1 – 1.5 cups sugar

    melt together

    4 eggs
    two tbs very high heaped flour
    1 tbs very high heaped corn starch
    2 tbs vanilla essence (yes two table spoons)

    beat till smooth

    melt butter sugar and milk until warm – SO NOT LET IT REACH BOILING STAGE. whisk in the egg mixture and whisk till its a thick porridge. use crumbed crackers in base of tart dish. This makes for a large tart. Sprinkle with cinnamon and let cool. It does not require for baking.

    This is an ancient Cape Malay dish dating back more than 2 centuries and is simply awesome. The day your child does not want to eat, this will pepper him up. the sugar can be replaced by Stevia.

    • Ngaire Rowley says:

      I would like to know what half and half is?? Can someone help as I would love to try this recipe.

      • Half and half is a product composed of half milk and half cream, so it’s a bit lighter than whipping cream and delicious. Find it in the refrigerated section of the store next to the milk.

      • maria rosa santacruz says:

        It is half cream half milk, in the U.S. it’s sold as coffee creamer.

      • terri says:

        !/2 and 1/2 has so many uses…try my favorite by pouring it in as the creamer part of your next cup of coffee! Not to plug a free commercial for Walmart, but their brand is almost half the price of other brands, and has a long out date on them always.

  7. Kim Campbell says:

    I just have to say, this was one of the best pies I’ve ever tasted!! We have a local restaurant that makes homemade Old Fashioned Cream Pie and this recipe reminded me so much of theirs that I’m going to be making it myself at home from now on! It is FANTASTIC!!! I followed the recipe just as it’s written, except for a couple little changes. I used an 8×8 glass dish like Stephanie mentioned. I also used homemade half & half and vanilla bean paste. The pie turned out perfect!!! It’s probably not a great thing that I know how to make this now!! Thanks for this recipe Steph, I would recommend this to anyone and everyone who has ever wanted a recipe for cream pie or has ever wanted to try it!!

    • evey says:

      Is it possible to use stevia ans xylitol? I can’t have real sugar due to health reasons, but this pie sounds amazing.

  8. Barbarainnc says:

    I couldn’t get it to print!!!!

  9. Geri says:

    Our local grocery store has raspberries on sale this weekend for Memorial day….know just what is going to be served with it! Love the idea of “Sugar PIe and berries” . Can’t wait thanks for the recipe. Know it’s a keeper.

  10. Stephen says:

    If you like sugar pie and creme brulee, you really need to make a trip to Quebec, where ‘tarte au sucre’ has been a local favourite for centuries. The primary difference is that it is made with maple sugar, and comes in either the creamy kind, or the more homestyle kind which is sort of like a pecan pie flavoured with maple and without the pecans.

    If you’re in Quebec City, stop at Le Cochon Dingue (The Crazy Pig), a fabulous restaurant in the old town lower level, in a 400-year-old house. Everything they serve is fabulous, and their tarte au sucre is absolutely amazing. Here’s the link (English version): Enjoy!

  11. Brenda Rosolowsky says:

    What would happen if you used salted butter??????

  12. Tanya says:

    I’d love to make this with a lime flavor. Any suggestions on how to make flavor variations? I had key lime crème brulee at the Wayside Inn several years ago and have yet to find anything that comes close!

    • Stef says:

      Hmm.. you could add a bunch of lime zest to the recipe and maybe replace a little of the half and half with a touch of lime juice. No promises on how it will come out, but that is where I would start.

  13. Enriqueta says:

    Hey there I am so happy I found your blog, I really found you by mistake, while
    I was researching on Bing for something else, Anyways I am
    here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I
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  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about sugar pie. Regards

  15. Guy Blounge says:

    Il s’agit d’une très bonne recette. Je voudrais cependant, dans un endroit de crème fraîche au fouet et peut-être utiliser des raisins secs pour une saveur élargie.

  16. Maple says:

    Hi Stef, how would you alter the recipe if you were to use an 8 inch square baking dish as suggested above? I don’t have skillets like yours. Thanks!

  17. Nancy Wright says:

    Calorie count ! Sounds delicious.

  18. Wilson says:

    I’m very happy to find this great site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!!

    I definitely loved every part of it and I have you
    bookmarked to see new information in your site.

  19. Emilia says:

    Being that it’s an iron skillet, wouldn’t refrigerating it overnight risk rusting? Looks absolutely delicious, yum!!!!!

  20. Vicky says:

    I could never get for my filling to be “a little jiggly, but it won’t move very much if you shake the skillet” Its still porridge-like but not really consistent (if I shake the skillet it all shakes all over). I really don’t know where I went wrong! Any ideas?

    • Stef says:

      Was the filling thick and porridge-like before you started to bake it? It’s possible you didn’t cook that long enough or didn’t bake the pie long enough.

  21. Vicky says:

    I did bake the pie for about 45-50min. Mmmm it was porridge-like but not that thick kind of like something you would feed a baby, You think I should let it cook for a few more min?

  22. Michelle says:

    Has anyone tried to brulee the top?

  23. Lisa says:

    Just a note…lovely little restaurant in a central Ohio town down from my office made the best sugar cream pies. I didn’t think they could get any better until she added fresh peaches during peach season. OH MY GOODNESS!! Of course she called it Peaches and Cream Pie. Will definitely give this recipe a try …with and without peaches :) By the way – love the skillet. I cook so many things in my cast iron…from pot roast to fried chicken to pineapple upside down cake….YUM!

  24. Grandmaelsie5 says:

    No one is really wrong. My Momma used to make this pie for us kids growing up way back when in my lil hometown of Southeast Ohio..
    Her recipe was;
    1cup Sugar
    1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
    1/4 cup flour
    Dash of salt
    Small pat if butter
    1 tsp. Of vanilla

    Place all ingredients in a small pie pan with low sides in an “unbaked” pie shell. Stir ingredients through with your fingers. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon. Bake 30 minutes.
    To hurry up baking time. Place all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil, boil about 1 minute until it starts to thicken, remove from stove top. Pour into a pre-baked pie shell allow to cool. Sprinkle with nutmeg or Cinnamon. Mixture will set and shrink and cools….
    I have not tried this with splenda yet…

  25. AE says:

    Pie looks good but I can’t handle all the ads on your site.

    Monetizing is good, this is just plain obnoxious. Low rent and obnoxious.

  26. Ausrey says:

    We did not care for this pie. I even added more sugar and still not sweet. Not sure why, but do not think, will fix again. Sorry

  27. Ida Dohoney says:

    I am a terrible pastry maker but I think I could master this. My taste buds are interested in this Sugar pie.

  28. Brenda says:

    Can this be made with soy or coconut or almond milk. For those of us who are lactose challenged?

  29. elize says:

    Hi what is half+half, is it milk and water?

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