This Old Fashioned Vinegar Pie is a super easy vintage recipe that makes a silky, delicious chess style pie your family will love!
So, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably thinking one of two things… “What the heck is vinegar pie?” or “Vinegar Pie! My grandmother use to make that!”
In either case, I’m glad you’re here. Let’s jump into this…
What is vinegar pie?
Vinegar Pie falls into a category commonly referred to as desperation pies. Like its cousins Water Pie, Buttermilk Pie, etc, these easy chess-style/custard-style pies became popular during the Great Depression because they included simple, inexpensive ingredients. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? While many of these pies existed before the Depression, they became much more popular then.
Citrus fruits were expensive during that time and often nearly impossible to find, so ingenious cooks swapped the acidic juice from things like lemons for vinegar.
The vinegar gave the pie a tartness that helped to cut the sweetness of the filling.
What does vinegar pie taste like?
Fortunately, not vinegar. In this case, the vinegar is used as a flavoring more than a main ingredient.
The vinegar gives the pie a gentle tartness that almost resembles lemon. It works to keep the pie from being too sweet.
It sounds weird, but I promise… It’s super delicious.
How do I make vinegar pie?
It’s crazy easy. Once you have your crust prepared, you simply mix the eggs, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and butter together and pour it in the crust. Then it’s as simple as baking it.
When it comes to the crust, a 9-inch frozen pre-formed crust works great and saves a ton of time. I’ve also frequently used the rolled, refrigerated crusts. A homemade crust is perfect, too – if you’ve got some extra time on your hands.
What kind of vinegar should I use?
In doing a little research, I found recipes that call for both apple cider vinegar and plain white vinegar. I tested this pie both ways and didn’t find tons of difference. With that being said, I think I like the pie made with white vinegar best. To me, the apple cider vinegar seemed to “muddy” the simple flavor a bit. Honestly, I wouldn’t turn down either one if they were offered to me. But I don’t often turn down pie of any kind. 😂
Do I need to blind bake the crust?
First let’s talk about blind baking…
Blind baking is essentially pre-baking your crust. This is required when making a pie that doesn’t require baking, because, well… no one wants a raw crust. It’s essential with things like pudding pies and other no-bake pies that call for a traditional crust.
The truth is, blind baking can be a little cumbersome. Pie crusts often bubble up and even split when blind baking. Some recipes call for you to prick the crust with a fork to allow the steam to escape and help prevent bubbles. Others call for you to line the crust with parchment or foil and use dried beans, rice, or pie weights to hold the crust down as it bakes. I’ve even seen another method from Alton Brown that has you use another pie pan to press and keep the dough flat.
Honestly, I don’t normally blind bake crusts for pie that need to be baked and didn’t for this one either. Does it lead to the crust sometimes being a little soft? Yes – sometimes.
Can you blind bake the crust for this recipe? Absolutely!
It’s the best way to prevent a soggy crust. The only thing I’ll caution you on is that because of the lengthy cook time, the crust might get a little dark on the edges. So have some strips of aluminum foil or a pie shield nearby in case you need to cover the edges of the crust if they start to burn.
How do I tell if my pie is done?
Ending up with an undercooked and runny pie is always no fun, regardless of how cheap the ingredients are. So, it’s important to make sure the pie is cooked through. At this cook time, you really shouldn’t have any trouble with that, but stuff happens.
The pie should be golden brown, but slightly jiggly when gently shaken.
And I know some of y’all are going to come at me for this, but I also put the recommended cook temperature in the recipe as well. Yes, it might seem a bit extra. But having an instant read thermometer in your kitchen is probably one of the most valuable tools. A quick temp check means you can guarantee your pie is done. Once it reaches 160°F, the eggs will have set and your pie should be good to go!
Old Fashioned Vinegar pie
- 1 9-inch pie crust* (frozen, refrigerated, or homemade)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and butter until smooth. Pour into the crust.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown but the center is slightly jiggly. The center of the pie should register 160°F on an instant read thermometer.
- Cool completely. Top with powdered sugar, whipped ream, etc. – if desired. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How do only 4 eggs fill the crust? Are they beaten to fluff them?
No, don’t beat the eggs too much. The eggs and the additional ingredients creates enough to fill the crust.
Stacey: I thought this was really good. Some time ago, I tried a brown sugar pie-I can’t have pecans and I thought it would be like a pecan pie without the pecans. It was. 8( This is way better and a keeper. I used white vinegar as you suggested, and cut the recipe in half. I also did not use a crust. I don’t need to be eating 8 slices of pie and I also saved work and calories by not doing a crust. I baked it for 25 min at 325° on the bottom rack of my air fryer oven. It was 168° when I cheked it. I will make this again. Thanks!
So, so glad to hear you enjoyed it, Kathy!
When I am baking a pie such as the vinegar pie . Pumpkin or Dutch apple I rub a small amount of flour with my finger tips to absorb any excess moisture . Not much , just a dusting
Like you rub the flour on the unbaked crust?
It looks like buttermilk pie which I love. I may have to try this.
I think it’s very close with a slightly different flavor.
What would happen if you brushed the bottom (uncooked) pie crust with butter before pouring in the filling?
I’m not sure. I’ve not tried that.
To prevent soggy bottom crust on this type of pie or pot pies, blind bake and *immediately* after removing from oven brush 0n egg wash. The heat sets/seals the crust so fillings don’t permeate it. But ya will want to be sure you’ve beaten that egg before the crust is done. This process also makes it safe to not over-bake the bottom crust, helping achieve a set but beautiful pie.
Great tip! Thanks for sharing. I’ll certainly try that.
Jane B. Rhea
Wow! You brought back memories! My Mom used to make the most beautiful vinegar pies! I thought they were lemon so I tried a piece!
Yes Stacy just a bit of flour and smooth it over the surface with your fingertips . I have also heard people say they brushed the bottom crust with egg white but I have never done that. I think the flour just makes a bit of a deal.
NoniB Nana too
Nana, you can use whole egg too. It works wonderfully and you just beat till creamy. For me whole seems to seal faster and with a bit more occlusive value.
That’s great! I’ll have to try this!