Vinegar Pie

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
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This classic Southern dessert blends the tanginess of vinegar with the sweetness of a silky custard filling, to create a sweet and tangy pie. With an added pinch of cinnamon, this vinegar pie recipe is a comforting favorite!

Why You’ll Love This Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie

Why should you try this vinegar pie recipe? Here are just a few reasons!

  • Sweet and Tangy: Vinegar pie tastes creamy, sweet, and tangy, with a slight warmth from the pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg. It’s a scrumptious contrast, similar to other creamy and tangy pies like mini lemon meringue pies or this frozen key lime pie.
  • Basic Ingredients: You don’t need any fancy ingredients to make this easy pie. Just basic pantry staples like butter, sugar, eggs, and (of course!) vinegar.
  • Traditional: This classic dessert will take you back to simpler times. Its old-timey charm is just…well… charming!
  • Complex and Elegant: Despite its minimal ingredients, vinegar pie makes a lovely, even impressive dessert! With its complex flavors and pretty, silky custard, this is a festive pie that guests will love.
A Southern vinegar pie dusted with powdered sugar.

Why Do You Put Vinegar in a Pie?

So, why vinegar? Vinegar is added to vinegar pie for a few reasons. First, it balances the sweetness of the pie, adding a unique tangy flavor that will remind you a bit of lemon pie, cheesecake, or other tangy-sweet desserts.

Historically, vinegar pie is an old-fashioned depression era recipe that was also often called desperation pie. During the Great Depression, many desserts were made using staple ingredients like butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Vinegar was used to enhance flavor during times when cooks might have had limited ingredients, and it might have also helped preserve the pie. Overall, vinegar adds complexity to the pie’s taste and texture, which is why this old-fashioned recipe is still a big-time favorite.

Ingredients for vinegar pie, arranged on a table.

What Is Vinegar Pie Made Of?

  • Pie Crust: You can either use a pre-made pie crust or make my homemade pie crust.
  • Butter: Softened butter is essential! It needs to be very, very soft, so that you can whisk it with the other ingredients.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour is used to thicken the filling and give it the right consistency.
  • Sugar: I use both granulated sugar and light brown sugar. 
  • Eggs: A key ingredient that gives structure and texture to the filling.
  • Vinegar: You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Either one adds a tangy flavor that balances the sweetness of the pie.
  • Water
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract gives the best flavor.
  • Spices (Optional): Either cinnamon or nutmeg (or a little of both!) can be used to add warmth and depth of flavor to the filling.
  • Powdered Sugar (Optional): If desired, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the finished pie for a decorative touch.
Lifting a piece of pie on a pie server.

How to Make Vinegar Pie

Vinegar pie strikes the perfect balance between sweet and tangy, all in a smooth, custardy filling. Let’s dive into the easy steps to create this unique dessert:

  • Pre-Bake the Pie Crust. Preheat the oven to 400°F, and line a pie pan with homemade or store-bought crust. Place a sheet of parchment over the crust, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans to keep it from puffing up. Bake for 10 minutes. Take out the weights, and bake for 5 minutes more.
  • Make the Filling. Take a big mixing bowl, and whisk the filling ingredients (butter, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, water, vanilla, and cinnamon) to combine.
  • Fill and Bake the Pie. Pour the pie filling into the baked crust, and turn the oven temperature down to 375°F. Bake the pie for 20 minutes, or until the filling is set and only jiggles slightly when moved.
  • Cool and Enjoy! Cool for 15 minutes if you want to serve your vinegar pie warm, or let it cool completely and then chill it for a couple of hours to serve cold. Dust it with powdered sugar just before serving, if you like!

Baking Tips for the Best Southern Vinegar Pie

I have made this pie with regular vinegar and apple cider vinegar, we can’t really tell the difference. You can use either one! Here are a few more helpful tips:

  • Spices: Traditionally no nutmeg or cinnamon were added to vinegar pie, but I find just a little pinch of either one adds a lot more depth of flavor. You can feel free to skip it if you prefer a more traditional version.
  • Granulated Sugar: I like to use half granulated sugar and half brown sugar to give the pie more flavor. You can choose to use all granulated sugar instead.
  • Garnishing: Instead of powdered sugar, you can also garnish it with a dollop of whipped cream.
A homemade pie dusted with powdered sugar.

How to Store This Pie

To store vinegar pie, cover it with plastic wrap or foil to keep in the flavor and moisture. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Does Vinegar Pie Freeze Well?

Unfortunately, creamy pies like this don’t always freeze well. Sometimes the filling gets a bit watery after thawing. However, if you want to give it a try, I recommend wrapping it tightly in two layers (foil or plastic wrap – either one is good for freezing). Mark it with the date, and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw it out in the fridge before serving.

Vinegar pie slice topped with whipped cream.

More Classic Southern Desserts

Landscape shot of homemade vinegar pie.
5 from 3 votes
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Yield: 10

Vinegar Pie

This classic Southern dessert blends the tanginess of vinegar with the sweetness of a silky custard filling, to create a sweet and tangy pie. With an added pinch of cinnamon, Vinegar Pie is a comforting favorite!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 9- inch homemade pie crust, or store bought
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or nutmeg
  • Powdered sugar, optional garnish

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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the premade pie crust then place it in a 9-inch pie dish.
  • Tuck the crust into the ledge of the pan and crimp the edges in whatever design you like.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper over the crust and fill it with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the paper and weights and continue baking for 5 more minutes.
  • While the pie crust baked, whisk to combine the butter, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, water, vanilla, and cinnamon, in a large bowl.
  • Pour the filling into the pie crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake the pie for 20 minutes, or until the filling is set and only jiggles slightly when moved.
  • Allow the pie to cool for 15 minutes and serve warm, or let pie cool completely and transfer to the fridge for 2 hours to serve chilled. Dust pie with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Notes

Storing: To store vinegar pie, cover it with plastic wrap or foil to keep in the flavor and moisture. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
Spices: Traditionally no nutmeg or cinnamon were added to vinegar pie, but I find just a little pinch of either one adds a lot more depth of flavor. You can feel free to skip it if you prefer a more traditional version.
Granulated Sugar: I like to use half granulated sugar and half brown sugar to give the pie more flavor. You can choose to use all granulated sugar instead.
Garnishing: Instead of powdered sugar, you can also garnish it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Nutrition

Calories: 1074kcal, Carbohydrates: 110g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 63g, Saturated Fat: 23g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 27g, Trans Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 90mg, Sodium: 918mg, Potassium: 233mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 381IU, Vitamin C: 0.002mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 6mg

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.