This classic Butterscotch Meringue Pie is an old-fashioned favorite, and it's perfect when you want something rich and creamy and a bit indulgent.
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Who invented butterscotch pie?
Legend has it that butterscotch pie was invented in Connersville, Indiana, by Sarah Wheeler in 1904. Maybe that's why we always had butterscotch pies since Connersville was close to my hometown. Growing up in Indiana, this pie was always on the table for our family gatherings. One thing I know is there are a lot of butterscotch pie recipes with so many variations that it's hard to know which one to make. Today, in honor of my grandma Margaret I am happily making her recipe.
Cooking with my grandma meant no measuring anything, just putting ingredients in a pan and stirring, and everything tasted perfect. To be honest, when I tried making something I saw grandma make it never tasted as good and getting her recipes written down took a lot of time and patience. I'm curious, do you have grandma's recipes?
Butterscotch is not the same thing as caramel. Butterscotch is made with brown sugar, and caramel is made with white sugar.
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The butterscotch filling ingredients
The ingredients make simple custard you add to a pre-baked pie shell.
- Butter - Use salted or unsalted butter
- Brown Sugar - for this pie, I prefer light brown sugar
- Eggs - I always use large eggs
- Milk - Whole milk works best for creaminess
- Flour - All purpose flour is used as a thickener
- Vanilla extract - I know it's expensive, but use the best you can afford
How to make a Butterscotch Pie: Step by Step
Now I am going to be totally honest about making the butterscotch custard filling that goes into the pie shell. I have had massive failures and have learned it takes a while to cook the custard until it is thick, I mean thick. The eggs and the flour in the custard need to cook long enough to set up, and you need to stir constantly.
When the filling is done, it should coat the back of your spoon.
Step 1. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup of milk, flour, and eggs until combined.
Step 2. I make this custard in a skillet, but you can use a saucepan. Start by adding the remaining milk. Heat the milk over low heat until it starts to bubble around the edges of the pan.
Step 3. In a small saucepan, add the brown sugar, salt, and water and mix to combine. Cook this over medium heat until you get a gentle boil; keep cooking this until the mixture is thickened.
Step 4. Slowly add the caramelized sugar to the hot milk
Step 5. Now slowly whisk in the egg yolk mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is nice and thick. This could take about ten minutes. I know it feels like a long time, but the results are a deep butterscotch flavor.
Step 6. Once the filling is cooked, pour it into the pre-baked pie shell.
I don't recall my grandmother making a meringue to top any pies, it just wasn't her thing, but today I think a nice fluffy meringue will jazz up this pie.
Step 7. Make your meringue and pipe or spoon on top of the hot butterscotch custard. Bake for about 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees until the meringue is lightly browned. It's like puffy little pillows on my pie.
This pie is so hard to resist; it has a flaky brown pie crust with the silky, brown sugar custard on top with a pillow of meringue topping everything off. It's simply luscious.
More pie recipes to bake and eat
This rustic Apple Cranberry Galette is a simple free-form pie filled with sweet apples and tart cranberries. Pecan Tassies are just like a pecan pie only in a mini size. Jelly Roll Pie Tarts are a golden brown flaky pie dough filled with sweet jam or jelly. Make sure to read How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust, a must for your cream pies.
Baking tools for pie making
The whipper whisk I use to make this custard is one of my favorite kitchen tools. The coils are flexible, and it is great for getting into the sides of a pan. I always use it for sauces, gravies, roux, or anything that needs a good stir.
This is the basic 9" cream pie plate that I use. It's the perfect size for cream pies.
Rolling out pie dough is so easy with my favorite French Rolling Pin.
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Butterscotch Meringue Pie
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Butterscotch Custard for Pie
- In a medium bowl add ½ cup of milk, flour, and egg yolks. Mix until smooth and set aside.
- In a skillet or medium-sized saucepan add 2 cups of milk over low heat. Cook just until the milk starts to bubble.
- Over medium-low heat add the brown sugar, salt, and ½ cup of water to a small saucepan and cook to a gentle boil. Continue cooking until the sugar mixture thickens and starts bubbling.
- Slowly add the caramelized sugar to the hot milk stirring constantly. Continue to cook over over medium-low heat.
- Slowly whisk in the egg yolk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the custard becomes thick. This may take about ten minutes and the custard should coat the back of a spoon.
- Take off the heat and add the butter and vanilla, stir to combine. Pour into the prebaked pie shell.
- In a large bowl or a stand mixer beat the egg whites and whisk until foamy.
- Whisk in the cornstarch and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar until the meringue is stiff but not dry and peaks form.
- Spread the meringue over the hot butterscotch filling. Make sure to spread completely to the edges of the pie.
- Place in a 350° degree oven for about 8 minutes to brown the meringue.
- Let the pie cool completely before serving
- After serving lightly cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Note: The meringue may weep once refrigerated.
First published: Jan. 31, 2019, Last updated: Oct. 21, 2022, for better readability.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory recipes with all my baking friends.