Sugar Cream Pie recipe is filled with a gloriously thick, creamy, vanilla custard, sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon, and made with a handful of simple ingredients and easy steps.
There are many ways to make an old fashioned Hoosier Pie, but this is the absolute best, no-fail version!
What is Sugar Cream Pie?
Just ponder the name of this pie recipe. Are you kidding me?! How can this not be the best dessert you ever ate based on the TITLE ALONE.
Old fashioned sugar cream pie falls in the simpler-is-better category. There’s not much too it, oh my, is it good. You know why it’s so good? Because there’s sugar, and cream, and pie. What more could you need?
This pie recipe is also known as Hoosier Pie because of its popularity in Indiana. Evidently the state legislature thought it was kind of a big deal too, so Indiana Sugar Cream Pie became the official state pie in 2009.
It is also referred to as a “desperation pie.” Back in the day, when farmers ran out of apples or fruit, they could still make this pie.
So apparently the best time to make this pie is ALWAYS. I’m down with that.
Why is This recipe works
Being a native Hoosier myself, I know from first-hand experience all sugar cream pie recipes aren’t created equal because I’ve tested a lot of them out (perks of the job).
There are a few methods for making this pie. The easiest way would be mixing the all ingredients in a bowl, pouring it into an unbaked crust, and letting it bake completely in the oven.
Unfortunately, this method takes a long time to back, and there is uncertainty about when it’s actually ready to be pulled out of the oven.
Next, the custard can be cooked completely on the stove-top and poured into a baked pie crust. However, the custard didn’t consistently set and the flavor isn’t quite as developed as with baking the custard.
Which brings me to why this sugar cream pie recipe is the best. The custard partially cooks on the stove and finishes in the oven for an abbreviated amount of time. The filling sets solidly and is never runny.
- Pie crust – Use a homemade pie crust, regular or a gluten-free crust. It is partially baked first so the filling and crust finish at the same time.
- Sugar – A combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar gives structure and a caramel flavor.
- Cornstarch – Helps thicken the filling as it bakes. Although some recipes use flour, I prefer cornstarch to keep the recipe gluten-free.
- Half and half – Heavy cream would yield a thicker custard, if desired, but regular milk is not recommended because the filling may not set.
- Optional toppings – Sprinkle on ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or briefly broil on turbinado sugar after it bakes.
How To Make Sugar Cream Pie recipe
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Fit pie crust into a pie plate to partially bake the shell first. For this recipe I used my favorite gluten free pie crust recipe, but any homemade or store bought crust may be used. To make sure the crust holds its shape while baking, line bottom of crust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights before baking.
- While the pie crust is partially baking, begin to make the filling. Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add the half and half and whisk to combine.
- Bring the cream mixture to a boil over medium heat to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and add cubed butter and vanilla.
- Pour into a partially baked pie crust and finish baking in the the oven until golden brown.
- Allow the pie to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
See, I told you it was easy this recipe is! In no time at all you can be sinking your teeth into a slice of old fashioned Indiana cream pie!
Partially Baking Pie Crust
Since the custard first cooks on the stove it doesn’t need as long in the oven to set. In order to make sure the filling and crust are done at the same time, the crust is partially baked first.
When baking a pie crust without filling, also known as blind-baking, the shell needs to have something to hold it down so it doesn’t puff up or slide down the pie plate.
To do this, first line the bottom of the crust with a piece of foil or cut-to-size parchment paper. Fill with dried beans or my favorite pie weight and bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes.
Remove the weights and bake for 5-10 minutes longer, or until the crust starts to brown. The prepared custard is poured in and everything bakes together at this point.
Frequently asked questions
After the pie bakes let it cool completely on a wire rack, and then move it to the refrigerator.
Refrigerating cream or custard pies has two benefits. First of all, it keeps it safe to eat since the pies contain cream and eggs. Secondly, cooling the custard down helps to set and thicken it so you don’t have a liquidy pie!
Unfortunately, no. Custard pies, such as this or pumpkin, can produce a soggy crust when thawed. The cooked custard makes tiny water pockets and when it thaws that excess moisture will seep into the crust.
The main difference between sugar cream pie recipes are the type of cream used. I like to use half and half because it’s a good go between heavy whipping cream and milk. It keeps the pie lighter in calories, but still makes a rich, thick custard.
Milk may be substituted, but it will make the custard slightly thinner, but also contain less calories. I do not recommend using anything with less fat than 2%.
For the ultimate rich and creamy old fashioned pie, use heavy cream. The custard will also not take as long to thicken on the stove before pouring into the pie crust.
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Sugar Cream Pie
- Bake for 15 minutes on LOWER RACK. Remove weights and foil and bake for 5-10 minutes longer, until crust starts to brown and almost completely baked.
- Cool the crust on wire rack and reduce oven temperature to 375ºF. Begin to make custard filling.
- In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk in the half and half.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the butter and vanilla.
- Pour filling into par-baked crust (the crust doesn't have to be cooled completely) and sprinkle the filling with dusting of cinnamon, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and filling is set. Tip: If crust starts to brown too much before filling is set, cover the crust loosely with foil or use a pie shield.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before slicing and serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
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expert Tips and tricks
- Bake the crust on the lower rack so the bottom crust turns golden.
- When filling a pie shell with weights, make sure the shell is very cold first. After rolling out the dough into the pie plate, refrigerate it for 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes.
- While the pie shell is initially baking, you may begin making the custard filling. The shell does not have to cool completely before pouring it in.
- Every time I bake pies, I use this nifty, inexpensive pie shield to prevent the edges from becoming too browned.
- For best results with cutting and serving, cool the pie completely at room temperature then move to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1-2 hours before slicing.