Water Pie – Recipe from the Great Depression

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Discover the magic of water pie. A Great Depression era recipe, it takes simple ingredients to create this deliciously creamy and buttery pie. You won’t believe one of the main ingredients is water!

water pie slice

Water pie is one of those magical recipes that came out of the depression era where cooks with little to nothing figured out how to make delicious dishes for those they love. This Depression era pie recipe was shared with me by Kay West and I published it in my third cookbook, Sweetness: Recipes to Celebrate the Warmth, Love, and Blessings of a Full Life.

This Depression era water pie recipe belonged to Kay’s grandmother, who had eight children and made her family of 10 three meals from scratch every single day. During leaner times, she developed this recipe so that her family could still enjoy dessert from time to time, no matter how hard their days were. These recipes are such a special treasure to us! 

I think you’ll really enjoy the simplicity of this water pie. It has a creamy buttery taste, similar to a custard pie or warm vanilla cookie once it’s chilled and sliced. Half the thrill will be telling your family the name and that the main ingredient is water! Once you have had this pie you are going to be in the mood for all different kinds of pies like Apple PieCracker Pie, Strawberry Cream Pie, and German Chocolate Pie.

Ingredients for Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

Recipe Ingredients

You know when a recipe was created to make something out of nothing, it’s going to be simple on the ingredients.

  • A deep-dish pie crust (see tips for success at the bottom of this post).
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Vanilla extract

Helpful Kitchen Tools

Pouring Water for Water Pie

Begin by pouring water into your deep dish and unbaked pie crust, which should be in a pie dish. You can either use a pretty ceramic one like this or a disposable one doesn’t have to be boiling water, either – just straight from the tap is fine. 

Sprinkling Mixture for Water Pie

In a small mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar. 

Sprinkling sugar over Water Pie

Sprinkle the flour mixture over your water in the pie shell. The original recipe called for doing this with a spoon so I’m showing you that way but I usually just use my hand to sprinkle it because I feel like I can get it more even that way. 

Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

This is our water with flour/sugar sprinkled over. Don’t stir. 

Vanilla poured into Water Pie

Drizzle vanilla over this. Don’t stir. 

Pats of Butter on Water Pie

Place pats of butter on top. 

Place your pie pan in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce temp to 375 and cover the edges of the flaky crust if need be to prevent burning. Cook for another 30 minutes once you have reduced the temp. 

Fresh Baked Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

The pie will be very watery in the center when you remove it from the oven. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for several hours before cutting. 

Sliced Water Pie

Enjoy this creamy buttery pie recipe that came about from good-hearted cooks wanting to bake up something sweet for their loved ones during hard times! 

Pretty Slice of Water Pie

Storage

You can store pie leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.

Recipe Notes

  • I use a Pillsbury all vegetable frozen deep-dish pie crust, unbaked, for this recipe. I suggest a store-bought deep-dish pie crust because homemade pie crusts in your own dish are going to vary in terms of depth and may result in the filling not getting fully done in the prescribed amount of time. 
  • Before you begin making this pie, tear off a piece of foil large enough to cover your pie dish. Cut an X in the center and peel back the X. This will make it quick and easy to cover your pie should the edges begin getting too dark and will keep you from losing valuable heat during the baking process. 
  • The pie will be bubbly and could be watery in some spots when you pull it out of the oven. It will gel fully as it cools. It is best if you allow this pie to cool completely and then cover and refrigerate until chilled before cutting. 

Try Some Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between a water pie and a Sprite pie?

A Sprite pie is basically a modern-day version of the water pie. It became famous in 2020 when TikTok took the world by storm. They both taste very similar, like a delicious sugar cookie. If you’d prefer to make a Sprite pie instead of a water pie, simply substitute the water for 1 can of Sprite. Follow the same instructions and ingredients in the recipe card and voila, you have yourself a Sprite pie!

Because you can never have too many great pie recipes:

Mint Oreo Ice Cream Pie

Triple Chocolate Brownie Pie

Impossible Lemon Pie Recipe

Peanut Butter Pie Recipe: Made the Old Fashioned Way

Apple Pie

Perfect Pecan Pie Recipe

Water Pie

Water Pie is a depression era recipe that turns bare bones ingredients into a delicious buttery pie!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pie
Servings: 4
Calories: 178kcal
Author: The SouthernPlate Staff

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, unbaked
  • 1 1/2 cups water (that is one and a half cups)
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 5 pieces

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 and set empty pie crust on a baking sheet.
    1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, unbaked
  • Pour 1 + 1/2 cups water into the pie crust.
    1 1/2 cups water
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the water in the crust. Don't stir.
    4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar
  • Drizzle the vanilla over the water in the pie crust. Place pats of butter on top of this.
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 5 pieces
  • Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and cover sides of crust if needed to prevent burning. Continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Pie will be watery when you pull it out of the oven but will gel as it cools. Allow to cool completely and then cover and place in the fridge until chilled before cutting.

Nutrition

Calories: 178kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

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278 Comments

  1. I also tried this Water Pie, and it was good just real sweet! I used a frozen deep dish pie crust and when it was done, I had a lot of crust showing from the pie filling to the top! When I look at your pie you have on here it does not show so much of the top of the crust! Do you think I could double the ingredients and since it was very sweet only use 1/2 cup sugar when doubling the ingredients to bring it up so all that crust will not be showing? I will put it on a biscuit pan for any spills before going into the oven! If I can double the ingredients what would be your suggestion on cooking time? I also used a pie protector around the crust top when I put it in the oven to keep it from browning so much and the top of the crust came out great, not overly brown! Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. Hi Judy,
      Glad you tried the water pie! I haven’t doubled the ingredients so can’t say how that would go. My concern is it cooking enough in the middle. You would have to experiment with cooking times to see what ends up being right for you. But the pie protector should help keep it from browning too much when you increase the cook time. If I would double the recipe I would use the same amount of sugar you used for the regular recipe as doubling with decrease the sweetness. But do whatever cranks your tractor :). Let me know how it turns out!

  2. I have a question. I have a Granddaughter who is allergic to the protein in all mammals dairy products, eggs, and all nuts. Could I make Water Pie with a vegan butter?

  3. My Grandmother, Leola, used to make ago.emade lemon cake a d she baked it in a black iron skillet. When it had cooled she would turn it out on a plate and then she would make a lemon glaze that she would cook in the same skillet. She would then pour it over the cake and it was heaven. The glaze was a little sweet, a little tart, and a tiny bit bitter. It was full of all parts of the lemon and it was so good. She passed away while I was young and I have searched high and low and have never been able to find a recipe that’s even close to hers. If anyone has any idea where to find one I would greatly appreciate it.

  4. You could use 1/4 cups of flour, instead of going to the trouble of measuring 4 tablespoons, since they’re the same.

  5. I make sugar cream pie. Substitute milk or cream for the water cook on top of stove add cornstarch cook till thickened remove from heat stir in a stick of butter pour in prebaked pie crust sprinkle with cinnamon. Delicious!

  6. I never heard of this pie, but my parents lived through the depression and my mom and gram always came up with crazy dishes like this but being Italian they always called it by crazy translation of the names.

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