For some reason, it’s rare to find a Sugar Cream Pie served outside of my home state of Indiana. I’m not sure exactly why this delicious, creamy pie hasn’t broken out of the Hoosier state, but we’re going to change that ASAP! Because everyone needs to make this pie.
Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie is incredibly simple to make. It uses ingredients that are easy to come by, and the flavor–oh the flavor! It tastes like buttery vanilla ice cream scented with cinnamon and nutmeg in a luscious, silky filling.
For us Hoosiers, this pie tastes like delicious nostalgia, and for you non-Hoosiers, everyone at your holiday gatherings will be begging for this recipe because it’s such a unique addition to the holiday dessert table. Let me show you how to make this splendid pie!
Okay, so what exactly is a sugar cream pie?
Spoiler alert: a sugar cream pie gives away all of its secrets right there in the title! The base ingredients for the filling are literally just sugar and cream.
But if you think that sounds too simple, don’t you dare underestimate this classic pie! It’s a sweet, creamy, custard pie that is lightly flavored with vanilla and spices (in this case we’re using nutmeg and cinnamon, but traditionally nutmeg alone or nothing at all is common).
Where does sugar cream pie originate from?
Sugar Cream Pie is an old-fashioned traditional pie here in Indiana, and it originated in the Indiana Amish communities in the mid-1800s as a way to get a dessert on the table when fruit wasn’t in season and the apple bins were empty. It grew in popularity throughout the state—especially where there is a heavy Amish population—and it’s still incredibly popular here today!
What’s in the pie filling?
Sugar cream pie filling is kind of like a thick pudding. You’ll need:
- Granulated sugar
- Half and half
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
The whole thing is topped with melted butter and sprinkled with additional sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to make a slightly crispy crust on top (think: cinnamon toast).
While I would normally advise you to use whatever half and half and butter you have, I really encourage you to search out the best cream and butter you can find. They are the stars of the filling show in this pie, so it makes a big difference to the final flavor!
And here’s a secret that could get me banned from Indiana: sometimes, I like to add a little maple syrup and bourbon to the filling for even more flavor. It adds a great complexity to sugar cream pie, even if it is total blasphemy.
Although I do tend to keep it “plain” more often than not for tradition’s sake—it’s so delicious either way, and we’ve included the sneaky mix-in option in the recipe below!
What’s the difference between sugar cream pie and custard pie?
A typical custard pie uses eggs to thicken the filling, whereas a sugar cream pie is generally egg-free. Recipes vary all across the state of Indiana, though—my dad thinks my great-grandmother used eggs in her sugar cream pie—but most frequently you’ll find that Sugar Cream Pies are thickened with cornstarch instead of eggs.
So, wait, there aren’t any eggs in this custard pie?
Nope, it’s pie magic, isn’t it? Unlike pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie, the custard of this pie is thickened with cornstarch instead of eggs, which makes it an incredibly simple pie to make. Plus it’s a big win in our house, since my husband is allergic to eggs.
What goes on top of Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie?
In many Hoosier kitchens, you’ll find Sugar Cream Pies totally naked without anything on top. Probably the most traditional way to serve it is with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. Here, we upped the flavor profile a touch by pouring on melted butter and topping the pie with a sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg mixture that gives a wonderful boost of spice flavor.
If you want to make your pie naked, it’ll still be delicious, just leave off the butter and cinnamon-nutmeg-sugar topping.
Can I make sugar pie ahead of time?
You sure can! In fact, we recommend making it at least a day in advance to give the pie plenty of time to set up.
Can I leave it out overnight?
Apologies if your fridge is already crowded, but sugar cream pie absolutely has to be refrigerated. The pie holds its shape thanks to chilling, so you’ll need to make some room in the fridge.
How long does sugar cream pie last in the fridge?
The high sugar content of the filling works as a preservative, which means sugar cream pie lasts longer than a fruit pie. It will be fine in the fridge for about 7-10 days.