Old-fashioned Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping

butterscotch pie 3

People knew how to make lovely pies a hundred years ago. An old-time winter favorite was Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping. I found this classic recipe in the February, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping.

The Butterscotch Pie is irresistible with a smooth, buttery pudding and a light, delightful meringue. Here’s my adaptation of the recipe for modern cooks:

Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoons cold water

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 8-inch (small) baked pie shell

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine brown sugar and hot water in a saucepan, bring to a boil. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the flour and salt. Gradually stir the cold water into the flour mixture to create a smooth paste; then stir in the beaten egg yolks. Add one tablespoon of the hot sugar liquid to flour and egg yolk mixture and stir to combine; then add several additional tablespoons of the hot sugar liquid while stirring constantly. When enough liquid has been added to make a thin paste,  stir the flour and egg yolk mixture into the remaining hot sugar mixture in the saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer  while continuing to stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. When the butter is melted, pour into the pie shell.

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until peaks form, then beat in the granulated sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of  the pie, and then swirl. Use care to get the meringue spread all the way to the edge of the pie. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

61 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping

      1. Curiously the 1918 recipe doesn’t call for milk or heavy cream like many of the newer recipes for butterscotch pie.
        There’s also less butter called for in the old recipe!
        My grandmother used to make delicious butterscotch pie. Unfortunately we didn’t get her recipe 😞

    1. No, I don’t think that they had pre-made pie shells back then. The original recipe in the old magazine said to, “Bake a shell of flaky pastry.” When I made this pie I actually made the crust from scratch, and pre-baked it. The only tricky thing about baking an empty pie shell is that it tends to slip down the edge of the pan and shrink. I kept checking on the shell when it was in the oven–and eased it back up to the top edge of the pan if it began to slide down. I also pricked it with a fork to keep it from puffing up. Of course you could buy a pre-made pie shell at the store.

  1. Yummy! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten butterscotch pie. Seeing the meringue brought back memories of home-ec in high school. I didn’t know until then how meringue was made. It still intrigues me.

    1. I think that you’ll like it. I’m looking forward to hearing how it turns out. When I made this pie, the thing that I found most difficult was getting the pudding mixture to the right thickness (so that it would hold its shape in the pie). I stirred it constantly until it thickened, so that it won’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

  2. This does look good. I don’t believe I’ve ever had butterscotch pie, although we used to have butterscotch pudding a good bit. If I were going to go to the trouble of a meringue, I’d probably go for coconut or lemon, but if someone were to plunk a piece of this down in front of me, I wouldn’t refuse it.

    1. I understand. I had difficulty deciding how long after New Year’s Day I should wait before I posted a recipe for a sweet. I decided that I could reward myself for eating nutritiously for most of January by making this pie. 🙂

  3. My grandmother was big on the meringue pies–lemon, chocolate, coconut custard (!)–but she never made a butterscotch pie that I remember. It looks wonderful!

    1. I’m enjoying rediscovering meringue as I make recipes for this blog. For some reason, it seems like meringue pies used to be much more popular than what they are now.

    1. If you love both butterscotch and pie, this is the perfect recipe for you. The butterscotch in this recipe is a bit more brown sugary (and less processed) than the butterscotch candies–which I think makes it even better than the candies

    1. I also was surprised. Cooking was much more of a female activity a hundred years ago. This is the first time that I’ve ever noticed a recipe contribution to the magazine from a male. I wonder if the recipe sender was a chef.

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