Old-fashioned Grapefruit Pie

Grapefruit Pie

I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Grapefruit Pie, and decided to give it a try. The pie was bursting with a sunny grapefruit flavor. It reminded me of lemon meringue pie, but was a little less tart.

Here’s the original recipe:

Grapefruit Pie

Recipe for Grapefruit Pie

Source: American Cookery (March, 1922)

Rather than squeezing a grapefruit to get juice to make the pie, I purchsed a bottle of grapefruit juice. A typical grapefruit contains about 3/4 cup of juice.. When I made this recipe, the pie filling was a little juicy, so when I updated the recipe I added an additional egg yolk, (The original recipe called for 2 yolks and 3 egg whites. Using an additional yolk eliminates the need to figure out what to do with an extra yolk.). I also added an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch when I updated the recipe to further thicken the filling.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Grapefruit Pie

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup grapefruit juice

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 9-inch pie shell, baked


3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons grapefruit juice

Place water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and grapefruit juice in a saucepan, stir until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add a small amount of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, while stirring constantly, and then slowly add to the contents in the saucepan while stirring constamtly. Remove from heat. If not smooth, stain the mixture. Allow the mixture to cool.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 ° F. and  make the meringue. Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 6 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat; add the 2 teaspoons of grapefruit juice and beat.  Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl. Place pie  in the oven and bake for  8 – 10  minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.


Hundred-year-old Grapefruit Serving Suggestion


There’s a lovely suggestion for serving grapefruit in a hundred-year-old magazine. The membrane between the segments is removed, and a maraschino cherry (or other fruit) is added as a garnish.

When two of my children visited recently, I tried serving  grapefruit this way. The feedback very positive. Both agreed that the grapefruit was attractive and easy to eat.

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), March, 1916
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), April, 1916

Updated directions for modern cooks: Halve the grapefruit with a small paring knife; next cut around the edge of the grapefruit and around each segment, and then carefully remove several segments. With the knife cut the center membrane near where it is attached to the grapefruit rind, and then gently remove all of the membranes. After the membranes are removed, replace previously removed segments, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.