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Vinegar Pies (Just like Laura Ingalls Wilder used to make!)

Note: This recipe is featured today in a guest post I wrote for Money Saving Mom®.

Here is the link to the guest post!  And below is the original write-up I published about it here on the Pretty/Hungry blog.


Vinegar Maple Pie- A farmhouse recipe from Laura Ingalls Wilder's time... made with humble ingredients but tastes surprisingly good!


You might recall my shock and awe back when I published this post about my Grandma’s Recipe Book a month or so ago.  The book I’m referring to is a sweet little collection from my Grandma Lena’s childhood/young womanhood, and it contains about 400 recipes for pie and about 5 recipes for non-pie.  (Clearly, my grandma had her priorities straight when she compiled this book.)

But the shock and awe came from this particular recipe…

Vinegar Pie??  It is surprisingly good and very inexpensive to make!


First of all…. Vinegar Pie?  Um, ew.

And second of all… a QUART of water?  (I read and re-read this recipe in disbelief… thinking SURELY there was no way it would produce an actual, edible pie.  An edible puddle maybe… but not a pie.)

So I started asking around.  And thankfully I have a few friends who are a bit more historically aware than I am, and they were able to enlighten me!  (You might ask why I didn’t have the presence of mind to just call my grandma and ask HER.  But friends, I am an airhead and a hopeless child of the technological age who forgets that answers can be found outside of the internet.)

Anyway, apparently Vinegar Pie is a very old, traditional recipe.  Laura Ingalls Wilder even recalled eating it as a child at Christmastime in her book Little House in the Big Woods, the first of her beloved series.  In fact Laura’s “Ma” was no stranger to baking “strange” pies.  The books say she could create a delicious pie out of almost anything!  She made it out of green pumpkins (in The Long Winter), black birds (in Little Town on the Prairie), dried apples (in By the Shores of Silver Lake), and of course vinegar, our star pie ingredient of the day!  WOW.  Go Ma!


Can't wait to read the "Little House" books with my little one!

Can’t wait to read the Little House books to my little one!


The humble Vinegar Pie came about as a dessert solution for families who did not have access to fancy ingredients.  In taste and texture, it very much resembles a cream pie or custard pie… but without the expensive cream and flavorings!  This pie is meant to be made from things anyone would have on hand at any time!  Water, eggs, vinegar, sugar, flour, a little salt, and a little flavoring (perhaps lemon or vanilla.)

First, water is boiled in a pot while the other pie ingredients are combined in a bowl.


Making old-fashioned Vinegar Pies


The filling mixture is then poured into the pot of boiling water and whisked constantly until it thickens, (the whisking is to prevent curdling of the eggs.)  Once it is thick, you remove the filling from the heat and add your desired flavoring.  (My Grandma’s recipe called for lemon, but I didn’t have that, so I used maple extract instead and it was quite delightful!  I highly recommend it.)  The thickened filling is then poured into a baked pie shell and chilled for 4 hours (or overnight) to firm up.


Old-fashioned Farmhouse Vinegar Maple Pie  |  prettyhungryblog.com


This recipe is definitely not difficult, just different!

I was skeptical the whole time I made it.  The vinegar smell was very strong in the kitchen and I thought for sure the pie would taste vinegary and be too runny.  But to my great surprise, it thickened up and ended up tasting great!  Very light and creamy… it is amazing to me that there is no milk or cream in it at all!  (Note:  You do have to whisk and boil the filling/water mixture for quite awhile to get it thick enough.  That step took me about 12 minutes.  However, I think you could easily decrease the amount of water in this recipe to cut down on your boiling time!  Most other recipes I looked up for reference used about half the amount this recipe calls for.)

As you can see in the first photo below, I got a little impatient to cut into the pie and have a taste.  It could’ve used a few more hours to thicken up fully… But by the next morning it was fully set.  (See 2nd photo.)  So word to the wise: Give it plenty of time to chill and firm up.  (Or alternatively you can just use less water.)



I realize you may never make this recipe, and to be honest, that is ok with me!  (Heck, I just like that you come around here to read, share, and be a part of the Pretty/Hungry community!  I love hearing from you, and I love writing to you.)

No one would deny that there are other (far more tempting) desserts out there.  But the thing about Vinegar Pie is that it’s not trying to be any of those!  Vinegar Pie has never been about “wowing” company with a show-stopping dessert.  It’s just a down-home sweet that hits the spot even when the pantry is bare.  I like that about it.  :)  When I eat it, I feel like Laura Ingalls.  And when I make it, I feel like Ma.  Hard-working, resourceful, and grateful for every cup of sugar and every egg.  Besides that, I think it’s important to always challenge yourself in the kitchen.  Make things you’re unsure about… things that sound complicated or risky.  High risk–> High reward… That’s what they taught me in finance school!

(And by the way, if you DO make it… feel free to call it Maple Pie instead of Vinegar Pie.  People seem less keen to try it when I offer it as “Vinegar Pie”.  Wonder why??)

I hope you have a fabulous Christmas.  Whether you’re celebrating simply (Laura Ingalls Wilder- style) with Vinegar Pie, or pulling out the big guns and making your fabulous Death by Chocolate Cheesecake, I hope every moment is scrumptious!



5.0 from 1 reviews
Vinegar Maple Pies
This classic recipe originated on the farms of the earliest American settlers. It uses simple, inexpensive ingredients to create an impossibly creamy & flavorful pie!
Recipe Type:: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves:: 16
  • 1 quart water (or 3 Cups, to shorten boiling time)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 3 heaping Tablespoons flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons cold vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Maple Extract
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  1. Well ahead of time, prepare two pie dishes with a single crust pastry and pre-bake according to recipe instructions. (For my favorite pie crust recipe, see below.) Allow pie shells to cool.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, & vinegar in a mixing bowl and use a whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the filling mixture into the boiling water and continue to boil, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. (6-12 minutes, depending on amount of water.)
  5. When mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat.
  6. Add in the cinnamon and maple extract and stir to combine.
  7. Pour mixture through a sieve into each pie crust to prevent any curdled egg from ending up in the finished pie.
  8. Refrigerate for 4+ hours (preferably overnight) before serving.


* For my favorite pie crust recipe, click here!




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*Note: This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure here.


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27 Responses so far.

  1. Laura says:

    I love recipes like this! Something that uses an unexpected ingredient, and procedures an unexpected result. And I have recently become obsessed with vintage recipes, because a lot of them paved the way for the things we create now. They were so resourceful in the ingredients they had, and far less wasteful. Because they actually had to learn by trial and error, there’s something to be said about that. I would definitely love to try this recipe some time.

    • Carissa says:

      I keep thinking the same thing, Laura! (So impressive that “Ma” Ingalls tried making green pumpkin pies and all those other things.) We moderners often don’t treat food like the gift it is. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Dina says:

    what a great post. i love food history. i have heard of vinegar pie and knew it was old, but i had no idea it used that much water. after reading your post, i guess it makes sense that it was a cheaper version of a custard pie. i’d love to try it. it sounds great!

    • Carissa says:

      You’re a step ahead of me then, because I had never heard of it before this! But it was worth trying… I couldn’t believe it actually worked with that much water!

  3. Genie says:

    Thank you for sharing this unusual recipe with Our Growing Edge this month. I have never heard of Vinegar Pies, they don’t look anything like what they sound like. You’re right though, Maple Pie has a better ring to it. I love how this uses ingredients that anyone would already have at home.

  4. […] of those jars after you’ve pulled them out of the boiling water is such a satisfying sound.  You’ll feel just like “Ma” Ingalls! […]

  5. You just simultaneously spiked my three areas of nerdiness: history, literature and baking. I am envious of you finding such a trove of vintage recipes, and look forward to seeing many more of them. Bookmarking now.

    • Carissa says:

      Thanks, Sarah! Surprisingly, a lot of the recipes in her book were for the same thing (about 20 recipes for “Black Bottom Pie”… never heard of it!)
      I’m equally nerdy when it comes to literature and baking… wish I were more into history. 😉 Glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. Leah says:

    what a beautiful recipe and exploration of an old recipe. I love how food has the power to take us on a trip down memory lane and to have us exploring our heritage. Great post! Leah, Sharing The Food We Love

  7. Jenn says:

    Hi, I saw your guest post on Money Saving Mom. I am excited to try the recipe. I would love to look further at your blog, but while reading the recipe I was disturbed by an ad for “League of Angels.” It has images that are pornographic. I would frequent your blog if I knew I wouldn’t have to be exposed to that. Hopefully that can be removed, and then replaced by an ad that is not offensive.

    • me says:

      hahahaha this is awesome. COVER THINE EYES, JENN!

    • Carissa says:

      Hi Jenn,
      I had to google “League of Angels” because I’ve never heard of it. Apparently it is a videogame! (I never would have thought to block videogame ads from my site. I just went with the obvious filters like reproductive health products and lingerie, ha!) Thanks for the heads-up. :)

  8. […] Pretty Hungry took on a very interesting challenge, and a trip into history to create her amazing looking vinegar pie.  This is a story worth reading even just to understand how such a simple and frugal pie can be created to indulge even the tightest budget. […]

  9. Marnelli says:

    Wow definitely unusual but so interesting, always keen to learn something new. I might try this, I’m all up for low budget desserts especially if there’s a story to tell 😀

  10. Joyce Mayhan says:

    Hi Carissa, just found your sight today. I was so surprised to see the recipe for this Vinegar Pie. I am now 65 yrs young (LOL) any way I was raised by grandparents who were born around the early 1900’s and I grew up with Vinegar Pie as a coveted dessert. I can’t say we ever give a second thought, but looking back we were very poor, we lived on the farm, with chickens running around the yard. I remember a many a morning when my “Mommy” would tell me to watch and listen for the chickens to lay some eggs, to gather and bring them in and she would make us a Vinegar Pie..
    So glad to find this recipe because the sad fact is Mommy had the recipe in her head and none of the family remembers it ever being put on paper. We have discussed it lots of times through the years and now I can make it and surprise them at the at our next get together. Thank you. Joyce Mayhan

    • Carissa says:

      What a wonderful story, Joyce! I wonder how this recipe will compare to the pies of your childhood? There are lots of variations out there for vinegar pies, but this is definitely an old one, so maybe it’ll be similar to your Mommy’s. Thanks for sharing that sweet memory!

  11. Cheryle says:

    I may have missed this in the post, but what kind of vinegar do you use? And do you chill the vinegar or use room temperature?

    • Carissa says:

      You could use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even rice vinegar! I’ve heard of recipes that call for it chilled… but mine worked just fine with room temperature vinegar! Enjoy. :)

  12. Miranda says:

    White or brown vinegar?

  13. Miranda says:

    Sorry I see the post now lol

  14. […] past guest posts I’ve contributed for Crystal’s awesome site, I have typically shared a budget-friendly […]

  15. Barbara Lee McLaren says:

    I was very pleased to find your vinegar pie recipe. My mother has been asking me to pull up a recipe for this pie and so glad to find it. I have had vinegar pie and it is delicious! My husband has not, and his reaction when i told him i was going to make one was ” vinegar pie?, how is that good?”. I reassured him its really quite good and about 2-3 dollars to make. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Planning to make one this weekend, and mailing my mother your recipe. Have a great day. Will keep you posted on how hubby likes the pie. He loves his sweets and i am sure he will enjoy it. Warmest regards, Barbara Lee M. (I am from the south)

    • Carissa says:

      Best of luck Barbara! I do recommend decreasing the amout of water so that you don’t have to reduce/thicken the custard as long. (Come to think of it, maybe Grandma never intended for the whole quart to be used… the recipe does say “add vinegar and water to make thin enough to pour.”) Anyway, enjoy! Hope you’re husband loves it too!

  16. […] past guest posts I’ve contributed for Crystal’s awesome site, I have typically shared a budget-friendly […]

  17. Janet says:

    I made this pie yesterday..
    By using the whole quart of water it made enough filling for two pie shells.
    I did add more flour however….another two heaping tablespoons, whisked into a little water until smooth, then added slowly to the cooking filling…..maybe my three heaping tablespoons were not quite heaping enough.
    The filling was pretty thin when I poured it into the shells but overnight it thickened up, and is sliceable this morning.
    The filling is soft….and delicious.
    I didn’t read into the science of why this pie works, I’m sure the vinegar has a chemical value to contribute to the finished result.
    I will be making this pie again, trying the coconut and lemon flavors.and I am now very interested and inspired to try more of those great “vintage” recipes.
    I did see on some of the other vinegar pie recipes that they topped the pie with meringue…..but I don’t think that would be true to the time period of Laura’s childhood…..would it?
    By the way, at 70 years young I’m pretty vintage myself!
    Still learning and trying new things……gotta keep the ole’ mind working y a’ know. :)

    • Carissa says:

      Very close to my experience! My pie sliced better the next morning. So glad you enjoyed the delicious flavor of this “vintage” pie! -XO-

  18. R. A. Reburn says:

    Thank you for explaining the mystery of vinegar pie. I read about it in a book by
    Loula Grace Erdman who wrote 3 books similar to the Little House Books. The
    first one is titled The Wind Blows Free.

    I grew up in Laura Ingalls Wilder country. I went to Bible Camp just across the
    Mississippi from where she was born, and grew up in a village a few miles
    from Burr Oak. Both of those locations now have Wilder museums. In spite
    of Lauara’s fame, I only heard of her after I was an adult. Have real all her books
    as well as books by her daughter Rose and other authors such as Roger Lea MacBride.