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OLD FASHIONED WATER PIE – The Southern Lady Cooks

Don’t judge a recipe by its name! One may think a water pie, or as it’s sometimes called, “depression pie,”  would lack flavor, but you’d be wrong. This old-fashioned pie was made popular during the Great Depression, and it’s all the things a pie should be…rich, sweet, decadent, and you got it,  easy!

Old Fashioned Water Pie - The Southern Lady Cooks

If you like old-fashioned desserts, you might want to make our Do Nothing Cake, Buttermilk Pie, or Blackberries and Dumplings.


We love old-fashioned recipes, and this pie is definitely that. It came out of the Great Depression when home cooks had to make do with what they had.  It’s been my experience that simple is almost always better, and this dessert qualifies. Flour, butter, vanilla, and of course, water are what makes this homemade pie fabulous. As you can see it has NO eggs! You won’t believe how easy it is and it’s the perfect dessert to serve for any gathering or holiday because it needs to be made in advance. 


Deep Dish Pie Crust-we like to make our own using THIS recipe, but you can easily use a store-bought premade crust. Be sure that it is a deep dish pie crust.

Water-this is a must. The water makes this a water pie. 

All-Purpose Flour-this is a thickening agent.

White Granulated Sugar-this brings the sweetness!

Salt-you will definitely want to add this because it helps bring out the sweet flavors of this dessert.

Vanilla Extract-adds so much flavor for this dessert. You may use vanilla flavoring.

Butter-it can’t be buttery if we don’t add the butter. We use unsalted butter.


One of the great things about this pie is that it takes very little equipment. You’ll need a deep dish pie plate and a mixing bowl. If you think you’ll need to cover your pie crust to keep it from browning too much, be sure and have some aluminum foil close by.


You won’t believe how easy this pie is. You basically mix, pour and bake! That’s it. You have to love those simple desserts, and this one definitely qualifies.


Go ahead and get your ingredients together and measured out. Let it sit out and reach room temperature if you use a premade crust. If you’re making your crust, go ahead and make it.


  1. Pour water into the uncooked pie shell.  I know this sounds weird, but this is how it’s done. 
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. 
  3. Sprinkle over water in the pie crust.  DO NOT STIR. 
  4. Drizzle on the vanilla extract and add butter pats on top of the pie. 
  5. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 30 more minutes.  
  6. Let pie cool completely and then cover and place in the refrigerator. Pie will set up as it cools and is refrigerated.  It will look like it is not cooked when removed from the oven. It will look watery in the center; that is how it should look. It will set up once it is cold. 


🔺You can cover the sides of the pie crust if your crust is becoming too dark. I haven’t had that issue with this pie, but all oven temperatures vary and can bake differently. 

🔺Resist the urge to serve this pie warm. It is to be served cold, and warming it up will cause it to become runny and loose again. 


If you love this pie, you’ll want to try our Old-Fashioned Impossible Pie. It’s been around for years and years and has terrific reviews. It’s so easy; it doesn’t even require a crust. You can also try our classic Chess Pie. It’s absolutely delicious!

Old Fashioned Water Pie - The Southern Lady Cooks


What is it supposed to look like when it’s done baking?

Honestly, there is no particular way the pie should look when it’s done baking. I recommend baking it for a full hour and then removing it to cool. It will definitely look watery and loose, but that is ok. As I said, it will set up as it cools and is refrigerated. 

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes, it is recommended that you make this pie ahead of time because of the cooling process. This pie gets better the longer it sits. It would be fine to make it even two days before serving.

What does this pie taste like? 

Some will say it tastes like the middle of a pecan pie but without the corn syrup. I’ve also heard people describe it as having almost a butterscotch taste. It’s rich and decadent, and my family are huge fans. 

Cathead Biscuits

Our Nannie made these biscuits every day! Many ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews.


Cover the pie and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least five days. Do not reheat this pie. This pie is to be served chilled or at room temperature. 

Old Fashioned Water Pie

The Southern Lady Cooks

This water pie is from the depression era and it’s so good! Simple ingredients.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 1 hour

Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Course Dessert

Cuisine American, southern

  • 1 deep dish 9 inch pie crust uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups tap water
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons butter sliced
  • Pour water into uncooked pie shell.

  • Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Sprinkle over water in pie crust. DO NOT STIR.

  • Drizzle on vanilla extract and add butter pats on top of pie. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

  • Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 30 more minutes.

  • Pie will set up as it cools and is refrigerated.

  • It will look like it is not cooked when removed from oven but will set up once it is cold.

Keyword Old Fashioned Water Pie

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