Water Pie – Recipe from the Great Depression by Gordon Ramsay

Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

Water Pie - Recipe from the Great DepressionWater Pie is one of those magical recipes that came out of the depression era where cooks with little to nothing figured out how to make delicious dishes for those they love. This recipe was shared with me by Kay West and I published it in my third cookbook, Sweetness: Recipes to Celebrate the Warmth, Love, and Blessings of a Full Life. 

This recipe belonged to Kay’s grandmother, who had eight children and made her family of ten three meals from scratch every single day. During leaner times, she developed this recipe so that her family could still enjoy dessert from time to time, no matter how hard their days were. These recipes are such a special treasure to us and I think you’ll really enjoy the simplicity of this pie. It has a creamy buttery taste, similar to a warm vanilla cookie once it’s chilled and sliced. Half the thrill will be telling your family the name and that the main ingredient is water! 
Ingredients for Water Pie - Recipe from the Great DepressionYou know when a recipe was created to make something out of nothing, it’s going to be simple on the ingredients. You’ll need: A deep dish pie crust*, water, sugar, flour, butter, and some vanilla. 

I made this again this morning and just used a double recipe for my quick and easy mix in the pan pie crust recipe. It’s quick, easy, simple, and makes a delicious pie crust.

Pouring Water for Water Pie

Begin by pouring water into your deep dish crust. It doesn’t have to be hot or anything, just straight from the tap is fine. 

Sprinkling Mixture for Water Pie

Stir together flour and sugar. 

Sprinkling sugar over Water Pie

Sprinkle this over your water. The original recipe called for doing this with a spoon so I’m showing you that way but I usually just use my hand to sprinkle it because I feel like I can get it more even that way. 

Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

This is our water with flour/sugar sprinkled over. Don’t stir. 

Vanilla poured into Water Pie

Drizzle vanilla over this. Don’t stir. 

Pats of Butter on Water Pie

Place pats of butter on top. 

Place this in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce temp to 375 and cover the edges of the crust if need be to prevent burning. Cook for another 30 minutes once you have reduced the temp. 

Fresh Baked Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression

Pie will be very watery in the center when you remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate several hours before cutting. 

Sliced Water Pie

Enjoy this creamy buttery pie recipe that came about from good hearted cooks wanting to bake up something sweet for their loved ones during hard times! 

Pretty Slice of Water Pie

Tips for success: 

  • I use a Pillsbury all vegetable frozen deep dish pie crust, unbaked, for this recipe. I suggest a store bought deep dish pie crust because homemade pie crusts in your own dish are going to vary in terms of depth and may result in the filling not getting fully done in the prescribed amount of time. 
  • Before you begin making this pie, tear off a piece of foil large enough to cover your pie dish. Cut an X in the center and peel back the X. This will make it quick and easy to cover your pie should the edges begin getting too dark and will keep you from losing valuable heat during the baking process. 
  • Pie will be bubbly and could be watery in some spots when you pull it out of the oven. It will gel fully as it cools. It is best if you allow this pie to cool completely and then cover and refrigerate until chilled before cutting. 


Try Some Water Pie - Recipe from the Great Depression


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Water Pie

Water Pie is a depression era recipe that turns bare bones ingredients into a delicious buttery pie!

Author: Christy Jordan


  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie crust, unbaked
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 5 pieces


  • Preheat oven to 400 and set empty pie crust on a baking sheet.

  • Pour 1 + 1/2 cups water into the pie crust.

  • In a small bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Sprinkle evenly over water in crust. Don’t stir.

  • Drizzle vanilla over water in pie crust. Place pats of butter on top of this.

  • Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and cover sides of crust if needed to prevent burning. Continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes.

  • Pie will be watery when you pull it out of the oven but will gel as it cools. Allow to cool completely and then cover and place in the fridge until chilled before cutting.

Some other recipes you might enjoy: 


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