Water Pie Recipe (Depression Pie)

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This easy recipe for Homemade Water Pie shows you how to make a pie with super simple ingredients that taste delicious. This nostalgic dessert is the perfect way to enjoy a homemade pie that’s got a lot of history and is easy to make! 

It may be hard to believe, but the main ingredient in this pie is water! Water pie has a lot of history and is a dessert that is easy to make. But first, let’s talk about where water pie originated from.

Top down view of a slice of water pie.

What is Water Pie?

During the great depression, food was scarce for many. Water pie allowed people to enjoy a sweet dessert without the expensive ingredients which made it a staple during that time.

A pie crust gets filled with a mixture of flour, water, sugar, and some seasonings. It then gets topped with sliced butter and baked in the oven until set. 

The result is a filling that has a custard-like texture with a sweet taste and light warming flavors. This water pie can easily be made from ingredients you already have in your pantry. You can make a homemade butter pie crust or save some time with a store-bought one.

Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for a decadent twist on this classic that’s been brought back to its roots in recent years.

How To Make Homemade Water Pie

Scroll to the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and full instructions.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F, and prepare a pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. Poke several holes in dough then lay a piece of parchment paper over the dough. Add pie weights or dried beans to the middle to weigh it down and then bake for 8-10 minutes. 
  3. Remove the crust from the oven, and remove the weights. Bake for another 3-5 to minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. 
  4. Add water, sugar, and flour to the pie crust, and carefully stir to combine.Then, add the cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. 
Top down view of a pie shell with pie weights.
Top down view of unbaked water pie.
  1. Once the mixture is fully combined, evenly distribute the sliced butter on top without mixing it in. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center of the pie is set but slightly jiggly. 
  2. Let the pie cool for at least 3 hours to give it a chance to set properly.
Top down view of butter slices on unbaked pie.
Top down view of water pie in a pie plate.

Water Pie Recipe Tips

  • It’s important to make sure you don’t skip par baking the pie crust. This will ensure that the crust is not soggy on the bottom as the filling won’t seep through. 
  • For best results, make sure the water you use in the filling is warm instead of cold. This will allow it to blend in with the flour properly. 
  • Although it may look a little strange, the butter gets placed on top of the filling and not inside it.
  • When the pie is finished, it should have a slight jiggle in the middle but not be too watery. If it moves too much, it may need a few more minutes to cook.
  • Cooling this pie properly is very important as it needs to be set in order to be cut into individual slices. 
  • Give it a warming fall flavor by using some homemade pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon in this recipe. 

Storing and Freezing

Refrigerator: Water pie can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezing: Since this is a custard base pie when frozen it will separate after thawing. Therefore freezing is not recommended.

Freshly baked water pie in a dish.

A water pie tastes sweet with the flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. It has a smooth and light texture with a buttery, flaky crust.

Yes, you can mix the filling in a bowl, then transfer it into the pie crust if you prefer. In all honesty, that’s the easiest way to prepare the filling. Just make sure the butter is added on top separately and take care not to splash the filling as you pour it into the crust.

Our depression era water pie contains approximately 322 calories per slice assuming the pie gets divided into 8 equal pieces. The calories will vary by recipe depending on the type of crust and ingredients used.

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Water pie with a scoop of ice cream.

Water Pie Recipe (Depression Pie)

5 from 2 votes
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Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Cool Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 8 Servings



  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
  • Roll out the pie crust, and press it into the pie dish. Trim off the excess from around the edges then crimp the edges into whatever design you prefer.
    1 pie crust
  • Poke several holes in the bottom of the pie crust using a fork then place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil on top along with some baking beans or pie weights.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes then remove the weights and foil or parchment paper. Return to the oven for another two to three minutes or until the pie crust is golden brown.
  • Pour in the water, sugar and flour into the baked crust then gently stir the flour until there are no dry spots on top.
    1 ½ cups water
    1 ½ cup granulated sugar
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Add the vanilla, cinnamon and salt and gently stir once again.
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Gently lay the sliced butter on top of the pie, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the center of the pie jiggles only slightly when moved.
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Let the pie cool for at least three hours before slicing and serving with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Suggested Equipment


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 slice (⅛ of the pie). Actual calories will vary.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
*Photos courtesy of Karla Rae Photography.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 322kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 0.003mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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