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This Indiana Sugar Cream Pie (aka Hoosier Pie) has a wonderful custard texture and all the flavors of sweet cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a buttery, flaky homemade crust!

If you love pie like we do, be sure to check out all our pie recipes! And don’t miss some of our other favorites like this Easy Coconut Cream Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, and the Best Homemade Cherry Pie

An image of a slice of Indiana sugar cream pie on a plate.

Sugar Cream Pie

I’m wrapping up Indiana Week on House of Nash Eats with a dessert, like I always do! If you are new to this series, I’m working my way through the foods that American is known for, one state at a time, in my American Eats series. It’s so fun to explore the flavors of the U.S.A. with some of these classic recipes!

I love how many states have a strong association with a particular pie. My Alabama Possum Pie has been hugely popular and of course you can’t go wrong with a Georgia Peach Pie.

Indiana is another state with a famous pie that is creamy, simple, and easy to make!

An image of a desperation pie that has been sliced and served on a plate. 

What is Sugar Cream Pie?

Sugar cream pie seems to have originated in Indiana in the 1800’s from the Amish or Shaker communities using ingredients they had on hand. It’s also known as Desperation Pie or Sweet Cream Pie, because it was made in times when there was no fresh fruit available for fruit pies but it could be made with pantry ingredients that were on hand on farms, like fresh cream, flour, and sugar.

It uses just a handful of ingredients to create something totally special and unique that reminds me of a cross between a snickerdoodle, flan, panna cotta, and creme brulee. It’s got a dreamy vanilla custard-y base that is usually made with cream (or milk or half-and-half) and sugar, then thickened cornstarch.

The filling is first cooked on the stovetop, then poured into my favorite pie crust recipe that has been partially baked, and cinnamon and nutmeg are sprinkled over the top. It gets baked in the oven for a little bit longer to finish the crust and set the filling, then chilled in the fridge and served room temperature or cold.

One really unique thing about sugar cream pie is that unlike most other cream pies, it is made without any eggs! I saw a few recipes that called for eggs when I was researching how to make this pie, but they seem to be in the minority and the general consensus is that you can make sugar cream pie without eggs.

There is a place in Indiana called Mrs. Wicks that is famous for their sugar cream pies, if you happen to be visiting. I haven’t had a chance to make it to Indiana yet, but I’m definitely planning to get a slice of Mrs. Wicks’ sugar cream pie when I’m there!

An image of a slice of Hoosier pie with a bite taken out of it.

How to make Sugar Cream Pie

Start out by making and blind-baking your pie crust. To do that, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then roll out your pie crust and use it to line a pie plate (affiliate link). Crimp the edges and poke holes all over with a fork so it can be evenly. Cover with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, rice, or even sugar, then bake for 15-16 minutes.

Remove the pie weights and parchment paper or foil and bake for another 7-8 minutes. The crust won’t be fully cooked and browned, but it will be parbaked and finish cooking with the pie filling in the oven. Decrease the oven heat to 325 degrees F. 

While the crust bakes, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add the cream and whisk together, bringing to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil. 

Let the filling boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened, then remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and cubed butter until the butter is melted. 

Pour the filling into the parbaked crust, then sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees F. The center will still be jiggly, but the pie will continue to set as it cools. Let the pie cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge for 4 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.

A collage of images showing how to make sugar cream pie.

Storing Instructions

Keep any leftover pie in the fridge and eat within 4-5 days. This pie doesn’t freeze well though, as the crust will go soggy when it thaws.

Tips for the best sugar cream pie

  • I think the filling to crust ratio is perfect as written, but if you have a deep dish pie pan and want the filling to go all the way to the top of the crust, you will want to do 1 1/2 of the filling amounts. The cooking times should stay the same though.
  • I really recommend making your own pie crust, but you can use a frozen pie crust if you want instead. Also, this filling would taste delicious in a graham cracker crust as well!
  • The recipe calls for 2 cups of heavy cream or half-and-half. I saw other recipes that used milk instead, but in those cases there was typically more butter than what I call for. So basically, you can use what you have on hand and make it work. But my feeling is that if you call it sugar cream pie, it really ought to have cream, not milk, in it. Also, I wanted the sweet cream flavor to really come through as opposed to a butter flavor.

An image of a slice of an easy custard pie made without eggs. An image of a homemade cream pie with cinnamon and nutmeg on top.

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Sugar Cream Pie
Yield: 8 servings

Sugar Cream Pie

This Indiana Sugar Cream Pie (aka Hoosier Pie) has a wonderful custard texture and all the flavors of sweet cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a buttery, flaky homemade crust!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 homemade or store-bought pie crust
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out pie crust and transfer to a pie plate. Crimp the edges and poke holes in the bottom and sides. Line the crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil then fill with pie weights, dried beans, rice, or even sugar. Bake for 15-16 minutes, then remove the weights and paper or foil and bake for another 7-8 minutes until partially baked.
  2. Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the cream and whisk, then cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
  4. Continue to cook and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes while the filling boils gently until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted.
  5. Pour the filling into the pie crust and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees F. The center will still be jiggly but the pie will continue to set as it cools.
  6. Cool completely at room temperature then refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Notes

  • Sugar cream pie can be made with either cream or half-and-half. You could even use whole or 2% milk, although the filling would be nearly as rich and that wonderful sweet cream flavor won't be as noticeable, which is why I recommend the cream or half-and-half approach.

Adapted lightly from Taste of Home.

Curious about foods from other states in my American Eats series? Check them out below!

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa • Louisiana • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • Texas