Three Pies You Can Make from Scraps

Three Pies You Can Make from Scraps 2

Three pies you can make from scraps.

Pies. Your family is chanting this word as they corner you in the kitchen. You’ve been on lock-down for two weeks. You’re between deliveries. They’ve ravaged your fridge, your pantry. The cupboard isn’t just bare, it’s antiseptic.

How do you make a pie from scraps with this dearth of ingredients?

Your great-grandma has an answer. In the Great Depression, food was scarce, so exasperated cooks got creative using simple ingredients. In some cases, literal scraps were turned into scrumptious treats. Sweets were especially hard to make since the infrastructure was still a thing of the future, as were grocery stores and Costco and Instacart. Cooks had to get resourceful and creative.

The following three pies were developed from a scarcity of ingredients by thrifty cooks. You can probably make these right now with whatever remnants are rattling around in your pantry.

Add some fresh or frozen fruit and enjoy!

What if You Forgot Milk and Only Have Water?

Use it to make Water Pie or Hot Water Pie. This is essentially a light custard pie made without milk. I would love to go back in time to meet the cook who invented this pie. Imagine having no berries, no fruit—nothing but water —and thinking, I can make pies out of this.

Hot Water Pie

Water Pie

  • Author: Bull Garlington
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Pie 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Southern

This is essentially a light custard pie made without milk. I would love to go back in time to meet the cook who invented this pie. Imagine having no berries, no fruit–nothing but water and thinking, I can make pies out of this.


  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 1.5 c. water (lukewarm tapwater is fine)
  • 4 T. all-purpose flour (Lily White for regional accuracy)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 5 T. butter, divided


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pour the water directly into the pie crust.
  • Combine the sugar and the flour in a small bowl. Here’s the weird part: Sprinkle this mixture over the surface of the water–but do not stir!
  • Add the vanilla a few drops at a time around the surface.
  • Carefully place the butter pats evenly around the pie.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Very carefully remove the pie to a cool spot. It will be jiggly and watery in the center (cause, you know, it’s a water pie). Let it cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled before serving.


You may find it helpful to build this pie on a baking sheet and then use that to put the pie into the oven — because it’s made out of water.

Wait, Can You Put Vinegar in a Pie?

Yes, yes you can. And it’s delicious. This is the classic vinegar pie recipe, though there are as many variations as there are great-grandmas who lived during the depression. Some recipes skip the eggs. Some add a pinch of salt. Some don’t use cinnamon. Some use more vinegar, some useless. The recipes, handed down through family, written in longhand on a lined card, were drawn from whatever was on hand. Mix it up as you wish.

vinegar pie

Vinegar Pie

  • Author: Bull Garlington
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 pie 1x
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: Southern

Another simple, weird, non-intuitive pantry pie that tastes better than you think it will.


  • 4 eggs
  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 1.5 c. sugar
  • 8 T. butter (1/2 c.), melted
  • 2 T. apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 T. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 t. vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 425°
  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly, pour into crust.
  • Bake 30 minutes; remove to cool completely.
  • Chill before serving.

I Have a Little Milk and a Little Sugar

Cool. Use it to make Sugar Milk Pie. Like all great cheap pies, you make this one right in the crust. No bowl required. This would be a pie made not only because ingredients were scarce, but because many homes lacked refrigeration and the milk would not last. This is a way to finish up the last cup of milk.

Sugar and Milk pie

Sugar Milk Pie

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 pie 1x
  • Category: desserts
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: Southern

This southern favorite uses milk and cream.


  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 1 c. of white sugar (or any variation of white and brown)
  • 1/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. cream or half-n-half
  • Milk to fill
  • Nutmeg, grated.


  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Pour the flour and sugar into the crust and gently stir to mix.
  • Add the cream or half-n-half.
  • Fill with milk.
  • Sprinkle with nutmeg.
  • Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350° and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove to cool, chill to serve


Variations:  Use buttermilk. Add a single dot of vanilla.

Photos by Brooke Lark on Unsplash/istockphotos
BULL Garlington

Bull Garlington

Bull Garlington is an award-winning author, columnist and public speaker. His books include “The Full English,” “Death by Children.” He writes about analog tools and practices in his "Analog Attorney" column for Attorney at Work. He prefers South American literature, classic jazz, Partagas 1945s, a decent Laphroaig, and makes a mean chicken and andouille gumbo. His company, Creative Writer PRO, offers top-shelf content for small and medium-sized businesses.

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