Vanilla Cream Pie

Change-up this classic vanilla cream pie recipe with our variations for dark chocolate cream pie, banana cream pie, and coconut cream pie.

vanilla cream pie in pie pan
Photo: Jason Donnelly
Prep Time:
50 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Chill Time:
3 hrs
Total Time:
50 mins
8 slices

You’ve found the best vanilla cream pie recipe. It features a classic vanilla cream base with a meringue topping and includes variations to make other easy cream pie recipes. See how easy it is to make a perfect cream pie filling that easily holds a straight edge when its first cut. Since this recipe makes a starch-thickened filling, you’ll want to make sure that you slowly whisk the yolks into the hot liquid to smoothly distribute and cook the filling for the full 2 minutes so the cornstarch reaches its full thickening potential. 

Test Kitchen Tip: If you're not a fan of meringue, top with whipped cream instead. Pour filling into the baked pastry shell and cover surface with plastic wrap; chill 3 to 6 hours. To serve, prepare Sweetened Whipped Cream and spread or pipe onto pie.

How to Keep a Pie from Weeping

Undercooked starch-thickened fillings are more likely to weep during storage. Weeping happens when a layer of moisture is formed between the meringue and filling after chilling. To prevent weeping, beat the mixture of thickened cornstarch and water into the egg whites to bind and stabilize the liquid in the meringue (and keep it from seeping out). Then cook the filling for the full 2 minutes on the stove top so the cornstarch thickens completely—and doesn’t start breaking down and “leaking” during chilling. Finally, spread the meringue on the filling while the filling is hot. This heats (and seals) the underside of the meringue so it cooks as thoroughly as the top (which is exposed to the heat of the oven).


  • 1 recipe Baked Pastry Shell

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 recipe Meringue for Pie

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 2 ½ cups half-and-half or milk

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste

Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup shortening

  • ¼ cup butter, cut up, or shortening

  • ¼ cup cold water

Meringue for Pie

  • 4 egg whites

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ½ cup sugar


  1. Prepare Baked Pastry Shell. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Set aside yolks for filling and whites for meringue.

  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare Meringue for Pie before preparing filling; set aside meringue. For filling, in a medium saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch.

  3. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

  4. Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into egg yolks; return to the remaining hot mixture in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

  5. Stir in butter and vanilla.

  6. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell.

  7. Immediately spread meringue over filling, sealing to edge of pastry. Using the back of a spoon, swirl meringue to form high, decorative peaks.

  8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and a thermometer registers 160°F.* Cool on a wire rack 1 1/2 hours. Chill 3 to 6 hours before serving; cover pie for longer storage.

Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie

  1. In a medium bowl stir together flour and salt.

  2. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening and butter until pieces are pea-sized.

  3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the flour mixture; toss with a fork. Push moistened pastry to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening the flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the flour mixture is moistened.

  4. Gather flour mixture into a ball, kneading gently until it holds together.

  5. On a lightly floured surface use your hands to slightly flatten pastry.

  6. Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

  7. Wrap pastry circle around the rolling pin. Unroll into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate without stretching it.

  8. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry even with the plate's edge.

  9. Crimp edge as desired. Do not prick pastry. Fill and bake as directed in recipes.

Meringue for Pie

  1. In a large bowl, allow egg whites to stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

  2. In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup whisk to combine the water and cornstarch. Microwave 45 to 60 seconds or until boiling, stirring once.

  3. Add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer on medium for 1 minute or until soft peaks form (tips curl).

  4. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high.

  5. Gradually beat in the warm cornstarch mixture until stiff, glossy peaks form (tips stand straight).

  6. Immediately spread meringue over hot pie filling (swirling to make peaks, if desired), carefully sealing to edge of pastry to prevent shrinkage. Bake as directed in recipes.

Test Kitchen Tip: To measure the doneness of the meringue, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the meringue, holding the thermometer at an angle. Your meringue recipe is done when it reaches 160 degrees F.

Coconut Cream Pie Variation

Prepare as directed, except stir in 1 cup toasted flaked coconut with the butter and vanilla. Sprinkle the finished pie with 1/3 cup toasted flaked coconut. Per slice: Same as above except 576 calories, 11 g protein, 65 g carbohydrate, 31 g total fat (18 g sat. fat), 2 g fiber, 42 g total sugar, 367 mg sodium

Banana Cream Pie Variation

Prepare as directed, except before adding the filling to the baked pastry shell, arrange 3 medium bananas, sliced, in bottom of pastry. If desired, sprinkle the finished pie with crushed vanilla wafers and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping.Per slice: Same as above except 522 calories, 67 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 40 g total sugar, 13% Vitamin A, 5% Vitamin C, 10% iron

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie Variation

Prepare as directed, except increase sugar to 1 cup and stir in 3 oz. chopped unsweetened chocolate with the half-and-half. If desired, sprinkle the finished pie with grated or shaved milk and/or bittersweet chocolate. Per slice: Same as above except: 576 calories, 11 g protein, 66 g carbohydrate, 30 g total fat (16 g sat. fat), 2 g fiber, 41 g total sugar, 316 mg sodium, 9% calcium, 19% iron

Five-Egg White Meringue Variation

Prepare as directed, except use 5 egg whites and 1 cup sugar. In Step 2, beat about 6 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Continue as directed in Step 3. Per serving: 109 cal., 0 g total fat, 0 mg chol., 34 mg sodium, 26 g carbo., 0 g fiber, 2 g pro. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Other Carbo.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

483 Calories
24g Fat
57g Carbs
10g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 483
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 12g 60%
Cholesterol 139mg 46%
Sodium 314mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Total Sugars 35g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 0.7mg 3%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 1.6mg 9%
Potassium 222mg 5%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 57.8mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.4mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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