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. Not a fan of meringue? Top with whipped cream instead!

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


  • 1 recipe Baked Pastry Shell

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 recipe Meringue for Pie

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 3 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 2 ½ cup half-and-half or milk

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste

Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie

  • 1 ½ cup 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 teaspoon 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.

  3. For filling, in a medium saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

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

  5. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell. Immediately spread meringue over filling, sealing to edge of pastry. Using the back of a spoon, swirl meringue to form high, decorative peaks. 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 or longer storage.

Pastry for a Single-Crust Pie

  1. In a medium bowl stir together flour and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in shortening and butter until pieces are pea size.

  2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the flour mixture; toss with a fork. Push moistened pastry to side of bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until flour mixture is moistened. Gather flour mixture into a ball, kneading gently until it holds together.

  3. On a lightly floured surface use your hands to slightly flatten pastry. Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

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

  5. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry even with the plate's edge. 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 1 minute or until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high. Gradually beat in the warm cornstarch mixture until stiff, glossy peaks form (tips stand straight).

  4. 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. Your meringue recipe is done when it reaches 160 degrees F.


To measure the doneness of the meringue, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the meringue, holding the thermometer at an angle.

Coconut Cream Pie

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

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

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:

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.

Meringue Recipe for Pie Food Safety

Your meringue recipe is safe to eat once it's reached 160 degrees F. To test, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the meringue, holding the thermometer at an angle.

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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