The Water Pie, also called the Depression Era Pie, is a delicious dessert invented during the Great Depression which began in the late 1920s and lasted until the late 1930s. This event plunged the world into poverty which meant, many people found it very difficult to keep their families fed. This Decadent pie was born from that need.

There was so little food that home cooks had no choice but to create meals from whatever they had at their disposal back then, which was, often, almost nothing at all. The water pie recipe reflects this as it gets its name from the main ingredient, water.


It’s Almost Effortless

To make this classic treat, all you have to is pour the water into your unbaked pie crust, then follow with flour, sugar, and vanilla, then finish with the butter on top. It’s a quick and simple recipe that can be prepped and place in the oven in a mere 20 minutes.


A Pie Out Of Nothing

We made this pie with almost nothing at all! This recipe only consists of a pie crust and 5 other ingredients; flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, and water, which is the main ingredient. This water pie is the very definition of a Budget Dessert and a must-try!


How Should You Serve A Water Pie?

You can serve water pie chilled, eaten as it is, or with a generous swirl of whipped topping or cream. You can also have this decadent dessert alongside fresh fruits such as strawberries and raspberries; you can even drop a handful of chocolate chips or chopped nuts over the whipped cream for texture.


Serving Size

This recipe will yield up to 8 slices of water pie, enough to serve as dessert after dinner, share with friends as an afternoon snack. If you need to accommodate a larger number of people, you can increase the recipe accordingly.


Equipment Needed

Baking Tray– Use a standard-sized baking tray to place the pie on top of in the oven.

Bowl– You’ll need to use a small bowl to combine the flour and sugar.

Knife– Use this to cut the butter into pieces.

Pie Crust Shield– Use a 9-inch pie crust shield to cover the edges of the crust.


Main Ingredients Of This Dessert

Crust– You’ll need a 9-inch deep-dish pie crust. Use either a homemade or store-bought crust but do not pre-bake it.

Water– Use one and a half cups of room temperature water.

Butter– Use 5 tablespoons of butter cut into 5 pieces (1 tablespoon each). 



Flour– Looking for a gluten-free alternative to flour for this recipe? don’t worry, I’ve got you covered; just use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to replace the flour.

Butter– If you are searching for a lactose-free alternative to butter, use ghee instead. Replace the butter in this recipe with ghee in a one-to-one ratio. 


All The Ingredients

  • Water– Poured into the pie crust
  • Flour– Mixed with the sugar and added to the water.
  • Sugar– Used to sweeten the pie filling
  • Vanilla– Gives flavor to the filling.
  • Butter– Sliced into 5 pieces and placed on top of the liquid filling before baking.


How Did We Make It?

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees; then set the pie crust on top of a sheet pan.
  2. Pour the water into the unbaked crust.
  3. Combine the flour and sugar, then sprinkle it into the water.
  4. Drizzle the vanilla into the liquid mixture and place the cuts of butter on top.
  5. Bake for 400 degrees for half an hour, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. Cover the pie crust with a crust shield after the first 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the pie from the oven, allow it to cool, then refrigerate until it solidifies.
  7. Cut and serve with whipped topping.


Protect The Crust 

Once the first 30 minutes of baking had gone, I reduced the heat, covered the crust’s edges with a pie shield, and returned it to the oven for a half-hour more. I did it as a way to prevent the crust from burning and becoming too tough to eat.


Cover The Pie Crust With Foil

To ensure that the crust did not burn, I used a pie crust shield to cover the crust’s edges after the first 30 minutes of baking. If you don’t have a crust shield, you can use tin foil to cover the crust instead. Carefully wrap the foil around the edge of the crust, avoiding the filling, and bake.  


Storing A Water Pie

Due to the high moisture content, this pie will not do well at room temperature. It will, however, keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Do not freeze this pie as it will lose quality after thawing.


This water pie recipe is quick and easy to make, has very few ingredients, doesn’t cost much, and tastes delicious. Try this dessert at home with family and friends, and experience cuisine born from hardship and perseverance. It will be quite a tasty history lesson.  


Depression Era Water Pie

Depression Era Water Pie

Yield: 8 Slices
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This tasty water pie is made so little, yet it can feed a family!


  • 1 deep-dish pie crust (9-inch)
  • 4 tbs all-purpose
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 tbs butter (5 pieces)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.
  2. Place the pie crust onto a sheet pan, then pour in the water.
  3. Mix the flour and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle in an even layer on the water in the crust.
  4. Drizzle the vanilla extract onto the flour mixture, then place the butter pieces on top.
  5. Bake this at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees after 30 minutes, cover the crust with a pie crust shield, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
  6. Once baked, the pie will be watery but will jellify as it cools. Cool completely, then place in the fridge to chill until firm enough to cut.

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