Luscious, smooth caramel custard set in the most amazing flaky, pie crust makes this Caramel Pie irresistible. Topped with fresh whipped cream and chopped pecans, it makes the perfect Holiday recipe!
You guys are going to love this Caramel Pie recipe! The homemade all-butter pastry, like in my Apple Pear Pie, is buttery, flaky and utterly delicious. Sure, the pastry takes a little time, but really, it's not much effort at all. I'll take you through it.
The silky smooth caramel custard is quick to make and sets in the pre-baked pie shell so that no extra bake time's needed. This makes it perfect for preparing ahead of time for a dinner party or if you're hosting Christmas or Thanksgiving.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Caramel Pie Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples. No special trip to the supermarket is needed.
- Made with real caramel for the ultimate flavour boost. Don't be intimidated by the caramel - it only needs two ingredients and takes five minutes to make.
- The caramel custard is so smooth and creamy. Essentially, we're making a caramel pastry cream (crême pâtissiere). But no tempering of eggs is needed; we make it the easy way, all in one pan.
- This Caramel Pie makes the perfect entertaining dessert. It can be made the day before, and all you need to do is decorate in whipped cream just before serving. Talk about taking the pressure off!
🧾 Ingredients Needed
The ingredient list may be small, but a couple of key ingredients are worth a mention.
- Butter - Use unsalted butter as the caramel filling has salt in it, and you don't want to overdo it with salt. Make sure the butter is cubed and cold before working it into the flour.
- Water - The flour and butter need hydration to bring the dough together. Don't add it all at once, as you may not need it all.
Caramel Pie Filling and Decoration
The caramel filling is made in a very similar way to that of a banana cream pie. It's a creamy custard pudding that's flavoured with homemade caramel. It has all the trademarks of an old-fashioned Caramel Pie.
- Yolks - 5 large egg yolks are needed for the filling. It's what gives the pastry cream richness and taste but also structure.
- Brown sugar - Normally, pastry cream is made with white sugar, but I decided to use brown sugar as the molasses in it only builds on the caramel flavour.
- Milk - Whole milk is best over low-fat or skim milk, as it provides a richer, more well-rounded flavour due to its high-fat content.
- Corn Flour - (cornstarch) is needed to thicken the pastry cream. It's perfect as it doesn't alter the flavour of the pastry cream, which plain flour tends to do. But use flour as a substitute if needed.
- White sugar - this is what we're making the caramel with. Caster sugar, golden sugar or golden caster sugar also work well.
- Graham Cracker Crust: Completely turn this into a no-bake dessert and use a graham cracker crust, just like in my Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake.
- Spiced Cie Crust: Add a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon or ginger into the pie dough. Spices pair beautifully with caramel.
- Salted Caramel Pie: Go all out and make my Salted Caramel Sauce and drizzle it over the top of the pie before serving. Sprinkle the pie with a little extra flaked salt to cut the sweetness.
- Decorate with Fruit: If serving this at a dinner party, lay some sliced figs over the top for extra pizzaz!
- Top with Shaved Chocolate. We all know chocolate and caramel go hand in hand together so chocolate shavings would work brilliantly on top.
- Storebought Pie Crust - lacking in time to make homemade crust. Buy yourself your favourite shortcrust or graham cracker crust pie base. I don't want you missing out on this pie. Sometimes shortcuts are necessary.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make Caramel Pie
The pie is broken into 3 components. The pie crust, caramel filling and cream decoration. I will break it down for you with step-by-step instructions and process images so you can see how easy this is to make.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the Pie Crust
As the pie requires only a single pie crust, I'll show you how to make it by hand. If you prefer to use a food processor, head to my Apple Pear Pie on how to do that.
STEP 1. Rub the butter into the flour. Into a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and quickly mix together. Then add the cubed butter and toss until coated (Image 1).
Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of large peas! (Image 2)
STEP 2. Add in water and bring the dough together. Add in the water a little at a time and use your fingers tips to gently toss the mixture together until the dough starts to hold when pressed (Images 3 & 4).
Gently squeeze the dough in the bowl and form it into a disc (Images 5 & 6). Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-hour minimum
TIP: Refrigerating the dough allows the flour to hydrate, but also the butter can resolidify. This prevents the pastry from shrinking too much and creates flaky layers.
How to Flute the Pie Crust
STEP 3. Roll out dough. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave it at room temp for 10 to 15 minutes. Rolling out dough that is too cold will cause it to crack.
On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to circle approximately 30cm (12-inches) in diameter. Fold it over the rolling pin and lift it gently into the pie pan (Image 7).
Press the dough into the pan, making sure not to stretch it. Trim the edges 1.5cm (½-inch) wider than the pan and tuck under the excess.
Crimp the edges. Place your index finger and thumb on your left hand on the outside edge. Use the index finger on your right hand to press into your left-hand finger and thumb to form a V shape in the dough (Image 8).
NOTE: Image 8 shows crimping on a double-crust pie with a top, but the same technique applies. Repeat all around the edge.
Bake the Pie Crust
STEP 4. Bake the pie crust. As the filling does not require any baking, the crust must be fully baked before adding in the filling.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes whilst the oven preheats to 180C/350F. Cover the base with parchment paper and fill with baking beans, rice, lentils - whatever you have on hand, right up to the top of the pie and bake for 20 minutes (Image 9).
Remove the paper and baking beans. Dock the base of the pie with a fork (Image 10). This prevents the pastry from puffing up.
Whisk the egg white, then brush the base and sides of the pie (Image 11).
Bake again for another 15-20 minutes until the pastry is a rich golden brown (Image 12). Cover the crimped edges in foil if they brown too quickly. Set aside to cool.
Make the Caramel Pie Filling
Some recipes call for making the caramel pie with condensed milk, similar to the filling in a Millionaire Shortbread - and I'd find that too sickly sweet in the pie. So, I've opted for a caramel-flavoured creme pâtissiere or pastry cream filling that's light and smooth and requires no baking.
STEP 5. Whisk together flour and sugar, then add in the yolks. Add the brown sugar and cornflour directly into the saucepan and whisk to remove any lumps (Image 13). Add the yolks and vanilla extract and whisk well together (Images 14).
STEP 6. Whisk in milk and heat. Whilst continuously whisking, add in the milk until fully combined (Image 15).
Heat on the stovetop until the pastry cream thickens. It can take a couple of minutes, but once it starts to thicken, it happens pretty quickly- Keep stirring all the time so that it doesn't catch on the bottom! (Image 16)
Once it starts bubbling, heat for one minute, then remove from the heat immediately.
STEP 7. Make the caramel. Add the white sugar and water into a saucepan and heat on medium (Image 17). Whisk all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Stop whisking but continue to heat and swirl the pan rather than stirring until the liquid sugar turns golden brown, then amber in colour (Image 18).
You've just made caramel!
NOTE: If sugar crystals from on the side of the pan, then use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush the inside of the pan where the sugar has started to crystallise. Or if there are crystalised lumps in the pan, add one tablespoon of water.
STEP 8: Add caramel to the pastry cream. The caramel will turn burnt pretty quickly remove it from the heat and add it, along with the butter, into the pastry cream and whisk immediately into the mixture until fully combined (Image 19 & 20).
The caramel will bubble and spit a bit, and you have to whisk it in quickly otherwise, it will harden. If you do get some hard lumps, don't worry, we'll remove them in the next step.
STEP 9. Pour into the pie crust. Pour filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the prepared crust to remove any lumps (Image 21). Smooth the top, cover in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight (Image 22).
🥣 How To Serve
My favourite way to serve the Caramel Pie is with whipped cream. The filling is sweet enough, so I recommend a simple whipped cream. But if you prefer Chantilly Cream (sweetened whipped cream), that is another alternative.
Simply whip cream to firm peaks (Images 23), spoon over the chilled Caramel Pie and swirl with the back of a spoon. Lastly, toss the chopped pecans through the salt and sprinkle over the cream (Images 24).
Serve immediately, chilled. This easy Caramel Pie is rich and decadent, and a little slice goes a long way!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Don't overwork the dough. This causes the gluten to activate and will lead to a tough pastry.
- Chill the dough before baking. It's essential to re-chill the dough once rolled into the pie pan. A soft dough will cause the sides to shrink.
- Bake the pie crust until golden brown. Too many times, I see images of pie crusts with underbaked pastry. It's just unpleasant to eat underbaked!
- Cook the pastry cream for long enough. When you see those bubbles, it has to cook for at least a minute to ensure the eggs are cooked properly.
- The caramel will harden as soon as it hits anything cooler than itself. This means that as soon as you add it to the pastry cream, whisk it in vigorously; otherwise, it will solidify. Any small lumps will be caught when the cream is passed through a sieve, so don't worry!
- Don't skimp on the chill time if you want the filling to set. But really, who am I to say you can't dig in with a spoon instead of cutting need slices!!
📋 Recipe FAQs
Both are made from cooked sugar; after that, there are some differences making each sauce unique in its own right.
Butterscotch is made from melting brown sugar and butter together. It's often cooked with cream and poured over a pudding-type dessert.
Caramel, on the other hand, is made by melting sugar and sometimes water until it's golden. It's converted into a sauce by adding butter, cream and occasionally, salt.
You may have under-measured the corn flour. I recommend using digital scales for weighing. Or you may have overpoured the milk adding in too much liquid. Lastly, you may not have cooked the pastry cream for long enough. It should achieve a thick pudding-like consistency on the stovetop.
The pie has to set for a full 4 hours (minimum!) for the filling to firm up. I almost always make the pie the night before so that I'm under no doubt that the filling has set sufficiently. The ability to make it ahead of time provides a massive incentive to make this recipe for Caramel Pie.
Yes, it does. Once filled, the Caramel Pie will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator if covered well. (Guarantee it won't last that long, though!)
I don't recommend freezing the pie as the texture of the caramel filling will change.
🍮 More Caramel Recipes You'll Love
If you tried this awesome Caramel Pie, don’t forget to leave a star rating 🌟 and let me know how you got on in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Incredible Caramel Pie Recipe
All-Butter Pie Crust
- 220 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 115 g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 45-60 ml ice cold water
- 1 egg white
Caramel Pie Filling
- 70 g brown sugar
- 48 g corn flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
- 600 ml whole milk
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 30 ml water
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 240 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 30 g pecans, toasted and finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt
Make Pie Crust
- Rub the butter into the flour. Into a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and quickly mix together. Add cubed butter and toss until coated. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of large peas.
- Add in water and bring the dough together. Add in the water a little at a time and use your fingers tips to gently toss the mixture together until the dough starts to hold when pressed. Gently squeeze the dough in the bowl and form it into a disc. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour minimum.
- Roll out dough. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Rolling out dough that is too cold will cause it to crack. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to circle approximately 30cm (12-inches) in diameter. Fold it over the rolling pin and lift it gently into the pie pan. Press the dough into the pan, making sure not to stretch it. Trim the edges 1.5cm (½-inch) wider than the pan and tuck under the excess. Using index fingers and thumbs, crimp the edges of the pastry all around.
- Bake: Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Refrigerate the pie for 20 minutes. FillCover base with parchment paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and baking beans. Whisk the egg white, then brush the base and sides of the pie. Bake again for another 15-20 minutes until the pastry is a rich golden brown. Cover the crimped edges in foil if they brown too quickly. Set aside to cool.
Make Caramel Filling
- Whisk together sugar and flour and salt then add in the yolks. Add the brown sugar, cornflour and salt directly into the saucepan and whisk to remove any lumps. Add the yolks and vanilla extract and whisk well together.
- Whisk in milk and heat. Whilst continuously whisking, add in the milk until fully combined. Heat on low-medium heat on the stovetop until the pastry cream thickens. It can take a couple of minutes, but once it starts to thicken, it happens pretty quickly. Keep stirring all the time so that it doesn't catch on the bottom! Once it starts bubbling, heat for one minute, then remove from the heat immediately.
- Make the caramel. Add the white sugar and water into a saucepan and heat on medium. Stir all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to heat and swirl the pan until the liquid sugar turns golden brown, then amber in colour.
- Add caramel to the pastry cream. Remove caramel immediately from the heat. Add in to the pastry cream the butter, and whilst whisking continuously. Then pour in the liquid caramel. Whisk until fully combined.
- Pour filling into pie crust. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the pie crust base, and pass caramel through the sieve directly into the base to remove any lumps. Smooth surface with an offset spatular. Cover in plastic wrap touching the surface of the pie. Smooth out as much as you can. Refrigerate pie for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight to set.
- Whip cream and decorate. In a medium bowl, whip cream to firm peaks. Spoon the cream over the caramel filling in a swirl. Toss pecans with sea salt and sprinkle over cream. Serve pie chilled.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
I don't recommend freezing the pie as the texture of the caramel filling will change. Tip 1: Don't overwork the dough, as this causes the gluten to activate and will lead to a tough pastry. TIP 2: Chill the dough before baking. It's essential to re-chill the dough once rolled into the pie pan. A soft dough will cause the sides to shrink. TIP 3: Bake the pie crust until golden brown. TIP 4: Cook the pastry cream for long enough. When you see those bubbles, it has to cook for at least a minute to ensure the eggs are cooked properly. TIP 5: Don't skimp on the chill time if you want the filling to set properly.