Oatmeal Pie Tastes Better Than It Sounds


The word oatmeal conjures up a bowl full of soft, sticky mush with sugar and milk on it, just the ticket for a cold winter’s breakfast. That image just won’t work if you envision mush in a pie crust. That is definitely not what oatmeal pie is about, although the first time Kay Staples sent me the recipe, I looked askance at it, but thought, well, let’s give it a try and see how it is.

Then Ellen Kire in St. Albans sent along a query. She wrote that while traveling in Bicknell, Utah, she ate at a place called the Sunglow Motel-Café. Pinto Bean Pie, Pickle Pie, Buttermilk Pie, and Oatmeal Pie were on the menu. They tried the pinto bean pie and the sweet pickle pie, and, she said, “We were amazed at how good they were as we never heard of pies made of pickles or pinto beans.” Ellen asked for a recipe for each. I thought we would start with the oatmeal pie because I had one on hand, although when I went looking for it, it was nowhere to be seen.

Kay, who lives in Rockland, kindly re-supplied when I asked a couple weeks ago. Joanne Fuerst on Mt. Desert also sent along an Oatmeal Pie recipe which she reported she had found while “ruffling through my recipe file,” just days before I inquired. She’d never tried it. The main difference between the two was that Joanne’s was seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla and was roughly double Kay’s, making two pies. I used Joanne’s to create a potluck dish and the other mysteriously evaporated off the kitchen table after Kate and Dylan had been through the room a couple times. I liked the pie a lot, and even went so far as to cut a piece which I hid. Heh, heh.

It is a lot of fun to make something to which eaters respond with, “it was good,” in amazed tones. I ought not to have been surprised. Oatmeal pie, fortified with coconut, is in the same group of sugar pies as shoo-fly pie, or pecan pie, and lemony-flavored buttermilk pie which I will stick in here sometime later. Vinegar pie belongs to the same sugar-pie family, and has a pleasant sweet-tart flavor and pudding-y texture. All these are good pies for when there is no fruit around to put between two crusts.

But pickles? I guess I better not prejudge them. Same goes for pinto beans. If anyone of you has a good recipe for either of these, would you send it along? (I can, of course, get the recipe off the internet but I would rather have in hand a tried-and-true from one of you.

I used unsweetened coconut because there is already a lot of sugar in the pie between the corn syrup and the added sugar. (Oh, my aching teeth.) Go ahead and use the sweetened stuff if you can stand it. Consider adding vanilla; it enhances the pie.

Looking for…Pickle Pie and Pinto Bean Pie.

Kay Staple's Oatmeal Pie
Serves: MAke one 9 inch pie
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ cup, or 1 stick, butter or margarine, melted
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a pie plate with the pastry.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, and milk and beat all together.
  4. Add the oats and coconut and mix until incorporated.
  5. Pour into the pie plate and bake for an hour, or until the center is set and the filling is golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool completely before serving.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.