Cranberry Custard Pie

Creamy, sweet custard meets bright, tart cranberry, all wrapped up in a buttery, flaky pie crust! This gorgeous make-ahead pie is perfect for the holidays!

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

I found out today that my eyebrows are two different colors. For real. How I have gone my entire life without realizing this is beyond me.

It was the girl at the MAC counter who told me. I am a decidedly un-girly person in many ways, so just the fact that I was at the Mac counter in the first place requires explanation: tomorrow at 8am I am going to be talking about pie on LIVE television.

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

Don’t get me wrong. I think I’m pretty okay looking. But when someone tells you you’re going to be on LIVE TV, all the sudden your “bushy eyebrows are cool” and “$6 Target tees are okay by me” mantras get tossed out the window, and you start texting all your friends who know stuff about clothes and makeup to HELP PLEASE, don’t let me go on live television with caveman eyebrows.

And then the Mac lady tells you your eyebrows are 2 different colors. I’m just happy the truth came on a day when I was feeling SO SECURE.

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

Have you guys ever had Rhubarb Custard Pie? It is the stuff of legends. No really, Eric’s family has been making it for years, and when I finally tried it for the first time last year I thought I was actually going to die of happiness. It is absolutely my favorite pie. The sad part is that I can’t have it whenever I want. Rhubarb has a pretty short season in the grocery stores, which is such a joke because it grows like a weed.

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

I wanted to recreate the pie using cranberries, my other favorite super-tart-short-season fruit. The thing about cranberry pie is that people are always mixing it with other fruit, like apples and stuff. I’m a cranberry purist. But if you just cook cranberries with sugar, then you essentially have cranberry-sauce-pie, which isn’t what I wanted. I wanted creamy, rich custard with bursts of tart cranberry flavor throughout.

It turned out awesome! At least it did by the 4th or 5th trial. I lost count. Anyone want pie? There is a lot of pie at my house. How bout a too-runny pie? Or a too-tart pie?

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

Here’s the one where the filling was totally uncooked so I dumped it into a pot, cooked it, and then put it back in the shell.

Hey, all I can say is that a reject pie is STILL PIE. If you want the final version you better come like right now because I am eating this thing for breakfast lunch and dinner over here.

P.S. If you live in Sacramento and you want to see just how mismatched my eyebrows really are, tune in to Fox 40 KTXL at 8am on October 23rd! (If you’re not local, I’ll post a clip later.) UPDATED: Here is the link to the news clip.

P.P.S. This pie is AMAZING when served with Sugared Cranberries. They are super easy. Check out the recipe here!

Cranberry Custard Pie

Yield: Serves 8-10

Recipe by The Food Charlatan


    For the crust:*
  • ¼ cup very cold water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • For the pie:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3 cups raw cranberries (if frozen, thaw them first)
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • water, for brushing
  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling
  • Sugared cranberries, for garnish


    For the crust:
  1. Measure out 1/4 cup water into a glass measuring cup and stick it in the freezer.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut in the shortening and 6 tablespoons butter. Cut until it looks like coarse crumbs. Don't overdo it!
  4. In a small bowl beat one egg. Pour out half (into the sink or into another container, or heck, into a frying pan if you're hungry). You can just eyeball it.
  5. Add the half beaten egg to the cold water that you put in the freezer. Beat it together, then add it to the butter/flour mixture. Stir until it is just coming together, then use your hands to knead it once or twice (only to make it come together). You can add up to a tablespoon more ice water if it is crumbly, though I've never had to do this. Divide the dough in half.
  6. Generously sprinkle flour onto a sheet of parchment paper (or just a very well floured workspace). Roll the dough with a rolling pin into a circle, using as much flour as you need so that it doesn't stick. Invert the parchment paper onto a deep** 9-inch pie pan and gently peel off the paper. Arrange the pie crust and trim edges as necessary.
  7. Repeat with the remaining dough, up until the invert step.
  8. For the pie:
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  10. In a stand mixer or large bowl, beat eggs on medium speed for about 2 or 3 minutes, until they are a light yellow color.
  11. Add the sugar and beat on medium for one more minute.
  12. Add the cornstarch and combine thoroughly, scraping sides.
  13. Add the salt and flour, and beat well.
  14. Stir in the cranberries with a rubber spatula.
  15. Pour into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons cut butter evenly over the mixture.
  16. Transfer (invert) the top crust over the pie and seal the edges.
  17. Brush the top crust with water and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of coarse sugar.
  18. Use a sharp knife to vent the pie.
  19. Cover the pie completely with foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
  20. Bake on a cookie sheet (in case it bubbles over) in the preheated oven for 55 minutes.
  21. Uncover the pie and continue to bake for about another 15-17 minutes, or until the crust is firm and golden in the center.
  22. Remove from the oven and let stand until room temperature, several hours or preferably overnight. You can speed things up by putting it in the fridge if you want.
  23. Garnish with sparkling sugared cranberries and vanilla ice cream!
  24. Store covered on the counter. Warning: this means you will take bites of it every time you pass through your kitchen. Sorry in advance.


*You can totally use store bought pie crusts if you don't love rolling dough!

**Seriously, it needs to be a deep pie dish. If it's not, you won't be able to put in all the filling. Leave out about one cup. (You can bake the extra filling in a ramekin if you want! Tasty crustless custard :)

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

Cranberry Custard Pie from The Food Charlatan

Here’s the recipe for the Sugared Cranberries I mentioned:

The Easiest Sugared Cranberries Ever from The Food Charlatan

NEVER enough pie:

The original, legendary Rhubarb Custard Pie: (that today’s recipe is adapted from)

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Brown Butter Cranberry Tart <<this is a personal favorite of mine! I just love cranberries.

Brown Butter Cranberry Tart from

Peach Custard Pie: (I’m telling you, custard pie is where it’s at dude.)

Peach Custard Pie

More cranberry love from blog-land:

Unconventional Cranberry  Pie from Eat Good 4 Life
Triple Cranberry Pie from Four Hats and Frugal
Cranberry Cheesecake Pie from Bake or Break





    • Jane Mead says

      You got my attention at the word “cranberry”! I love the tart taste of those red berries. I just love your writting skills and now you are off to TV land as well. Can’t wait to see the clip! Move over Martha, back up Paula, you have some real compatation as we are “Keeping Karen!”

  1. Diane M. says

    First let me say that I’m sure you are going to be beautiful on TV.
    Now, to the pie. It looks wonderful and I hope to make one soon. I love the
    combination of sweet and tart. Yum!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Diane M.

  2. Misty says

    If it makes you feel any better, my eyebrows are different too. One has thick hair and the other fine, so they look different in color as well. Maybe it runs in our weirdo family. :)
    I can’t wait to see the clip! Good luck!

    • Janice says

      Half of one of my eyebrows likes to go blond, making it look invisible. We’ll have to go back and look at family pics to see who we can blame :)
      This pie, though – so much better looking than anyone’s eyebrows!

  3. says

    Well, I have 2 completely, and I mean COMPLETELY different shaped eyebrows. You know how they say your eyebrows aren’t twins, they’re sisters? Um, mine are like 5th cousins. Haha! Wait, I shouldn’t say this because now you’re totally going to notice it. Shhhh! I hope you got a good shadow to use for your brows at Mac! Omega is the besttttt. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, just powder, blush, mascara on my top lashes only, but I always take the time to fill in my eyebrows. Makes all the difference.

    I am so excited for your segment! You are going to do great. I will be virtually cheering you on at 8am tomorrow friend! And this pie looks amazing of course, you bake the best things : )
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely recently posted…Second Trimester.My Profile

  4. says

    Hahaha!! I’m pretty certain it is their JOB to make you feel uncertain because everytime I go in I learn something else that is wrong with how I do my make up or how I look :) Last time I learned that I should really put on primer before eyeshadow. Primer, who has time for that?! haha!! Do you have a clip of your TV segment? I want to watch it! I’m sure you did so great! And this pie look UNREAL <3 <3
    Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron recently posted…Beet and Goat Cheese SaladMy Profile

    • says

      Haha I think you are right! That way you buy more makeup. And you win because I don’t even know what primer IS. girl fail!! I posted a clip on Facebook, I’ll post it on the blog tomorrow morning :)

  5. says

    The one and only time I visited the MAC counter was right before my wedding when I had to get the gals to teach me how to do my makeup since we were getting married on the beach and I’d have no one their by my side to help me. I’m just grateful the sun made me look all glowing. It hid the fact that I was still not so good at doing makeup. You did such a great job on live TV. I probably would have passed out or something. Love this pie!

  6. Angie says

    I made your pie today for company and everyone loved it! However my custard filling was almost cake like. Do u think its due to me baking it a little longer than ur recipe says or maybe I overbeat the batter? Either way a great recipe. Will make it again for Christmas!

    • says

      Hey Angie! I’m so glad you liked it! Next time you could decrease the cornstarch by a little bit if you wanted, you could even go 1 tablespoon less if you like it a little thinner. It’s kind of just to taste. Great question!

  7. Devon says

    I had the same result- all cake no custard. The flavor is nice, but I was disappointed in the presentation based on your pictures. This was much more like a pie shaped muffin.

  8. Gaby says

    Could I make this pie a few days ahead of time up to a week? Would I defrost and then bake it or go straight from the freezer to the oven?

    • says

      Hey Gaby! I would make it (all the way through to the sugar and slitting the top) and NOT bake it and freeze it, well covered with plastic and foil. Thaw completely and bake as directed. I did this exact thing with one of my tests (the one I made on air actually, haha) and it worked great. Good luck!

      • Gaby says

        Oh great! Thank you so much! Want to make it for Christmas but have so many other things to do the day of and before. Thanks for your quick reply!

  9. M says

    Oh my goodness, Karen! I am so glad I found you and this recipe a year after you originally posted it. I just finished eating a piece of the pie I made this afternoon and it is UNBELIEVABLE. I don’t even like pie (I know, I know…)! I made your exact recipe with two exceptions: I reduced the 1/4 cup of cornstarch by 1 Tbsp. at your suggestion, and I used store-bought crust because I was short on time. Yummy and gorgeous! This pie will be an annual tradition for me, for sure. Thank you, thank you. Can’t wait to look through and try out every single one of your other recipes.

  10. says

    My daughter made your cranberry custard pie and brought it to Thanksgiving dinner I hosted – and oh my mouth-watering yumminess- it was AWESOME! And the best part?
    My husband – who absolutley hates every sweet ever made – loved it. So I have printed and intend on making this often. He ate the entire pie. Thank goodness we had cake and several other pies for the other 15 guests. He actually HID the pie so no one could have any, haha – but no one minded, because they all know how awesome it is he liked it.

    Thanks soooo much for your post about this! One – one last thing: have you ever tried frozen rhubarb? It’s pretty darned good – since fresh rhubarb’s availability is so short.

    Have a wonderful Advent season! : – )

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