Vegetable DishesCooking EquipmentMeat DishesFruitsDesserts & SweetsFood IndustryBreakfast FoodsBaked GoodsBeveragesGrains DishesDining OutSpices & SeasoningsSauces, Condiments, and PreservationAppetizers & SnacksSpecial DietsDairy & Eggs

Aunt Ethel's Caramel Pie

Updated on September 14, 2017
jo miller profile image

Jo loves to cook ,has been cooking for family and friends for many years, and enjoys sharing these family recipes with others.

Old Fashioned Caramel Pie


Aunt Ethel's Caramel Pie (Through Granny Duncan, Mary Lavonia Magdelene)

If you travel across Tennessee on Interstate 40, you'll come to an exit for Buffalo. It's just past the exit for Buck Snort. At the exit for Buck Snort, you can stop at a little cafe there and get a fried baloney sandwich. At the Buffalo exit at one time in the past, you could stop at a log cabin restaurant and order a slice of delicious caramel pie. It was made by Aunt Ethel, the cook at this little restaurant.

The log cabin restaurant is still there, but it has changed ownership—and Aunt Ethel is long gone. She passed away years ago and had been retired years before that.

I never knew Aunt Ethel. I know her daughter, and I know her nephew well since I am married to him. Even Aunt Ethel's daughter did not have her recipe for caramel pie, but before Aunt Ethel died, my husband took his mother for a visit to Aunt Ethel's house. When they called to tell her they were coming for a visit, they requested that she have one of her caramel pies for them to sample.

While they were enjoying the pie, John asked her for her recipe.

When they left Aunt Ethel's that day, John's mother told him that the recipe had actually been her mother's, Aunt Ethel's mother-in-law. She was a little peeved that Aunt Ethel had actually taken credit for the recipe since it had come from her mother. John's wrote on his recipe, "Aunt Ethel's caramel pie, through Granny Duncan(Mary Lavonia Magdelene)". But Aunt Ethel was the one who had made the pie famous. She had at least perfected the pie and cooked it many times over her tenure at the local restaurant and this is the recipe she gave him that day:


  • 1 baked pie crust
  • 1 1/2 sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In medium sauce pan combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, salt, and all-purpose flour. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Add milk to pan and cook over medium heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir small amount of mixture into slightly beaten eggs yolks.
  3. Return to heat and cook until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Pour remaining 3/4 cup sugar into a cast iron skillet. Cook on medium high or high heat, stirring constantly with a knife until sugar caramelizes. Sugar will begin to melt slightly and turn brown. Watch this carefully to be sugar does not begin to burn.
  5. Pour caramelized sugar into thickened ingredients in saucepan. Stir until smooth and pour into baked pie crust.
  6. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, one teaspoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla.
  7. Spread meringue over pie and cook in 350° oven for 10-15 minutes until brown

Rate This Recipe

5 stars from 1 rating of Old Fashioned Caramel Pie
show route and directions
A markerbucksnort, tennessee -
Bucksnort, TN 37140, USA
get directions

B markerbuffalo, tennessee -
Buffalo, Tennessee 37078, USA
get directions

Worth the Effort

This pie, I discovered, is a little tricky to make. I had to make several attempts before I was successful, but it is now one of our favorite desserts. Aunt Ethel's instructions were a little vague in places so I experimented to get the desired results. I have made a few clarifications in places to the original instructions but still giving full credit to Aunt Ethel (through Granny Duncan) for this recipe.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jwmurph profile image

      jwmurph 5 weeks ago from Tennessee

      This looks and sounds, in the recipe, like a great pie to me.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 5 weeks ago from Tennessee

      Hope you enjoy the pie, Dianna. Thanks for stopping by.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 weeks ago

      This will definitely make its way onto our table soon! I enjoyed your story about Aunt Ethel's claim to this recipe. That last photo says it all for me!

    • profile image

      DDE 6 weeks ago

      The caramel cake look delicious. Will try this winter.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 7 weeks ago from Tennessee

      Thanks a bunch!!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

      Jo, I'm back to Flip and Pin this! The cat's out of the bag on ole Aunt Ethel.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 7 weeks ago from Tennessee

      Hi, John. Thanks for stopping by. The pie is delicious.

    • jwmurph profile image

      jwmurph 7 weeks ago from Tennessee

      This really looks good in your pictures. I am sure that it is as good as it tastes. It does look a little tricky to me in preparing it.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Larry. It is wonderful.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 months ago from Oklahoma

      Looks wonderful.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Nancy. It is a little difficult to make but well worth the effort.

    • profile image

      Nancyhinchliff 2 months ago

      Wow, This sounds delicious. Can't wait to try it. Thanks.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 months ago from Tennessee

      O'Charley's has caramel pie on their menu. It's nothing like Aunt Ethel's however. I had never had this type of caramel pie either until I found John and Aunt Ethel's recipe.

      Thanks for stopping by, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm one month shy of sixty-nine, and I've never heard of caramel pie. It sounds delicious, Jo! thanks for sharing

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks Flourish. This is one of our favorite pies. I have heard the story of the pie often from my husband and his family.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      Some of the best recipes have to be eeked out of proud cooks like you and your husband did, but she did everyone a great service in sharing the recipe with you. I love the backstory and can't wait to try this pie. Yum! 5 stars!