Sawdust pie is unlike any other pie, and you’ll happily add it to your recipe collection! It has a classic butter pie crust and a gooey and crunchy filling that’s full of sweet, nutty flavors, thanks to coconut, pecans, and graham cracker crumbs.
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What is sawdust pie?
Sawdust pie is the pie you never knew you needed in your life! The pie consists of shredded coconut, graham cracker crumbs, and chopped pecans in an egg white-sugar batter baked in a flaky pie crust.
I’ve been making this sawdust pie recipe for several years now, and it has become a family favorite. To the point where it’s requested for birthdays, and at least one family member will call to assure that I make one for Thanksgiving.
What I love about this pie is that the recipe uses egg whites. After making cream pies (like chocolate cream pie or lemon pie), I always find myself with an abundance of egg whites. Sawdust pie is a fantastic opportunity to turn these leftover egg whites into something scrumptious!
Why is it called sawdust pie?
The pie’s name comes from its sawdust-like appearance. It starts with the “sawdust” ingredients, shredded coconut and graham cracker crumbs. The theme continues to the filling, which is light brown and flaky, resembling sawdust.
What does sawdust pie taste like?
Despite the name, the pie tastes nothing like sawdust. Quite the opposite, the pie is actually incredibly delicious! First, you have a buttery pie crust, which is loaded with a moist, sweet, and crunchy filling.
Sawdust pie is unlike any other pie. The texture reminds me of a cross between German chocolate cake filling, pecan pie, and coconut macaroons. If you love gooey and nutty treats, sawdust pie will be right up your alley.
Where did sawdust pie come from?
I couldn’t find a whole lot of information on the origins of this unique pie. It’s popular in some parts of the southern US, especially Kentucky.
Patti’s 1880s Settlement in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, has the pie on their menu since 1975. The restaurant’s founder, Patti Tullar, published the recipe in the 1983 May issue of Bon Appetit and Miss Patti’s Cook Book.
The sawdust pie filling is made of equal parts sugar, coconut, pecans, and graham cracker crumbs, bound together with egg whites. Here’s a short overview of each ingredient. You can find the exact amounts in the recipe card below.
- Pie shell: You can use an unbaked homemade pie crust (try my 3-ingredient pie crust recipe) or a store-bought pie shell. The recipe makes a lot of filling, so you need a 9-in deep-dish crust.
- Egg whites are the only liquid ingredient in this easy pie recipe and hold everything together. You need 1 cup of egg whites, which are the whites from 7 to 9 eggs.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar sweetens the filling and creates the ooey-gooey texture.
- Shredded coconut: While you can use sweetened flaked coconut, I prefer unsweetened shredded coconut as the pie is already pretty sweet. Either way, both are fine.
- Graham cracker crumbs: You can buy premade crumbs or crush the graham crackers yourself. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of crumbs, which is approx. 12 full sheets. Simply add the sheets into a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Pecans or walnuts provide a wonderful crunch and nutty flavor. Sawdust pie is traditionally made with chopped pecans, but walnuts work just as well. The pie you see in the photos was made with walnuts.
How to make sawdust pie
The steps of making sawdust pie are incredibly simple, which makes it such a great dessert for any occasion. The hardest part is waiting for the pie to cool so you can slice it.
#1: Preheat oven
- Adjust a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
#2: Prepare pie crust
- If using a homemade pie crust, place it inside a 9-in / 23 cm deep-dish pie pan and crimp the edges as desired. Refrigerate the crust as you make the filling.
- Tip: Skip this step if using a premade pie shell. Just note that a frozen pie crust needs to be thawed; you cannot bake the pie in a frozen shell.
#3: Mix filling
- Add the granulated sugar, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, and graham cracker crumbs to a large mixing bowl. Add the egg whites and stir until everything is well combined and evenly moistened.
- The mixture will initially seem dry but comes together as you continue stirring. A wooden spoon or rubber spatula works well.
#4: Bake pie
- Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Using a spoon or spatula, smooth out the surface.
- Bake the pie for 45 to 55 minutes, until the top of the filling looks golden brown and mat.
#5: Cool pie
- Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack. You can serve the pie warm, at room temperature, or cold.
- Tip: Let the pie cool for 20 to 30 minutes if serving warm. The filling needs some time to set up.
- Cut the pie into slices.
- Serve the pie plain, topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, or blanketed with banana slices and whipped cream. Enjoy!
With these helpful tips up your sleeve, you’ll bake up some top-notch sawdust pie.
- Deep dish pie crust: As I’ve mentioned before, the recipe makes a lot of filling, so you definitely want a deep-dish pie crust to hold all that goodness.
- Tap the pie pan: After pouring the filling into the pie crust, gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles in the batter. This will help to avoid cracks.
- Tent the pie: If you notice the crust browning too quickly, wrap the edge of the pie with aluminum foil. This will protect the crust from burning as the filling cooks.
- Baking time: The pie needs to bake for 45 to 55 minutes, depending on how hot your oven heats. The pie is done when the top looks golden brown and mat, and the filling has risen. You might see a few cracks, which is fine.
Looking to load up this pie with some extra fixings? Have at it and try the following mix-ins and variation ideas!
- Brown sugar: Feel free to swap out white sugar for brown sugar to give your pie a rich caramel flavor.
- Vanilla: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract will add depth of flavor and make sawdust pie even homier.
- Spices: Try adding spices like ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice for extra festive flavor.
- Salt: Sawdust pie is pretty sweet. You can knock down the sweetness a bit by adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Melted butter: To make the filling slightly richer, stir in 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Different nuts: Any kind of nuts will work here. If you’re not a fan of pecans, use walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or cashew nuts.
- Other crumbs: For a tasty twist, try using chocolate wafer cookies, vanilla wafers, Biscoff cookies, or ginger snaps.
- Brandy: 2 tablespoons of brandy or bourbon add complexity and elevate the flavor.
- Chocolate chips: Fold 1 cup chocolate chips into the filling. Any kind is fine, but semisweet will probably taste best.
- Cocoa: Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the filling before baking to make it a chocolate sawdust pie.
Patti’s serves their Kentucky sawdust pie with a giant cloud of sweetened whipped cream and banana slices. My family loves it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce.
You can also serve the pie with caramel, coffee, or pecan ice cream and chocolate sauce. Sawdust pie is also delicious all by itself, maybe dusted with powdered sugar and a few candied pecans on the side.
How to store sawdust pie
Store leftover pie in the refrigerator and consume it within 4 to 5 days. Cover the pie with plastic wrap or transfer slices into an airtight container.
The pie tastes delicious cold, but you can reheat a slice in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.
Can you freeze sawdust pie?
Yes! Allow your sawdust pie to cool completely, then wrap it up in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. You can also freeze individual slices.
When ready to enjoy, thaw the pie overnight in the refrigerator. Optionally, reheat the pie in the oven until warmed through.
Making sawdust pie ahead of time
Sawdust pie holds up well in the fridge and is a wonderful make-ahead dessert. Simply let your pie cool to room temperature, cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge.
For the best taste, I suggest making the pie 1 to 2 days in advance, but I wouldn’t go much further than that.
More delicious pie recipes
If you love pie as much as we do, here are a few more of our favorite pie recipes to try out. Whether you want something creamy and indulgent or fresh and fruity, we’ve got you covered!