How the Tyler Pudding Pie Got Its Name

This pie has presidential connections.

Mary Allen Perry
Ambrosia Pudding Pie
Alison Miksch

A native Virginian, 10th President John Tyler’s official claim to fame is annexing the Republic of Texas into the United States in 1845, but culinary folklore holds him in equally high esteem for a delectable cream-rich custard pie, a generations-old family recipe that was said to be served often at White House dinners. Given the name, you might imagine a vintage version of icebox pie but, following British tradition, the earliest custard pies were recorded as puddings in antebellum cookbooks. They were egg-based puddings baked in pastry-lined pie pans—usually a “puff paste”, laboriously rolled and folded with butter multiple times. The recipe remained popular in early 20th century farming communities, where it was a much loved “off season” pie made primarily during the winter months when there was no fruit. The ivory-hued pie was also a childhood favorite of Southern food sage Edna Lewis, who grew up in Freetown, Virginia, where women “each praised the perfection of their Tyler pies”. You’ll find ”authentic” versions of Tyler Pudding Pie made both with and without coconut. For our 50th Anniversay we developed a version that adds a festive ambrosial note to the original with layers of sweet orange marmalade, crushed pineapple, tart lemon curd, and coconut custard merging into each meltingly-rich slice: the Ambrosia Pudding Pie.

For more of our favorite pies, check out our Dazzling Thanksgiving Pies.