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Kentucky Transparent Pie (a.k.a. Creamy Vanilla Bean Goodness Pie)

The first time I read about a Kentucky Transparent Pie, I thought "what. is. that." Transparent? As a description for a pie? What does that even mean? I put in an honest effort of trying to figure it out but no one knows who named this pie or how the heck the word "Transparent" got involved. But everyone in Kentucky knows what a Transparent Pie is, so you should too. Now, I would have called it a Creamy Vanilla Bean Goodness Pie, but I wasn't living in Kentucky in the 1890's. Despite it's name, I thought this pie would make the perfect addition to a Thanksgiving spread because it brings a little something different to your pumpkin spiced & pecan filled dessert table.


Sugared Cranberries

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (about 8 oz.)


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

  • 2 tablespoons cold shortening, cubed

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the Sugared Cranberries: Stir together water and 1 3/4 cups of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium, and bring to a simmer, stirring often until sugar dissolves. Continue simmering sugar syrup, without letting it boil, until it thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool until warm, about 5 minutes. (If cranberries are combined with the sugar syrup when it is too hot, they may burst from the heat.)

  2. Combine fresh cranberries and warm sugar syrup in a large bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover bowl, and chill 8 hours or overnight.

  3. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Pour chilled cranberry mixture through a wire-mesh strainer over a bowl. (Reserve cranberry syrup in bowl for another use.) Spread cranberries in a single layer on sugar on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Gently shake baking sheet, making sure cranberries are evenly coated with sugar. Let stand, uncovered, until cranberries are dry and crisp, about 2 hours. Shake off any excess sugar on cranberries, and place in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

  4. Prepare the Crust: Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined, 3 to 4 times. Add cubed butter and shortening, and pulse until mixture resembles small peas, 4 to 5 times. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over top of mixture. Pulse 4 times. Add up to 1 more tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing after each addition until dough just begins to clump together.

  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until dough comes together, 2 to 3 times. Shape and flatten dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.

  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Unwrap chilled pie dough disk and place on a lightly floured surface. Let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle dough with flour, and roll into a 12-inch circle. Carefully fit dough circle into a 9-inch glass pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp. Line pastry with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

  7. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Transfer crust to a wire rack; remove pie weights and parchment, and let crust cool, about 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.

  8. Prepare the Filling: Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add melted butter to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until mixture is combined and resembles damp sand.

  9. Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until well beaten. Add half-and-half and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Pour egg mixture over sugar-butter mixture, and whisk to combine into a smooth, thick, creamy yellow filling. Pour into prepared piecrust.

  10. Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until edges puff up and center is fairly firm, wiggling only slightly when you gently nudge pie plate, about 35 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

  11. Prepare the Whipped Cream: Beat whipped cream with an electric mixer in a large bowl on medium-high speed until soft and lightened in texture, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth, fluffy, and well combined, about 2 minutes. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Top pie with Whipped Cream and Sugared Cranberries.



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