Rich, dense, and creamy, this chess pie recipe is a Southern classic and a delicious favorite!

A flaky pie crust is filled with a creamy custard with a thin crisp top layer.

Chess Pie with icing sugar sprinkled on top

Homemade Chess Pie

  • The jury is out on the true origin of the Chess pie, but two theories are that it can be made with whatever’s in the “chest” (pantry) which evolved to be “chess” or it was whipped up by a curious baker and called it “just pie.” Either way, this creamy, dreamy classic is a keeper!
  • Make chess pie up to a day in advance and chill until ready to serve! The rich flavors will just get better!
  • Just mix, fill, and bake! Chess pie is as easy as…well, pie!
pie shell , cornmeal , salt , flour , eggs , vinegar , cream , sugar , vanilla and butter with labels to make Chess Pie

Ingredients for Chess Pie

Pie Crust – Use a ready-made pie crust or make this recipe and freeze the second crust for later.

Filling – Many chess pie recipes use buttermilk, but few home cooks keep it on hand. This version uses cream and vinegar which bakes and tastes like a buttermilk custard. Even milk can be used instead of cream.

Variations – Try using a graham cracker crust, or a cookie crust with Oreo or Nilla Wafers. Add ¼ cup of cocoa in Step 4 to make a chocolate chess pie. Mix in some toasted coconut or lemon juice with a little zest for a tropical chess pie.

Toppings Top chocolate chess pie with some chocolate shavings, cookie crumbs, whipped cream, or powdered sugar. Fresh blueberries, sliced strawberries, and slivered almonds add flavor and visual appeal to Chess pie.

How to Make Chess Pie

  1. Blind bake the pie crust per recipe directions below.
  2. Whisk sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour filling into the crust and bake until the pie is set.
  4. Cool the pie completely before garnishing and serving.

PRO TIP: Chess pie is done when the top is crackly and shiny like a brownie.

Storing Chess Pie

  • For best results, keep leftover Chess pie covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Once the pie is chilled firm, freeze the whole pie or slices in plastic wrap then in zippered bags for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw slices in the fridge or at room temperature until ready to enjoy!
  • Warm slices in the microwave, if desired.
taking a slice of Chess Pie

More Southern-Inspired Favorites

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close up of Chess Pie
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Chess Pie

Chess Pie is a Southern classic dessert made with simple ingredients.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 8 slices
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  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted
  • 4 eggs beaten, room temperature
  • ¼ cup light cream or milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Line a 9-inch pie plate with pie shell and with a fork, poke the crust in a few places to allow steam to escape. Place a piece of parchment paper in the shell and fill it with pie weights or dry beans.
  • Bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and bake for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk sugar and melted butter. Add the eggs, cream, cornmeal, vinegar, flour, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  • Place the pie in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Bake for 70 to 75 minutes or until the pie is set.
  • Cool completely on a baking rack before cutting, about 2 hours.


Chess pie can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
To freeze, wrap the whole pie or individual slices in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. 
5 from 13 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 412 | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 73mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 549IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
baked Chess Pie in the dish and a title
close up of Chess Pie with a title
creamy Chess Pie in the pie dish
baked Chess Pie in the dish and plated slice with a title


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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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