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Classic Chess Pie Recipe

Chess Pie is a delicious southern dessert with a buttery crust, sweet caramelized custard filling made with buttermilk, and a crunchy topping. It is simple to make with just a few common ingredients you may already have in the kitchen. The recipe can be tweaked to make it how you like it by using a different kind of milk or using honey instead of sugar. If you like creamy and easy to make pies, you should also try your hand at this Homemade Amish Custard Pie.

You may have seen something similar to this recipe for chess pie in Southern Living Magazine several years ago. However, we tested it with our own unique cooking techniques and measurements. Some say that it is called chess pie because it was originally called cheese pie.

Maybe because the custardy filling has the same texture as cream cheese. Actually, traditional chess pie is a classic Southern dessert that is simple and fast. The filling consists of just eggs, butter, sugar, buttermilk, cornmeal, and vinegar, and you can make it all in one bowl.

Ingredients needed:

  • Unbaked pie crust: Any store-bought pie crust will do, or you can make your own.
  • Cornmeal flour: Yellow cornmeal is best for this recipe. The cornmeal rises during cooking to make a thin crumbly crust.
  • Distilled white vinegar: For that extra tanginess.
  • Buttermilk: Evaporated milk would work too.
  • Salted butter: Softened to room temperature.
  • Brown sugar: You can use light or dark.
  • White granulated sugar: Use less if you do not like super-sweet food.
  • Large eggs: You need eggs for rich flavor and binding.
  • Large egg yolk: This is optional, but it adds extra richness.

How to make chess pie from scratch?

  1. Preheat oven: First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the pie crust in a nine-inch pie plate and poke holes in the bottom of the crust.
  2. Beat the butter: While you wait, beat the butter and both sugars using the mixing bowl of your stand mixer for about five minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs: Now, in the same bowl, whisk eggs in one at a time on medium-low speed.
  4. Whisk wet ingredients: After, whisk in the vinegar, cornmeal, buttermilk, and egg yolk until well combined.
  5. Pour in the pie filling: Next, pour the batter into the prepared crust. Then, bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn it down: Then, turn the oven temperature down to 300 degrees F and bake for 40 more minutes. The center will be slightly jiggly, and the crust and top should be golden brown.
  7. Let it cool: Finally, let your delicious pie cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. It should take about an hour.

Recipe variations:

  • Vanilla extract: Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra delicious flavor.
  • Citrus chess pie: Give your chess pie a citrusy flavor with the zest from an orange or lemon. For even more flavor, add some fresh lemon juice. This will also add some vitamin C.
  • Too much sugary sweetness: Some people say it is too sweet, so you can use less sugar to taste.
  • Add chocolate: Whisk in some cocoa powder or chocolate chips to make this a chocolate chess pie.
  • Coconut chess pie: Use coconut milk instead of buttermilk and add a cup of flaked coconut to the filling for a tropical pie.
  • Sweeter pie: For more sweetness, add a dollop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  • Mini-pies: Instead of one large pie, you can make these into mini chess pies. Just use mini dessert shells.
  • Pecan pie: Sprinkle chopped pecans on top for a chess pecan pie.
  • Dust it: Garnish your chess pie with a sprinkle of cinnamon or powdered sugar.

Frequently asked questions

How can I make my own pie crust?

You will just need all-purpose flour, butter, sugar, and a little salt. Mix it all up in a medium bowl or in a stand mixer. After mixing the pie crust ingredients and kneading it into a ball, roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Then, place it in your favorite pie plate, fold edges under, and crimp. Pierce and cover with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans. Bake for eight minutes at 450 degrees F.

Should I precook my pie crust?

You can but make sure you use pie weights or beans to keep it from bubbling. Then follow the package directions. It is simple and only takes a few minutes. Just line your pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for several minutes. Just until the edges are starting to turn brown. Then, let it cool before filling.

Can I use melted butter?

Yes, you can melt butter before adding it to your egg mixture, but it may not turn out as creamy. When you whip the butter with the sugars, it is the thick, soft butter that helps it whip up nice and fluffy. Melted butter may not be able to do the same thing unless you let it cool back to the softened stage.

How to store leftovers:

  • Store: You can store pie in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
  • Freeze: It is also safe to freeze your chess pie for up to three months. First, wrap it in plastic wrap and then put it in a freezer-safe container. It will be safe for up to 60 days.
  • Thaw: Thaw frozen leftovers in the fridge overnight before serving.

More pie recipes to try:

Classic Chess Pie

Chess Pie is a delicious southern dessert with a buttery crust, sweet caramelized custard filling made with buttermilk, and a crunchy topping.

a slice of chess pie on a serving spatula
  • Prep Time20 MIN
  • Cook Time50 MIN
  • Servings 8 slices


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell or graham cracker pie shell


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, beat butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat in the the eggs one at a time at medium speed. Stop to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
    a mixer in a bowl of dough and an egg
  • Next, add the egg yolk, buttermilk, vanilla, cornmeal, and vinegar. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth and well combined.
    stirring buttermilk into pie filling mixture
  • Transfer the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 10 minutes.
    raw chess pie
  • Lower the heat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 40 minutes. The pie is done when golden brown and slightly jiggly in the center.
  • Remove the pie from the oven and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing, for best results refrigerate it after that for a few hours.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Recipe tips:

  • If you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt for flavor. Keep a close eye on the pie as it bakes. Many older ovens run too hot or too cold, so the pie can quickly burn or simply not cook properly.
  • Instead of a stand mixer, you can use a large or medium mixing bowl and an electric mixer.
  • You can use whole milk instead of buttermilk if you want.
  • Want to make more chess pies? Use two pie crusts and just double the ingredients.
  • Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. If it is too cold, increase the temperature about 10 degrees F. If it runs hot, cover the edges of the pie crust to keep it from burning.
  • You could also use a graham cracker pie shell or Oreo pie shell for this chess pie.


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i am yet to attempt pie making at home and this one looks like one we will all enjoy.. so will try this

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Absolutely yummy! Definitely making this again soon!



Chess pie sounds so yummy! I need to make this!



I love this pie! It's so sweet and creamy.

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