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Chess Pie

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a close up shot of a slice of Chess Pie on a plate
This old-fashioned Southern chess pie is so luscious and creamy, made from a handful of pantry staples, that it will be hard to resist.
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Table of Contents
  1. Chess Pie Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Chess Pie Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This chess pie recipe is a classic southern dessert that comes right out of Grandma’s recipe box. It features a sweet custard that is baked into a deliciously flaky pie crust resulting in a rich and irresistible treat.

a close up shot of a slice of Chess Pie on a plate

Chess Pie Ingredients

Chess Pie raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup salted butter, browned and cooled
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • Powdered sugar for dusting the top of the pie

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

MILK: Buttermilk or whole milk can be used interchangeably in this great pie.

CORNMEAL: It is important to use fine-grit cornmeal, or the pie won’t thicken.

PIE CRUST: You can either use a store-bought pie crust or check out our recipe for homemade pie crust if you prefer.

VINEGAR: Chess pie traditionally uses white vinegar or citrus juice to offset the sweetness of the sugar. We used white vinegar in this recipe – you can substitute lemon juice in equal amounts.

How to Make This Chess Pie Recipe

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

STEP TWO: Brown the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook and swirl the butter until it begins to turn a toasted golden brown color. Remove from the heat immediately and transfer to a dish to cool.

butter heated on a skillet

STEP THREE: Whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

The cornmeal and the flour helps to thicken the custard filling. 

sugar, flour, cornmeal, and salt whisked in a bowl

STEP FOUR: In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and vinegar. Stir the cooled butter mixture into the milk/egg mixture.

eggs, milk, and vinegar whisked in a bowl

STEP FIVE: Pour the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and stir or whisk to combine well.

STEP SIX: Pour the pie filling into a 9-inch unbaked pie crust.

PRO TIP:

If you are using a store-bought pie crust, we recommend placing the crust, foil tin and all, into a glass pie plate for added stability and easier transport.

filling poured into the unbaked pie crust

STEP SEVEN: Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, checking the pie after 20 minutes and covering (between 20 to 30 minutes, when the pie and crust are browned) with aluminum foil to prevent the crust and top of the pie from over-browning.

PRO TIP:

Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your pie at the lower end of the recommended baking time. 

baked Chess Pie

STEP EIGHT: Remove the pie from the oven when the center is just slightly jiggly.

STEP NINE: Let the pie cool completely before slicing.

STEP TEN: Dust lightly with powdered sugar and serve.

powdered sugar dusted on top of the pie

How To Serve

This classic Southern chess pie is delicious on its own, but of course, you can make it fancier by adding a spoonful of whipped cream to each of the individual slices. A warm pumpkin spice latte would be just the thing to wash it down.

For more vintage recipes, you should check out our sugar pie and our rhubarb custard pie.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store this classic pie covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

IN THE FREEZER: Freeze this creamy and delicious pie for up to 1 month.

a close up shot of a Chess Pie on a cooling rack with a slice taken out

This simple pie is a true Southern tradition that is packed with nostalgia. It can’t get any easier than this yummy recipe, and you will be delighted with the creamy texture and sweet flavor that is the result.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Does chess pie have to be refrigerated?

This easy pie should be kept in the fridge and can be stored for up to three days.

What is the difference between chess pie and custard pie?

Both custard pie and chess pie have a creamy custard filling. The main difference is that traditional chess pie has cornmeal in the filling to add an extra thickness to the custard.

Are there any other names for chess pie?

Chess pie was originally known as vinegar pie since this ingredient is used in the recipe to balance out the sweetness in the custard filling.

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a close up shot of a slice of Chess Pie on a plate

Chess Pie

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This old-fashioned Southern chess pie is so luscious and creamy, made from a handful of pantry staples, that it will be hard to resist.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup salted butter, browned and cooled
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting the top of the pie

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook and swirl butter until the butter begins to turn a toasted golden brown color. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a dish to cool.
  • Whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and vinegar. Stir the cooled butter mixture into the milk/egg mixture.
  • Pour wet ingredients into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and stir or whisk to combine well.
  • Pour the pie filling into a 9-inch unbaked pie crust.
  • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, checking the pie after 20 minutes and covering (between 20 to 30 minutes, when pie and crust are browned) with aluminum foil to prevent the crust and top of the pie from over-browning.
  • Remove the pie from the oven when the center is just slightly jiggly.
  • Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.
  • Dust lightly with powdered sugar and serve.

Notes

  • The cornmeal and the flour helps to thicken the custard filling.
  • If you are using a store-bought pie crust, we recommend placing the crust, foil tin and all, into a glass pie plate for added stability and easier transport.
  • Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your pie at the lower end of the recommended baking time.

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 402IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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