Posted: October 14, 2017 · Modified: October 24, 2022

This rich and sweet Southern Chess Pie is so easy to make with simple ingredients you probably have on hand. It’s a wonderful pie for holiday gatherings!!  Make sure you add this one to your holiday baking repertoire!

A slice of Southern Chess Pie topped with whipped cream.

Chess Pie is a popular southern dessert, made with simple pantry ingredients. It’s rich and sweet with a delectable gooey filling and it bakes up with a crusty brûlée-like top crust. This is a perfect pie for holidays and can be made in advance.

The Origin of Chess Pie

There are a few theories! One popular theory is that hundreds of years ago this pie was made and left unrefrigerated in a pie “chest”, thus resulting in the name “chess” pie. Another theory is that many years ago the pie was made with chestnut meal, thus resulting in the name “chess” pie. Regardless of how it really got its name, it’s still very popular today and very delicious!

Things To Know About Chess Pie

  • Most chess pie fillings are baked in a 9″ shallow pie crust, such as in this one. There’s not that many ingredients and no added milk so the filling doesn’t require a deep dish pie crust.
  • Melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and cornmeal, are the basic ingredients for the filling.
  • The filling is poured into a partially blind-baked pie crust and baked for about 45 minutes. 
Chess Pie.

Tips for making perfect chess pie

  • It’s important to partially blind bake the pie crust before adding the filling, to ensure the bottom crust gets baked through.  No one wants a soggy bottom crust.
  • Make sure to allow the melted butter to cool slightly before adding it to the eggs. Hot butter will cook the eggs.
  • Cover the edges of the filled pre-bakes pie shell with foil. The edges will already be slightly browned, and by the time the pie bakes, the edges should be a perfect golden brown.
  • Allow the pie to cool completely. I even suggest refrigerating the pie until it’s chilled before slicing it. See the next bullet below.
  • Top crust formation: The top forms a thin crusty brûlée type crust. Don’t try to simply slice through it like you would do for most pies or it will crack and break everywhere. Wait until the pie is chilled. Use a thin knife, not serrated, and very gently and slowly move the knife up and down as you slowly bring the knife back towards you. Don’t rush it. If your pie does crack, it will still taste delicious!
  • Updated tip: To keep a crust from forming on top, once the filling starts to puff up in the oven, shake it back down by gently shaking the pie dish. I
A pre baked chess pie.

Clarifying similar pies and their differences!

Chess Pie: Some recipes contain sugar, eggs, butter, vinegar, cornmeal, and vanilla.  Other recipes don’t call for cornmeal or vinegar, but flour instead.  Then there are recipes that call for cornmeal but no vinegar.  And let’s not forget, the recipes that call for a little milk.  It’s no wonder there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to chess pie, and chess pie looks very much like Transparent Pie. The top crust is softer on transparent pie since there is no cornmeal.

Transparent Pie: Contains sugar, eggs, butter, flour, vanilla and in some recipes, milk or whipping cream. The recipes without milk or cream are very similar to chess pie but they don’t contain cornmeal. The top crust is a softer crust.

Custard Pie: Contains, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, milk, and nutmeg. There is no butter, cornmeal or flour.

Buttermilk Pie: Contains sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, and it also contains flour and buttermilk. No cornmeal. Southern Buttermilk Pie.

Southern Chess Pie.

Can I freeze Chess Pie?

Yes, you can freeze it. Wrap the completely cooled pie in plastic wrap, followed by two layers of heavy foil or place in a freezer safe pie container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature. This is a rich pie. I prefer it chilled, especially not warmed. It’s great with a dollop of whipped cream too!

Chess Pie.

Variations of this pie!

Chocolate Chess PIe: Add 1/4 cup of cocoa to this recipe.

Lemon Chess Pie: Add the juice & zest of one lemon to this recipe.

Chess Pie.

More great pie recipes…

Pumpkin Chess Pie

Southern Pecan Pie

Pecan Cheesecake Pie

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

If you make this recipe please rate it, and leave a comment below on how you liked it. I love hearing from you!

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Chess Pie.

Southern Chess Pie

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Cindy Gibbs @ My Country Table
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 50
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Pies
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


This rich and sweet Southern Chess Pie is so easy to make with simple ingredients you probably have on hand. It’s a wonderful pie for holiday gatherings!!  Make sure you add this one to your holiday baking repertoire!


Units Scale
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract
  • 1 9 inch shallow pie shell, partially blind baked*


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Move top oven rack to one position above the middle slot.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk just until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Pour into a shallow, partially blind baked, pie shell. Place foil around edges to prevent over browning.
  4. Place pie on an old cookie sheet and place in oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until pie is no longer jiggly in center when gently shaken. Filling will puff up while baking but will deflate when removed from oven.


  • * This recipe calls for partially pre-baking (blind baking) the pie crust to ensure doneness of the baked crust. See my post on blind baking under “How To’s”.
  • The fresher the eggs, the longer the pie needs to bake to ensure doneness.
  • Oven times vary. My pie took 30 minutes after reducing the oven temperature to 300 degrees.


  • Serving Size: 8