A crisp crust meets a sweet, buttery, and oh so creamy filling in this classic Southern Chess Pie recipe! Made with fresh, simple ingredients, and a whole lot of love, this pie is a perfect addition to your holiday table!
This might surprise you but I am definitely not the head chef in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. I’m the dessert girl! Year after year, my family counts on me to provide enough pies and cakes to feed a whole lot of hungry folk. I’ll usually bring a cake or two and a few pie options, just so there’s something for everybody.
This year, I’m bringing a Southern Chess Pie recipe to the table! Super simple, super satisfying, and super delicious, this classic pie is sure to wow the whole family. Now, there’ll still be a Sweet Potato and perhaps a Pecan Pie on the table, but something new never killed anyone. I hope you enjoy this slice of heaven as much I have.
Perks and Highlights for the Best Chess Pie Recipe
Cuisine Inspiration: Southern Comfort Embrace the heart and soul of the South with this classic comfort dessert that’s been adored for generations. It’s more than just pie; it’s a sweet slice of tradition!
Primary Cooking Method: Baking This isn’t just any baking; it’s about patience and love mixed into one. The low and slow process makes sure everything sets to perfection, resulting in a pie with a filling that’s as smooth as a lullaby.
Dietary Info: Indulgence Ahead Let’s be real; this is pure, unadulterated comfort food. With sugar, butter, and eggs, it’s a celebration treat that’s worth every calorie!
Key Flavor: Sweet Custard Bliss At the heart of every chess pie is the gooey, sweet, and slightly caramelized custard filling. It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it’s every sweet tooth’s dream come true.
Skill Level: Easy Peasy Don’t be fooled by its gourmet taste; this recipe is as easy as pie! Even if you’re a baking newbie, you’ve totally got this.
- Simple Ingredients: No need for a scavenger hunt around specialty stores; the beauty of chess pie lies in its simplicity. You probably already have everything you need right at home!
- Versatility is Key: Feel free to get creative! This pie is your canvas. Add lemon zest, or a dash of cocoa powder – make it your own.
- Make-Ahead Magic: Got a busy week? No problem! Chess pie tastes just as divine a few days later. Just bake it in advance and refrigerate.
- Crowd-Pleaser: Perfect for family dinners, holiday feasts, or any occasion, really. Be prepared for an onslaught of compliments and the inevitable “Can I have the recipe?” questions.
- The Sweet Spot of History: Every bite comes with a rich backstory. Originating from England, this pie has been a Southern staple for centuries. You’re not just making dessert; you’re continuing a legacy.
What is Chess Pie?
Chess Pies are a Southern specialty that has a simple filling of eggs, sugar, butter, and a bit of flour. There are many flavor additions such as vanilla, buttermilk, lemon, and chocolate that can vary the basic recipe.
As to how Chess Pie got its name, I’m not sure! There are dozens of stories, guesses, and pieces of written folklore surrounding the history of this curious pie. Regardless of where it came it from, this sinfully sweet slice is unlike anything you’ve had before.
Unsalted Butter must be fully softened for this recipe. If the butter is too firm or cold, it will not properly cream with the sugar.
Granulated Sugar is a hefty component of this pie. Be on the lookout for large clumps of sugar; they will get in the way of a smooth filling. If you find this pie to be too sweet or not sweet enough, try increasing or decreasing the measurement of sugar by a ¼ cup.
Cornmeal and All Purpose Flour both work as stabilizers in the custard, meaning they help to set the pie and create the final texture.
Eggs are at the base of any custard pie. I highly recommend using fresh, high-quality eggs; their yolks will have a brighter orange color. These eggs should also be at room temperature.
Buttermilk curdles the custard, creating a tangy and flavorful filling. If preferred, whole milk can be used in its place.
Vanilla enhances flavor and color.
Lime or Lemon Juice plus Zest may seem out of place but I promise that the added acidity is fantastic. That zippy sweetness offered up by citrus takes this pie to a new level.
Salt also enhances flavor. I’d stick to kosher salt here.
9” Frozen Pie Crust should be in your freezer at all times, but especially around the holiday season. The ease of pulling out a store bought crust from the freezer is an absolute God-send during the busiest time of the year. Feel free to use a homemade crust as well!
How to Make Chess Pie
If you’re asking yourself why you should make this pie, look no further for the answer. With the help of a handy dandy frozen aisle crust, Chess Pie is made in 3 simple steps, which require very minimal effort. This pie will be the easiest dessert you dish out this holiday!
Here’s how you make it:
- Blind Bake the Crust- Custard fillings can often cause a soggy bottom on your crust. To avoid that, we blind bake the crust, creating a firm barrier for the filling to bake on.
- Make The Filling- This part is easy! All you need is one big bowl and, this is crucial, room temperature Ingredients. Whisk vigorously until the filling is pale yellow, fluffy, and fully combined.
- Bake, Cool and Serve- Once the crust has cooled slightly and the filling has been made, pour the filling into the crust and carefully transfer the pie into the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent the crust from browning too quickly. If desired, coat the foil with a little bit of nonstick spray. Bake for an additional 30-45 minutes. You’ll know the pie is done when the edges are set but the center has a slight giggle. Remove from the oven and allow it to set for about an hour before serving.
Storing Leftover Custard Pie
You can keep this pie covered in the pie plate or in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3-5 days. If reheating individual slices, a quick minute or two in the microwave will do the trick.
Larger portions are best reheated in the oven (or a toaster oven) at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Best Thanksgiving Pies
I love Thanksgiving dinner but I am obsessed with the dessert that comes after! Y’all, all I ever want is pies, on pies, on pies!
If you feel me, try a few more of my tastiest holiday pies:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice or lime
- 1 tsp lemon zest or lime
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 9" frozen or homemade pie crust Find my homemade crust here
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the cornmeal and flour.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides after each. When the egg mixture is well beaten add buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice, zest and salt beat until smooth.
- Pour the filling into a par-baked crust and carefully transfer into the oven. For a Parbaked crust, use my pie crust recipe, roll one of the disks out into the pie plate then use a fork to poke holes along the sides and bottom of the pie crust. Line the pie crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights, making sure the weights are evenly distributed around the pie dish. Pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper/pie weights then add the filling. If you would like, you can brush some egg wash on the outside of the crust as well (just take 1 egg and whisk together with a teaspoon of water).
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the edges of the filling are firm but the center remains somewhat jiggly. Check the pie after 15-20 minutes and place a piece of aluminum foil on top to keep it from getting too brown.
- Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and allow to come to room temperature, about 1-2 hours.