Chess Pie is a rich, sweet, and sugary classic pie that is made with ingredients you probably have on hand and baked in a flaky crust! It is sweet. Very sweet! One piece will satisfy even with the most voracious sweet tooth. I also have Chocolate Chess Pie!

Piece of Chess Pie on a White Plate
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Why is it Called Chess Pie?

No, you don’t need to know anything about the game of chess to make this pie! In fact, the name is somewhat of a mystery. It could be derived from a baker stating it’s ‘Jes’ pie (Just pie). Or, it could be from using chestnut meal (now cornmeal) in the recipe or storing the pie in a pie chest (without the enunciation of the letter ‘t’). Whatever you call it, this pie is a southern-style custard pie that will satisfy your sweet tooth!

Pie Ingredients

As I stated above, many of the ingredients are ingredients you have on hand.

Crust: You can use a store-bought pie crust, but I encourage you to use my Homemade Pie Crust. If you do follow that recipe, you will have two crusts, so save one of them to use in another recipe like my Chocolate Pecan Pie. `

Cornmeal: Cornmeal is pretty standard in chess pie, although some people would not agree with that (and stick to just using flour). I used both cornmeal and flour.

Buttermilk: If you don’t have any on hand, make your own homemade buttermilk

Garnish: Dust a little confectioners’ sugar over the top of the baked pie. And then, top it off with some homemade whipped topping!

Pouring Batter Into Pie Crust for Chess Pie Recipe

How to Know when Chess Pie is Done

Custard pies are sometimes tough to judge for doneness. One test is to see if it still jiggles a little in the center, which is what you want. Of course, if it is too wet and sloppy, it is not done. On the other hand, if there is no jiggle, it is likely overbaked.

If you don’t mind using a digital thermometer in the pie, it should read 200°F when fully baked.

Baked Chess Pie from Overhead on White Surface

What is the Difference between Chess Pie and Buttermilk Pie?

Chess pie and buttermilk pie are similar, both filled with a custard filling and looking a lot alike. However, chess pie is made with cornmeal to thicken the filling, whereas buttermilk pies generally only use all-purpose flour. In addition, chess pies are generally sweeter than buttermilk pies, which have a tangier taste.

Piece of Chess Pie Recipe on a White Plate with a White Fork

Can I Freeze Chess Pie?

Yes! Once the pie has cooled completely, it can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap the pie in plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer-safe container. Be sure to label and date the container. When ready to enjoy, let it thaw in the refrigerator.

Fork Taking a Bite of Chess Pie

More Classic Pies

Chess Pie

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Chess Pie is a rich, sweet, and sugary classic pie that is made with ingredients you probably have on hand and baked in a flaky crust!


  • 1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked, store-bought or homemade
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 113g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar,
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (61g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • whipped cream, for garnish (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Pie Crust

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll pie crust out into a 12-inch circle. Carefully transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Cinch the edge of your pie crust to create your desired shape.
  • Transfer the crust to the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Once cold and firm, line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry rice, or dry beans.
  • Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, and carefully remove the pie weights and parchment.
  • Set aside while you prepare the filling.


  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together until combined.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated after each addition.
  • Add cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, and vinegar. Mix to combine.
  • Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the pie is completely set.
  • Let the pie cool at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely (about 2 hours).
  • Dust with confectioners' sugar and garnish with whipped topping. Enjoy!

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. I have made this time many times my mother request that I make it for her occasionally I would suggest covering the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil during the baking process after filling the pie pan

  2. So glad I read this. I made a chocolate chess the other day (not this recipe) and I over baked it. Still was eaten but it was not my best. I will use your recipe from now on.

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