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This classic Southern dessert is a delicious combination of sweet, tangy, and buttery flavors all wrapped up in a flaky crust. Its custard-like filling has a smooth and creamy texture that will have you hooked. And the best part? Chess pie is super easy to make and only takes 10 minutes of prep!
With the weather being nice and warm, I’ve been wanting to break out my favorite summer desserts. I feel like pie is a must-make for any summer barbecue! Channel your inner Southern baker and try out this chess pie, or make a lemon or peach pie from scratch! Lemon chess pie is another great option if you want a little extra flavor.
What is Chess Pie?
Chess pie is a dessert that has its roots in the South, particularly in states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. The exact origin of the name is uncertain, but there are a few theories out there. Some say it comes from the saying “just pie.” Others believe that it comes from the term “cheese pie,” as the custardy filling has a similar texture to cheese. No matter what you want to call it, one thing is for sure! This pie is extremely delicious and easy to make.
The filling consists of just a few ingredients – sugar, butter, eggs, cornmeal, and vinegar – that are mixed together and poured into a pie crust. The result is a sweet and tangy filling that has a lovely golden brown, caramelized outside once it’s baked. It’s the perfect dessert for when you’re short on time or don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. Plus, it’s versatile – you can enjoy it on its own, with a dollop of whipped cream, or with a scoop of ice cream. No matter how you choose to serve it, I know you’ll love its custard-like texture and sweet flavor!
This is a popular dessert recipe because it uses so many simple, pantry staple ingredients. Pick up a refrigerated pie crust from the store, and you’ll probably have everything else you need ready to go at home! (If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also make your own crust! It’s a lot easier than you’d think.)
- Unbaked Pie Crust: This is the shell that will hold your sweet, delicious filling. Whether you choose a storebought crust or make your own from scratch, a good, flaky crust is key to creating the perfect pie.
- Melted Butter: This is what gives chess pie its rich, buttery flavor.
- Large Eggs: Eggs are the glue that holds everything together in your pie filling. They also give it a delicious, custard-like flavor.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness and depth of flavor to the filling, and also helps to create a caramelized crust on top. (It’s so delicious!) You can use honey or maple syrup as a substitute as well.
- Cornmeal: Gives the pie a little bit of texture and crunch. It also helps to thicken the filling!
- All-Purpose Flour: Flour helps to thicken the filling and give it structure.
- Salt: A pinch of salt helps to balance out the sweetness of the chess pie and bring out the other flavors in the filling.
- 2% Milk: Milk adds creaminess and richness to the filling. It also helps to create a smooth, velvety texture. I used 2%, but you can use whole milk, oat milk, or nut milk instead.
- Vinegar: White vinegar adds a tangy, slightly acidic flavor to the filling. You can also use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar if that’s all you have on hand.
- Vanilla Extract: For an extra boost of sweet flavor. Try making your own blend at home using my recipe here!
How to Make Chess Pie
Only 10 minutes of prep and then it’s off to the oven! With how easy chess pie is to make, you’ll see why it’s such a popular Southern dessert! Sweet, creamy goodness made with minimal effort.
- Preheat: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare Crust: Prepare the homemade pie crust using my recipe, or use a store-bought pie crust if you’re short on time. Roll out pie dough and place it into a pie dish. Finish the edges however you like!
- Melt Butter: Melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave then allow it to cool.
- Whisk Eggs: In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs until blended well then set aside.
- Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl add the granulated sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Combine With Wet Ingredients: Add the milk, vinegar, vanilla, and whisked eggs to the dry ingredient mixture. Whisk together until incorporated.
- Add Butter: Mix in the cooled butter until smooth and combined.
- Add to Crust: Pour the chess pie filling into the prepared crust. Carefully place the pie on a baking sheet and into the preheated oven.
- Bake: Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to 1 hour or the until edges are set. It’s normal for the center to wiggle slightly. Cover the pie with foil for the last 10 minutes if the edges of the crust are getting too brown.
- Cool: Allow the pie to cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving. Dust powdered sugar on top of the pie before serving if you desire!
- Store: Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator.
Tips and Serving Suggestions
Chess pie is delicious on its own, but here are a few ways to make it even better! No matter how you customize it (or if you leave it as-is) this dessert is sure to please!
- Add Fresh Whipped Cream: Whip up some fresh whipped cream to serve alongside your chess pie. It’ll add an extra layer of creaminess and decadence!
- Mix-Ins: Add some texture to your pie by mixing in chopped nuts or even chocolate chips. Who doesn’t love a little crunch in their desserts?
- More Flavor: Get creative with your flavors! Try adding in some cinnamon or nutmeg for a warm, spicy twist, or a splash of bourbon for some extra richness.
- À la Mode: Serve your chess pie slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The contrast of the warm pie and cold ice cream is truly heavenly.
- More Toppings: Want to take your chess pie to the next level? Top it off with a layer of caramel sauce or some fresh fruit compote for a deliciously indulgent treat.
- Mini Chess Pies: Try making mini chess pies instead of one large pie. They’re the perfect size for individual servings and make for a cute and tasty presentation.
How Long Does Chess Pie Last?
When it comes to storing leftover chess pie, the hardest part is resisting the urge to eat it all in one sitting! But if you manage to save some for later, simply cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and pop it in the fridge.
- In the Refrigerator: Cover with plastic wrap or store in an airtight pie container. Your chess pie will stay fresh for about 4 days.
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- 1 unbaked pie crust, storebought or homemade
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup 2 % milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare the homemade pie crust using my recipe, or use a store-bought pie crust if you're short on time. Roll it out and place it into a pie dish. Finish the edges however you like!
- Melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave then allow it to cool.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs until blended well and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add the granulated sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Add the milk, vinegar, vanilla, and whisked eggs to the bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk together until incorporated.
- Mix in the cooled butter until smooth and combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Carefully place the pie on a baking sheet and into the preheated oven.
- Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or the until edges are set. It's normal for the center to wiggle slightly. Cover the pie with foil for the last 10 minutes if the edges of the crust are getting too brown.
- Allow the pie to cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving. Dust powdered sugar on top of the pie before serving if you desire!
- Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.