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Gooey, buttery, and supremely sweet, the chess pie has been a staple of the Southern dessert table for a couple hundred years. The recipe always calls for butter, sugar, and eggs, but bakers differ when it comes to the thickening agent: Some prefer flour, while others prefer cornmeal, but ours uses both. As for the story behind the name, there are plenty. Some say it's called chess pie because it was kept in pie "chests;" others say that it's the result of a wife responding flippantly to her husband's question about what she was serving: "I don't know, it's ches' pie." Whatever you choose as the thickener or wherever the name came from, there's absolutely no disputing that a chess pie will be a crowd-pleaser every time you serve it. Even better? Our recipe uses premade piecrust, so pulling one together for last-minute celebrations is a breeze.


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

1 (9-inch) pie


Pie Crust
Chess Pie


Instructions Checklist
  • Bake Pie Crust: Fit piecrust in a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Line pastry with aluminum foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake at 425° for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove weights and foil; bake 2 more minutes or until golden. Cool.

  • Make Pie: Stir together sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt, melted butter, milk, white vinegar, and vanilla extract until blended. Add eggs, and stir well before pouring into piecrust.

  • Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes, shielding edges with aluminum foil after 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, garnish with powdered sugar.

Chef's Notes


Coconut Chess Pie: Prepare filling as directed above; stir in 1 cup toasted flaked coconut before pouring into piecrust. Bake as directed above.