Chess Pie: A Southern Staple

chess pie

If you are from the South, chances are you love Chess Pie (or at least have tried it, though I know very few people who have tried it and don’t love it). I’ve had it dozens of times but have never before tried to make it.  I needed an idea for a dessert to take to a friend’s this weekend, so I pulled out my copy of Bon Appetit, Y’all, and sure enough, there was a recipe for Chess Pie.

You will need:

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon white or yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

All-American Pie Crust, blind baked (instructions here) and still warm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Add the sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Add the butter, buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Whisk well to combine. Pour into the warm pie shell.

Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. (The pie may puff and crackle during baking, which is fine. It will settle as it cools.) Remove to a rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.


  • I ended up cooking ours for closer to 50 minutes, just to be sure that the center was done and that it wouldn’t be runny when we were serving slices.  Make sure to pay attention to yours, the suggested cooking time might work just fine with your oven!

This was a great first stab at chess pie.  I’ll definitely make it again!

**Reprinted with permission from Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.

For more information about  Virginia Willis, visit her website at and her blog at

If you don’t already have a copy of this cookbook, you need one.  They’re available on Amazon, and with a 5-star rating, you know it’s good.

I was gifted a copy from a friend and love it so much that I gifted another copy to a another friend.  Virginia includes snippets from and glimpses into her life as a culinary student, which are great encouragements for a novice cook like myself.

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