This classic Chess Pie recipe is a sweet custard pie made with eggs, sugar, milk, flour, cornmeal and citrus. It was originally made popular in the South and there are many variations of it, as its ingredients are easy to adapt to use what you have on hand.

A slice of Chess Pie on a plate.

If you’re from the South you’ve definitely heard of Chess Pie! I love old-fashioned recipes like this that use the simplest ingredients, because they were developed during a humbler time when you had to use what you had make work what you had. Many traditional Chess pie recipes call for vinegar, but since we live in a time where citrus is easily found year-round, I’ve used lemon instead, and I love the hint of tangy flavor it adds to the richness of the pie.

How to Make Chess Pie:

1. Make pie crust:  Chess pie is cooked in one unbaked pie crust.  My Perfect Pie Crust recipe yields two crusts so I like to freeze the other and use it to make Lemon Sour Cream or Pecan Pie!

2. Make the filling: Cream butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in the flour and cornmeal. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  When the egg mixture is well beaten add the milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest beat until smooth.

The batter for chess pie, in a mixing bowl, with vanilla, lemon juice and zest added on top.

3. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.

Chess pie batter poured into an unbaked pie shell.

4. Bake at 350 degreed F for 55-60 minutes. Check the pie after 30 minutes and place a piece of aluminum foil on top to keep it from getting too brown. (I spray the foil with a non-stick spray to keep it from sticking to the top of the pie.)  Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving.  Store chess pie in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

Overhead photo of a baked Chess Pie.

Make Ahead And Freezing Instructions:

  • To make ahead: The pie filling can be made 1-2 days in advance. Remove filling from fridge 30 minutes before baking to allow it to come to room temperature, then pour into pie shell and bake. Pie dough can be made 1-2 days in advance, stored in the fridge, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • To freeze: Allow baked pie to cool completely then cover well and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in 300 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.  

Recipe Variations:

  • Honey Chess Pie: Substitute 1 ¼ cups honey in place of the 2 cups of granulated sugar.
  • Lemon Chess Pie: while my chess pie recipe already has hints of lemon, for a stronger lemon flavor, add an additional teaspoon of lemon zest.
  • Buttermilk chess pie: substitute buttermilk in place of milk in the recipe.
  • Chocolate Chess Pie: The ingredients are quite different, so follow this recipe.
  • Cornmeal substitute: use ground oats or fine breadcrumbs.

You can browse all of my Pie recipes and try other old family favorite’s like:

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Recipe

A slice of Chess Pie on a plate.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 10 mins
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Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup butter , softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
  • 5 large or extra-large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Dough for one pie crust

Instructions
 

  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the flour and cornmeal.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  When the egg mixture is well beaten add the milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest beat until smooth.
  • Add pie crust to 9’’ pie plate and crimp the edges. Pour in filling.
  • Bake at 350 degreed F for 55-60 minutes. Check the pie after 30 minutes and place a piece of aluminum foil on top to keep it from getting too brown. (I spray the foil with a non-stick spray to keep it from sticking to the top of the pie.)
  • Allow to cool for one hour before serving.

Notes

Make ahead Instructions: The pie filling can be made 1-2 days in advance. Remove filling from fridge 30 minutes before baking to allow it to come to room temperature, then pour into pie shell and bake. Pie dough can be made 1-2 days in advance, stored in the fridge, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Freezing Instructions: Allow baked pie to cool completely then cover well and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in 300 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.
Recipe Variations:
  • Honey Chess Pie: Substitute 1 ¼ cups honey in place of the 2 cups of granulated sugar.
  • Lemon Chess Pie: while my chess pie recipe already has hints of lemon, for a stronger lemon flavor, add an additional teaspoon of lemon zest.
  • Buttermilk chess pie: substitute buttermilk in place of milk in the recipe.
  • Chocolate Chess Pie: The ingredients are quite different, so follow this recipe.
  • Cornmeal substitute: use ground oats or fine breadcrumbs.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 103mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 1gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 355IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for a walk down memory lane. My grandmother used to make this pie, but I have honestly forgotten all about it. I decided to make it for Thanksgiving this year and it brought back so many good memories…and the pie was better than I remember. So fun to have this recipe again. Delicious!

  2. I am currently baking this pie and am so excited because it smells wooonderful and I am sure it will be fan-flipping-tastic. However, my biggest issue was that I had a deep dish nine inch pie crust and this amount of filling easily made two pies filled up to the rim. I didn’t make another pie crust, just used the filling in a crustless greased tin. Excited to try it both ways! Just make sure you have backup crust! 💖💖💖