Chess Pie

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This Chess Pie recipe is a classic Southern dessert filled with a sweet, buttery custard that’s delicious and simple to make.

slice of Chess Pie on a plate

The Best Chess Pie Recipe

If you have never had a slice of chess pie, now is the time to try it! The filling is so creamy and rich with a hint of fresh lemon flavor. It goes so well with the flaky pie crust. It is a traditional staple in the South that I believe is an absolute must-try. 

You’ll also love our Lemon Chess Pie and Lemon Chess Squares.

What is Chess Pie?

It’s a flaky crust pie made with an egg custard filling. It has a hint of lemon and vanilla flavor as well. Cornmeal is added to give it its signature yellow color and luxurious texture. It has a rich and sweet yet buttery flavor that is unmatched! This recipe is not to be confused with a buttermilk pie or Custard Pie. Buttermilk pie has even more acidity and brightness in its custard while the custard pie contains cinnamon and nutmeg.

chess pie cut with piece out

Why You’ll Love This Chess Pie

  • Made with common ingredients. All of the chess pie ingredients are easy to find at any grocery store. It’s likely you already have many of them in your kitchen right now.
  • Classic recipe. This is a well-known recipe in the South that is loved by so many.
  • Budget-friendly. This is a very inexpensive recipe, too!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here is everything you need to make the best chess pie recipe. You probably won’t have to buy anything except for the crust and maybe the cornmeal if you don’t use it often!

  • Ready to bake pie crust: I like to use the shortcut and purchase premade pie crust. It saves time but still tastes good. If you want to make your own, try our favorite No Roll Pie Crust. Just be sure that it fits a 9-inch pie plate!
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter to prevent the filling from having too much of a salty flavor, I can always add a teaspoon or less of salt if I need to adjust. Ensure the butter is at room temperature but do not melt the butter. This will allow it to mix with the sugar without becoming lumpy.
  • Sugar: I use classic white sugar in this recipe. 
  • Flour and cornmeal: I use a combo of all purpose flour and cornmeal to help thicken the custard filling. The cornmeal is one of the most important ingredients when making a chess pie.
  • Large Eggs: Leave the eggs out on the counter for about 30 minutes. Incorporating the eggs at room temperature keeps the butter from seizing and becoming cold again.
  • Milk: Treat the milk the same as the eggs. I use 2% for this recipe but whole milk is fine, too.
  • Vanilla: I like to use pure vanilla extract because it adds an authentic vanilla flavor that goes perfectly with the other ingredients. 
  • Lemon juice: Try to use freshly squeezed lemon juice but bottled lemon juice works as well. 
  • Powdered sugar: Don’t skip the garnish! It is classic to dust the finished chess pie with powdered sugar.
ingredients needed to make chess pie

How To Make Chess Pies

Here are the step-by-step directions on how to easily make a tasty and successful lemon chess pie at home!

  • Prepare the oven and pie plate. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease the pie plate with non-stick spray or butter. 
  • Get the crust ready. Unroll and lay the pie crust onto the greased pie plate. Crimp and fold the edges until it fits correctly. 
  • Combine the butter and sugar. Add the butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl and cream together using a hand mixer until light and fluffy. 
  • Add flour and cornmeal. Beat in the flour and cornmeal until well combined. 
  • Gradually add eggs. Add in each egg, one at a time, and continue to mix until smooth. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix in the milk, vanilla, and lemon juice until just combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the crust. Fill the pie crust with the custard mixture.
  • Bake. Place the chess pie into the oven and bake it for 30 -35 minutes. 
  • Cover and bake longer. Remove it from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Make the pie for an additional 15-25 minutes. Once the center is no longer jiggly, it’s done.
  • Cool. Let the pie cool completely to ensure it is fully set before you slice it.
  • Garnish and serve. Dust the chess pie with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Tips for Success

  • Don’t use cold ingredients. Combining the butter, eggs, and milk while they are at room temperature will give you the creamiest custard filling. It’s worth the effort!
  • Make it ahead. If you want to take this to a party to wow a crowd, make it the night before and let it chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Add powdered sugar before serving. If you are not cutting a slice right away, don’t add the powdered sugar just yet. I like to wait and sprinkle it on fresh to keep it from soaking into the pie.

full chess pie cut into pieces

Storage Directions

  • Store the chess pie covered with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To freeze the pie, cover tightly and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
  • Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat it in the oven for 10-15 minutes or enjoy it chilled straight from the fridge.
slice of chess pie

More Pie Recipes to Try

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Chess Pie Recipe

This Chess Pie recipe is a classic Southern dessert filled with a sweet, buttery custard that's delicious and simple to make.
Servings: 8 Slices
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour


  • 1 Ready-to-Bake Pie Crust that fits a 9-inch pie pan
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornmeal
  • 5 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup 2% milk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Powdered Sugar for garnish


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease pie plate with non-stick spray
  • Unroll a ready-to-bake pie crust and lay it onto a pie plate
  • Crimp the edges around the pie plate, tucking under extra crust to create a uniform look.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and cream together.
  • Next, add the flour and cornmeal to the sugar mixture.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each.
  • Once the batter is smooth and well mixed, add the milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice and combine.
  • Pour the batter into the unbaked pie shell.
  • Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. After this time, use foil to lightly cover the entire pie.
  • Bake again for another 15-25 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.
  • Remove the pie to cool.
  • Allow the pie to cool thoroughly before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar or add a dollop of whipped cream before serving.
  • It’s best to keep covered and stored in the refrigerator.

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Calories: 456kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 534IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg


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