Chess pie, a sweet confection made with sugar, butter, eggs, cornmeal, and vinegar (yes, vinegar), is a classic Southern dessert. It’a perfect for entertaining and holidays or sweltering afternoons on the porch.
Leave it to Southern home cooks to make something spectacular out of sow’s ears. Or rather pantry staples. This pie comes together from ingredients you already have on hand to create something you’d never believe came to be with so little effort if you hadn’t made it yourself.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Where Does Chess Pie Come From Anyway?
There are several theories around the origin of chess pie, which started appearing in American cookbooks in the mid-17th century. We sorta love that the most likely explanation behind the name of this beloved Southern dessert comes from a simple mispronunciation of “cheese pie,” or “it’s just pie.” Perhaps that’s what comes from speaking with your mouth full of this pie’s custard-y goodness.
Special Equipment: Pie weights or dry, uncooked rice or beans
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 25 M
- Serves 8
- 1 (9-inch | 23 cm) unbaked pie crust, chilled
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces), melted
- 1/4 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar (yep, plain old distilled white vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).
- 2. Press the pie crust dough into a 9-inch pie plate and line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper, making sure it extends over the edge of the crust. Fill with pie weights or dry, uncooked rice or beans. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until the pie crust no longer looks wet. Carefully remove the foil and weights and bake 2 to 3 more minutes or until the crust looks dry and golden. Let cool on a wire rack.
- 3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (176°C). In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Gradually whisk in the melted butter, milk, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs just until completely combined. Pour the chess pie filling into the cooled pie crust.
- 4. Bake the chess pie for 50 to 55 minutes or until the filling is set. If the edge of the pie crust threatens to become too brown before the filling is cooked through, shield it with a long strip of aluminum foil that you form into a U-shape and slip over the edge of the crust to prevent excessive browning. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack.
- 5. Serve wedges of the pie at room temperature or after loosely covering and refrigerating the pie until chilled through.
- Coconut Chess Pie
- Prepare the chess pie filling as directed, stirring in 1 cup toasted, sweetened, flaked coconut before pouring the filling into the pie crust. Bake as directed.