A Brief History

The origin of the name “chess pie” is steeped in history and folklore. No one really agrees on the exact origins but the most likely explanation is that it is a corruption of the word “cheese”. Chess pie was likely brought to the American colonies from England as early as the 17th century and is similar to many cheesecakes and cheese curd pies found in cookbooks from that era. It’s basically a cheese-less cheese pie. Today, you’ll find variations of this pie everywhere from New England to the deep South but it’s most prevalent further south.

Regardless of the origin, I have many fond memories of eating chess pie and chess bars over the years… but I won’t bore you with any more history. There are many variations of this recipe but they follow the same basic direction (mostly tweaking ingredients and proportions). I received this recipe from a dear friend who taught me a little about cooking and a lot about life.

It’s time for pie!

Chess Pie


Chess pie. A delicious and very southern pie.


  • 9 inch pie dish
  • OPTIONAL: Aluminum foil
  • OPTIONAL: Pie weights (or dried beans)


  • 1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs, room temp, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Fit the pie crust to a 9 inch pie dish and use a fork to prick the bottom and sides. Optionally: Line the pastry with aluminum foil and add pie weights. Pre-bake pie crust for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Lower oven temperature to 350°F.
  3. Whisk together all pie filling ingredients. Pour into cooled crust. Place on rack in lower third of oven.
  4. Bake until set. It should take 50-55 minutes. TIP: After 10-15 minutes, you can cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.
  5. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Serve cold or at room temperature. Fork optional!


Chess pie can also serve as the starting point for some tasty deviations:

Baking one of these variants is a simple exercise of adjusting proportions and adding one or more key ingredients to reach your desired flavor. Enjoy!