Appalachia Appalachian Food

Chess Cake – An easy dessert!

Chess Cake recipe

I was a child when I first tasted Chess Cake at a church decoration or other such get-together. Granny never made the cake that I can remember, but it was almost always in the dessert section of any potluck type meal I ate at and I always made sure to get a square…or two.

Once I was married with two little ones Chess Cake became my go to dessert to make and take. It’s easy and quick to fix; I usually have all the ingredients on hand; it travels well; and everyone loves it.

Chess Cake

  • 1 box yellow or white cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter –  melted
  • 1 pack of cream cheese – softened (8 oz.)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 box of powdered sugar (16 oz.)

Old fashioned chess cake

Combine cake mix, 1 egg, and melted butter. Pat mixture into a 13 x 9 ungreased baking pan.

Mix cream cheese, 3 eggs, and sugar thoroughly and pour over unbaked cake layer.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool and then cut into squares.

Southern chess cake recipe

Chess Cake is still my favorite dessert to make and take and it will always bring back fond memories of my church buddies and I running to the dessert table to see who could get a square first. Have you ever tried it?


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  • Reply
    September 8, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    I tried this recipe and it was delicious! Everyone loved it! I will be making this often.

    • Reply
      September 8, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Anne-so glad everyone enjoyed it!

      • Reply
        Becky Ackerman
        October 21, 2021 at 4:16 pm

        I’m new to your Channel and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I might be a little obsessed!! Mostly about the food ♥️ Your Chess Cake reminds of an Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that originated in St. Louis! So deliciously warm, ooey, gooey and isgood by itself or with a scoop of Vanilla Ice cream. Yummy

  • Reply
    September 6, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    Ms Tipper, Thank you for posting this recipe. On a whim I made it for a work pot luck. Have never made a new recipe to share at a pot luck but I followed the directions completely and it was a hit! Took home an empty cake pan! Making it again tonight, because I want to. Will keep this one as a brainless crowd pleasers for future cooking. I know my grandmothers would be proud of this recipe. All the best from Newport News, Va!

    • Reply
      September 9, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Amelia-so glad it was a hit!!

  • Reply
    Renee Wittenberg
    August 18, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    hi tipper!
    i made this about 6 weeks ago, it was very good! i made it again today with some variation. i used a butter pecan cake mix & sprinkled chopped pecans on top the cream cheese mixture. turned out good! i like both of them. thank you!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2021 at 6:36 pm


  • Reply
    Cowgirl Diva
    August 3, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    I LOVE your website..!! I have to many wonderful memories of “Homecoming” at our church..!! Thank you for this recipe…!!! I am going to make it exactly the way you do the first time and then the second time, I am going to add a little toasted coconut to it just to see how that tastes, too..!! God Bless YOU..!!

  • Reply
    Catherine B
    July 17, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    Made this twice and it was delicious! Got one baking using a chocolate cake. It smells amazing! I’m going to sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips on after it comes out! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Reply
    Deborah Michelle Solesbee
    July 3, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    How can I make this without using egg whites? Yolks are ok but we are allergic to whites.

    • Reply
      July 4, 2021 at 6:43 am

      Deborah-I’ve never tried it with only the yolks, but I think it would work 🙂

      • Reply
        September 3, 2021 at 8:11 pm

        Fake eggs. It’s sold at the grocery store by the eggs. Egg beaters

    • Reply
      Nyla Munk
      July 7, 2021 at 12:22 am

      Substitute Aquafaba , an egg white substitute, for the real egg whites.

  • Reply
    Annette Jones
    June 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    This sounds amazing and I can’t wait to give it a go and take some time my 83 year old Mother-in-law. She will love it! Yeah!

  • Reply
    Tim Swain
    June 21, 2021 at 4:20 am

    But wait. Three eggs or four?

    • Reply
      Tim Swain
      June 21, 2021 at 4:23 am

      Never mind. I see.

      • Reply
        Ana Thomas
        December 18, 2021 at 9:16 am

        Thank you for sharing these precious traditions. GOD BLESS YOU ALL IN CHRIST’S NAME!!!!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    I made this recipe this morning, to take to my mother’s memory care home. Every Sunday a few of us “kids” bring our moms food from the outside and we all share a few hours enjoying this “family” that we’ve cobbled together. It was VERY well received. Thanks so much for sharing this easy recipe. And yes, it is very reminiscent of the Gooey Butter Cake I was introduced to in St. Louis. I’d be shocked if it’s not the same. Absolutely decadent, too!

    • Reply
      June 20, 2021 at 6:31 pm

      Missy-So glad it was a hit!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    I’ve had gooey butter cake.Anyone with the recipe please.
    Also bakery butter cake,has gooey top never
    becomes hard.

    • Reply
      September 17, 2021 at 12:15 am

      Paula Deen started a YouTube series called Quarantine Cooking when the pandemic hit, and she continues the series now with the title Love and Best Dishes. One of the recipes she made is Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. Haven’t made it myself but apparently it’s a winner. I’ll be trying Tipper’s Chess Cake recipe for sure though!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2021 at 4:49 am

    My Granny used to make this! I never knew what she called it or how she made it. Nobody had the recipe after she passed. Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      June 10, 2021 at 5:27 pm

      I made this yesterday ! Let me tell you, it was a hit! I made from scratch cuz I’m celiac and eat gluten free and it was amazing! I am a Southern California gal born and raised but love and respect the Appalachian people and culture. My mom is Texan but I love the great people across our great nation that make us a truly unique and amazing country. I’ll be trying more of your delicious recipes. God bless yo you and yours. Michelle

      • Reply
        June 13, 2021 at 3:12 pm

        I’m a Texan, and we call this Nieman-Marcus cake here! And I believe it is similar to what Paula Deen calls Gooey Butter Cake.

      • Reply
        August 25, 2021 at 8:40 pm

        How did you make it? I’m celiac too. I’d love to make it but the regular cake mix would be a no no.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Im wondering if anyone has tried using strawberry or lemon cake mix as the base? Im gonna see how it goes!

    • Reply
      June 8, 2021 at 5:21 pm

      Oooh that sounds so good, I think I am going to try that!!!!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2021 at 9:07 am

    This looks yummy! Would you share the name of the cookbook you referenced once again please? I love local church/organization cookbooks and can find them through my local library once in awhile. Thanks so much, Lori

    • Reply
      June 7, 2021 at 12:47 pm

      Lori-the name of the cookbook is Martins Creek School. It’s been about 20 years since they published it for a fundraising event so I’m not sure you can still find it 🙂

  • Reply
    Osage Bluff Quilter
    June 2, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    I have never had Chess cake. But now it’s something I want to try now.

  • Reply
    Peggy Hicks
    June 2, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    This is very reminiscent of gooey butter cake!!!

  • Reply
    Magdalene Mwangi
    July 1, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Delicious, thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    September 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Next dinner on the ground that’s what I’ll bring.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    January 13, 2016 at 10:01 am

    When my Granny worked at Levi’s years & years ago, she got this recipe from a lady named Ida Jacobs. To this day we still call it “Ida Jacobs cake”. 🙂 The top batter is easy to dress up. I add a can of pumpkin to it sometimes or just chocolate chips. My cousin makes the bottom batter with a red velvet or chocolate cake mix at times. Any way you fix it, it always turns out good.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 11, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    My mother’s specialty!!! Chess pie is good too-

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    January 11, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    It looks like what we call Chess Pie. I wonder if they’re the same thing.
    Never had any, but am going to have to look for a diabetic version cause you had me sold at “cream cheese”. I love it and put it in so many things, especially cream soups and potato dishes, for extra richness.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I don’t know how much easier this could be….Unless one just walked into the bakery and bought one… ha
    I guess the Chess Cake name came from the same as the Chess Pie? Problem, I am not sure how the Chess Pie got it’s name for certain either…do you know? I vaguely remember something about a Chess Pie being named from storage in a pie chest or pie safe? The pieces do not look anything like Chess pieces…However, I have a device (vintage metal rings) that when cake batter is poured into them and baked and then put together, the cake looks like a checkerboard when sliced! Ah-ha!
    I would love to know for sure the origin of the name Chess Cake and Chess Pie….when you find it let me know!
    In the meantime, I think I will make a Chess Cake….and store it in the husband’s and my belly! ha
    Now then, “Belly Cake” I could understand that name!
    My Mom used to make a cake/bar recipe we kids called “Belly-ache Cake”! It was full of coconut, dates, nuts. It was very rich and we were not used to eating such and it always caused a belly-ache! Hence, the nickname of the cake! We learned only to eat the small piece given us and not to slip into the cake tin for more! ha
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…..What is that I hear, a giggle, from the Casada boys…tsk, tsk, ts

    • Reply
      August 17, 2021 at 5:49 pm

      The bellyache probably came from inadequate mastication. We make a hardcore nut fruit loaf that needs a lot; found out the hard way.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 11, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve never tried the homeade kind like you share, but I love cheesecake. I cheat and buy the storebought kind and use the pouch of cherries on top. Anyway, I buy those Graham Cracker Crusts by Keebler already made, since I love Graham
    Crackers. Every once in a while, I use the Strawberry pouch as a topping.
    I always wondered why they call it “cake”, seems more like a pie to me…Ken

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    I used to work for a bunch of women (I was the supervisor). They all liked to cook and bring the results to work. Since I had to try to be fair and unbiased, I had to sample everything. I had to force myself to like it and tell them how much 😉 I think I ate chess cake many times without knowing the name. I thought it was good but never really got to enjoy it knowing I had to eat 12 to 15 other dishes before the party was over.
    Your recipe looks simple enough. I’ve a mind to give it a try but right now I don’t have the cream cheese or enough eggs.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    This is soooo good–especially the edge pieces. There must be a lot of variations on it. My sister-in-law makes it with pineapple and it is good too but I like the original best. We’ve still got a little snow here in Middle Tn. and cold!
    I found a site I am just loving–Appalachian Bear Rescue. They get the little abandoned or orphaned black bear cubs & treat & release in spring. This yr was a bad one–the babies are way underweight. The last one they got, Snowflake Bear, just weighed 8 and a half pounds when she should have weighted over 50. Check it out if you have time, they are so cute and such a great effort!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 11:40 am

    This is new to me, but sounds like a keeper. Will try, as it is always nice to have a “go to” when you quickly need something to bring. Many occasions around here to bring a “sweet” and something not chocolate as chocolate is usually over done.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I have made a chess pie, but never heard of the cake. I will be making this for our next bake sale! As always, thank you for all you do 🙂

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Oh, yes! This is a definite yummy try! Thanks!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I have never made Chess Cake. That sounds so much easier than the recipe I use to make Chess Pie. How many calories per serving? Never mind. If you tell me I will never make it.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 11, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Yum! And SO quick and easy. I’m going to make it for a funeral
    dinner this week! Thanks, Tipper

  • Reply
    January 11, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Donna – Thank you for the comment! Never tried the recipe with pecans and coconut but I’m going to give it a try : )

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 11, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Yes, I’ve eaten that and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve never made it though and had no idea it was so simple.

  • Reply
    Donna Wilson King
    January 11, 2016 at 6:48 am

    I made one yesterday before I read your post. Super easy. I tried a slightly different recipe that I found. After you pat the crust down, sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on it followed by 1 cup coconut. Then, pour the filling on. Yummy!

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