Appalachian Food

Old Fashioned Chess Pie

best recipe for chess pie

I first tasted Chess Pie at the John C. Campbell Folk School and that’s also where I learned to make it.

Chess Pie is an old recipe which has many variations. The basic pie is made slightly different depending on who’s making it and then there are lemon, chocolate, and coconut versions of chess pie too.

old fashioned chess pie

The pie is super simple to whip up. If you happen to have a store bought pie crust on hand it will literally only take you 10 minutes to make the pie.

Chess Pie

  • ½ cup butter melted
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

Pre-heat oven to 350˚

Mix melted butter with sugar and eggs. Add cornmeal, vinegar, and vanilla; mix well.

Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 35 minutes or until pie is golden brown.

Chess Pie is very good, but it is mighty sweet!


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  • Reply
    Margaret Roberts
    January 25, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Tipper, I just made one of these yesterday. Just as good as always!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    My go-to pie for my rescue squad and fire department gatherings…never met a volunteer who didn’t love a Chess pie!

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 3:40 am


  • Reply
    June 9, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Ron-I don’t know what the cornmeal does-maybe it thickens it?

  • Reply
    June 9, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Sherry-yes I’ve thought about a cookbook but haven’t gotten it accomplished : ) Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    June 6, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks to Ann Applegarth for the origin of the odd name for this pie–even if the story is apocryphal.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 5, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Had a piece of Chocolate Chess Pie not long ago…It was so good, but wasn’t real sweet…
    I’ve been avoiding making pies for a few years…
    However, during the Memorial Day weekend a local restaurant had their famous Strawberry Pie on sale….”Take Home” a whole pie, said the sign….a whole pie with a sleeve of whipped cream to boot for one fair price with those huge whole strawberries…sealed and put carefully in the box to take out!
    Yum, it was so good….then the power went out the next day couldn’t cook and we…..yes, ate pie for brunch and another piece for supper…before we had to throw the rest out…
    Don’t really want any pie right now….
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    June 5, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I make it w/o the crust so I guess it’s then ‘custard’ and just as good to me. Also, more to my doctors instructions. ha ! I like it with added coconut best.
    Even tho it has vinegar I think it still needs a dash of salt. Delicious breakfast w coffee.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve never had chess pie but I sure would like a piece right now! I’ve got to start keeping a couple of pie crusts in the freezer again 😉

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I never heard of Chess Pie, but I might try the lemon one. You are always coming up with interesting things for us to try. Thank you….Ken

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Lemon Chess Pie was my mother’s all-time favorite. I never cared much for it because it is so very sweet. One bite is all I want.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    This is my go-to pie for my rescue squad and fire department gatherings! I make a variety of Chess pies-chocolate, lemon and buttermilk. Never met a person who didn’t love a Chess pie!
    Thank you Tipper!

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    June 5, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for making it so easy to print out the recipe. You are spoiling us Tipper with all these good things and making it simple to keep these good recipes too.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 11:32 am

    There’s got to be a reader on here that has eaten and remembers Chess Pie from Mom Blakeman’s Restaurant on the Square in Lancaster KY. Very few people got that recipe and fewer shared it.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 9:37 am

    How does the grocery store justify their $11.99 price for this simple to make pie with so few ingredients? I almost bought one last week but chose a fruit pie at half that cost. All I need is a pie crust and this recipe will be whipped up before the day is over.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

    It was my favorite many years ago. I gave it a whirl when I purchased my first cookbook. When I got through the kitchen was a mess, and the pie tasted like really bad cornbread. I never was brave enough to attempt again. As time went on other pies became more popular, so these pies were not baked for reunions and gatherings. I think it may just be time to put that memory behind, with years more cooking experience, and try to bake another of those delicious pies. After all these years I still remember the taste.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

    I’ve never had it but if it’s really sweet my husband would love it…maybe I’ll give it a try!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 5, 2017 at 9:14 am

    My mother in law is a champion chess pie maker! She makes a recipe that makes several and freezes them. They freeze very well and she thaws & heats them in the oven for a short while. So good. She is a fantastic pie and cake maker–I always say she’s the reason I’m fat!!

  • Reply
    Maggie Roberts
    June 5, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I make chess pie frequently, and have several different recipes. I also have one for a chess cake. which is very good.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 5, 2017 at 8:22 am

    I printed it. Sounds like a good recipe for unexpected occasions. The adaptability of flavors is a big plus also. I have to wonder though, what does the cornmeal do?

  • Reply
    Mike Norris
    June 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Aunt Sal invited a slew to supper,
    And dressed for the guests in her best bib and
    But the beans boiled dry and the dog ate
    chess pie,
    While she primped in front of the mirror.
    –from Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountains

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    June 5, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Have you thought about producing a cookbook with the good old fashion recipes we all used to have? I remember some great cooking from my Mama, aunts, and Granny! And now that they are gone, I wish I had written them down.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 5, 2017 at 8:18 am

    My favorite dessert! I read somewhere years ago how this pie got its name: One day a Southern lady asked her cook about an hour before dinner to serve pie for dessert at dinner that day.
    There wasn’t any fruit or whipping cream for any of her usual recipes, so the gifted cook improvised and made this recipe. At dinner, everyone raved about the delicious pie, so the lady called the cook into the dining room, complimented her, and said, “My dear, what is this delicious pie called?” Since there really was no name for it, the cook said, “Maam, it jest pie.” This was misunderstood as “chess” pie, and it has been called that ever since. Hurray for that cook!

  • Reply
    Joyce Mullikin
    June 5, 2017 at 8:07 am

    I love chess pie. It’s so simple & easy to make, but oh, so good.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Never could figure out why it’s called Chess Pie. It’s so dern simple it ought to be called Checkers Pie.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 5, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Chess Pie is a real comfort food. There is something basic and satisfying about this simple pie. I think it’s popularity, in part, was because folks always had the ingredients on hand to make it. I like it best plain or with a little lemon.

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