Making mud pies remains a gleeful, if messy, childhood activity. But today, when most people think of “mud pie,” it’s Mississippi mud pie. This messy and rather gloppy dessert is a holiday favorite around the country, and with good reason. Mississippi mud pie is a chocolate pie, with a crackled crusty top that looks a bit like mud. The dessert has found its way into homes and hearts, and also into the finest restaurants.

Mississippi Mud Pie Dessert

There are two variations of the Mississippi mud pie dessert theme. The first is a pie with an ice cream or pudding filling. The second is a cake- or brownie-like dessert. Sometimes the two are combined, using a cake or brownie crust under the classic ice cream topping. The key ingredients whipped cream and chocolate are used in all versions of Mississippi mud treats.


Mississippi mud pie, in both forms, first appeared in the 1970s. Recipes for cakes and pies featuring chocolate, brownies, marshmallows and pecans were all labeled Mississippi mud pie or Mississippi mud cake in cookbooks, magazines and newspapers of the time. Nearly all of these recipes shared a chocolate frosting or icing that crackled, resembling the mud of the Mississippi riverbanks.

Making Mud Pie

Modern Mississippi mud pie is an easy dessert. Start with a chocolate wafer crust in a deep pie pan. Put this in the freezer for several hours. Fill a bowl the diameter of your pie pan with coffee ice cream and allow it to set up in the freezer. Invert the bowl onto your crust, using a rubber spatula to scrape the ice cream into the crust. Pour chocolate fudge sauce thickly on top of the ice cream and cover with plastic wrap. Chill the pie in the freezer until its ready to serve. Serve topped with whipped cream and additional chocolate sauce.

Mississippi Mud Cake

Create a more complex and delicious version of Mississippi mud pie by replacing the crust with a rich, fudgy pecan brownie, baked in an 8×11-inch pan. Make your brownie from scratch or use a mix. Allow to cool thoroughly, then top the brownie with coffee ice cream. Cover with plastic and freeze until set. Top this with fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce and return to the freezer until you are ready to serve your Mississippi mud pie…or is it cake?

Modern Interpretations

Pastry chefs and home cooks have created upscale variations on this down-home classic. The ice cream may be flavored with southern bourbon or bitter espresso. The single crust can be replaced with a double crust to form a gourmet ice cream sandwich. The top layer of chocolate mud can be accented with homemade marshmallows, toasted to perfection. However you make and eat Mississippi mud pie, there is no doubt that this dessert from the 1970s remains a treat to the modern palate.