How to Make Old-Fashioned Chess Pie

By Leslie Wyatt

Chess pie is the name given to a delicious dessert that has been around since before colonial times. Though experts lean toward an English origin of "cheese pie"--referring to the dense, custard-like texture rather than the ingredients--other sources advocate a southern pronunciation of the work "chest," referencing the pie chest that graced many kitchens in earlier days. Either way, Chess pie recipes abound. This version could also be called "brown sugar pie," but differs from most recipes you might find in that it contains no lemon or spices, showcasing the pure, sweet flavor of brown sugar.


Step 1

Measure 1 1/4 cup brown sugar into a medium-large bowl. Add 3/4 cup white sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 1/2 tbsp. flour. Mix well, eliminating any lumps in the flour or brown sugar.

Step 2

Break 3 eggs into a separate bowl. Add 3 tbsp. milk and beat well. Add the beaten eggs and milk to the sugar, then stir until thoroughly combined into a thick mixture.

Step 3

Melt 3/4 cup butter and stir it into the pie-filling mixture along with 2 tbsp. of vanilla. At first it will appear that the butter will not mix in, but it will eventually homogenize with the whole. Pour the filling into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell.

Step 4

Bake your chess pie at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to an hour or until the crust and contents are a rich golden brown and the filling is slightly firm more than 3/4 of the way to the center, which may balloon up, settling flat as it cools later on. If the center seems quite liquid, bake the pie longer but protect the crust from becoming too browned by masking it with tinfoil. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.