Chess Pie

Hi there! Long time no see. We got a puppy; his name is Crunchwrap Supreme. Crunch(y) for short. Yes, after the Taco Bell culinary breakfast delight — of which I’ve only had two or three — but relish in the silliness of the name and the reactions we get on walks and in dog parks. Let me tell you, he lives up to the name on all fronts.

Of course he’s adorable and I absolutely bust out photos of him when people haven’t even asked, but we’re here to talk pie. Chess pie. And Crunchwrap is here for it too.


An old southern staple with endless riffs, chess pie is a sort of custard pie with a delicate and airy crispy top. I opened my grandmother’s recipe file only to be quickly overwhelmed by the variations and often vague directions. I immediately called my mama in a pie frenzy. We had gone through some eight or so options up front that were carefully penned in beautiful cursive, and then, “how about Chess Pie (Frances)?” And that was it.

IMG_3179“Oh, definitely make that one,” my mama said. “You know Frances was your grandpa’s older sister, and she surely got the recipe from her mother, so that recipe has to be about 150 years old. You want authentic chess pie, there’s your recipe!”


The more authentic version of “crack pie,” this little baby will not disappoint. Like I said, custard pie with a crispy shell. If you try the original and then want to riff away, my grandmother listed variations like lemon, brown sugar and nuts, and Dixie chess pies.

Dare I say more American than apple pie, this simple pie is wondrous.


Chess Pie (Frances)

  • Servings: 1 pie
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 homemade pie crust in a 9-inch pie dish, refrigerated until filling is ready
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) butter, melted
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional


Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add beaten eggs, melted butter, cream, vanilla, and lemon extract if using, and whisk to combine.

Pull the prepared pie shell out of the fridge, and pour the filling into the shell. Place the pie on the center rack of the oven and bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown.

Cool to room temperature and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream if you’re feelin’ fancy.

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