This southern staple is a buttery sweet custard pie made of butter, sugar, eggs, vinegar, and cornmeal. Old Fashioned Chess Pie is a pantry pie perfect for any time of year.
Old Fashioned Chess Pie
I don’t recall the first time I prepared a chess pie, however, I do remember the first time my husband tasted one. It was our very first Thanksgiving together and I was there to “meet the family”.
I spent the day before in the kitchen with my future mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Since they had never heard of sweet potato casserole, that was my first recipe, and right after I began making pies.
Chess pie was an obvious choice given it’s known as a “pantry pie”. Meaning almost all the ingredients can be found in your own pantry.
My husband, then-boyfriend, wasn’t big on pie but this particular pie swayed him toward the sweet life. Everyone now has their requests for Thanksgiving and every year I’m always preparing the sweet potato casserole and chess pie.
What is Chess Pie?
There isn’t one specific story relating to where the chess pie and name came from, however, there are many explanations. You just have to choose the correct one.
Some say English lemon curd pie filling is close to lemon chess pie. That’s where the word “chess,” an Americanization of the English word “cheese,” derived.
Others suggest gentlemen were served this sweet pie as they retreated to a room to play chess. The most likely source though could be from the Southerners’ dialect. When a chef uttered, “It’s jes’ pie” (it’s just pie) as a response to what she was cooking.
Wherever the pie or the name came from, it’s delicious. Simple to prepare and a pie that seems to have a wide range of lovers.
What is the Difference between Chess Pie, Custard Pie, and Buttermilk Pie?
The simple answer comes down to a single ingredient – cornmeal. Chess pie requires a tiny amount of cornmeal, although some recipes call for flour, the most traditional uses cornmeal.
Buttermilk Pie has buttermilk and custard pie has heavy cream. Each pie has a slightly unique taste with only a small change in ingredients.
How to Make a Simple Buttermilk Pie Crust
Pie crusts have always intimidated me, however, this is the easiest recipe I have found and one that works every time.
- Place the flour, almond flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add butter and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. The mixture is right when it resembles small pea shapes.
- Pour in the buttermilk and turn the dough with a spatula to mix. Place the dough on a floured surface and gently need it until no dry spots remain.
- Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a disk or roll out for the recipe.
Other Southern Recipes Include:
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
- Authentic Red Beans and Rice
- Southern Chicken and Dumplings
- Creamed Corn
Old Fashioned Chess Pie
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup Butter room temperature
- 4 large Eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon Cornmeal
- 1½ teaspoons Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2½ cups All-Purpose Flour plus more for rolling
- 1/3 cup Almond Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter chilled
- 1/3 cup Buttermilk cold
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla
- Place the flour, almond flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add butter and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumbled.
- Pour in the buttermilk and turn the dough with a spatula to mix, add more buttermilk as needed (only 1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough begins to form. Place the dough on a floured surface and gently need until no dry spots remain about 1 minute.
- Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a disk. The dough can be used immediately for the pie or wrapped into plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for up to one week.
- Preheat the oven to 300℉.
- Cream the sugar and butter for 5 minutes, or until fluffy, in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer.
- Add the eggs, cornmeal, vinegar, and vanilla to the butter mixture and mix until just combined, about 2 to 3 additional minutes.
- Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is firm. Remove and let cool completely before serving with whipped topping.
- Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a handheld mixer. Whisk the cream for 5 to 10 minutes or until very stiff peaks begin to form. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk 1 more minute.