Chess pie

Chess pie is a dessert characteristic of Southern United States cuisine, particularly in the State of Virginia. [1]

Chess pie
A vanilla buttermilk chess pie
Place of originEngland
Main ingredientsPie crust, eggs, butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, corn meal
VariationsLemon chess pie, vinegar pie


According to James Beard's American Cookery (1972), chess pie was brought from England originally and was found in New England as well as Virginia.[2] A recipe similar to chess pie appears in Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, from the mid-18th Century. A recipe for chess pie appeared in the 1877 cookbook by Estelle Woods Wilcox, Buckeye Cookery.

Chess pie is most commonly associated as a dessert of the American South. Common types of chess pie are buttermilk, chocolate, lemon, and nut.


The origin of the name chess pie is unknown, but many theories have been proposed. It could be a derivation of "cheese pie", the combination of eggs, butter, and sugar making a custardlike filling that is similar in texture to British cheesecakes and lemon curd;[3] it could be named after the town of Chester, England;[4] it could be from a piece of furniture used prior to home refrigeration called a "pie chest", in which pies were stored; or it could have come from a mangling of "It's just pie”/"It's jes' pie".[5]


The basic chess pie recipe calls for the preparation of a single crust and a filling composed of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. Some variations call for the addition of cornmeal as a stabilizing agent in the filling. Many recipes call for an acid such as vinegar, buttermilk, or lemon juice.[6]

In addition to standard chess pie, other flavor variations include lemon, coconut, and chocolate chess pie.[7] Nut pies, including pecan, fall under the category of chess pies.[8]

See also


  2. "Chess Pie Recipes: Taste of the South". Southern Living. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  3. Stradley, Linda (2015-05-19). "Chess Pie history, Whats Cooking America". What's Cooking America. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  4. Olver, Lynne. "Food Timeline: history notes-pie & pastry". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  5. Stradley, Linda (2017). "Chess Pie History". What's Cooking America. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  6. "Southern Chess Pie: Tips and Variations". The Spruce. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  7. Schneider, Crady (2017-03-14). "Chess Pie: Nothing More Southern". Porter Briggs. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  8. "Everything You Need to Know About Classic American Pie". Eater. Retrieved 2018-02-21.

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