This Southern classic chocolate chess pie is an old-fashioned pie that can be found in any Southerners collection of recipes. It’s a simple no-fail pie that’s made with common pantry ingredients. You can make this creamy chocolate pie without tempering eggs. Just mix the ingredients and bake. How easy is that!
Create a Creamy Chocolate Chess Pie
You can make this amazing pie in less time then it takes for your oven to pre-heat. You just whisk the ingredients together and pour it into a partially baked pie crust and whala, you have an amazing creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pie.
Not as fudgy and thick as a brownie pie but smooth and creamy like a buttermilk pie. The top has a unique crust, kind of like a crispy chocolate meringue that occurs while it’s baking. With only cocoa powder, it’s not as dense or as chocolatey as a traditional chocolate pie.
So what makes it a “Chess” pie? Lemon chess pie is the most common type of chess pie with chocolate coming in second. What they both have in common that you won’t see in other pies is cornmeal. Not alot, just enough to stabilize the custard. The cornmeal gives it a unique texture.
The chocolate flavor is not as intense as in most chocolate desserts and is the perfect filling for a buttery flaky pie crust.
Since the chocolate is more subtle, you don’t really need a topping, but you can’t go wrong with some whipped cream, you already have some on hand for the pie so might as well add it! Since it’s served cold or at room temperature, ice cream is not a great choice. Save that for chocolate cobbler.
You can make this chocolate chess pie recipe in advance, whether you’re bringing it along to a potluck or hosting a dinner party. And all of the ingredients for the filling get mixed up in one bowl, which means clean-up is simple and makes this recipe perfect for bakers of all skill levels.
Sometimes, you just need a dessert you can make without having to think about it, or turn on the stove, and chess pie is one of those pie recipes.
What to Love About Chocolate Chess Pie
- It uses pantry ingredients. No need for fresh fruit or an extra trip to the store — with just a few ingredients that you already have in your pantry, you can make a chocolate chess pie that’s perfect for all occasions.
- It has the right balance of flavors. Chocolate chess pie isn’t too sweet or rich, and the chocolate flavor isn’t too strong.
- It’s an easy recipe. The filling for this pie only needs one bowl to put together. There’s no creaming or tempering involved — just mix it all up and pour it into a prepared pie crust.
Should I use store-bought or homemade crust?
When you make a chess pie, you’ll need to parbake the crust before adding the filling. Chocolate chess pie will be amazing whether you use a store-bought or homemade pie crust. Store-bought pie crust is a great way to save some time and effort, and the pie still tastes great. If you prefer to make your own traditional pie crust, you can follow my recipe for the perfect butter pie crust.
Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe Ingredients
This recipe uses simple ingredients. Along with a pre-made pie crust (you can also use a store-bought crust), you should have pretty much everything on hand.
- Cornmeal – Cornmeal is what makes a chess pie different than a regular custard pie. Adding cornmeal to a custard filling stabilizes it and gives it a more robust texture.
- Cocoa powder – This has a pretty long shelf life, about 3 years, so keep it on hand in your pantry.
- Butter – Butter makes the pie rich and smooth.
- Eggs – Eggs and heavy cream work together to make the custard base and make the pie filling smooth and creamy.
- Heavy cream – Heavy cream makes the filling creamy and perfect.
- Pantry ingredients – Flour, sugar, salt, vanilla extract
Why do chess pies use cornmeal?
Cornmeal is what makes a chess pie, a chess pie! This type of pie is characterized as a custard pie with cornmeal. Without the cornmeal, it wouldn’t be a chess pie. The cornmeal thickens the filling, but it also makes the texture coarser than a custard pie. The texture of the cornmeal makes the pie special.
How To Make The Best Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe
Step 1: Partially blind bake the pie crust.
Roll out your unbaked pie crust dough and place it into a pie pan. Put the crust into the freezer for about 10 minutes.
While the crust chills, place a baking sheet into the oven and preheat to 425º. After 10 minutes, remove the pie crust from the freezer and line it with parchment paper. Then, add pie weights (or dry beans) into the crust. Bake until the edges of the crust are set, then remove the pie weights and cook an additional 5 minutes. Let the crust cool slightly while you make the filling. It can still be warm when filled.
Step 2: Make the filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Then, add the melted butter and whisk to combine.
Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Then, stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Step 3: Bake and cool the pie.
Pour the pie filling into the pre baked pie crust.
Bake the pie and remove it from the oven when the edges are set and a small area in the center is slightly jiggly. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 3-4 hours, and refrigerate before slicing.
A Few Recipe Notes
- Be careful not to overbake your pie or the custard can separate. The filling will continue to cook as it cools, so it should still be a little bit jiggly when it comes out of the oven.
- You will need to refrigerate this before slicing as it will continue to set up while it cools.
- The top will crumble when it’s cut, that’s normal.
How to Store a Chocolate Chess Pie
In the refrigerator: Store your chocolate chess pie in the pie plate covered in plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container.
To Freeze: Transfer to an airtight container and it should stay fresh for 2 months.
More Great Recipe Ideas for Easy Southern Classic Pies
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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornmeal
- 9 inch pie crust par-baked
- 1 ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon stone ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 5 tablespoons butter melted
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
To prepare the pie crust:
- Roll out a pie crust and place in pie plate. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Place a flat cookie sheet in the oven and preheat to 425º.
- Remove pie crust from freezer and line with parchment paper. Place pie weights in the center. Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are set. Remove pie weights and cook an additional 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
To make the pie filling:
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add melted butter and whisk to combine.
- Add eggs one at a time whisking well after each addition. Continue to whisk briskly. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.
- Pour pie filling into slightly cooled pie crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Remove when the edges are set and a small area in the center is slightly jiggly. The filling will continue to cook as it cools. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 3-4 hours.
- Refrigerate before slicing.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Be careful not to overbake your pie. The filling will continue to set as it cools, so it should still be a little bit jiggly when it comes out of the oven.
- This should be served cold or at room temperature.
- The top will crack when you slice it.
- It’s great topped with whipped cream.