This traditional southern dessert, buttermilk chess pie is rich and creamy with a flaky crust! Serve with freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

chess pie on a wire rack

All about chess pie!

I love holiday time, we see an abundance of pies all over social media! With so many different types to choose from it’s hard to nail down a favorite. That must be why I always see three or four to choose from at our Thanksgiving and Christmas time tables! Sometimes I’ll be in the mood for a summer Peach Pie or this Southwestern Chicken Pot Pie when the nights get colder.

If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be pecan pie but it has to have either chocolate or Bourbon in it (or both!) There’s something about that sticky, chewy and crunchy texture that makes it better than any other pie I’ve had. But this Buttermilk Chess Pie is a close second. It has a really unique texture and flavor and reminds me of egg custard pies I would eat as a kid!

a hand holding a fresh chess pie

FAQ’s about this recipe

What does buttermilk chess pie taste like?

It tastes a little sweet but not too sugary, a bit like a creme brûlée dessert.The filling is cooked in a light flaky crust and then dusted with powdered sugar. Buttermilk chess pie is best served at room temperature and can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

What is buttermilk chess pie made of?

It’s essentially a buttermilk based custard pie. It has sugar in it but as I mentioned, it  doesn’t taste particularly sweet like a fruit pie or pecan pie. The filling is cooked in a light flaky crust and then dusted with powdered sugar. Buttermilk chess pie is best served at room temperature and can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

What if I don’t have any buttermilk?

Don’t worry, you can create your own buttermilk by combining 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes until it curdles slightly. It’s a good substitute for the real thing but, if you can get real buttermilk easily, then stick with that method.

Should I serve my pie warm or cold?

I would say neither and go with room temperature. It’s best eaten with a good sized scoop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Dust the whole pie with powdered sugar just before serving for an extra special presentation.c

When is my chess pie done baking?

The pie takes just over an hour to bake, the surface should be puffed up and look dry on top. It’ll still be a little wobbly when you tap the sides but the i.e. will firm up as it cools. This pie has to cool completely before slicing or you’ll end up with a runny mess.

fresh pie with a slice missing

tips for making the best chess pie

  • A frozen pie crust is a great way to save time and stress when the kitchen gets busy.
  • When pre-baking your pie crust, pierce it a few time on the base with a fork to reduce it puffing up in the oven.
  • Serve with a dollop of vanilla whipped wavy cream on top.
  • Store any leftovers in the fridge.
  • This pie will slice best once it cools completely.

holding a slice of chess pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top of it

more tasty holiday pies

Buttermilk Chess Pie

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 252kcal
Author: foodnessgracious
A creamy Buttermilk Chess Pie straight from the south!!
Print Recipe


  • 1 9 inch frozen pie crust

For the filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt


  • Turn the oven down to 400°F and place the pie shell in it. Bake for about 12 minutes and slightly golden. Press the base with a fork if it puffs up when cooking.
  • Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees. In a large bowl beat the eggs, cornstarch and sugar until well mixed.
  • Beat in the buttermilk and melted butter alternately followed by the lemon juice, zest, nutmeg and salt.
  • Place a cookie sheet into the preheated oven.
  • Pour the filling into the pie shell.
  • Bake for 60-70minutes and the top is crusted and puffy. It will still be jiggly but will firm up as it cools.
  • Let cool before attempting to slice.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 518IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg