Southern Chocolate Chess Pie

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A rich chocolate custard is baked to perfection in a flaky gluten-free pie crust. You’re going to savor every bite of my delicious Southern Chocolate Chess Pie!

A Piece of Chocolate Chess Pie on a Plate With One Bite on a Fork

Easy Chocolate Chess Pie with Gluten Free Crust

What’s your favorite kind of pie? If you’re anything like me, that’s an impossible question to answer! There are so many delicious kinds of pie out there. But I will say that this chocolate chess pie has to be in the top five!

Why? Well, to start with, there’s the deep, chocolate flavor. If you’re a chocolate lover, this pie is for you! It brings to mind the very best kind of brownie: moist, fudgy and perfectly baked. 

Which brings me to my next point: the texture! Chocolate chess pie has a soft and creamy texture, somewhat like a pecan pie or buttermilk pie. So delicious! If you like smooth, indulgent, super chocolatey desserts, this is definitely a recipe you should try. You’ll love how the top of the pie has a more cake-like texture, while the inside is soft and fudgy.

A Piece of Chocolate Pie on a Plate with the Full Chess Pie in the Background

What is a Chess Pie? 

You may be wondering what exactly a chess pie is. Basically, it’s a type of pie that’s common in the South, made with a handful of simple ingredients. Those ingredients usually include butter, sugar and eggs, plus vinegar, milk, vanilla, and sometimes cornmeal or flour as a thickener. The custardy filling made with these ingredients is soft, indulgent and sweet.

Why is it called chess pie?

It’s not exactly clear where the unusual name came from! There are lots of theories, though! Here are a few:

  • The pie recipe originated in Chester, England, and was brought to the US, where the name was shortened from “Chester pie” to “chess pie.”
  • The recipe was invented in the Southern US, and when the cook was asked what kind of pie it was, she answered, “I don’t know, it’s jes’ pie.” This eventually became “chess pie.”
  • This kind of pie could be stored in a pie chest (unlike other custard pies that didn’t keep as well at room temperature). So it became a “chest pie,” and later, “chess pie.”

What does chess pie taste like?

Okay, I’ll be honest. The ingredients normally used to make chess pie might not sound very appetizing! But like many plain and simple recipes, the final dish is more than worth it. The vinegar added to the pie doesn’t make it sour; instead, like vinegar in a red velvet cake, it brings out the other flavors and keeps them from being overly sweet.

And if you include cornmeal or flour, it doesn’t make it lumpy; instead, you get a smooth, slightly wobbly custard with just a hint of texture. And the overall taste, thanks to the eggs, butter, and milk, is amazing! Simple, wholesome and sweet. In our chocolate chess pie, you get all of that plus a generous taste of real cacao.

A Baked Chocolate Chess Pie on a White Marble Counter with a Glass of Milk

Recipe Ingredients

Let’s get into it! My easy recipe for this indulgent pie only needs a few pantry staples, like evaporated milk, cornstarch and cacao. This makes it very easy to whip up on short notice, especially if you keep a pre-baked crust in your freezer.

  • Crust: You’ll need one gluten-free pie crust, prebaked.
  • Sugar: You’ll need 1 ½ cups of sugar.
  • Cocoa Powder: To get that chocolate flavor I use cocoa powder.
  • Cornstarch: This ingredient is key to the chocolate chess pie’s silky texture.
  • Gluten-Free Flour: Just one tablespoon of gluten-free flour helps bind the filling.
  • Evaporated Milk: This recipe uses evaporated milk for extra richness.
  • Eggs: To create the custard-like texture of the filling, you’ll need three whole eggs. 
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract enhances the chocolate flavor to get the best results for my pie.
  • Butter: Have ready one stick of butter, at room temperature.
Three Eggs, Measuring Cups Filled with Cocoa Powder and Sugar, and the Rest of the Pie Ingredients on a Countertop

How to Make Chess Pie

This is a very easy recipe that anyone can make. I think it’s a good one to involve kids with – it’s not too long of a process, and you don’t need to use any special techniques.

Prep Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine Wet & Dry Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and gluten-free flour. In a mixing bowl, combine the evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Then add Finally, pour in the butter mixture.

Mix Well & Bake: Using an electric mixer, mix the filling ingredients together until well combined. Pour into the pre-baked pie crust and bake for 45 minutes, or until set with a slight jiggle in the center.

Cool & Serve: Place the baked chocolate chess pie on a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

How to Store This Pie

You can store this pie at room temperature – no need to chill it! Just cover it with a cake dome or large bowl, and keep it on the counter for up to 3 days. If you’d like, you could also freeze the entire pie for another time. To reheat it, just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then bake it at 375ºF on the bottom rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes.

A Bird's Eye View of a Southern Chocolate Pie with Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Tips for Success

To help you make the most of this festive chocolate pie recipe, I’ve collected some helpful tips and tricks below. I hope you have fun making this yummy dessert!

  • Chill Out: Chess pies bake up the best if you can chill the ingredients beforehand!
  • Place, then Pour: To avoid spilling the filling as you move the pie to the oven, place the crust on the oven rack first. Then gently pour the filling into the crust, push the rack carefully into the oven, and bake.
  • Avoid Burning: You may find that the edges of the pie crust start browning before the pie is done. In that case, no worries! Just take the pie out of the oven and arrange aluminum foil strips around the edges of the pie (or a crust shield, if you have one). Place the pie back in the oven and finish baking.
Two Stacked Plates Holding a Slice of Chocolate Chess Pie with a Fork Stuck Into it

Things you’ll need

Brianne Recommends
  • Evaporated milk from a can is the key to the creamy texture.
  • I usually use just your basic Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and always keep my pantry well-stocked.
  • While strips of aluminum work fine, the small pieces sometimes fall off. So I like to use a pie shield if my crust starts to get browned too quickly.
  • Love the speckled plates? You can find a similar set on Amazon.
slice of gluten free chocolate chess pie on a white plate with black speckles

Southern Chocolate Chess Pie

A rich chocolate custard is baked to perfection in a flaky gluten-free pie crust. You’re going to savor every bite of my delicious Southern Chocolate Chess Pie!
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 10

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients

  • 1 gluten-free pie crust, prebaked
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the grabulated sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and gluten free flour.
  • Add the evaporated milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract to the bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, mix together until well combined.
  • Pour into the pre-baked pie crust and bake for 45 minutes, or until set with a slight jiggle in the center.
  • Place on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Notes

The pie does not need to be refrigerated and can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 
 days.
The pie may also be frozen after baking. After thawing, bake at 375F on the bottom rack for 
15-20 minutes. 

Nutrition Facts
Southern Chocolate Chess Pie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 201mg8%
Potassium 132mg4%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 32g36%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 396IU8%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 63mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More Gluten Free Desserts to Try

Looking for more gluten-free sweets and treats? Be sure to check out the following recipes!

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