Southern Chocolate Chess Pie

4.4 from 8 votes
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Get ready to savor every bite of Southern Chocolate Chess Pie! The rich chocolaty custard has a soft and fudgy texture after it’s baked to perfection in a flaky pie crust. If you are a chocolate lover, this gluten free chocolate pie is for you!

Two Stacked Plates Holding a Slice of Chocolate Chess Pie with a Fork Stuck Into it,

Why You’ll Love This Chocolate Chess Pie

  • Cuisine Inspiration: American
  • Primary Cooking Method: Oven
  • Dietary Info: Gluten-free option
  • Skill Level: Moderate

What’s your favorite kind of pie? I know most people will say something like apple pie or lemon meringue pie. And while I do enjoy a fruit dessert from time to time, I am truly a girl all about decadence. And decadence usually means… chocolate. Which is why this chocolate pie has to be in my top five!

It’s based on the Southern classic chess pie, but with an extra indulgent twist of adding cocoa powder to the rich custard filling. Here’s why this is a to-die-for dessert…

  • Creamy texture. The filling will remind you somewhat of a buttermilk pie or the goo in a pecan pie.
  • Best of all worlds. Inside is like the best kind of brownie – moist, fudgy and perfectly baked. But the top has a cakey, almost meringue-like result.
  • Flaky heaven. And all of this goodness is baked into a buttery and tender pie crust that provides the perfect balance to the sweet and rich filling.

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. Let’s get into it…

Looking down on a piece of chocolate pie on a speckled plate with the rest of the pie off in the corner.

Recipe Ingredients

My easy recipe for this indulgent gluten free pie only needs a few pantry staples. This makes it very easy to whip up on short notice, especially if you keep a pre-baked crust in your freezer. Here’s a brief rundown, but you can find the full quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Crust. You’ll need one parbaked pie crust. Of course, I use my gluten-free pie crust, but you can use any regular or GF pie shell or crust recipe you love.
  • Sugar.
  • Cocoa Powder. I usually stick with classic Hershey’s cocoa.
  • Cornstarch. This ingredient is key to the chocolate chess pie’s silky texture.
  • Gluten-Free Flour: You only need a tablespoon to bind the filling, so either gluten-free flour or all-purpose will work.
  • Evaporated Milk. This is the kind from a can, but be sure you don’t grab a can of sweetened condensed milk, which will not work in this recipe.
  • Eggs. These create the custard-like texture of the filling, so this is not a recipe where you can substitute for the eggs. 
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract enhances the chocolate flavor, so don’t skip it.
  • Butter: Have it softened to room temperature.
Three Eggs, Measuring Cups Filled with Cocoa Powder and Sugar, and the Rest of the Pie Ingredients on a Countertop with text labels on each ingredient.

How to Make Chocolate Pie

Let’s briefly go over the steps to make this pie. You’ll find the detailed instructions in the recipe card.

  • Preparations: Parbake your pie cruest. Then ensure your oven is at 350°F.
  • Make the filling: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and gluten-free flour. Then add the evaporated milk, eggs, and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  • Fill and bake: Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust and bake until set with a slight jiggle in the center.
  • Cool and serve: Place the baked chocolate chess pie on a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
A Bird's Eye View of a Southern Chocolate Pie with Gluten-Free Pie Crust.

Tips for the Best Chocolate Chess Pie

To help you make this incredible pie:

Bake that Crust: Ensure your crust is par-baked. Custard pies do not need as long in the oven as fruit pies, so if you try to bake it in a raw crust, you’ll end up with the dreaded soggy bottom.

Don’t Swap: Evaporated milk from a can is the key to the creamy texture, and eggs are essential to making a proper custard filling. I do not recommend substituting these.

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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chess Pie?

Chess pie is a type of pie that’s common in the South. It is made with a handful of simple ingredients like butter, sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla, but it also often contains vinegar, as well as cornmeal or flour as a thickener. These ingredients come together to make a soft and sweet custardy filling.

Why is it called Chess Pie

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

Some say the pie recipe originated in Chester, England, and was brought to America, where the name was shortened from “Chester pie” to “chess pie.” Others claim it was invented in the Southern United States, 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.”

One final origin story stems from the fact that 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?

This unexpected combination of ingredients comes together into a simple dish that is totally worth trying. 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 the small amount of cornmeal or flour produces a smooth, slightly wobbly custard with just a hint of texture, not a lumpy or dense pie.

It’s truly amazing. And when you turn it into chocolate chess pie, well, it’s just that much better!

How to Store This Pie

  • Counter – You can store this chocolate 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.
  • Freezer – 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 if you want to serve it warm.
A slice of gluten free chocolate chess pie on a white plate with black speckles.

More Gluten Free Southern-Style Desserts to Try

Looking for more gluten-free sweets inspired by favorites from the South? Be sure to check out the following recipes!

A piece of chocolate pie and a bite of it on a fork on a speckled white plate with the remaining pie in the background.
4.4 from 8 votes

Gluten Free Chocolate Chess Pie

Get ready to savor every bite of Southern Chocolate Chess Pie! The rich chocolaty custard has a soft and fudgy texture after it's baked to perfection in a flaky pie crust. If you are a chocolate lover, this gluten free chocolate pie is for you!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes


  • Oven


  • 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


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated 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.


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

Nutrition Facts
Gluten Free Chocolate Chess Pie
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
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.
Disclaimers: Please discuss your individual dietary needs (i.e. gluten free) with a physician. Even when not specified, be sure to verify all ingredients are gluten free, if needed, by reading labels on all packaging and/or confirming with the manufacturer this varies by brand and can change at any time. Nutrition information shown is an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.


4.38 from 8 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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