Mama’s Chess Pie

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Recipe Courtesy of

Servings: 6 to 8
Cook Time: 45 min
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients Add to grocery list

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water


1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
7 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornmeal






Cut butter into dry ingredients. Slowly add ice water. Knead dough and roll out on dough board, or press into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate.


Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks, vanilla, and cream. Gently blend in cornmeal. Pour into chess pie pastry. Bake until light brown on top, about 35 to 45 minutes.

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Reader Comments:


What a horrible, buttery mess! I didn't read the reviews (this is Paula Deen!!!), but this was butter soup. So disappointed, glad I looked up the southern living recipe & tried it as well. Much better!!

By kelley on December 23, 2013


A MESS!!!!

By Ms on December 07, 2013


I so love Paula and all her home cooking and easy recipes for quick meals,I look forward to new postings all the time!!!!

By Alicia edwards on December 05, 2013


Like everyone else has said, this doesn't set. If you cook it for the full 45, and put in the fridge, you'll get something that's closer to custard than soup, and tastes really good, but not pie. Might set if left overnight in the fridge, but doubtful.

By Evan Trimble on November 25, 2013


DO NOT USE THIS RECIPE!!!!! Soupy, runny mess! now it is 10 at night and I have to try and remake using a better recipe...ugh. Paula, you let me down!

By Rachel on June 27, 2013


I love watching Paula Dean on Food Network she is so funny and has sweet personality and to see cooking with her family is wonderful. I had recently finished my GED I had to right an essay for writing and my essay was a person that admired I picked Paula Deen. Hopefully in the fall I will be taking Culinary classes at the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Lenoir,N.C..I love to cook and try new recipes all the time.

By Frances Moody on May 11, 2013


RECIPE CORRECTION: 1. 1/2 CUP of butter (i stick) 2. 4 WHOLE eggs (whites & yolk) 3. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes (covering the crust after about 20 minutes to help keep it from burning) Making these corrections created a pretty delicious pie. However, this is so wildly different from the original recipe, that I've pretty well lost confidence in any of the other recipes from "Lady and Sons Southern Classics Cookbook". I love Paula Deen, but this recipe is pretty shameful. Also, the rating system here is jacked up. I was wondering why so many people were leaving "5-star" ratings and then lambasting the recipe when I realized while leaving my own comment that actually setting or assigning a rating is not at all intuitive. Pre-filling a 5-star rating is pretty shameful in its own right. This is a total GUI fail for USERS of the site, although I'm sure the developers of the site are patting themselves on the back for creating a system that very easily convinces the Deen's that ALL of their recipes are beloved. ESPECIALLY considering that folks have been lambasting this recipe since last June and yet not a single correction has been made to the recipe by the web authors here.

By PJ on January 09, 2013


My husband loved chess pie and I wanted to teach my daughter how to make one. I decided to use Paula's recipe, I just always look to her recipes as "go to" recipes and can usually count on them for family favorites. Spent lots of time and money on ingredients and made this not once but twice. A SOUPY disappointed mess and disappointed my sweet daughter and hubby as well. After the first attempt I thought it was because I didn't do something right, and then bought everything again and tried and just as other reviewers have stated, I should have read first. Now I am doubting trying any new recipes out of this book, this can't be here mamas chess pie, her mama would have had to drink it! Paula, please correct this. I don't want to lose faith In your cooking! Try southern living foolproof chess pie it was great.

By Mindy on January 04, 2013



By JALONDA LAYTON on December 21, 2012


Thanks for answering my question, I think, about too much butter in my pecan pie. I just need to cook it longer, right?

By Charlotte on December 15, 2012


Awful mess!! I made this based on the ratings and unfortunately, didn't read the comments first. I just sent an email message to Paula as well as leaving one here, hoping they will fix the recipe. I made it twice, assuming I'd messed up the first time. It never set properly -- it's more like melted sugar butter in crust. I'm going to try Grandmother's recipe next and keep my fingers crossed!

By Anon on November 24, 2012


Ms. Deen, Try adding a 'praline topping' (butter, brown sugar, pecans, etc) on top of this pie. The more butter the better; how truly right that statement is. I do not know why some cooks or bakers use Crisco or the like or 'margarine' when butter is so easy to find on sale and can be stored in one's freezer for quite some time. Further, I wish to thank you, Ms. Deen for allowing me to enter your 'fantasy world of cooking' sometimes for only one TV show, sometimes, (I record them on my DVR) I will enter your 'world' for three (3) or four (4) hours. Thank you for the pleasure that it brings me. I am disabled, the gov't sends me a monthly check which allows very little for food (maybe $100. for the whole month). I live alone and my 'good friends' that I used to have all scattered like a family of cock roaches when you turn on a light,so I am pretty much 'home-bound' and it pretty much, sucks to be me. So, I kindly thank you for allowing me to 'escape' from my life and laugh along with you as though I were there! May God Bless You and All of Your Family. Most Sincerely, Cathy Williams

By Cathy Williams on October 21, 2012


two attempts- both a soupy mess in oven. looked at other recipes.... way to much butter and eggs compared to the others. a real shame for money wasted and that no one who can make a change in recipe is paying attention to the majority of comments on failed time i will read reviews first. love you paula but correct the recipe.

By terri cannon on September 02, 2012


omg-wish i would have read comments before i tried the 2nd time. thought i had lost my ability to follow directions. runny mess both time. checked other recipes & "yes" the butter and the eggs don't match any other recipe. wow- what a shame for the money wasted- worse is no one is paying attention to the fact the recipe......well it is wrong..... love you paula but please correct. going to try a differant recipe next time.

By terri cannon on September 02, 2012


I was so looking forward to making this to surprise my daughter, the surprise chess soup was on me:-(! Glad it was a surprise and she knew nothing about it. But wasted all those ingredients

By nanny on July 28, 2012


You people are crazy. I just made this pie and it firmed up perfectly. I cooked it for about 10 minutes longer than recommended due to the elevation here but I did not have any problems whatsoever. Thanks Paula! I'm a huge fan!!

By Kayla Bassing on July 20, 2012



By danielle on July 10, 2012


I really wish I had read the comments below before wasting my time and money to make this mess. It is a watery mess. I chose this one because I though surely Paula Deen's recipe would be the best. It's horrible! I am so disappointed and so is the 90 year old lady that I sit with who "thought" she was going to have her favorite pie for supper. SO SAD :( I don't understand with all the negative comments and failed attempts at this very simple pie, why that the site administrators have not removed this mess from the website!

By Sharla Oliver on May 10, 2012


DO NOT MAKE THIS RECIPE AS DIRECTED!! It turns out a runny mess. After reviewing other recipes for Chess Pie (& after throwing away a failed MESS of a pie) I think the problem can be solved with this adjustment: --> Instead of 1/2 *POUND* of butter (2 sticks) for the filling, use 1/2 *CUP* of butter (1 stick). <-- Most other recipes only call for 1/2 cup of butter. I see that Heather has the same observation about this recipe...I wish I had read these comments before trying the recipe. Lesson learned. Clearly this recipe wasn't checked for accuracy. **Also, why the heck are people giving this recipe 5 stars when they state the recipe is bad?? Very misleading when this recipe is given 4 overall stars! Other people that gave it a 4 or 5 rating hadn't even made it at the time of their comments - thanks idiots, for rating a recipe you haven't even tried yet! Maybe you should actually MAKE the recipe before you give it a rating?

By One Unhappy Baker on April 18, 2012


The Mama's Chess Pie in the Lady & Sons Cookbook is very poor. I have made it twice and each time I have a soupy mess on my hands. I made it a second time thinking that surely it must have been me who made a mistake. When I made this pie the second time, I was even more disappointed than the first time. When removed from the oven the pie spilled in my oven. That was my first clue that something was wrong. It did not get firm after a week in the refrigerator,so that is no help. There is something very wrong with this recipe. I have noted others have had the same problem. I bemoan the fact that I wasted some very good ingredients, not once but twice.

By mary brigham on February 16, 2012

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