Chocolate Chess Pie

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Chocolate fans, this old-fashioned chocolate chess pie recipe is for you! It’s rich, fudgy, and so simple to make!

A piece of chocolate chess pie.

Today I’m sharing one of my grandmother’s recipes with you. If you have a copy of my latest book, Sweetness, you can see this recipe on page 147 with a beautiful photograph on page 148. Grandmama was one of those people who always lifted the mood in a room whenever she was around. When she passed away, I inherited her cookbooks. This recipe was written in her beautiful handwriting on a piece of paper that had been stained and worn from generations of use.

Therefore, this Southern chocolate chess pie recipe is an old-fashioned one. As such, it is pretty simple, straightforward, and absolutely delicious. It’s made from simple ingredients like eggs, butter, milk, and sugar, with the added bonus of cocoa powder. It also only takes 15 minutes to prep, so is a great option for beginner bakers.

This Southern chocolate pie is so sweet and decadent with a fudgy chocolate flavor wrapped in a flaky pie crust. The filling tastes like brownies, with a smooth and creamy custard texture and a crust on top. My daughter says it is like eating brownie batter in pie form – a glowing recommendation if ever I heard one!

Speaking of other indulgent chocolate desserts, if you have a sweet tooth you need to check out these recipes: triple chocolate brownie piechocolate chocolate chip cookieschocolate fried pies, chocolate depression cake, and chocolate cobbler.

A quintessential Southern dessert, this easy chocolate chess pie recipe contains lots of hints and tips for making this wonderful heritage pie. Let’s get baking!

Ingredients for chocolate chess pie

Recipe Ingredients

  • Deep-dish pie crust
  • Evaporated milk
  • Cocoa powder
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How to Make Chocolate Chess Pie

Add sugar to mixing bowl.

Firstly, don’t pre-bake your pie crust (we love not using pie weights, right?).

All you have to do is dump all of your ingredients in a large bowl. Starting with the sugar…

Add melted butter to mixing bowl.

The melted butter…

Add cocoa to mixing bowl.

The cocoa powder…

Add eggs to mixing bowl.

The eggs…

Add vanilla to mixing bowl.

The vanilla extract…

Add evaporated milk to mixing bowl.

And the evaporated milk.

Mix ingredients together using an electric mixer.

Mix them with an electric mixer until well combined and fully blended.

Pour filling into pie crust.

Then pour the pie filling into the store-bought unbaked pie shell in the deep dish pie dish.

Your prepared pie crust does not have to be pretty. The homier it looks, the better it will taste. You can do it as I did here, use a fork, or just fold down the edge a bit and call it rustic. In some cities “rustic” sells for double the price ~winks~.

Unbaked chocolate chess pie.

Bake this at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until set in the center. 

Baked chocolate chess pie.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you like. 

A slice of chocolate chess pie.

ENJOY this old Southern chocolate pie!

A slice of chocolate chess pie.

It tastes great either at room temperature or chilled, with a nice big dollop of whipped cream.


  • This chocolate chess pie will last about one week. I recommend storing it for only two days in a cake dome at room temperature and then placing it, covered, in the fridge for up to five days. In saying that though, I think it tastes best within the first two days of baking.
  • You can also freeze the baked chocolate chess pie for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge and then reheat the whole pie in the oven for about 20 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • Pie crust: I am using the roll-out pie crust. You can use a frozen pie crust in the pan or even make it from scratch, whatever cranks your tractor. I’ve made more homemade pie crust in my life than I can count and I’m cool with using store-bought crust and saving the mess. But here’s my homemade pie crust recipe that you just mix directly in the deep-dish pie plate, it’s so easy!
  • Evaporated milk: In old recipes, this is usually referred to as “pet milk” because PET was a popular brand in the south. A 5-ounce can of evaporated milk is just a smidge more than the amount you need, but it’s okay to use the entire can or do like I do and take a little swig out of it because it is stinking delicious! Another option is to substitute the evaporated milk for heavy cream.
  • Chocolate flavor: There are two easy ways to enhance the chocolate flavor. First, melt 2 ounces of finely chopped dark or semi-sweet chocolate along with the butter. Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon of espresso powder to the pie filling.
  • Speaking of, you want to use either naturally unsweetened or Dutch-processed cocoa powder in your chocolate chess pie.
  • If you find the chocolate chess pie is a little runny after cooling, just place it in the fridge for a few hours to set.

Recipe FAQs

What is chocolate chess pie made of?

Chess pie is known for having a custard pie texture and chocolate chess pie is no exception. It’s typically made with a combination of eggs, sugar, milk, and butter with flavorings. In this instance, we’re using cocoa powder and vanilla extract.

What does chess pie taste like?

Chess pie has a sweet custard-like taste and texture. But for chocolate chess pie, this custard texture is enhanced with the taste of rich chocolate in every bite.

What state is known for chess pie?

The chocolate chess pie is THE pie of North Carolina.

Why is it called chocolate chess pie?

See my lemon chess pie post to learn the many rumors behind the name chess pie (and choose your favorite).

What do you serve with chocolate chess pie?

You can serve your pie with a dollop of whipped cream (here’s my homemade whipped cream recipe) or a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like. You could also sprinkle the pie with chocolate shavings instead of powdered sugar or serve it with some fudge sauce or fresh berries.

Can I make chocolate chess pie in advance?

Yes, you can definitely make this pie ahead of time. Make it the day before and store it either in the fridge or at room temperature overnight.

Should chocolate chess pie be refrigerated?

Not necessarily, as this pie tastes great at room temperature and chilled.

You might also enjoy these delicious pie recipes:

10 Great Pie Recipes

Lemon Chess Pie

Faux Pecan Pie

Orange Meringue Pie

Mint Oreo Ice Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Pie Recipe: Made the Old Fashioned Way

Slices of chocolate chess pie.

Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate fans, this old-fashioned Southern chocolate chess pie recipe is for you! It's rich, fudgy, and so simple to make!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, pie
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 357kcal


  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter 1/2 stick
  • 3.5 tbsp naturally unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine sugar, melted butter, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, and evaporated milk in a large mixing bowl. Beat this chocolate mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 1 to 2 minutes).
    1.5 cups white sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, 3.5 tbsp naturally unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake until set in the center (about 35 to 40 minutes). Allow the pie to cool completely before dusting it with confectioner's sugar if desired.
    1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)
  • Chocolate pie is excellent served at room temperature or chilled. Store covered in the refrigerator.



Calories: 357kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


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  1. We used to have a store in Memphis called Seessel’s which then was sold to Schnuck’s. They made this pie and a regular chess pie and a lemon chess pie. I bought one of the three every payday to indulge my innermost sweet tooth. I shouldn’t do that to my hypoglycemia as you know but guess I will do it tomorrow anyway since I found my dark chocolate cocoa yesterday. Can’t wait.

    1. Oh my goodness, I miss Seesals! We would drive an hour from Arkansas to get their cookies and pies. Never missed a Christmas without them

    2. Seessel’s was the best! Miss it soooo much! They also had a pie called Lemon Butter Pie…OMG it was so yummy, wish I had the recipe. It was very similar to the chess pies, but even smoother.

    3. I have searched everywhere for their recipes! Remember the amazing almond macaroons covered in chocolate and the custard filled donuts? Wish the family would publish them.

    4. I sure miss Seesels as well! They had everything! I made this pie for Thanksgiving. Apparently it was wonderful because I never got a bite! Family ate it up! I’m going to try and make another at Christmas, and maybe get to try it.

      1. I always heard that ‘chess pie’ was a take off on the phrase, ‘It’s just pie , with a country twang. ‘Jess’ pie referring to the simple ingredients- sugar, eggs, and butter.

  2. I also received this recipe from my grandmother ! She was a fantastic cook and over the years , I’ve made this pie many times. Always a favorite! I always think of my Ma when I make it.
    I enjoy your newsletter very much. Your cookbooks are great ! Good down home recipes.

  3. Sounds really good. My Mama used to make one similar if not the same as this one. I sure do miss it and her. I pray that God blesses you and your family.

    1. Thank you so much. There is always an empty spot when our Mama’s aren’t with us anymore but I know she is in a better place and there is going to be one jim dandy of reunion supper when we all get to see her again.

      1. Hi there,

        My Grandma made this awesome pie in North Carolina and I carried on her tradition. I live in Colorado and made 2. Neither set in the middle after 45 mins. So I baked them until Pie Crust was almost brown. I let them sit for an hour, and it is like a custard and can’t slice it. Also the tops was hard and separated. I put one in the fridge to see if that sets it. Any hints on what I did wrong or if I need to adjust for the altitude here in Co.

        Thanks & Merry Christmas!!!

        1. This sounds like the pie my MOM used to make. I don’t know where she got the recipe. She never put confectioner super on it.
          I was so in love with the pie that once when I was young she asked what kind of cake I wanted for my b.d.. I said no, I want your chocolate pie.
          Guess what, I got my wishes.
          I so hope this is it.

        2. I’m betting your altitude is the issue. I lived at 6000 ft in NM and sometimes had issues. Id try looking up some high altitude instructions for pies! Best of Luck!

        3. Some recipes change when you are in a different altitude.
          Took me awhile to realize that out when I lived in Wyoming

        4. Food will not get as hot in Colorado because of the altitude. I would try cooking on a slightly lower temperature for a bit longer. It takes longer to cook almost anything that depends on heating a liquid. Boiling potatoes takes forever in Colorado Springs because water boils at such a low temperature

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