One of our favorite Tennessee desserts is the chess pie, a true Southern classic. Made with just eggs, butter, and sugar, with the addition of cornmeal and vinegar, this pie was the sweet born out of necessity and scarcity. People used to bake with what ingredients they had on hand. In parts of the South, and certainly here in the East Tennessee mountains, fresh lemons were too expensive for baking, so homemade vinegar was often substituted for lemon juice. Chess pie is a little like the buttermilk pie, but without the buttermilk! Anytime thickening was needed in cooking and baking – and a pie like this needs a little thickening – cooks turned to what they had on hand. In these mountains, and across Tennessee, it was cornmeal. We love to bake chess pie with our freshly stone-ground yellow cornmeal, which adds bright, fresh yellow color and true corn flavor.
Tennessee Chess Pie
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 55 mins
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Pies and Cobblers
- Cuisine: Southern
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon The Old Mill Yellow Cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk or regular milk
- 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
- Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat until creamy. Add the eggs, cornmeal, salt, and buttermilk and stir to combine well. Pour the batter into the pie crust, and place in the oven.
- Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let rest 30 minutes, then slice and serve.