Gluten Free Buttermilk Chess Pie Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on November 8, 2015

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It’s that time of year again – Pie Season! Personally, I love pie season and think that any time is the right time for pie but the holidays bring an extra expectation of pie.

If you are looking for a simple pie to add to your holiday meal, might I suggest this gluten free buttermilk chess pie?

Chess pies are as old as America. Martha Washington had a chess pie recipe which she introduced by saying it was a very good way to make cheesecakes without cheese curd.

A chess pie is a simple custard pie that is made with pantry staples such as eggs, sugar, cornmeal, and milk. Typically, a chess pie has vinegar added to it and a bit of flour. In this recipe, I just used buttermilk in place of the milk and vinegar, left out the flour (I see no need) and flavored it with a bit of vanilla and nutmeg. The flavor of this pie just screams “holiday!” to me. And yet, I adore the simplicity and almost rustic feel of the pie.

Where does the name “chess pie” come from? Well, there are several answers to that. My top three favs are:

  • It is believed that “chess” was the Americanized version of the word “cheese” and it refers to the curd of cheese.
  • Some suggest that when the word “chest” (as in pie chest) is pronounced with a drawl (such as in the South) it comes out sounding like “chess.”
  • And then there is my personal favorite – A plantation cook was asked what in the world she was baking that smelled so delicious and she replied, “jes pie.”

However it came by its name, I love it and I hope you love it just as much as I do.

Recipe Notes: To make it dairy free, simply use dairy free milk with ½ tablespoon vinegar added to it and melted dairy free butter substitute in place of the butter. This recipe is best made with cage free pastured eggs, such as from Nature’s Yoke. As always, use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation and nothing beats freshly grated nutmeg!

You can serve the pie plain, topped with fruit, or topped with some whipped cream and a grating of nutmeg.


Gluten Free Buttermilk Chess Pie Recipe


1 ½ cups sugar
5 large pastured eggs
½ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons gluten free cornmeal
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1 (9-inch) unbaked gluten free pie crust


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, cornmeal, melted butter, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until fully combined. Pour into the pie crust and bake 40 – 50 minutes or until the filling is set. Let cool.


A gluten free recipe that serves 8.

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