Kentucky Chess Pie

  • Serves

    serves 8

A variation of this classic Southern custard pie, also known as Jefferson Davis pie, is served at Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky.


  • 34 cup plus 1 tbsp. flour
  • 12 tbsp. plus 2⁄3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
  • 23 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 23 cup buttermilk
  • 12 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg yolks plus 1 egg


Step 1

Put the flour, 1⁄2 tbsp. sugar, and 1⁄2 tsp. salt into a food processor and pulse to combine. Add 6 tbsp. of the butter and pulse until pea-size pieces have formed. Drizzle in 2-3 tbsp. ice water; pulse until dough just comes together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; form into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Step 2

On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12" circle about 1⁄8" thick; transfer to a 9" pie pan. Trim dough, leaving a 1⁄2" overhang; fold edges under. Flute edges with fingers. Chill for 1 hour.

Step 3

Heat oven to 325°. Pour water into a 4-quart saucepan to a depth of 1"; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk together remaining sugar and salt, brown sugar, buttermilk, nutmeg, egg yolks, and egg. Set bowl over saucepan. Add remaining butter; cook, whisking frequently, until smooth and warm, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into chilled pie shell. Bake until center is just set, 45-50 minutes. Transfer pie to cooling rack; let cool completely before serving, about 2 hours.

Continue to Next Story

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.