Buttermilk Chess Pie Recipe

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 10

Hands On Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


Cream cheese pie dough

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder


4 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zest from 1 orange

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


To make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer in a medium bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then on slow speed add in the mixture. Let it mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients come together and the dough is formed.

Gather the dough into a ball, press into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until needed. Let dough rest a few minutes at room temperature before rolling out. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper into an 11-inch circle. Remove the paper and transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the excess dough and flute the edge. Chill until ready to use.

To make the filling: Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt and orange zest until well-combined. Whisk in the butter, buttermilk, vinegar, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir until fully combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees, rotate the pan and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until filling is just set in the center and slightly brown on top. (If the edges of the crust start to get too brown, cover the edges only with aluminum foil.) The pie will firm up as it cools. Serve at room temperature. 

About the recipe

This dessert has been served at South City for many years, and it’s a favorite of customers and staffers. “It’s very sweet, it’s a little gooey -- it’s one of those kind of perfect Southern desserts,” said executive chef Dean Dupuis. The pie comes and goes on the menu, he said, but it’s always popular. “We have more requests for that pie than probably any other item on our menu.” 

This sweet-tart dessert is great with a cup of coffee and a touch of vanilla ice cream. Though it is delicious when served the same day it comes out of the oven, it is even better after a day or two in the refrigerator, when the orange flavor becomes more pronounced. This pastry is flaky and tender. If the dough gets too soft and sticky when you’re working with it, just pop it into the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes.

Recipe courtesy of South City Kitchen in Atlanta, Ga.