This easy salted honey chess pie has a creamy custard texture full of floral honey flavor. It's baked in a flaky all-butter pie crust (or frozen pie crust) and topped with a drizzle of honey, flaky salt, and fresh whipped cream.
This version of chess pie has probably become my new favorite. It's got all of the qualities of a chess pie - creamy custard, flaky pie crust, perfectly sweet. But it tastes SO much better.
The addition of honey provides such a nice floral, naturally sweet flavor that will leave you going back for more.
This specific honey chess pie is made using buttermilk for the acid, which I think provides the nicest custard in terms of both flavor and texture. It gives that hint of "sour" but in the absolute best way possible!
While this recipe is best using my homemade all-butter pie crust for both flavor and texture, you could also make the pie with frozen pie crust, in a pinch.
What is chess pie?
Chess pie is a southern classic that was developed in the 19th century when certain ingredients like flour and nuts were hard to come by. It was created to become shelf stable (aka, stored in a pie chess) by using a large amount of sugar to offset any bacteria that could have been developed by the butter and milk.
The pie has many variations, including using various types of milks or acids like lemon juice or vinegar. To read more about the history of chess pie, check out this article!
There are many ways to make a chess pie; this version is made without milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, corn starch or vinegar.
Instead, this version uses the following:
- Pie crust. I highly suggest using my homemade version in the recipe card (you'll need flour, unsalted butter, salt). However, you can also use a store-bought frozen pie crust in a pinch. Note the recipe will not have the intended flavor profile, as store bought crust has significantly less flavor.
- Sugars. Both granulated sugar and honey. I like a standard clover honey, but you can use any flavor of honey you prefer!
- Dairy. Unsalted butter, eggs, and buttermilk.
- Corn meal. This is a very traditional addition to chess pie, and helps to thicken the custard.
While I love this honey chess pie just as it is, there are a few ways you can switch it up:
- Add lemon or orange extract (about 1 teaspoon).
- Use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
- Add chopped pecans, shredded coconut, or chocolate chips (about ½ cup).
How to make salted honey chess pie
Remove the weights and parchment, brush with egg white wash, then bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Set on a wire rack to cool completely before adding the custard and reduce the oven temperature to 325℉/162℃.
Custard & Baking
STEP 2: To make the custard, melt the butter and honey in a small saucepan.
In another bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs vigorously until slightly lighter in color.
STEP 3: Stream the honey butter mix into the eggs while whisking, then whisk in the salt, buttermilk, vanilla and corn meal.
STEP 4: Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, then pour in the filling to the top. Carefully transfer the pan to the middle rack of the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until set.
Move the pie to the bottom third of the oven for the last 10 minutes of bake time.
Hot tip! The pie will look very undercooked at the end of bake time, but will set up in the fridge. It will be slightly set on the edges with quite a bit of jiggle in the center.
STEP 5: Allow the pie to cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then transfer to the fridge (uncovered) to chill for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.
STEP 6: Before serving, top with a drizzle of honey (optional), flaky salt and a dollop of whipped cream. Wipe off the knife completely in between each slice to get the most clean slices.
Storing and Freezing
Store the baked pie lightly covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. It's best to store without any whipped cream or salt on the pie.
To freeze, wrap individual slices (or the full pie) in plastic wrap, the foil, and store in a sealed container for up to two months. Unwrap completely, and thaw in the fridge for 2 hours, then top and serve.
If the chess pie is runny, this is likely because it was not baked for long enough. It can be difficult to tell when the pie is done, as it will still be very loose and jiggly. Also be sure the pie has set for a full 6-8 hours in the fridge.
Due to the dairy in the pie, it does need to be refrigerated after a day. Additionally, the pie is meant to be eaten cold or slightly room temperature so it remains set.
Chess pie should be eaten cold or at room temperature. When the pie is hot, it will be running and all of the filling will fall off of the crust if cut when hot.
More pies and tarts
Honey Chess Pie
- Food processor or pastry cutter for homemade pie dough
- 9" pie plate
- Parchment paper
- Pie weights, or dried rice/beans
- 1 pie crust all-butter pie crust or store bought*
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
- ⅔ cup honey 224g
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted (113g)
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs + 2 yolks reserve the whites for egg wash
- ½ cup full-fat buttermilk 114g
- 1 tablespoon corn meal
- Flaky salt for topping
- Roll out the pie dough, fit it to the pie plate, then trim and crimp. Place the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 375℉/190℃.
- Remove the crust from the freezer and dock the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork. Add a piece of parchment paper then fill the crust completely with pie weights or dried rice and beans.
- Par bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and weights and brush the insides of the crust with an egg white wash to seal. Bake for another 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325℉/163℃.
- Heat the honey and butter in a small saucepan and stir until the butter is completely melted.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs vigorously until slightly lighter in color.
- Stream in the slightly cooled honey mixture while whisking, then add the salt, buttermilk, vanilla, and corn meal and whisk to combine.
- Add the pie plate to a baking sheet, then pour the mixture into the cooled par-baked pie crust. Very carefully transfer the tray to the oven, careful not to slosh the filling over the sides.
- Bake the pie for 40-50 minutes, moving the pie to the lower third of the oven for the final 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for two hours, then refrigerate (uncovered) for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Top the pie with flaky sea salt before serving. You can also add whipped cream and an extra drizzle of honey to the slices, if desired.