Toasted Coconut Chess Pie

Toasted coconut chess pie (click through for recipe)    Toasted coconut chess pie (click through for recipe)  Chess pie is not something I grew up eating. In fact, until this year I'd never even heard of it. They started serving a more traditional version of it at one of our favorite coffee shops in town, and I fell in love at first bite. As I do with most pies. 

I just really love pie, guys. It's the best.

Toasted coconut chess pie (click through for recipe) In case you've never had the pleasure of trying chess pie before, I'll tell you that it has a custardy-based filling. Honestly, it sort of reminds me of pecan pie, without pecans. The ingredients might surprise you, as most chess pies contain cornmeal and usually vinegar. But somehow it just works. 

I've made a few variations recently, and this is my favorite version at the moment. It contains toasted coconut, so in a way it's a great summer version of pecan pie. And if that doesn't excite you, I don't think we're gonna see eye to eye on this one. Just make the pie. Just do it. 

Fresh eggsToasted Coconut Chess Pie, makes one.
Crust recipe from Ready For Dessert by David Lebovitz.

4 eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk (or cream)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons butter, melted then cooled
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup toasted (sweetened) coconut

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Best pie crust recipeIn a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, and cold butter until crumbly. Add the first 3 tablespoons of cold water and pulse again. If needed, add an additional tablespoon of cold water. Press the dough together, cover in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. Or you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 days.

Once you're ready, roll out out the dough on a lightly floured surface and place in a buttered pie pan. Poke a few holes (with a fork) in the bottom of the crust before filling.

Toasted coconutMelt the butter in the microwave and allow to cool while you prepare the coconut. 

Toast the coconut in a dry pan over medium/low heat until lightly brown and crunchy. I like to use a rubber, heatproof spatula while toasting coconut this way, as it allows you to easily remove bits from the side of the pan so they don't become too toasted while you work.

Best chess pie recipeIn a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cooled (but still melted) butter. Stir in the sugar. Now add the salt, cornmeal, flour, and vinegar, and stir to combine. Stir in half of the toasted coconut, reserving the rest to sprinkle over the top.

The first time I made this pie filling, the recipe I was working on made too much filling. I actually had to throw away about 2/3 cup away or else my pie pan would have been overflowing. I was also practicing with a store-bought pie crust, which was a little smaller than the pie pan you see here. This version almost didn't make enough filling, but once baked you'll see that the filling tends to expand a little. So don't worry if your pie filling doesn't seem to fill out your pan just yet (see mine above). And if you choose to use a store-bought pie crust, this should still work well for you.

Best chess pieBake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes. The pie should only have some very slight movement (jiggle), and the top should look crusty and browned. Allow the pie to cool for at least 30 minutes before trying to cut into it, or else it may not be set enough and will ooze.

Toasted coconut chess pie (click through for recipe)Serve warm or cold with a little fresh fruit and/or whipped cream. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. 

  • Mmmmm! You had me at coconut. I’ve never heard of chess pie before so I’ll definitely be giving this a try!

  • I am a HUGE fan of pie and coconut, so this combination looks amazing! Chicken pot pie is one of my specialties, and I’d love to expand more into sweet pies. It’s definitely a good summertime dessert!


  • I WANT THIS SO BAD! I’ve never heard of chess pie, either, but I am so there!

    -Lindsay from Dearest Darling

  • I love the idea of coconut to the chess pie! This honestly looks irresistible 🙂

  • Chess pie is one of my favorites! And since coconut is another, this looks like a winner.
    The world needs more pie shops.

  • You cant imagine how funny it is for a brazilian woman like me. I always find great recipes like these and some key ingredients cant be found in Brazil. A great example are the fruits. We are one of the countries with the most variety of them, but the ones found in colder countries we dont have.

    And I must say, no country makes greater pies than USA. I just love them! I’ll try to make this one in my next trip to my counsing’s house! 🙂

    Helô, from Vestidos curtos

  • Yummm! This looks good! I originally thought you had misspelled the title when I first saw it and meant to type “cheese” pie. Coconut Chess pie sounds way better than Coconut Cheese pie! 😛

  • yes! my ex-boyfriend’s (from almost 10 years ago) grandma aka “me-ma” who’s from Tennessee used to make these but i think without a crust…not a pie. just “chess squares” she called them. she had given me a recipe but over the years i misplaced it. your version looks AMAZING! and i have to try it. thanks! -Misty

  • Woooow :O That pie looks just awesome. I really have to try that recipe. Thanks for sharing. Haven’t heard of that pie before. I’ll let you know what I thought about it.
    Loooove <3

  • Chess pie is MY FAVORITE! Until a few years ago, my mom and I had never heard of it, but we were at the farmer’s market and there is a stand that sells it (along with bean pie, that actually tastes like pumpkin pie and is delicious). Needless to say, as soon as he convinced us to taste it, we were in loveeeee. I can’t wait to make your version of it!


  • If you LOVERLY ladies are ever in the Dallas (TEXAS) area, I work at a pie shop that’s become kind of a legend. It’s called Emporium Pies and it’s got some of the best pie (maybe of all time), but definitely the best pie in Dallas. 🙂 I’m not at all biased…

    Anyway, just thought I could spread the word and also the pie love.

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE coconut pie. Never thought about making a coconut chess pie though. Im sitting here looking at the pictures dreaming about what it would taste like and I want some so bad right now.

  • Mmmm I love lemon chess pie! I used to make I where I worked. So I’m sure this will be great!!

  • Obsessed with coconut and so is my dad, but he will only eat lemon pie or german chocolate cake! Maybe I could get him to eat this new coconut delicious-ness!! nom!

  • This recipe was so good I wanted to make it immediately…so I did! Loved the toasted coconut. My pie was almost too sweet however – what kind of sugar did you use? I’m wondering if cane sugar wasn’t a good choice on my end.

    Another great recipe 🙂 You ladies are awesome!

  • My Grandma taught me how to make a similar pie when i was little but it was crustless and called it impossible pie (i think because it was so simple!!). Thanks for reminding me I might make it this w/e!

  • you lost me at coconut(not a real fan)but you had me at chess pie. so i am definitely making this one. my sweet tooth thanks you. :O)

  • Thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious! Just a question: how big (or small) is the dish you used to bake the pie?

  • Yum! Thanks for the recipe – & no need to throw away extra custard type pie filling – I always bake the extra in a buttered custard cup (or cups) alongside the pie – cook’s treat!

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    two of my favorite pies are coconut creme and chess pie-i am so excited to see a recipe that combines them both!! unfortunately, am diabetic eating wheat free-so need to adapt recipe. but know it can be done, and will continue experimenting! thanks for posting!

  • Ooh, this sounds so interesting! I have never heard of a chess pie, but I agree that pies are the best, so I will definitely be putting this on my list of desserts to try!!