Gourmet Veggie Mama

Buttermilk chess pie: A tribute

I’m always a little suspicious when someone shares a recipe that was their grandmother’s. Is it really that great of a recipe, or is it just the memories that make it so? Smell is one of the most powerful senses, and it’s hardwired directly to your memories. Smells, and tastes, which are closely linked, really have the power to transport you back.

This pie, though, I can promise you, really is that good. My Granny Maxine’s signature dish was always her buttermilk chess pie. I’ve never had another pie quite like it, and man, is it amazing.


Normally I wouldn’t make a pie outside of a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but this is, sadly, a special occasion. Granny Maxine passed away last night at the age of 91. She was in a hospice and went peacefully in her sleep. Although she and I were never particularly close, she had softened a lot as she grew older, and she was absolutely in love with Nora. She told me the last time we saw her that she saw so much in Nora’s eyes, she couldn’t even tell me.

So, I share this recipe with love, and in Granny Maxine’s memory. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine has over the years.

Granny Maxine’s Buttermilk Chess Pie

1 pie crust (frozen or homemade)
6 Tbs butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract*
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the empty pie crust for 5 minutes (8-10 minutes if frozen). Raise the oven temperature to 425°.

Combine the butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, lemon extract, eggs, and buttermilk in a blender and blend well. Pour into the pie crust and bake for 10 minutes at 425°. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake for an additional 35 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.

* I don’t keep lemon extract on hand, so I used my own “homemade extract” (technically just the vodka we use to preserve lemon twists in the refrigerator). Worked like a charm. I think you could also substitute the zest and juice of one lemon without too much trouble.

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10 Thoughts on “Buttermilk chess pie: A tribute

  1. I am so sorry for your loss, but I understand what you mean about not being close in your own childhood. And that memory of what she saw in your daughter’s eyes? Powerful. And priceless. her pie looks pretty good, too.

  2. I’m very sorry to hear about your grandma. It’s wonderful that she was able to know your Nora though. My children have known and lost a few grandparents already, but are the better for having known them and heard their stories.

    The pie looks and sounds interesting. I’ve never heard of a buttermilk chess pie. Is it a local recipe where you are?

    • Thank you, and I completely agree. I think they brought lots of joy to each other!

      I think chess pie is a Southern thing, since I never really saw it when we lived in California. It’s amazing!

  3. This looks amazing. I am sorry to hear about your grandma though.

  4. I’m sorry for your loss. This pie sounds like a great tribute.

  5. So sorry for your loss! That’s so wonderful that she had a special connection with Nora. I still wish my little guy could have met his great-grandparents. They would have loved him. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Cherry aviation | Gourmet Veggie Mama

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