Nellie’s Coconut Chess Pie

by Jennifer on September 5, 2012

in Awesome Treats, Pies & Crumbles

Virginia is a weird state.

Any Virginian will tell you that Virginia is actually two states: Southern Virginia and Northern Virginia (Nova). This doesn’t include West Virginia, our backwards and much-taunted neighbors. Live in Virginia long enough and you’re bound to hear a West Virginia joke.

Now, I haven’t done any official polling or anything, but I don’t think many Nova residents consider themselves Southerners, unless they are from the area originally. Nova has too much D.C. influence, too much city rush.

However, start traveling south on Interstate 95 and you’ll see a distinct shift in attitude. Life changes pace, sweet tea is a beverage staple, and you’re almost guaranteed to be greeted with a smile at any store. You have officially entered the South.

Want to know how to spot a Virginian? They don’t have thick, Southern accents (or any accents at all), but they say ya’ll. It’s true. Now you know!

My grandmother lived in Baltimore for many years, but spent the majority of her life in Virginia. I believe she considered herself a Southern lady – you can tell by her recipes! I found this little tattered piece of paper in her recipe box:


I’ve made chess pie before, but I was anxious to try out this one. I did have to adjust the ingredient amounts (I had too much filling, even for a deep dish pie shell!), but I tried my best to keep everything else the same.

Chess pie is an interesting beast. Simple ingredients, a dark, almost burnt, “crust” on top, and a creamy, custard-like texture. This pie is better the next day, so keep your paws off for 24 hours!

5.0 from 2 reviews

  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces evaporated milk
  • 3 ounces coconut
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a stand or hand mixture, beat the eggs and sugar together for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Mixture should have thickened a little.
  3. Stir in evaporated milk, coconut, butter, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be quite liquidy.
  4. Pour into pie shell and bake for 45-55 minutes. Check pie at 45 minutes and cover with foil if getting too brown, keeping in mind that it should look quite dark on top. Pie is done when the center is still a little jiggly but the edges are firm.
  5. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate September 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm

You hit the nail on the head! I’m raised by northerners, but have lived in Virginia my whole life. I usually say the only thing southern about me is I say y’all and drink sweet tea! I don’t even like coconut and that pie looks delicious!


2 Jennifer September 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

It is such a weird state, isn’t it? :) If you’re not a big coconut fan, there are tons of different versions of chess pie sans coconut! Regular chess pie, coconut chess pie, lemon chess pie…mmm… :)


3 Carrie's Creations September 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I love finding old recipes like that. The more battered/grease stained/discolored the paper is, the more it was obviously used – likely for good reason!


4 Jennifer September 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Absolutely! :)


5 Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings September 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Pie looks great! And I almost consider myself a Virginian now– I saw y’all with my Buffalo accent :)


6 Jennifer September 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Close enough, right? ;) You’re definitely an honorary Virginian!


7 susie September 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Living in the South for 18 years, I always felt there was something missing in a chess pie. Perhaps coconut is the answer!


8 Jennifer September 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

It definitely adds a little something special! :)


9 gaby April 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm

A-MA-ZING recipe, can´t believe is so good, thank you


10 Jennifer April 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

SO happy that you like it, Gaby! :)


11 Martha April 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm

This looks delicious. Regarding the condensed milk…sweetened or not sweetened?



12 Jennifer April 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Hi Martha! Thanks for your comment :) It is unsweetened, evaporated milk.


13 Martha May 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Thank you!


14 Lindsey April 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Just made this! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe, we went down this Summer from Maine and couldn’t get enough. It’s nice to be able to bring a little bit of heaven back home :0)


15 Jennifer April 29, 2013 at 9:37 am

So glad you liked it, Lindsey! :)


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