Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie is actually one of the simplest and best pie recipes around.

When our challenge from Coleen at  The Redhead Baker for this month’s Progressive Eats was to make something inspired by a movie or TV show, I have to tell you my mind initially went blank. Luckily Providence was at hand and I found a connection between this Chocolate Chess Pie pie and a movie.

I was asked to bring a dessert to a friend’s barbecue; something both adults and kids would love. Quite honestly, if challenged with a dessert that bridges generations, I know it has to be good but it also has to be simple.

Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email & I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus, get great new recipes from me every week!
Save Recipe

I learned a long time ago that events like these are not the place to bring a showstopper that takes me hours and hours to perfect.

Kids don’t want showstoppers, they do better with something well known and simple and I do better when I don’t have to worry about piles of it being left on their plates and ending up in the trash; that makes me want to weep.

So I decided to make an easy Chocolate Chess Pie, one I’ve had in my repertoire for years that satisfies everyone…nary a bite has ever been thrown away!

I found the recipe in my files and while I do have it titled ‘Favorite Chocolate Pie’ the subtitle was a gift…’Minny’s Chocolate Chess Pie from the movie, ‘The Help.’ Oh  my gosh, that’s right…this pie IS from a movie. Two birds. One stone. Perfect.

Now, if I wasn’t charged with bringing this simple dish to a meal with kids I might have mixed it up a bit by including bourbon in the mix…but it really needed no modification; it’s simply amazing just the way it is.

Now, if you know the movie, you might know that this pie was renown, everybody in town loved Minny’s Chocolate Pie; it was her legacy. The Help‘s ending hinges on a secret involving Minny’s famous chocolate pie.

As is typical in the making of a film, the scenes requiring pie required far more than one pie. Newspaper columnist Lee Ann Flemming, one of the best bakers in Greenwood, Mississippi, made 53 chocolate pies during filming, including 12 vegan and gluten-free versions she prepared in just one day for actress Bryce Dallas Howard.

Her fudgy version here is neither vegan nor gluten-free; it’s as classic as it gets. You can make your own crust, but Flemming used packaged crust and so did I.

I enjoy making pie crusts but trust me, there are times when a prepared crust is the perfect crust and I did not need to be pushed to follow her lead. I always keep a supply of the Pillsbury type crusts in my freezer; the kind that you put into your own pie dish. I actually like using an 8″ dish for them and it worked perfectly with this recipe.

Like my pie plate? I love it too; courtesy of Goodwill; I love these small metal tins for some reason. Beyond Goodwill, someone obviously loved pies from Marie Callander’s because the name is imprinted on the bottom. The crust worked better in the smaller dish and so did the filling; so I suggest you can use an 8″ or 9″ pie plate.

Truth be told, this pie is really a very Southern traditional pie called a Chocolate Chess Pie. At its heart are always the basic four ingredients—flour, butter, sugar, and eggs plus cocoa for flavoring this one.

Preparation is never much more than a little stirring together of some simple ingredients and about half an hour to 45 minutes in the oven. What comes out is a magical transformation.

Slice of Chocolate Chess Pie on Plate with Bite Taken.

Why Chess? No one has ever been able to determine accurately how chess pies came about their name, but the colorful explanations make for great table conversation. Some say gentlemen were served this chocolate pie as they retreated to a room to play chess. Others will insist the name was derived from Southerners’ dialect: It’s jes’ pie (it’s just pie).

Yet another story suggests that  because of the high sugar content and the fact that it kept well in pie chests at room temperature that it became known as “chest pie’ and with the addition of a Southern drawl the name became slurred into chess pie.

The Lemon version has a story all it’s own; maybe I need to share that one some day soon?

This is a fun month…be sure to check out all of the links from my friends after the recipe.

PIN IT! ‘Chocolate Chess Pie’

Chocolate Chess Pie Served on a White Plate and Garnished with Whipped Cream and Strawberries.
Chocolate Chess Pie Served on a White Plate and Garnished with Whipped Cream and Strawberries.
Minny'Minny's Chocolate Pie from The HelpChocolate Pie from The Help

Chocolate Chess Pie

An old fashioned Southern Chocolate Chess Pie which is both simple to make and incredibly delicious.
4 average from less than 50 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Desserts, Pastry and Pie
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 669 kcal


  • 1 package Pillsbury pie dough or your favorite dough
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Whipped cream for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
  • Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center.
  • Halfway through baking, cover the crust with strips of foil to prevent over-browning. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.


You can make this pie a day ahead and keep refrigerated before serving.


Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Chess Pie
Serving Size
1 Serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword chess, chocolate, dessert, pie
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Dishes Inspired by Movies or TV


Main Courses

Side Dishes


Similar Posts


  1. yo Barb this is almost exactly the same as the recipe shared by “The Disney Diner” on YouTube. Check them out for more recipes for your “repertoire”!

    1. Thanks; I’ll do that. I did find it everywhere; some versions different than others but this was from an article about the filming of the show so I followed it to the letter. Even the storebought pastry! 🙂

  2. I do love a good chocolate chess pie, regardless of the origin of the name. Just give it. 🙂 Usually cornmeal plays a role in chess pie, but your version probably yields a smoother filling, and I’m all about that. Yum!

  3. GREAT pick for this event! My family would definitely approve. This may have to be our chocolate pie for Thanksgiving (to balance out the pumpkin :)).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.