Impossible Pie: A Riff on the Classic Chess Pie

by Maggie Battista on May 4, 2011

in All Recipes, Desserts, Entertaining, Food Gifts

Impossible Pie, Chess Pie - Eat Boutique

Though the northeast will forever be considered my home, I spent my high school years in the south, basically learning how to adjust. A Jersey girl through and through, I just tried to blend anyway I could. I was too busy sneaking out to dance clubs in downtown Atlanta and cussing up a storm to care too much about food.

Sure, I got my fill of buttery grits and biscuits topped with white sausage gravy. I also ate enough fried chicken and pecan pies to make me an honorary southerner, I’m sure of that. For a teen who didn’t put any effort into it, I did pretty well sampling bits and pieces of the southern food spectrum. But I never had chess pie.

Impossible Pie, Chess Pie - Eat Boutique

I don’t know if it was just too sweet or if the texture turned off my elementary tastes, but a new friend forced me to eat a slice at a lunch-only cafeteria (called, a meat-and-three) in Nashville a few months ago. When she heard I had never had the stuff, she didn’t even ask. She just slid a piece between us and, heh-heh-helloooo, I am now a chess pie convert.

My husband is in Nashville a lot. Life and Paris and gift boxes (all lovely diversions!) make it so I often miss out on repeat visits and repeat slices of this heavenly pie. Thanks to March’s Food and Wine, I now have an easy to whip up alternative. Sugarland’s lead singer Jennifer Nettles shared her great-grandmother’s riff on the traditional southern treat. I know it’s not true chess pie but it’s homemade and hits the spot. And like I always say, there’s no pie I like better than homemade pie.

Impossible Pie, Chess Pie - Eat Boutique

Impossible Pie, Chess Pie - Eat Boutique

There’s a good reason this recipe’s earned the name “Impossible Pie,” and you’ll discover it if you make it. I say it’s just impossibly good, and a totally worthy of… say… a Mother’s day brunch.

Impossible Pie

From Food and Wine, March 2011


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 350 ° and butter two 9-inch glass pie plates. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with the sugar. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour, coconut and milk. Divide the mixture between the pie plates and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour, until the pies are firm to the touch and golden. Transfer the pies to a rack and cool completely before serving. The pies can be refrigerated overnight. Return them to room temperature before serving.

While you’re down here, check out the Merry Gourmet’s real chess pie recipe here. I just heart her. And her chess pie.

Jill is a photographer in Toronto, Canada and photographed this pie   for Eat Boutique. She also blogs about her homemade urban life, including her beautiful chickens, at Freestyle Farm.

Looking for the perfect gift? Eat Boutique sells a handmade gift box filled with handmade sweet and savory treats. Send food that hugs you back today.

Impossible Pie, Chess Pie - Eat Boutique

Maggie Battista

Founder at Eat Boutique
Maggie, is the founder of Eat Boutique. She started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she spotlights cookbook authors and food makers. She’s written for Style Me Pretty, Food52, Time Out New York, Spencer Magazine, and writes a cocktail column for the popular wedding blog, Snippet & Ink. Maggie's also created retail experiences for the largest floral and event design company in New England. She regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. You can follow her worldwide – and homemade – gastronomic adventures on Twitter at @mizmaggieb or @eatboutique. Maggie's first-ever cookbook Food Gift Love will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in October 2015. You may pre-order now.


  • merry-jennifer

    Thank you SO much for the sweet mention. And you know that I heart you too! Chess pie is an interesting thing. After I’ve had a slice, I often think that it’s too sweet and I’m happy to not have another. But then, I find myself thinking about it in the days after, wishing I could have just another sliver.

    • Maggie

      I meant to say… thank you!

  • Anonymous

    There is absolutely no doubt that i WILL be making this very soon indeed! For something so stupidly simple to earn such a praise of a review is just too tempting, i will let you know how it turns out :) 

  • Sunshine Mama

    I had completely forgotten about this!  My mom used to make this when I was a kid, but she used to call it miracle pie.  I remember coconut being in our recipe as well, but then for some reason, we started omitting it, and the texture was so awesome!  

    • Maggie

      Miracle pie. Impossible pie. I love them both! Thanks so much, xoxo!

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