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Caramel Chess Tart

Chewy on the edges, gooey in the middle, and all around irresistible, this caramel chess tart takes a few simple ingredients and transforms them into a spectacular dessert!

Caramel chess pie on cutting board with 3 pieces cut

Chess Pie in a Tart Pan!

I know we’ve talked about it previously, but I am just so utterly fascinated by chess pie. It takes the most unassuming list of ingredients and turns them into a gooey and delicious pie. It’s pure genius. There are endless variations of chess pie out there in the universe, but this caramel chess tart is among my favorites.

I feel a little bit like I need to add an asterisk after the word “caramel” in that title. You see, despite the caramel flavor of this tart, you don’t have to labor over making caramel for it. The flavor magically evolves from all the brown sugar that’s mixed into the filling.

Besides all of that caramel goodness, this is also one of the simplest pies you’ll ever make. Just one bowl for the filling plus a pie crust. I made my go-to basic pie crust, but feel free to use your favorite, or even a store-bought crust. I won’t judge.

You can dress up slices of this pie with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of ice cream. I think it’s plenty good all on its own.

Caramel chess tart on cutting board with one slice cut and pulled away

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

What Is the Best Substitute for Buttermilk?

If you don’t want to buy buttermilk every time you need it for a recipe, the best substitute is buttermilk powder. You can keep it on hand in the pantry for whenever you need it. Add the powder to milk, then use it in your recipe.

Another option is to pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup, then pouring in whole milk until it reaches the 1 cup mark. Whisk and let the mixture thicken for about 5 minutes. This formula can be scaled up or down, depending on your recipe—although for this caramel chess tart, you’ll have to figure out a way to measure 1/4 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, which isn’t exactly easy!

How to Make Caramel Chess Tart

In addition to the simple ingredients, making this caramel chess tart is simple as well. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 450°F and lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan.

Bake the crust. Fit the pie crust into the prepared pan, then line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place pie weights or dried beans on top, then bake for 7 minutes.

Finish the crust. Take the tart pan out of the oven and carefully remove the lining and weights. Bake for 2 additional minutes, then set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Cream the butter and sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter and brown sugar until they’re fluffy.

Finish the filling. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the flour, buttermilk, salt, and vanilla.

Bake the tart. Place the tart pan with the partially baked crust onto a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the crust, then bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center is almost set.

Cool. Let the tart cool completely on a wire rack, then remove the pan rim and transfer the tart to a serving plate.

Caramel chess tart on cutting board with 3 slices cut and pulled away

Tips for Success

Read my baking tips for beginners, then follow these additional tips for a perfect caramel chess tart.

  • Soften the butter. Set it out for about 30 minutes before starting the recipe, along with the eggs. This will help the filling mix more evenly.
  • Look for a little bit of jiggle. When the chess tart is done baking, it will still have a little bit of jiggle in the center; it should move like Jello, not like liquid.
  • Don’t stress about cracks. It happens! It won’t affect the taste of the tart and after you dust the top with powdered sugar, no one will notice.

How to Store

Allow your tart to cool completely, then cover it with foil or plastic wrap. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, this caramel chess tart can be frozen. Wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Caramel Chess Tart

Yield 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 59 minutes

This Caramel Chess Tart takes traditional chess pie and adds a bit of caramel flavor to take it to the next level!

Caramel chess tart on cutting board with 3 slices cut and pulled away


  • pie crust for 10-inch tart pan
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (300g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) buttermilk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan.
  2. Fit the pie crust into the prepared pan. Line with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 7 minutes.
  3. Remove the tart pan from the oven. Carefully remove the lining and weights. Return the pan to the oven, and bake the crust for 2 more minutes. Then, place on a wire rack to cool.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the flour, buttermilk, and salt. Stir in the vanilla.
  7. Place the tart pan with partially baked crust onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until almost set.
  8. Cool the tart completely on a wire rack. Then, remove the pan rim and transfer the tart to a serving plate.

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    19 Comments on “Caramel Chess Tart”

  1. Chess pie IS pretty amazing. It’s really an endless wonder what butter and sugar can do!

  2. Sounds delicious! Just this morning I was thinking of making a cheese quiche!

  3. This looks delicious! I’ve never had a caramel chess tart. Pinning so I can make it later. YUM!

  4. I also have been so intrigued with chess pies lately! I love the crisp outer topping and gooey inside. This looks absolutely amazing- the perfect texture!

  5. Chess pie IS super delicious—and omg caramel chess pie? GIMME

  6. Wow! This looks so simple and amazing! I cant wait to try it out 🙂

  7. Chess pie is such a Southern classic. Love this!

  8. Yay chess pie! I haven’t had a caramel one yet.

  9. Here in Canada, we French Canadians call this Tarte au Sucre, or Sugar Cream Pie. It’s one of my favourite Thanksgiving desserts!!

  10. Chess Pie – my all time favorite pie!

  11. I’ve made crack pie a couple of times and it is based on chess pie. I feel the need to make an original version!

  12. That crust is a thing of beauty. I love chess pies so much and CARAMEL! Oh my gosh.

  13. I’ve never had (or heard of??) chess pie before. Regardless, I’d like a giant slice of this one!

  14. Having grown up in the South I know a lot about chess pie and I have to admit it is one of my favorites. I don’t always see the cornmeal added in every chess pie recipe but I have to say that’s one of the big things I like about it. A bit like tapioca pearls in the mouth. Makes it have a great texture and mouth-feel. I adore lemon chess pie above all others but as noted before, the photography here makes this one look so amazingly delicious and so incredibly eye-catching that I HAVE to believe anyone who saw it would be impressed with it AND since we eat with our eyes first would have to love the taste too. Just goes without saying. I can’t wait to make this one for someone and share the beauty (and I’m sure taste!). Thanks, Jennifer.

  15. sorry, 450 Fahrenheit it will be 230 in Celcius? that’s how much show me 😉
    not to much? I have to do it tomorrow 🙂 heeelp 🙂 thanks 🙂

  16. I’ve only ever had chocolate chess pie, but I can just imagine how amazing it would be in caramel form! Yummmm!

  17. Chess pie for me is comfort!

  18. It looks great (even though I never quail at laboring over caramel–I’ve made so much of it that I can practically do it in my sleep)!

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