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These easy Chess Squares are a simple and comforting Southern dessert! Flaky and buttery, this sweet treat goes perfectly with tea or coffee.
Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

Chess Squares

When I was in New York a few weeks ago we stopped by one of the most unique bakeries I’ve ever visited, Momofuku Milk Bar. Noted for their unusual concoctions like cookies made with potato chips, birthday cake truffles, and cereal milk ice cream, I’d been wanting to visit Momofuku’s and try a slice of their famous Crack Pie since I came across the recipe in the LA Times last year.

The thought did cross my mind that I could actually, you know, make the recipe myself, but one thing kept stopping me. It’s decidedly fussy.

With 22 ingredients (including 8 egg yolks, ugh) and the advertised one-and-a-half hours of labor-intensive preparation, I just kept putting the whole thing off.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

When I did finally get the chance to taste it two weeks ago, I immediately flashed back to my college days when my girlfriends and I would flounce around in the kitchen, throwing dinner parties for our boyfriends, and making sinfully sweet treats for church Bible studies. Crack Pie reminded me of one of my old standbys, Chess Squares, an unbelievably indulgent southern dessert staple and one of the first desserts I remember making on my own.

I proclaimed this revelation to my foodie friends (except I was really thinking that chess squares are so much better), but all I received were blank stares. They’d never heard of chess squares. Chalking it up to being a “southern thing”, I knew as soon as I got home I had to share this ridiculously delicious recipe with you guys.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

The best part is, chess squares couldn’t be easier to make. Just five simple ingredients here.

If this is looking familiar to you, you’re doing better than I was at this point. More on that in a minute.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

How to Make These Classic Chess Squares

You start by mixing a yellow cake mix with melted butter and one egg to form a soft dough .

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

It was at this point that I started to think myself, Huh. This seems a little familiar.

But I pushed the thought out of my head and carried on.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

You then mix a pound of powdered sugar with softened cream cheese and the remaining two eggs to create a decadent gooey filling. No wonder they’re so good!

But… Haven’t I seen this recipe somewhere before… recently?

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

Oh right. That’s when it dawned on me. It’s almost the exact recipe for…

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

Gooey Butter Cake.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

Doh.

How did I not realize that my beloved chess squares were also masquerading under the famous Paula Deen recipe until… just now?

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

Doh. Again. I wrestled with myself whether or not I should even post the recipe, scolding myself that you’ve all surely heard of gooey butter cake.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

But I ultimately decided that no matter what you call them, this delicious dessert definitely deserves a second look.

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

From its decadent, chewy crust…

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

To its rich, gooey filling…

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

And the flaky, sugary, satisfyingly crispy crust…

Chess Squares Recipe with Photos

To the way it makes your whole house smell so divinely sweet and buttery.

If you’ve never made chess squares or gooey butter cake… Give these a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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Image of a Chess Square

Chess Squares

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: About 12 squares 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These easy Chess Squares are a simple and comforting Southern dessert! Flaky and buttery, this sweet treat goes perfectly with tea or coffee.

Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins. Pour on top of crust.
  4. Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until top is golden brown.

Keywords: chess squares, chess squares recipe, southern dessert, pastry recipe, easy dessert recipe, simple dessert, simple dessert recipe, best dessert recipe, quick and easy recipe

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474 Responses
    1. Rick S

      I made it and added a little Watkins Vanilla Extract to both the dough and the batter and it really added a great flavor to an already great tasting dessert. I had originally asked my girlfriend to make a chess pie, she didn’t know how but she made me chess squares instead and I’m hooked and making my own now, thanks to your easy to follow recipe.

      Thanks,
      Rick S

  1. Lauren

    These are an all time favorite in my family as well. We actually call them Chess Bars, so not to far from what you call them. But like you said call it what you may they are absolutely delicious.

  2. Laura

    I made this today and had some fresh blueberries, so I placed (about 1.5 C) on top of the cake layer and poured the cream cheese mixture over the top. I also added finely chopped walnuts to the cake layer. It turned out really good!

  3. Mickey T

    I made this today and had some fresh blueberries, so I placed (about 1.5 C) on top of the cake layer and poured the cream cheese mixture over the top. I also added finely chopped walnuts to the cake layer. It turned out really good!

  4. Laurie B. Baker

    This has to be my all time favorite sinful dessert….thank you so much for sharing your recipe…my sister-in law is tired of making it for me…but that’s what she gets for not sharing her recipe…lol

  5. Judith

    As a southerner, have always known these as Chess bars. Recently was told that in Seminary in Missouri they are known as Ooey Gooey Butter Bars. No matter where, they are sinfully delicious!

  6. Shelly

    I’m a want-to-be Southerner! I’m planning to move from Minnesota to Tennessee in the next year or 2 if I can make it happen! Meanwhile I live through all of you!!!

  7. Chadwick mullins

    I just wanted to take the time to let you know I’m very thankful for this recipe that you have shared.Keep up the good work..

  8. H

    This was my childhood! I learned to make this early and became the designated Gooey Butter Cake maker in my house…our favorite way to eat it waa warm with Cool Whip. Thank you dor reminding me about this delicious recipe from my childhood!!

  9. SDmom x 3

    This is a recipe that was created in StL on a fluke from what I understand! It is delicious, rich and very sweet. I have a huge sweet tooth and can only eat this in small doses! We have changed up the cake mix flavor with chocolate, lemon, strawberry. I bet butter pecan would be amazing in it!

  10. Kris

    Ok stupid question but in reading this and have everything except my box cake that I have on hand is chocolate. Think it’ll still be yummy?

  11. Sue Laumann

    This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I first got the recipe from my ex-husband’s mom wayback in the late 70’s. She called it cheesecake bars. No matter it’s name, it is ADDICTIVE. I don’t make it often, as I do not share well with others. Thank goodness I have no cream cheese in the frig right now, or I would be rushing to whip up a panful!

  12. Catherine Nicolia

    You hit it on the money.  Milkbars Crack pie was developed from the Chess pie known and loved from the American South.  Check out Netflicks Chefs Table episode about the founding of Milkbar!  

  13. B. Johnson

    My family has made this recipe for YEARS! Except we call it “Chess Cake”. It’s poured in a 13×9 pan and cut into squares. I do believe you just updated the name.

  14. Tammy Vaughn

    My family has made this for years. The only difference is we use 3 eggs in with the powder sugar and cream cheese and we add a layer of pecans as our 2nd layer. A family favorite.

  15. Martha Gilliam

    I only had lemon cake mix at the time when I tried this recipe I also added a Little bit of lemon juice to the top mixture..and Yummy it was..Thank you so much for sharing this recipe ..and you bet this will be A favorite of mine..Merry Christmas and A Happy New Years to you and yours…:-) God bless!

  16. JoAnn

    I’m making this for the first time tonight (truth be told, I’d never even heard of it — by any name — until earlier this afternoon). I’ll be bringing it to Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow. I didn’t have Yellow Cake Mix (my supermarket was out of it — more than likely on account of Holiday dinner shoppers, so I used a Pound Cake mix instead. It’s in the oven as I type but I did taste the batter before I began baking and I’m confident that it will turn out even better than WONDERFUL! Thanks for a GREAT — and EASY — recipe. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be making a LOT of these in the future.

  17. Cindi Stuart

    This looks good, and easy enough but why call it “chess”?
    It doesn’t have either of the distinctive ingredients in chess pie….cornmeal or buttermilk????

    1. Amanda

      Good question! When I was given the recipe (over 20 years ago!) it was called Chess Squares and I never questioned it. :)

  18. Sui

    Hi Amanda, a quick question. Was your cake mix asking for one egg or three eggs? Mine called for three so I put three and the cake part of it was quite a bit thicker than what was shown in your picture. Just wondering if you reduced the eggs or went along with the cake mix’ instruction. Thanks.

  19. vickie

    Is there supposed to be another stick of melted butter in the filling. Paula Deen recipe calls for two sticks of butter.

  20. Christine

    I have made these for 25 years now and they have become  a family tradition. They are so yummy and don’t last long at our house. I will be making these again this year with chopped pecans and coconut in the crust and topped with cherry pie filling. I have used different flavored jello mixes in them to make different flavors like pineapple, lemon, key lime, etc. The possibilities are endless. Love your blog.

  21. Carolina

    Everyone loves your chess square recipe. My family is always asking me to make them for cookouts, holiday get togethers. They ask for recipe and so easy i say check kevin and Amanda’s chess square recipe. I have been making them for years using your recipe
    Thanks, Carolina

  22. Lynette

    I think you have the wrong oven temp listed. 300 for 40-50 min left nothing but a runny mess. I checked the temp for Paula’s version and she has 350 for her temp. Needless to say it’s back in the oven. Can’t wait to try it though!

    1. Carolina

      300 is the best. They are to dry if you bake at 350.. try leaving them cook for 5 to 10 minutes more. Trust me after they sit for a bit, they are not running, gooey alittle but good. I make them the night before and oh my goodness more flavor next day and easy to cut into squares.

  23. Kari

    My husband has been wanting me to try adding walnuts to this recipe after someone at his work had them in the middle of the gooey bar. Should I just add a layer of walnuts in the middle, or add it to the dough? Any advice would be appreciated :-)

  24. Mary

    I looked in Lady and Son desserts book and Paula’s recipe for Ooey Gooey Cake has another stick of butter added into the filling. 

  25. Karen Amenson

    Thank you …I really love this easy recipe…they are so yummy
    and only problem they are so hard to leave alone…thank you 
    for sharing. I’ve made them often.

  26. Bree

    Oh my!!! Why am i just finding this @ the end of 2016?? I have searched and searched for Chess Squares. Everyone thinks I’m nutso. Gooey Butter Cake, huh? I thought there was a similarity there. I will definitely be making 2 batches today. One lemon and one regular. 

  27. Becky Land

    I made this for a small gathering yesterday and, oh my goodness, everyone loved it. Is so simple to make, but so delicious!  Thank you for sharing. 

  28. Benita Branch

    Love this desert and have eaten this many times, but could you spoon fruit filling or fresh ; like cherry, blue berries, etc over the Chess Squares before serving them ?

  29. Debbie

    One of my coworkers always made this for my birthday.  She would always put chopped pea cans in the crust to cut some of the sweetness.  Such a delicious treat.  Also you squash casserole was out of this world.  Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  30. Sheila Cross

    Thanks for reminding me of this  old family favorite! I used to make these for my daughter all the time, except she loved them sprinkled with chocolate chips!  I’ve supplied many school bake sales with these little beauties!  Always a hit!

  31. Rick

    Easy to make but “O MY “way way way TOO SWEET !!!!! stomach ache. An hour has passed and I still feel sick!! I will go my own direction on this. Double the cream cheese sweeten to taste then add eggs.

  32. Kim

    I have had this recipe for years. The one I have is called Nieman Marcas Cake. No matter what you call it, it will be a favorite at every gathering!

  33. Amy

    Hi Amanda,
    I see this is an old post for the chess squares but I just found it on Pinterest. After reading it, I had the same thought as you, this sounds very familiar, but for me it was something else. This is very close to how I make my favorite lemon bars. I use a lemon cake mix instead of the yellow and I cut corners on the gooey part by combining a container of lemon frosting with 8 oz of cream cheese. I keep back a 1/2 cup of that and then add the 2 eggs to the remaining, put it on the crust and bake just like yours and then… I frost with that reserved frosting mix. Holy smokes it’s the best thing ever just like I’m sure these little humdingers are too. I’m off to the grocery store right now to get supplies to give this one a try. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Faith

    Oh my these are yum and super easy. I didn’t have yellow cake mix, so substituted with Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme……FANTABULOUS!!!!!

  35. Nicole

    Do you refrigerate it for storage? Made this last night and it is amazingly delicious as well as the easiest dessert I’ve ever baked! Just can’t decide if, because of the egg and cream cheese, it needs kept cool? Thanks!

  36. Vicky

    I made this the other night, and everyone really enjoyed it. But, the thing is, mine looked flatter than your photo. Your photo shows a nice fluffy crust and mine was kinda flat. :{ :{

  37. Laura

    thank you for having a printable version of the recipe, so many bloggers don’t have that!! can’t wait to try. FYI though Paula Deen did not create the gooey butter cake, gooey butter cake is a St. Louis tradition!!

  38. Susan

    Making these tonight for company, have never had them before and looking forward to it!!
    Except for the butter, it really has little in common with a real chess pie. Just for a bit of history on chess pie, it is a southern pie from a long time ago when folks didn’t have a lot of extra. They threw some butter, eggs and a bit of cornmeal in the filling–a few other ingredients–and baked it. When people would comment, the answer was ‘it’s jess (just) pie.’ Over the years it became known as chess pie. It is a thicker, custard type of pie. The story goes that my grandfather ate a whole one and got so sick he almost died. My grannie changed the recipe a bit to make it a little less rich, and came up with the most wonderful pudding type pie I have ever tasted. She added meringue on top, and all of her life that is what she made me for my birthday. But can’t wait to taste this one!! Thanks!! Susan

  39. Jim

    I have made this receipe twice and without a doubt it is the most popular dessert around our house. And if you just happen to extend the crust a bit higher in the baking pan, then the crust can be broken off and makes a wonderful addition to a cup of steamy fresh coffee. Thanks for receipe what ever we call it.

  40. Charlotte

    I made this recipe for the first time last night, and it was a big hit. My only problem was that the cream that goes on top foamed up and made a thick sugary layer on top. Once cooled, the foam went away. It was gooey and not as firm as the picture. Although, it was still very delicious! Any help/idea why the cream as firm and thin?

  41. Gilly

    Hi, love to try this but what is a stick of butter please. Living in NZ so excuse the ignorance. Can’t wait to try this looks decadent. Thanks

  42. Jenn

    I came across this recipe the other day and made them last night. This recipe is soooo good! Its is good on its own but we also tried it with some lemon curd spread on top and that was delicious too! I love easy but delicious recipes like this!

  43. Tricia Campbell

    @bamagirlinla; I’d love to have your recipe for southern chess pie or chess bars, please!
    We’re probably all familiar with the quote “what’s in a name?” As for myself, the answer (at least regarding food) is in discovering the many splendid treats available to us, right?
    Call it what we may, it’s just nice to know.
    TC

  44. Janice Cross

    Hello! I made the chess squares for Thanksgiving! OMG…. They were a hit. My son came home for the holiday and wants me to make them and ship them to him. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. Very easy and simple to make compared to some of the other recipes I saw. Love it!!!!

  45. Cat

    When I first used this recipe, the person that taught me called it Mistake Cake because when you’re baking it, it rises up really nice, looking like a perfect cake. Then, when you take it out of the oven, the center “falls”. hence Mistake Cake.

  46. Susan Murphy

    Can’t believe after reading all the great comments about these squares that I may be the only one that didn’t like them.? I found them way to sweet.
    We’ll see how my family likes them…

  47. berta

    Tried these this weekend!! And I must say that they are super sweet but are definitely delicious!! This on is a keeper!!! Thanks for the recipe :D

  48. Jean

    I make a similar one using choc.cake mix. It has nuts and coconuts in it and the top is cream cheese and powdered sugar.then bake til top is brown. It’s so good.It’s called the neiman marcus cake.

  49. bamagirlinla

    Hey, I’m originally from Alabama , too and my dad’s family lives in Tennessee. I am obsessed with chess pie, and I have to tell you that this isn’t remotely related to chess pie or chess bars. I know you said you realize it is an poet gooey buttercake bars recipe, but it seems you or some posters seem to think it is still similar to chess pie. I just want to clear things up on that note since I am very into both chess pies and ooey gooey buttercake, though I know far more about the former. Chess pie does not have any cream or milk or buttermilk or cream cheese at all. It also doesn’t have batter in it. It is simply vinegar, cornmeal. Butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and possibly a pinch of salt though it depends on if you use salted butter. It also has pie crust. Once it is baked, it forms a brown top that cracks a bit when you cut into it and kind of goes everywhere. It is the most delicious pie I have ever eaten when made correctly. The variations I tried that were gross and tasted nothing like chess pie were when someone used brown sugar in it or milk or buttermilk. When people forget or purposely omit the vinegar and cornmeal it will not taste half as good. Weird I know but I have tried many recipes and learned quickly what was just misinformation about chess pie. I can send you the most amazing authentic southern chess pie recipe if you want. But this ooey gooey st. Louis buttercake bar recipe does look tasty. Just very different from chess pie so probably should be called ooey gooey buttercake bars so as not to confuse people looking for actual chess bars. Just looking out :)

    1. Susan

      My comment is number 411, and I also gave a bit of history on the dessert. My family is originally from the country in Texas, and I grew up on chess pie. This doesn’t have the same ingredients, but looks yummy.

  50. Jessica

    This was a double score for me. My 12 year old made the whole thing, and it was so good that I couldn’t stop ‘walking’ by it and grabbing another spoon full!

  51. Kristi Northcutt

    I made this yesterday. All I have is a convection toaster oven to bake with, and I don’t know if that was the problem or what. They came out delicious, but didn’t look like your pictures. After 25 min at 300, the top was brown. Light brown brown, not golden brown. And the surface was very sooth and uniform, almost like the surface of a candy bar, or petit fours that have been dipped. None of that was too upsetting, but when I went to cut it, the top cracked into pieces. The little pieces of the crust that resulted tried to all slide off as I lifted the pieces out of the pan. I had to manually put most of them back on top so the squares would have a semblance of a crust layer. Another thing I did differently was blend the gooey layer much longer than 1-2 minutes. It turned out I had not let my cream cheese soften enough, and so I had to blend the butter, cream cheese, and eggs for a long time to get it smooth before I added the sugar; maybe as long as 25 minutes. Would that have an effect on the texture? If not, do you have any other suggestions?

  52. Wendy L

    Growing up these were popular in our family but we called it Neiman Marcus cake. So yummy!!! In fact you’ve got me craving them now. I think I will make some tonight. If u haven’t tried them you’re missing out!!

  53. Allie

    Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s one of my favorite desserts ever! I’ve given the recipe out several times and everyone raves about it. Thank you for all the time and energy you put into this blog for people you may never meet. Bless you!! – Allie :)

  54. Missy

    Every Christmas, it is a tradition for my family to make these incredible bars. It was a recipe that my Grandmother would make. It was never named! So we would call them Grandmom’s Bars. Totally similar except the toping calls for coconut and pecans. I omit the pecans though. They are totally delicious and usually have to make it twice during the Christmas season!

  55. Holly

    I make this recipe with a chocolate cake mix, too. After you pat the dough into the pan, add a package of chocolate chips (6 -12 oz. package, depending on how chocolate-y you want it) and my recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped pecans though I usually omit since so many folks are allergic to nuts. Pour the topping on and bake. I made this once for dessert at Christmas and it is now an expectation!

    Thanks for sharing your recipes. I enjoy them so much.

  56. Miriam

    Hi, I am from Spain and cannot buy this cake mix here what would be the recipe for this cake mix? Thanks and love your recipes….Saludos from Madrid ;)

  57. Jordan

    I’m posting this years after you posted the recipe, I realize, but… Yours look a lot better than Paula’s. There, I said it. I’m going to make these myself soon.

  58. Jeremy

    Thank you for posting this recipe with the easy-to-read instructions. My job takes me to different areas of the country and a site I was visiting had someone who makes chess squares. I had never heard of them but wow were they good! I’m going to surprise my wife at some point with these…I’m from DC and she’s from Jersey…she probably hasn’t heard of them either.

  59. Laura

    This recipe is not even Paula Deens. It is gooey butter cake and this is the homemade version that is not the original recipe. Also Paula Deen on the show said she got this recipe from a viewer of the show. The best Gooey Butter cake was made at bakeries in St. Louis.

  60. Shelly

    I’m from the St. Louis area and we’ve been making this for years, my Mom made it when I was just a little kid and I’ll be 40 in few months. I must say I get a little annoyed when people refer to it as Paula Deens recipe. Regardless it’s an amazing dessert!

  61. Marla

    I found a pin on pintrest of yet another name for this cake. They called it Nieman Marcus cake! It was the exact same thing. My kids and hubby don’t care what we call it. They call it “Awesome”!

  62. Shirley Sievers

    I am also from St. Louis, MO. This cake Gooey Butter cake is known in St. Louis for years, where it did originate in a bakery called Madachecks Bakery. It came out in St. Louis around the late 40’s. We are very proud of our Gooey Butter Cake here in St. Louis, and have been known for this cake for years. So please don’t say it is from Paula Dean’s recipes. I am now 74 years old and have eaten the Gooey Butter cake since I was a little girl here in St. Louis. Where we drove to Madachecks bakery every Saturday morning to buy one.. All the other names that people have been calling it is all wrong.

  63. Christie

    I made these and brought them to work today. They were new to me. They went over so well I may get a raise! : ) Just kidding about the raise, they were VERY much appreciated though!

  64. Dawn

    I’ve been making these for years. A friend worked in a cafe that made them and called them Texas Gold Bars. Wait, one difference, we add mini chocolate chips and pecans to the top layer.

    I make them with any flavor cake mix, though, not just yellow. Make them with chocolate mix and use peanut butter chips, or macadamia chips. These are good with a butter pecan mix and the pecans thrown in.

    The possibilities are endless!!

  65. cynthia

    Can you believe that I read the directions wrong and put 1 whole cup of butter! Yikes! Let’s see how this will come out…extra butter gooey cake!

  66. margie

    I grew up in st. Louis and a local bakery, back in the 40’s, goofed up on a recipe, and the outcome was a gooey butter cake….which ended up being their top selling item until they closed in the early 70s. They say gooey butter cake was created at that time. Of course they did not use this recipe with a cake mix, but the cake mix version started up in St Louis shortly after, for the home baker. This actually was my first attempt at baking when I was 14 years old. I have been sold on baking ever since, and I am now 60. I have made this cake hundreds of times and is a family favorite. I have tried other versions…lemon , chocolate…and nothing compares to the original.

  67. Brandy

    My husband’s grandmother use to make this too! We call it Chewy Cake. One small adjustment… We add a cup of pecans to the topping. Oh, so yummy!!!

  68. Pam Elkin

    Years and years ago when I was first married-early 1980s- I wrote down a recipe that I saw on a cooking segment on our local news. I still have the hand written recipe on a recipe card. It is for “lemon brownies.” It is basically the recipe for Lemon Gooey Butter Cake that we see now.

    I am like you, no matter what it is called, it is delicious!!!

    I enjoy your recipes!

    Pam

  69. Tee

    Tried this recipe for my 1st attempt at chess squares and also my first taste a few months ago. I love them! Bout to make more for Thanksgiving. Thanks 8)

  70. michelle cano

    Rofl…I happened upon this just now on pintrest and as I’m reading your editorials on this cake sounding familiar, I had no idea what you were leading too but Paula Deans gooey cake was sitting at the fore front of my mind and then bam, u likened it to hers. Made that recipe for the first time 9 years ago but did the pumpkin version. Will never forget that cake because though it is good it is very sweet. Looking forward to trying this one. Thanks for the memory and laugh. Have a blessed holiday season and new year!

    1. Kelly

      Yes, Kim, it is!! This was a Missouri staple. Interestingly, although other regions of the US would like to stake claim to it (like the south), it originated in the 1930’s in St Louis after a baker made a mistake with his recipe and this is what was created! It remained only in that region for decades; no other parts of the country liked it so definitely midwestern, not southern and definietly not Paula Deen’s recipe!!

    2. CC

      Cracking me up! How on earth do you know what people in the South have been doing for the last 100 years? Or anywhere else for that matter? My grandmother made this cake and she got the recipe from her mother. Just an FYI…my grandmother was born in 1918. That is a few years before the 1930’s.

  71. April

    My great aunt Peggy added 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the crust recipe. They are so easy to make now and freeze for Christmas cookie trays. I, like another commenter, use different cake mixes to create different gooey yumminess.

  72. Sharon Garofalow

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Crack Pie from Milk Bar is one of my favorite treats EVER. But I would never make it. I like my recipes to have 2 steps at most. Luckily I have several friends who have made it for me. :). But my other fave dessert is the butter cake from our local Mastro’s. So these Chess Squares are destined to be my fave homemade dessert. Can’t wait to try it!

  73. emily

    I have made these a few times based on this blog post!! Love them! A huge crowd pleaser. Question though – each time I’ve made them, I’ve made them the day of the event and they’ve all been eating. Can you make them ahead of time? How do you store them? Thanks!

  74. Leslie Robinson

    Although she has published many great recipes, Paula Deen did not invent this. Your recipe is in fact identical to a recipe my mother started making about 47 years ago! The Gooey Butter Cake originated in St. Louis in the 1930s. According to legend, a thrifty German baker at the Grau Bakery (now closed) added the wrong proportions of ingredients into his cake batter. It turned into a gooey, delicious mess that is now a St. Louis tradition. I was lucky enough to live a few blocks from that bakery, so for special breakfast/brunch occasions I would pick one up. The Grau Bakery cake is, in my opinion, not as tasty as the version your family and mine make!!! Thanks so much for continuing to share your wonderful recipes.

  75. Diana

    Made these from your site. Are they suppose to be really gooey, almost like thery’re not fully cooked? I kept adding time to mine but they never seemed to get any firmer. My crust also came out a little darker than the picture, almost like brown sugar. They taste really good but would fall apart if I tried to hold in my hand like a brownie.

  76. Shaune

    My family has been making these for over 20 years under the name of Sugar Cream Cake :) A little trick I started doing about 15 years ago, use a drinking straw to poke holes in the crust before pouring the topping over. That gooey topping gets down into the crust and takes it to a whole nother level.

  77. Cas

    Oh my goodness! I had a “chess cake” years ago at a party, and since then I’ve not been able to find anyone who could give it to me! THANK YOU SO MUCH! These are divine. The ones I had, the top layer was swirled with chocolate and white, but I imagine that wouldn’t be too difficult to change.

  78. lifeinidaho

    I didn’t read all of your comments…but they reminded me of lemon squares when I saw the picture. Have you ever made them with lemon flavoring? Bet that would be yummy!

  79. Aileen

    This has been a staple at every get together in my family for as long as I can remember. Some of the suggestion for add ins/flavors in the comments are awesome…will definitely try some. Thanks so much for posting!!!

  80. Trish

    This looks good. Very similar to Paula Deen’s Ooowy Gooey Butter cake.
    Someone said Chess pie. Not the same. I grew up in Tennessee. The chess pie does not have cream cheese. And it also uses regular sugar and has corn meal. js.

  81. Marie

    I baked as directed and the middle was just to “gooey”. I tried a corner piece that was firmer and I am sorry but this was way to sweet. I just couldn’t eat it.

  82. Carina

    Yummy in your tummy for sure! Born and raised in Alabama now living in Florida I’ve been making Chess Cake since I was 12! Every year for Thanksgiving I would make two cakes (hiding the second out of sight) and when the first one disappeared in 5 minutes I would pull out the backup to everyones delight! Haven’t made them in a bit so I think its time to again! Can’t wait!!!

  83. Melanie Correll

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I had lost my recipe given to me by a friend from Tennessee and I Am thrilled to have found it again!

  84. Tammy Bowman

    My Grandmother used to make this and called it Goody Cake…and boy, is it good! I make it for most family get togethers, and never have any left to bring home!

  85. Jess W

    Just wanted to drop a line to say… that I made these for my husband & I last night & they are absolutely delish! Thanks for this awesome recipe, I imagine it will become a family staple from now on!

    -Jess

  86. Kay

    I love this recipe. I found it in a Lutheran Church cookbook many years ago, with the name FRENCH VANILLA BARS – Yum!

  87. Denise Andrews

    Chrissie, the Chess squares are DELICIOUS. I made it with chocolate cake instead of yellow cake because chocolate only improves everything? great recipe

  88. D Carroll

    What size cake mix do you use? Cake mixes have gotten smaller in the past few years. When I made the recipe my bottom layer was much wetter, do to there being less cake mix. They tasted amazing in the end but, I’d still like to know what size cake mix the recipe is really requiring.

    1. Denise Andrews

      You can use any size cake mix or even make two with the same cake mx. It depends on how big you want it. I don’t think you can ruin this any way you make it

  89. teetop

    I am so excited to make this recipe! My Aunt Marcy made these when I was a kid and I had no idea what they were called or how to make them.

  90. Fame

    I don’t think I did this perfectly, but it tasted amazing, no matter. My husband loves! loves! loves! this. I saw the comments with advice on different mix flavors. I will definitely try some variation on these. Thank you so much for sharing!

  91. Lauretta

    We call them cream cheese bars. They are delicious made with lemon cake mix, devils’ food, and strawberry. To add variety, before adding the cream cheese topping, put a layer of coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, toffee chips (depending on which flavor cake mix you use). I love the coconut with both the lemon and the devils food. Toffee chips and nuts with devils food is good too.

  92. Lois Ereth

    Have been wanting this recipe for years. Sounds very like one my Grandma made for company years ago & I never got the recipe for. Can’t wait to try them for a Eagles bake sale this weekend.

  93. Lois Ereth

    I’ve just discovered your recipe for these yummy looking gooey butter squares & seems very like the chess cake my Grandma used to make for company, which I loved & never had a recipe for. Can’t wait to make them for Eagles cake walk & sale this weekend. Hope they make a hit there.

  94. Lara

    Hi, I made this recipe with a twist. I added coconut extract to both layers then added sweetend dried coconut to cake fring the last 2o mins. Absolutely delicious

    1. Kristi Northcutt

      How much extract did you add to each fraction? My first impulse was to do the same as you, but I wasn’t confident in the amount of extract to add. I usually make a recipe as written the first time anyway, but I am dying to try it with coconut ASAP.

  95. Melanie

    Just made this with devils food cake mix. It’s cooling now. It has got to be good ….smells wonderful. Let ya know!

  96. Ebtisam

    I just made this and it was delicious, but in my opinion the 4 cups of sugar is a bit much, even in the Gooey Butter Cake recipe, it only calls for 2 cups of sugar. I used 2 1/2 and it still came out a little way too sweet for my taste – and believe me I have quite the sweet tooth!
    The taste is absolutely addictive though, definitely a keeper, maybe I’ll just use 1 1/2 cups of sugar next time.

    1. BeagleMom

      I have to agree with you, Ebtisam…I made this recipe per directions/measurements yesterday and it was SO sweet we could barely eat more than a few bites. I was wondering if the amount of sugar could be cut back (WAY back) without ruining the finished product; will definitely try your idea before scrapping this recipe permanently…the smell alone makes me think/hope there’s potential for this one!

  97. Lisa Plants

    I have made these SO many times in the last two months it’s unbelievable. I found that adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract really adds a nicer flavor. Also, I “highly” recommend Aldi grocery stores brand of Yellow Cake Mix. It is SO much better than the name brands. I have tried the name brands and they weren’t as good. Just my opinion! Thanks for the recipe….I know it by heart.

  98. Bridget Mancuso

    This is delicious! Big hit with friends & family! Word to the wise…when spreading out the dough wet your hands with cold water and it spreads much better! Thanks for the recipe!

  99. Michelle

    Trying these for the first time. I had a butter pecan cake mix in the house so that is what i am using for the crust. I think it will compliment the flavors ok? Lets hope!

  100. ashley colclasure

    I am loving making these bars. I made them the first time, and they were great. Had to pat out the dough just like it said…The next several times I made it, the dough had a more “sticky” consistency, and they were not nearly as good. I was thinking I was making it exactly the same, but apparently not!! Any suggestions?!

  101. Lori

    Fabulously easy recipe however I am making them now & when I took them out and let them cool they were a bit pudding like in the middle. I am putting them back in 10 mins. later still seem gooey is that right? Thanks for the recipe!

  102. deb

    Hi, this is a cake recipe I’ve had for many years. Came to me via a friend who got it
    when she lived in St. Louis, Mo. It’s called Gooey Butter Cake. Delicious!!
    Not even Paula Deens Recipe.

    Thanks

  103. Leslie

    Made these for a family gathering & they were gone in 15 minutes! I didn’t even get any…lol. Everyone raved over them & asked me to bring them for every gathering from now on. I’m making them again today…just for my little family, so I’ll get some this time (maybe). Thanks for sharing! My family thanks you too!

  104. Claudia

    Made these bars and love these bars! Who can beat the “ladies who lunch” name Chess Squares!
    New to DSLR so learning a lot from your posts! Keep up the fun!

  105. liz

    Looks yummy so i decide to try it. follow the recipe as directed and came out too soft, the cheese mix was too much for the cake. Not sure why :(

  106. rachel

    I was bored but didn’t want to venture out of the house so I checked my cupboard and fridge to see if I had all of the ingredients to make these. I had everything minus the yellow cake mix but I did have white cake mix. So I decided to give it a go. I hope it turns out ok. We will see. Cross my fingers. :)

  107. megan

    So my boyfriend is from St Louis and told me Gooey Butter Cake was a STL thing; I had some for the first time about a year and a half ago when we were there and it was delicious! I had never heard of it, or had anything like it (born and raised and still living in Utah). Recently on Pinterest I’ve seen these Chess Squares pop up in different variations and thought they looked remarkably similar to GBC, and finally clicked on this recipe and lo and behold, it is the same thing! I am going to make this this weekend for my boyfriend to give him a little piece of home :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  108. Terilynn

    This is one of my families favorites dessert. They always called it chess cake. MY aunt is from Tennessee so I guess it is a southern thing. My recipe has vanilla in it and u bake it@ 350° for 40 mins and your not aloud to open oven door till done or the cake falls. It’s great. I was shocked to see how many people loved them!

  109. Terilynn

    This is my families favorites dessert. They always called it cheese cake. MY aunt is from Tennessee so I guess it is a southern thing. My recipe has vanilla in it and u bake it@ 350° for 40 mins and your not aloud to open oven door till done or the cake falls. It’s great. I was shocked to see how many people loved them.

  110. Vicki

    Cali girl here and I have never heard of this dessert, made it tonight and loved it!! Anything with yellow cake mix in the mix is always YUMMY!! I make my peach cobbler with yellow cake mix and of course lots of butter, which is delish!! My kids loved this, thanks for the recipe :)

  111. melissa

    I have done these 2 times & both times I had to cook for about an hour & 15 min, am I doing something wrong or is it maybe where I live? They are worth the wait don’t get me wrong but Ihad a time limit on the 1st batch.

  112. Erin

    Isn’t it so funny how the same thing gets all these different names? My family calls these sugar cream pie bars! Regardless of what you call them, they are amazing!

  113. Emily

    Ah yes, this infamous recipe, also known as “Cheese Blobs” in my family. My stepmom introduced these to us about 15 years ago. I brought them to school once for a party and had to chase my friend down the hall to get them back from her, they are that good.
    But I had never known this was such a well known recipe! Probably because I’m from New Jersey, haha, so we’re not really used to Southern favorites. Probably why my stepmom’s cheese blobs are always such a hit!!

  114. joy harris

    I saw your recipe for this cake and instantly had to try it! I was so excited because I already had everything I needed already in the house !!!!! These are great!!!!

  115. Molly

    OH MY GOODNESS! This cake is absolutely amazing. My grandmother used to make a wonderful dessert called Chess Pie. It has been several years since I have had it. I have tried to make it several times but it never turns out as good as hers. This cake is a combo of my two loves chess pie and yellow cake. I have to say that it is actually better that my grandmothers famous pie. Thank you so much for posting this amazing recipe and bringing back fond memories growing up.

  116. Dianna

    I grew up with these being called chewy cookies and baked in a larger pan so they are much thinner. My Mother in law call them “girdle busters” which I think is hilarious and appropriate since you eat enough to bust your girdle!

  117. Lee Anne

    I shouldn’t even make this because my husband is an Alabama alum but he LOVES really gooey desserts being from the south, i guess, and i always go to the rich but not gooey desserts like a doubel chocolate torte – he’s not a fan. anyway, we are going to a Xmas party tonight and i’m making this. off to the grocery and thanks for posting. Roll Tide! :) (I’m a KY alum :()

  118. Jenna Freese

    I have made these before they are wonderful, but we call them rum bars and we add a tsp of rum flavoring to the cream cheese batter.

  119. Janet Davis

    I have been cooking this same recipe for years and it is called ooie gooie .This is what everyone ask me to cook for them . Just made one for baby shower on Saturday. Taste great!

  120. Leslie

    This is the original Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that was Originated in St. Louis, MO. exact same recipe to what you have posted. But you can Google the origin of it and take a look. My Parents use to have this when they were kids and as We grew up this was a rare treat when they would drive down town in Sprinfield IL. to BZ Bakery and bring home this Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that would set your head spinning it was so Delicious.

  121. Lisa

    I made these for Thanksgiving and they never made it to the dessert table. Went into Wal-Mart a couple of days later and in the baked goods was Paula Deans “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake”. This recipe taste just like Paula’s if not better (because it is easier). Thank you for this recipe.

  122. Barb

    I had about 1/3 of a ag of Heath toffee chips (the ones without the chocolate) and sprinkled them all over the crust before I put the cream cheese mixture on top. YUMMY!

  123. amy

    Is it me or is this cake too sweet? I looked online and found the recipe on other sites and they call for 2 packages of cream cheese instead of one.

    1. Jessie

      Thank you for saying this, I was starting to think I was the only one who thought that. I made them last night and they r way too sweet. My stomach is in knots . I’m going to try them again with half the sugar. :/

  124. Katrina

    Being an inexperienced baker, I did put four cups of sugar and almost died from the sweetness! Well, okay, I just got a stomachache. Luckily I had enough for two sets and made the second batch with just two cups. Muuuuuch better. Thanks for posting this!

  125. RaspberryT

    I will be attempting to make these for the holidays. How long can you keep them? How do you store them? I’m hoping I can make it ahead of time to save time for other recipes I’m making. These look soo yummy and delish. I can’t wait to make and try them. Thank you for posting. I found you on Pinterest.

    1. RaspberryT

      I made these for Thanksgiving for the family. It turned out to be WAY too sweet, and that’s just adding 2 cups of powdered sugar. Thank goodness I tasted as I was making it. I felt it was sweet before baking it. When it was done baking, OMGosh, it’s tooth ache sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet desserts, but this was overboard sweet. It’s like each bit was like having 10 spoons of sugar. No kidding!

      If I make this dessert again, I’ll be adjusting the powdered sugar drastically.

      Hope this helps future bakers…if you ever get to read the comments to this point.

  126. Angela

    I grew up with my stepmom making this but no one had the recipe when she passed in 1991. I have been looking for recipe ever since. Thank you for posting. I would not have looked a a googy cake, sorry Paula Deen. I am making it tomorrow!

    Thanks,
    Angela in Western Arkansas.

  127. Rhonda

    This recipe is wonderful! I make this with box German chocolate cake mix, and add 1/2 cup if cocoanut to the recipe. I like it even better than the yellow cake. Here in Texas they call them neiman Marcus bars.

  128. Jenna

    I used to make these bars when I was in college… the recipe was on the back of the generic cream cheese box, and they were called “ooey gooey bars.” After I graduated, I couldn’t find that generic cream cheese anywhere, and the recipe was lost forever. OR SO I THOUGHT. I feel as though my youth has just been restored to me (even though college ended a whole five months ago).

  129. Penny A

    Thanks SO much for posting this… I had seen PD’s recipe, but couldn’t get my mind wrapped around that extra stick of butter :-? These are the squares I remember from growing up. I made a pan for a gathering yesterday, and used an orange cake mix and added some fresh grated nutmeg to the cream cheese mixture. They were a BIG hit — so, so good and super easy :) I am looking forward to playing around with other flavor combos!

    1. Rhonda

      I make this with german chocolate mix, 1/4-1/2 cup of cocoanut and copped pecans to your liking. The rest of the recipe is all the same.

  130. Susan

    This is a wonderful sweet dessert. I made this and took it to my church’s potluck and it was a hit. I am making it again today, this time with a lemon favored cake mix. It is in the oven now and I can hardly wait for it to finish cooking. I will be sharing it this time with some of my neighbors who I am sure will enjoy it as much as my church did. Thanks for sharing the recipe because I don’t watch Paula Dean and would have not know about this yummy dessert.

  131. Robin Wickman

    These are sinfully delicious!!! I kinda feel like I’m cheating when I make them cuz they’re so easy. Probably my favorite recipe on pinterest so far. Thanks!!!

  132. Lia

    Thank you for the recipe! It was really simple to make and it was yummy! But it was TOO SWEET for my taste. I would really like to try making this again though! If I try adjusting the sweetness by using less powdered sugar do you think it would effect the consistency and outcome? BTW I used a PINEAPPLE cake mix ^_~* yummmmmy!!!

  133. Debbie

    I’ve done these chess squares with chocolate cake mix and red velvet cake mix. If you like red velvet cake you will LOVE the “red velvet brownies” (thats what we call them. The most important thing is don’t over bake.

  134. Amber

    Just wanted to say that I just made these with the lemon cake crust on the bottom but left everything else the same….holy goodness batman!!!!! These are by far my most favorite dessert yet!! I think these will be my go to dessert to take any where!!! TFS! Love them! ; )

  135. Jessica

    OK, the recipe you have listed says to heat the over to 300º, is that correct? Every other similar recipe I’ve seen calls for 350º for the same amount of time. I’m making this to bring to dinner tonight and I don’t want to screw it up, nothing worse than under cooked eggs.

  136. Amy

    All I’m gonna say is OMGoodness- amazing delious recipe.. Made it for the family tonight and I think tomorrow we are all gonna be in a diabetic coma ;) YUMMY

  137. Ashley

    I made these last night and they were a huge hit! I foresee myself needing to excerise a little more as this is going to be our new go-to dessert! :D
    Thank you for sharing!

  138. Gwen

    These are a family favorite, called Chess Cake for years. To this recipe we add a cup of chopped pecans on top before baking. You can find Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cakes by googling it. The pumpkin is the absolute best of all! We use spice cake mix or carrot cake mix instead of the yellow cake, and add the pumpkin pie spice also to the filling. Much better than pumpkin pie! And we always leave out the extra stick of butter in the filling. DELICIOUS!!

  139. Bry

    I am about to put them in the over!!!:D I came across this while doing my daily “Pinteresting” this morning, and HAD to make it for tonight’s desert!!!

  140. April

    My Grandma used to make this when I was a little girl, but we called it “Ooey Gooey Cake”. I never realized it was a Paula Deen Recipe! Anyway, thank you for this recipe- she is long passed, and I thought the recipe was lost. Now I can share it with my own children.

  141. Claire

    I made this one with the pumpkin bar mix as the crust. Although with the pumpkin bar mix comes two seperate bags; one with the filling and one with the crust. I used both packs mixed together to make dough. It was very delicious!

  142. Danielle

    Just wondering if you have made Paula’s gooey butter cake before?!? Looking at the recipes they are the Same except for she adds a stick of butter to her top layer. I’ve made hers before but was wondering if these chess bars are runny with just the cream cheese or if they actually settle pretty good! Cause I’m sure leaving the stick of butter out would be maybe a little healthier haha :)

  143. Barbara

    When I serve these, I drizzle chocolate on the plate. Top that with a square of cake. Then I add a few fresh raspberries and blueberries and dust with powdered sugar. Makes a very dressed up dessert that is delicious.

  144. Trixie Lovelace

    I want to make this for a turning 30 b-day bash. Will it turn out alright if I make it in a 18×12 if I double the recipe? Any modifications I should make? Or should I just make two 9x13s?

  145. Leigh

    My Mamaw makes this, but used traditional pie crust and calls it a ‘Butter Pie’. Fyi, if you use crushed chocolate chip cookies (stale ones work best) and butter to make the crust, and add white chocolate chips, it taste just like the cheese cake brownies from Great American Cookie Company.

  146. Stacie Robbins

    These are baking in my oven as I post this & the house smells yummy! Can’t wait to try them! They were super easy! I have a feeling I will be making these ALOT!

  147. Jeanette

    I totally wanted to make cookie bars today for my co-workers but I didn’t want to use condensed milk so while on Pinterest I remembered I had pinned this recipe. Well I decided I wanted to lets say “kick it up a notch” and I added some extra ingredients from my fridge! I am currently waiting to see how it turned out but I will say there is heath chocolate covered toffee bits, caramel with almonds, and mini chocolate chips involved!! The only reason I am being slightly vague is I plan on starting a food blog so I want to use this for that, but rest assure you will totally be attached as the mastermind behind the beginning of what I hope turns into a masterpiece of my own!! Thanks for sharing!!

  148. Crystal

    Yummy…I’m from the south and my aunt used to always make these and I knew them as Gooey Butter Cake. After I graduated from college I worked in a bank and one of my co-workers would bring them in sometimes. She always called them “Cheese Squares.” And not I’m thinking that she was probably taught that they were Chess Squares, misunderstood, and has been calling them the wrong thing all these years. Although I must say that Cheese Squares sounds like a better description than Chess Squares. Either way….so glad to finally have this recipe for myself!!! YUM! : )

  149. Cynthia

    I have it in the oven right now. Have a birthday party for our Pastor tomorrow and I was supposed to bake a cake. Well I baked a big texas sheet cake- chocolate, so I figure this is for the non-chocolate lovers. Also I never made either before, and I figured if the chocolate cake wasn’t good, it didn’t look like there was anyway I could mess this one up. :). Looking forward to trying it. As a -New Yawker- my spin was to put a little vanilla and lemon juice into the cream cheese mixture to make it more NY-style cheesecake flavor.

  150. Betsy

    Thanks so much for posting the recipe. This is the exact recipe we all made when I was growing up in Alabama. Easy enough for us high school girls to make and take when we fed the football players and such, lol. I was having a hankering for it and found Paula Deen’s recipe but it wasn’t exactly the same. THIS is it. Can’t wait to have some tonight! And we called it Chess Cake but cut it into squares like you do, so I heard it called Chess Squares as well. Thanks again!

  151. Karen

    I made this recipe the other day and it was …… a w e s o m e ! ! ! Took them to work and my co-workers raved about them all day long!

  152. Pete Vela

    I made these for a banquet. They came out awesome. I added an extra 8 oz of cream cheese and the flavor made a big difference. I made the original recipe first then experimented.

  153. Shelby Binns

    Definitely a St. Louis Butter Cake. As soon as I saw a pic of the ingredients I knew. I’d limit myself to one piece per year…so rich and delicious.

  154. Michele

    Ok, I know I did something wrong…..mine came out thick….and I did use the right size pan….they are not cooked in the middle….though the middle is delicious in its own goopy way. They in no way look like the picture. I want them to come out so badly…..they crust and the batter looked exactly like the pictures….and I’m a pretty good baker!!!! HELP!

  155. Martha A. Cheves

    I made your Chess Square recipe and have to tell you it’s one of the easiest yet so delicious bar cookie recipes I’ve ever made. I’ve posted the recipe to my site under your name and link to your site. I did add one more ingredient when making mine. I added coconut. Thank you for such a great dish!

  156. JT

    I made it with lemon cake mix and a teaspoon of vanilla in the cream cheese. Husband and I both loved it, and it’s so simple! Thanks for the recipe. I know I’ll make it again.

  157. Teresa

    I’m SO happy you did post the recipe! It is delicious. AND Chess Squares sounds so much more sophisticated (and less sinful) than Gooey Butter Cake.
    I love your blog. Your Colorful Chicken Alfredo is the best and has become a once a month staple in our home. We had it just yesterday and my son (22 months) who doesn’t like to eat had four plates before I cut him off. We add sliced mushrooms and sometimes make it with shrimp in place of chicken. SO yummy!

  158. Erica

    Oh these sound sooo good. I’m from Texas and haven’t heard of these before but …that doesn’t mean a thing…only that I’ve lived a rather sheltered life! LOL!
    I’m making them today for a potluck gathering this afternoon.
    Super excited to try them!
    Thanks for the recipe..!!

  159. yeahgirl

    I have been told that this name comes from an old family cook who served it for dinner. When asked what it was she said ” it”s jes pie”. Which became chess pie. And we thank her for this lovely dessert.

  160. Krista

    I’ve always called them chess squares. And, yes, I’m from the South. But, I layer pecan halves between the “crust” and the topping. Yum. I think I’ll go make this now.

  161. kimi

    I made these for a family reunion this weekend and they were a huge hit!!! They are so sweet, delicious and perfect with a cup of black coffee. I will definitely be making these often!

    I followed the recipe exactly; set the oven to 300—but I had to leave them in for a total of 70 minutes to be fully baked. Would you suggest upping the temp to 350? Also, if one was to cut back on some of the powdered sugar how much would you recommend?

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  162. Yvonne

    My father in law remembers gooey cake from his childhood. He was beyond overjoyed that I made this. Thank you for posting this!

  163. Dru

    These were St. Louis Gooey Butter cake, easy version, long before Paula Deen. Famous in our area but Paula took them national.

  164. bettyboopTx

    I’ve been making these for years but call them Jo’s bars. I mix nuts with the first layer and use one egg for bottom layer and three for top layer. Also these are really good with pie cherries, blueberries, etc. put on top after cooling. Everyone is so impressed because they look so pretty but they are so easy to make.(you don’t have to tell them that part!)

  165. Natalie Lampert

    Is there any reason why I could not use Whole Wheat Flour instead of All Purpose? Other than the color it shouldn’t make too much of a difference… No?

  166. May

    believe it or not, i’ve never heard of the Paula Deen recipe lol! this is the first time running into something like this. so thank you for continuing to post it :). i’m always on the look-out for quick, easy, & delicious recipes & when i saw this on Pinterest i just had to repin it <3!!

  167. Brenda

    These taste great and I followed the recipe exactly- but I found the cream cheese layer too runny. Should I have baked it longer?

  168. gunnerhepp

    This recipe is exactly as you have described. I have made it twice already and it is sinful. The second time I baked it i only kept it in the over for little less than 40 minutes and it was perfect. Enjoy.

  169. Susie

    I’m from Mississippi, and around here we call these Chess Squares. :) When I saw “Gooey Butter Cake” as the heading for the recipe on pinterest.com, I almost passed it up, not knowing it was the same thing as Chess Squares. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I’ve only tried to make these one other time, and it was from a different recipe. They did not turn out ANYTHING like these!! These are SOOOO delicious! Thanks again. :)

  170. Laure

    I first heard of Gooey Butter Coffee Cake from the St. Louis area and have made it for years. I make it in a jelly roll pan, cut small pieces and then freeze them. Serve whenever you need to have a bite of wonderfulness!!

  171. mallory

    I made this yesterday and it was amazing! I put it out on the table to self serve and it was gone within minutes! Delicious! Thank you :)

  172. Megan M.

    I made this for dessert to take to my family’s 4th of July cookout. It was an absolute hit! The filling tastes a lot like the cream cheese icing on cinnamon rolls. The hubby loved it. Definitely will be making these often!!!

  173. Patricia

    Uh, Paula Deen may have promoted it, maybe even perfected it, but it is NOT her recipe. I ate this as a child, purchased from select bakeries in the St. Louis area, about the time Paula was first picking up her wooden spoons. And we called it Gooey Butter Cake.

  174. Li

    Hi there..we just tried this recipe and it is soooooo sweet. I wonder if I did something wrong? The topping was really runny. does this need to cool down completely before cutting it? It’s still a little warm.

  175. Tammy Hawk-Bridges

    I loved this! It is so divine! A hit with the whole family! The only thing I did different was I made a raspberry sauce to go on top. You should try it!!

    Tammy

  176. orplewis

    I love chess pie, so this caught my eye. Looks great! I have made Paula’s pumpkin version of gooey butter cake for Thanksgiving in the past, and it was a huge hit – even with those who don’t like pumpkin pie.
    War Eagle!

  177. Stacy

    I have these in my oven right now! (I did add about a tsp of vanilla extract…only thing I changed/added)

    One of the MAJOR differences between your recipe and Paula Deen’s GBC, is the fact that she sneaks one more ENTIRE stick of butter into her recipe. Not needed, probably.

    My house smells divine, btw.

  178. Michelle

    sorry Paula! I’m trying this one instead, simply because you are a much better photographer than whoever she hired! Cream cheese being brought to room temp as we speak! :)

  179. Mary

    We make this but instead of a yellow cake mix, we use a lemon cake mix. We call them Lemon stickies and they are delicious!

  180. Lisa Driggers

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe!! It looks so simple, maybe even I won’t screw it up…I have always loved what I called “chess bars” and would always stop at this little gas station to buy up what I could whenever I passed it. That gas station is out of town and so I haven’t been able to “pass” by it for a while now. So I’m in pretty bad need of a fix. I’m so excited to try this out, thanks again!! :-)

  181. Pat

    This cake is not original to Paula Dean. We made it years before she came on the scene! So, do not feel bad. It has several names. We called it Ooey Gooey Cake. It is good make with whatever cake mix you like!

  182. Margaret

    Our family has been making these for over twenty years and we call it Pie Cake! I ran into someone a few years ago who called these chess bars. But they added one more ingredient…………. chopped pecans! You put a cup of pecans in a food processor to make them a fine chop. Put it in with cream cheese mixture. It’s a wonderful change of pace and I think I like it more than the original. I love Pecans! BTW – Paula Deen has many variations of her gooey bars. I made the pumpkin once and I’ve made a chocolate version I found that was pretty good.

  183. Taryn LaCour

    i love this recipe but decided to take a spin on it ! i used a butter pecan cake mix it was wonderful. thanks for your blog !!!!

  184. Arlene Murphy

    Gooey Butter in Philadelphia has always been made with a yeast dough and a butter, egg, sugar and vanilla topping. IT IS TRULY DELICIOUS. THE GOOIER THE BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  185. Amanda

    So I tried this recipe last night, of course it was amazing! Simple ingredients short prep time this one will stay with me for years!! DELISH!!!

  186. Ken

    I am the cook in the family (former restaurant manager) and chess pie and chess pie squares are always the first to go. Great recipe, I see different variations with 2 eggs in the base and 3 and even 4 eggs in the topping for the squares, but I like your recipe best.

    Your photos are why I had to comment, they are great! Your squares look amazing (I wish I had one right now) and the photos are professional quality. Thanks!

  187. Victoria

    I tried this easy recipe on yestesday which happened to be Thanksgiving. They were simply delightful, you must share these wondreful treats because as mentioned in an easlier comment…THEY OFFER A SUGAR RUSH….THATS OUT OF THIS WORLD. Thanks for sharing your recipe…..I can simply imagine trying so many varieties for all occassions.

  188. Sara

    Thank you so much for posting this! It’s exactly like my grandmother used to make when I was a kid. I’ve only ever heard of it as Chess Cake – I wouldn’t have had any idea what a Gooey Butter Cake is! I got a craving for this the other day and mentioned it to my husband – he had no idea what I talking about at all! Guess that’s why I call him my silly Northerner! I made this with a homemade yellow cake mix (we live in Japan, and it’s impossible to find boxed cake mix outside of Tokyo), and it was absolutely wonderful, just as I remember it. Thanks again!

  189. Wendy

    I am so glad you posted this recipe! I have been wanting to try chess pie (which I assume is the round version of chess squares) for years, but have never gotten around to it. Also, I just got back from St. Louis the day before reading this post. I saw signs advertising gooey butter cake everywhere, but we never got to try any. I am baking this recipe tonight though! I am so excited to try it!

  190. Jennifer

    I’m not very experienced with baking and I’m confused. Is it 1 box of powdered sugar? I thought 4 cups would be 32 oz or 2 lbs. Am I mixed up? Sorry. But, I would like to try your recipe and I don’t want to mess it up.

    Thanks

  191. Leslie

    I am making these right now for a dear friend who just had her first baby! Don’t tell, but i’m keeping half for our house…they look too yummy to give all away! Oh and I love your blog, you have some amazing talent!

  192. brillke

    I just made this cake and it was a hit! I live just outside of the STL area, the birthplace of Gooey Butter Cake, and I give this recipe two thumbs up!

  193. Jaimie

    I heart chess squares. It’s my new favorite treat to make. It’s easy, simple, a crowd pleaser and everyone wants the recipe. (that’s when you know it’s good stuff) I’ve changed the name to Crackle Chewy Crunch cuz I think it’s better tells you what you’re getting than chess squares. I also love to take a recipe and change it. I’ve made this using a chocolate cake mix and added a couple tablespoons of cocoa to the powder sugar. Last week I made this using a red velvet cake mix and mixed in mini chocolate chips. YUMMY! It was by far my favorite. Next week I’m going to use a butter pecan cake mix and add Hershey’s Heath Toffee bits to the top. Thanks for the recipe. It has changed my life. Ãœ

  194. Cathy

    Making this today for the second time since you posted the recipe! I’ve used lemon cake mix both times (as a commenter suggested). So yummy! It’s a favorite now for sure!

  195. Susan - Era Art Jewelry

    Oh. My mouth just filled up with saliva… in a good way! I must make these. Thank you for the very easy to follow instructions and stunning photos. They’re gorgeous! Love your blog. You two are happy and very cute!
    ♥s

  196. heather5018

    Thanks, Amanda! I made these last night for dessert on a rainy Friday night at home with my husband and the kids. It was our first experience with this dessert (we’re in CA) and WOW – very good!

  197. Kris

    I’m another person from St. Louis who loves this..although since it was created here…don’t like you pointing out Paula Dean’s recipe. lol!

    1. Linda Waldrep

      Kris, how do you know it was created in St. Louis? Regardless, there is nothing wrong with mentioning Paula Deen. She is a favorite of many, as is this recipe. No negativity, please.

  198. Gigikay

    Making these this morning for a group of friends. So glad you posted this as I had never heard of them or even Paula’s Gooy butter cake. Thanks.

  199. Rebecca

    I am making these for my Valentine (they are in the oven as I type). Thanks for sharing such an easy, beautiful (and probably decadently delicious) recipe!

  200. Amanda H

    Oh these one of my all time favorites but we call it cream cheese cookies!! My mom used to make and send them to me every summer at camp!