The Perfect 2-Layer Original Chess Cake Recipe In 5 Easy Steps

Last Updated on January 1, 2024

This original chess cake recipe has delicious sweet tangy flavors. It’s dense but incredibly moist. Pair it with whipped cream to round off the flavors.

This cake is a great dessert option for any occasion. It is very easy to make and virtually takes 15 minutes to assemble. While it’s baking, you can just sit back and relax!

What Is Chess Cake?

Most people are familiar with a chess pie. It’s a delicious super sweet and moist dessert that originated in Southern US. This dessert is made with a crunchy pie crust and an almost classic cake-like recipe.

So, what exactly is an original chess cake recipe? The cake form of this dessert is pretty much the pie without the crust. There are some small differences in the ratio of the ingredients. But, that’s only to give the homemade chess cake a firmer texture.

For a chess cake, you will need a few basic ingredients. They are cake mixes, butter, sugar, eggs, and milk. However, some homes have unique variations on this recipe. For one, adding cream cheese is very popular. It helps give the cake a denser crumb and even more moist texture.

Then, some people also like adding pieces of cheese. The type of cheese you can use doesn’t matter. As long as it doesn’t melt when the cake is baked.

This generally makes the cake a lot more savory in flavor. But, you can pair the cake with sweeter dessert cheeses. Brie and camembert are both great examples. Especially if you find a berry or fig-infused brie or camembert.

This is a very easy cake to make. It is a quick dessert, perfect for last-minute guests. And, while it is very sweet, you can pair it with some neutralizers (like cream or yogurt) to help balance it better.

So, let’s have a look at how to make this original chess cake recipe from scratch.

how to make a chess cake

What You Need To Make This Original Chess Cake Recipe

Ingredients for the cake base

  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) of yellow cake mix
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Ingredients for the top layer

  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered icing sugar, sifted


  • 9×13-inch baking dish
  • Non-stick cooking spray (or additional melted butter)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Electric or hand mixer
  • Rubber or silicone spatula
  • Cooling rack

Step by step instructions

Step 1: Prepare your ingredients and tools

To start, preheat your oven without a fan to 320ºF (160ºC). Then, spray your baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. You can also brush it with melted butter.

Dust the lubricated dish with some cake flour. Remove any excess flour and set the pan aside.

At this time, also ensure that all your ingredients are prepared. This includes softening the cream cheese and bringing ingredients to room temperature. Don’t forget to melt and cool the butter completely.

recipe for chess cake

Step 2: Make the cake layer

Add the boxed cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Ensure that there are no lumps in the dry mix.

Then, add the 2 eggs and 1/2 cup melted and cooled butter. Mix the ingredients well until you have a smooth uniform cake batter.

Press this cake layer into your flour-lined baking dish. Make sure it is level. You can use a rubber spatula to help smooth out the top. Set it aside.

Step 3: Make the top layer

Next, add the softened cream cheese to another large mixing bowl. Beat it on medium speed until it becomes creamy and fluffy. Again, ensure that there aren’t any lumps in the cream cheese.

Then, while the mixer is running at a low speed, add the melted and cooled butter. Once it has been incorporated, add one egg at a time.

After you have a uniform wet mixture, add the sifted confectioner’s sugar. Add it in three additions to ensure it’s mixed in well.

Step 4: Assemble the cake

Once your top layer is smooth, spread it over the cake layer. Work gently to avoid merging the layers too much.

Once the cream cheese layer is added, smooth it out on top again.

Step 5: Bake your original chess cake recipe

Add the cake to the oven and bake it for roughly 1 hour. When testing the doneness of the cake, the testing needle will come out a little wet. But, as long as it isn’t wet batter, it is perfectly fine.

Remove the chess cake from the oven. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

You can serve it hot or cold.


Expert Tips And Tricks

  • If you want to make this cake a little more savory, add 1/2 to 1 cup of diced cheese. Again, we prefer adding sweeter or flavored options. But, it’s a fantastic opportunity to experiment. The cheese should soften when it’s baked, but it shouldn’t melt.
  • You can substitute the cream cheese with mascarpone. It is a less tangy alternative that has more or less the same consistency.
  • Test the doneness of your cake after 45 minutes. Some ovens tend to have inaccurate temperature readings or hot spots. This could cause the cake to bake quicker than it should. If it does, the overbaked cake won’t be as moist as it should be.
  • You can pair this original chess cake recipe with some whipped cream or yogurt. These will help neutralize the overly sweet flavor. It can also add more creaminess to the cake and give it a slightly more complex flavor profile.
  • This original chess cake recipe can be stored inside an airtight container in the fridge. There it will keep well for about 4-5 days.

Preparations Times And Servings

Preparation TimesBaking TimesServings
15 minutes45-60 minutes6-8

Wrapping Things Up – Flavor-Packed Original Chess Cake Recipe

Let us know what you think about this easy and quick original chess cake recipe. It is the perfect low-maintenance cake that spends most of the time baking.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. And, don’t forget to have a look at some of our other amazing recipes.