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Easy Chess Squares Recipe

This Southern chess squares recipe is a great homemade dessert for any occasion, including holidays.

The dessert recipe is quick and easy to make and will serve a large crowd. Set aside that cookbook, and give these gooey treats a try.

Chess Cake Squares

Picture of Chess squares

The chess squares, a.k.a. chess bars, or chess cake, are an easy recipe to make from scratch that all of your friends and family will love.

Gooey butter cake with a cream cheese mixture top is super easy to make.

The squares, made with cream cheese, are perfect for parties, Christmas, or any time of year. 

The dessert, made with cake mix, plenty of butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and eggs will become one of your absolute favorites.

Time To Eat Our Favorite Dessert

If y’all ever go to church in the South, you can be assured of a couple of things. First of all, there will be a potluck after the service–at least once a month.

And second–and most importantly–the dessert table will be covered up with treats. Southerners love to bake. A lot.

And this dessert is a Southern thing.

We traveled back to Tennessee last Thanksgiving and we went to the church my grandparents attended when they were alive. 

If you love this chess squares recipe, give lemon chess squares a try. 

We got lucky enough to attend a potluck after, and let me tell you, the Southern food was out of this world good. 

And that dessert table. Mmm… I’m pretty sure chess squares are almost always on the table.

But, you gotta be first in line to get one, because if you decide to stand around and chit-chat, they’ll be long gone, and you’ll be sorry. Real sorry.

If you love these chess squares, you’ll love this chocolate caramel poke cake recipe.

Chess Squares Ingredients

  • Yellow cake mix
  • Eggs
  • Cream cheese (softened)
  • Butter (melted)
  • Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)

How To Make The Southern Chess Squares Recipe

  • Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, mix the boxed yellow cake mix, one egg, and the butter. 
  • Press it into the bottom of a greased dish. 
  • In another bowl mix the softened cream cheese, two eggs, and powdered sugar. 
  • Pour over the cake mixture and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown. 
  • Cool before cutting the chess squares.

A Classic And Simple Dessert

I have always loved these easy chess squares with cake mix. I love them so much that they should call them crack squares. They are addictive, and could potentially start a fight over the last square–yep, even in the church line.

The bottom is made out of a box of yellow cake mix, one egg, and melted butter–you can’t go wrong.

The inside is gooey and rich, and the top has a bit of a crunch. And, if you’re like me and you love the corners on brownies, you will love these chewy corners. 

The best part is that they are as easy as cake to make–literally. So, if you’re a Chatty Cathy and you miss a chance at a chess square, you can make some at home (and keep it all to yourself).

Ok, let’s get down to business.

Oh, and if you do decide to make this happy little chess squares recipe (or chess bars recipe as some call it) for the potluck, be sure to print out and bring the recipe with you.

Everyone will want a copy. I’ve had strangers approach me at potlucks, just to get the recipe because it’s that good.

Full printable recipe with measurements and instructions listed below in the recipe card.

How To Make The Dessert Recipe

Bottom Layer

Chess squares are such an easy recipe. They are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will be desperate for another piece. Click on the picture and grab the recipe.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix one stick of melted butter, one egg, and cake mix.

You can make more than one type of chess squares, as well. Just about any type of cake mix will do.

In the fall give these spice cake pecan chess squares a try.

Chess squares are a delicious dessert for any occasion, including holidays.

Press it into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan.

This picture looks a little messy, but it’s going to all turn out beautifully after the dessert cooks.

Trust me, it’s going to be tough not to reach into the oven with a fork and start eating because it will make your kitchen smell amazing. 

Top Layer

Chess squares are such an easy recipe. They are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will be desperate for another piece. Click on the picture and grab the recipe.

In another medium-sized bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, eggs, and powdered sugar with an electric mixer.

Look at that smooth and delicious cream cheese and powdered sugar mixture. Helloooo. This really is one of my favorite recipes.

Be sure not to eat too much of it before you pour it into the pan. Yes, this could happen. I would never do such a thing (or at least I would never tell anyone – but you know now, so don’t tell on me-shhh).

Chess squares are such an easy recipe. They are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will be desperate for another piece. Click on the picture and grab the recipe.

Pour the powdered sugar mixture on top of the cake mixture. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Brace yourself, it’s fixin’ to smell like your kitchen is a dessert factory. Look out!

Chess squares are such an easy recipe. They are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will be desperate for another piece. Click on the picture and grab the recipe.

See how the top is a light golden brown? That’s what you’re aiming for. It will have a bit of a crackly top. 

Let the chess squares cool. That’s the hard part. I need a lock on my silverware drawer because I will grab a fork faster than you can blink, and start digging in.

I waited long enough to get a picture for you without fork marks. It wasn’t easy. 

More Delicious Desserts

Chess bars are an easy and popular dessert to make for any holiday.

If you are taking this to a potluck or party, make sure you make it several hours ahead of time so it can cool down and set up a little. It will cut a lot easier that way. 

Chess squares are an easy and popular treat for holidays, church potlucks, and dessert.

I’ve had quite a few requests for chess squares without cake mix and I made a recipe with ladyfingers.

The recipe tastes just as fantastic and it’s also just as easy to make because you simply set the ladyfingers in the dish, rather than use the dry cake mix. 

FAQs

How To Store The Chess Squares

Store the chess squares in an airtight container.

Do Chess Squares Need To Be Refrigerated?

Because of the cream cheese, the chess squares do need to be refrigerated.

Chess squares are such an easy recipe. They are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will be desperate for another piece. Click on the picture and grab the recipe.

Easy Chess Squares Recipe

Print out the recipe card below with measurements and instructions.

The recipe is a delicious and classic recipe that everyone loves.

Chess squares are such an easy recipe. They are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will be desperate for another piece. Click on the picture and grab the recipe.

A Southern Girl's Chess Squares

Yield: 20 pieces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours

Chess squares are such an easy homemade recipe. The bars, made from scratch, are quick and easy to make, and all your friends will will be begging for another piece.

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300-degrees.

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg.
  2. Press into the bottom of a greased 9" x 13" pan.
  3. In another medium-sized bowl, mix 2 eggs, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.
  4. Pour over the cake mix.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Cool before cutting the squares.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 296Total Fat: 12.2gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 49.7mgSodium: 247.7mgCarbohydrates: 44.7gFiber: 0.2gSugar: 35gProtein: 2.89g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Check out more recipes at Southern Home Express

Sue Brown

Saturday 5th of March 2022

I made this according to the directions and baked at 300 degrees. We’ll 50 minutes later the center is still runny. I cranked it up to 350 degrees and will see if I can get it done in the middle. It looks good though.

Julie Pollitt

Monday 7th of March 2022

Hi Sue,

How did you like them? Did they end up cooking in the middle?

John

Wednesday 29th of December 2021

Hi. For all the keto/sugar free people out there, I made these with a Betty Crocker keto yellow cake mix. I used about 6T of butter. I added about 1T of coconut flour because I thought it was too oily. You're looking for a sugar cookie dough type texture. I think it needed more cake mix, as the keto mix is only around 10oz. I used 3cups or about 360g of powdered Swerve for the cream cheese topping. They came out really good, although the cookie layer was almost too thin and a little burnt. Next time, I will use part of a second box of cake mix to make the cookie layer thicker. I cooked mine for nearly 50 minutes. The edges browned but the middle was a bit pale. They're not as chewy as the real thing, but still worth making, in my opinion.

Julie Pollitt

Friday 31st of December 2021

Thanks for sharing!

Debbie

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

I just put this in the oven so I'm not sure how the consistency will be when finished, but 4 cups of sugar is too much. It wasn't pourable, more like spreading frosting over the cake mix. I've made this before and it was thin enough to pour, and yes, I mixed this recipe thoroughly into the eggs and cream cheese. I believe it should only have no more than 3 cups of sugar. It will still be very sweet.

Julie Pollitt

Thursday 23rd of December 2021

Hi Debbie, How did you end up liking it? I hope you loved it!

Suzanne Burtchaell

Monday 20th of December 2021

Should the butter in this recipe be salted or unsalted? Thank you!

Julie Pollitt

Monday 20th of December 2021

Hi Suzanne, I use salted butter for this recipe.

Michele

Sunday 24th of October 2021

I had never heard of these before...this will be my 2nd time making them - they are to die for! & yes, I was asked for the Recipe...Love

Julie Pollitt

Sunday 24th of October 2021

Aren't they amazing?! I remember the first time I had them, I kept wondering why I'd never had them before! Thanks for sharing!

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