Arkansas Possum Pie is a creamy, layered chocolate and cream cheese pie in a pecan shortbread crust that is sure to please!

For some other amazing Southern inspired pies, be sure to try my Classic Southern Pecan Pie, Old-Fashioned Banana Cream Pie, Kentucky Chocolate Walnut Pie or Key Lime Pie!

a slice of Arkansas Possum Pie on a white plate next to a fork and missing a bite

I just had to include this hilariously named Arkansas favorite as part of my American Eats series. Not only is it incredibly popular and found all over the state of Arkansas, but my curiosity was immediately piqued by the name possum pie.

As soon as I saw this on a list of popular Arkansas recipes I was simultaneously repulsed and intrigued. Did it really have possum in it? Do people really eat roadkill in the South?

Truthfully, I was both relieved and a little disappointed to find out that possum pie is NOT a savory meat pie made with actual possum after all, but rather a delicious dessert recipe with a sandy pecan shortbread crust and layers of cream cheese, chocolate pudding, and sweetened whipped cream.

An image of a four-layer delight dessert from Arkansas known as Possum Pie with chocolate shavings and chopped pecans on top.

One theory behind the unusual and shocking name is that possum pie is so-named for pretending to be something that it's not - in this case hiding the chocolate filling underneath a layer of whipped cream.

Another theory is that it's just called possum pie because of it's similar coloring to the only marsupial in North America. Possum pie is sometimes called by other names as well, like Chocolate Layer Pie, Chocolate Lush, or Four Layer Delight.

No matter what you call it, it's a delicious dessert for anybody who loves chocolate cream pies! And really, I think my favorite part might be the pecan shortbread crust that tastes more like a pecan sandies cookie than a pie crust.

a sliced arkansas possum pie
An image of a layered chocolate pie known as possum pie, made from scratch.

How to Make Arkansas Possum Pie

Almost every recipe I found for possum pie called for boxed chocolate pudding mixes and Cool Whip topping. So I thought I would share a version of possum pie that is made from scratch, since homemade tastes so much better and making pudding from scratch really isn't hard at all!

  1. Make the easy pie crust by combining flour, butter, chopped pecans, and brown sugar in a bowl, then pressing into a pie plate (affiliate link) and baking for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix cream cheese with powdered sugar and a little heavy cream and spread it into the bottom of the cooled crust.
  3. Whisk together some sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, then whisk some egg yolks and milk together in a separate bowl and add it to the saucepan.
  4. Cook the chocolate pudding over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes until it starts to bubble and thicken, stirring frequently. Then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cool before adding it on top of the cream cheese layer.
  5. Chill for 4 hours until set, then spread sweetened whipped cream over the top and sprinkle with a few chopped pecans and shaved chocolate, if desired.
A step-by-step collage of images for how to make possum pie.
An image of a slice of possum pie on a white plate with the rest of the pie behind it.

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Arkansas Possum Pie

4.83 from 62 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Additional Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Arkansas Possum Pie is a creamy, layered chocolate and cream cheese pie in a pecan shortbread crust that is sure to please!

Ingredients
  

Pecan Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup pecans chopped

Cream Cheese Layer

  • 6 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Pudding Layer

  • 1 cup sugar
  • cup cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped Cream Topping

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped pecans
  • grated chocolate

Instructions
 

Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Melt the butter, then combine the butter, flour, brown sugar and pecans by stirring with a fork. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes, just until the crust begins to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool completely.  

Cream Cheese Filling

  • In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and heavy cream using a hand mixer until smooth.  Spread over bottom of the cooled pecan pie crust.

Chocolate Layer

  • Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk well. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks and milk and whisk well, then add to the sugar and cocoa powder mixture in the sauce pan, whisking to combine.  
  • Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until pudding begins to thicken and bubble, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla, stirring just until the butter is melted and combined.  Transfer the chocolate pudding to a shallow bowl and cover with a plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to help the filling cool down.  
  • When the filling has mostly cooled down, remove the plastic wrap and stir, then spread over the cream cheese layer.  Cover the pie with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 4 hours until set.  

Whipped Cream Topping

  • Beat the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla using a hand mixer until whipped cream forms and holds it's shape when betters are removed.  Spread the whipped cream over the top of the chocolate pudding layer and sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans and chocolate shavings before slicing and serving.

Notes

Adapted from Tie Dye Travels.

Nutrition

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 963IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa • KansasKentuckyLouisiana • MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMontanaNew YorkOregonPuerto RicoSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTexasUtahWisconsin

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

    1. I made this today for a family Christmas get-together. It was fantastic! But I had to practically chisel it out of the pie dish. It stuck badly. I double-checked the recipe to see if I missed where I should've greased, buttered, sprayed or floured the dish, but it wasn't mentioned. Next time I'll be sure to do one of those things, because there will definitely be a next time.

      1. I haven't had that problem before, but yes, you could try buttering the dish before adding the crust! I'm so glad you liked this recipe!

  1. 4 stars
    In general, it worked really well, but unfortunately I guess I put the whipped cream topping on too soon - it melted into the pudding layer and is now runny! I even let the pie chill over night before putting the whipped layer on. At least it tastes good

    1. That is really strange that the whipped cream layer would melt into the pudding layer if it had already been well-chilled overnight. My best guess is that if you were using real cream, perhaps it could have used a little longer being beaten to help stabilize it a bit more.

  2. This looks amazing! I was wondering if you think the crust would hold up if I made them into mini pies by using muffin tins?

  3. Re possums, I attribute your comment about "people eating roadkill in the South" to your young age and the culture you grew up in. Poor Southern people did indeed eat possum as one of the only accessible meats they could easily hunt, along with raccoon. Raised in poverty as a sharecropper my father ate it frequently. My mother was served possum at my aunt's house in the late 1940's or early 1950's, and in my childhood I remember our neighbors ate possum in the 1960's - not all that long ago to me.

    There's also still the big annual Gillett Coon Supper held in Gillett, Arkansas every January. It's such an ingrained local institution - now in its 76th year - that it's now recognized as a major event which many politicians make a point of attending as a rite of political passage (no speeches allowed, just socializing). The Coon Supper provides scholarships to local high school students. Yes, they serve barbecued raccoon harvested by the local hunters in Arkansas County; last year they served 800 lbs of it, along with smoked brisket and ribs. The supper is held in the old high school gym and the maximum 1,200 tickets are always sold out.

    So possums might be looked down on with some revulsion (especially as frequent roadkill), but it's good to know and respect the culture and history of all regions of this country. I have no doubt there are still Southern folks who eat possum, though not as many as in the past when there was no such thing as food stamps. As the old saying goes, God must've really loved poor people, He made so many of them.

    1. I don’t think she was trying to look down on anyone. Simply stating, as a general rule in today’s society most people don’t eat possums or raccoons. Thanks for the interesting history lesson though

      1. It's down south not up south. Of course he is looking down on roadkill eat'n southern folk. The important thing is possum pie be dang near good as racoon fritters

        1. North, south, up, and down; direction is relative to location. This comment is as rude as it is arrogant, and the poor attempt at humor is predictable and common. Some cultures enjoy coon and possum while others might enjoy dogs and pangolin. It’s not up to anyone to judge when the right hand is as guilty as the left. Or perhaps it’s the western hand vs. the eastern?

    2. I’m a meat & potato girl, I’m raising a rescued raccoon. I think Coon Supper is just on the cruel side. How many Coons did it take to make that 800 lbs of meat? I know it’s a fact of life and all that. But it makes me wonder how many baby coons were left to die trying to survive the winter with out their moms and/or dads? I’m not being a butt it’s just something I’m very passionate about. My lil Bandit stole my heart and changed my mind about those lil trash pandas.

  4. Very tasty, but I found that the cooking time for the chocolate filling was too short. May need longer for it to properly thicken. I cut my time too short and had a running filling even after it chilled.

  5. 2 stars
    My filling was all runny abd I cooked it how you said plus whip cream was runny and nbarely enough to cover the pie but tasted good just a big puddle of gunk

    1. Try cooking the filling for an extra minute or two next time to help it set up all the way. If the whipped cream was runny, it sounds like it could also use a little extra time being beaten until it is stiff enough so it doesn't run. I'm glad you enjoyed the taste at least!

  6. Hi! My article is the one you mentioned (Playin' Possum in Arkansas Life). Please check out my book Another Slice of Arkansas Pie: A Guide to the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, Truck Stops and Food Trucks for Delectable Bites in The Natural State. It has 33 recipes (including one for possum pie), more than 400 full color photographs and around 475 places to find good pie in the state of Arkansas! https://www.amazon.com/Another-Slice-Arkansas-Pie-Restaurants/dp/0999873407

    1. That's so cool that you wrote a book about Arkansas pie restaurants! I need to be sure to get a copy for when I go to visit and to try more delicious Arkansas pie!

  7. Fun fact: I went to an all girls camp in Tennessee in the 80s and 90s. The dining hall served this to us occasionally. We called it "Better Than Sex". Ha! ☺️

  8. Oh, my! I made this for a crew of cowboys today and let's just say it made it to my favorite recipe file. It was so good - cowboys are too well mannered, but if I didn't know better, I would have thought they had licked the plates. LOL. It is completely worth making it from scratch. Do you mind if I share the recipe on my blog with credit to you and a link back here? I like to add favorite recipes for my family on my blog. Thank you for sharing your version - it's wonderful!

    1. I'm SO glad you and your crew loved it! By all means, feel free to share it with a link back here. Just please rewrite the instructions in your own words, since that part is copyrighted! Thank you! 🙂

      1. I certainly will. Thank you, Amy! Well done - I think your version from scratch takes this dessert to a whole new level - well done!

  9. I almost never follow ingredients or instruction exactly, however, made this per your instructions and it always turns out perfect. Only issue whenever there is a get together, I'm asked to make one or two. I have gotten quite good at it. The pudding from scratch is phenomenal will never use box again. The shortbread crust is perfect.. Thanks for sharing this perfect recipe.

  10. This is such a hilarious name! The first time I heard of possum pie, it was in a kids' Christmas musical called "Cooking up Christmas." I'm pleased to finally come across a recipe for possum pie! 😂 Your photos are so beautiful, too.

  11. My kids and I moved to Arkansas in April of this year.
    Today we hosted Thanksgiving at our church.
    We made this pie hoping it would be a famiilar favorite.
    Not one person had ever heard of it
    It's delicious and I'm making it next year.

    The only thing I changed was I used 8 ounces of cream cheese because I didn't know what I'd do with 2 ounces left over. I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly.
    Thank you for this recipe.

    1. You're welcome! How funny that no one there had heard of it! I wonder if it's regional to specific parts of the state?

  12. I made the cheater version of this a couple of days ago, using Cool Whip and boxed pudding. It was very tasty, but I am certain it does NOT compare to this recipe. Nothing beats baking or cooking from scratch! I will be making this recipe next week for a party. Thank you for sharing and giving a bit of recipe history. 

  13. I thought this pie was absolutely Devine! I can’t wait to make it again! Not sure what could have happened to others with not setting up. I followed recipe to a “T” & it came out perfect! It also held up for many days & it only lasted that long as only me & husband were eating it. My sons friend had a piece & he said it was the best pie he ever ate & I tend to agree!!!

  14. Tried recipe but my chocolate pudding didn't not set very well and my whipped cream pretty runny. My first run at all this so I'm not sure what I did.

    1. Sounds like you need to cook the chocolate pudding a bit longer to thicken it and whip the cream a little longer so it isn't quite as runny and soft.

    2. 5 stars
      Very good! My first time making pudding from scratch, won't be the last! I added a touch of salt to the crust. I also dry toasted the chopped pecans in a small frying pan atop the stove for a few minutes to add the extra goodness, and added a bit of meringue powder to my whipped cream topping to stabilize it. I did let the bottom layers cool overnight before putting the top one on. Won 2nd place at the annual church pie contest. Brought home a clean pie plate.
      ~Long-time Arkansas Resident (and yes, I've heard of Possum Pie before and had it at several restaurants.)

  15. In other areas of the south, you'll find this same dish called Preachers Delight, Chocolate Delight, I've even heard it called Texas Delight. And there may be variations in the crust or the filling, but this is a fairly ubiquitous dish at church dinners, parties, family reunions etc, throughout the south.

  16. I made this amazing pie and it was great!! I have to admit I cried after the first bite! My Nana recently died and the last years of her life she had Alzheimer’s. I tried to get her to remember the chocolate layered pie she made every year for Thanksgiving and she just couldn’t. Didn’t even remember the pie at all!! However THIS IS IT!! I’m beyond thankful I found this recipe and will be bringing to Thanksgiving from now on! 

  17. For some reason, my chocolate pudding never fully set. The top part was runny even after 1.5 days of refrigeration. What do you think I did wrong?

    1. Oh dear! Sounds like the pudding didn't get cooked quite long enough in the first place. It really does need to thicken up all the way before it can be cooled and added to the pie.

  18. Originally called Striped Delight by Jell-O. I have the recipe book it came out in from 1984. Been making this for years and years. Family favorite. Their recipe is much easier to make.

  19. Just made this and I was very happy with the outcome. I would double the whipped cream on top (just my preference).   It does require time for the crust to cool before adding the cream cheese layer and then for the pudding to cool  before placing it on the cream cheese so plan accordingly.  

  20. I got a little excited and put my whipped topping on before I was sure the pudding filling cooled. How much damage will that do? (Also: I used cool whip, I hope thats okay)

  21. My family makes this dessert for holiday get togethers.  Our recipe fills a 9x13” pan.  I make the crust and cream cheese filling one day.  The next day I make the pudding layer.  We always use Cool Whip as topping as it holds up better for transporting.  
    This dessert is also wonderful using coconut cream filling instead of chocolate.   Of course your cream topping would be topped with sweetened coconut rather than chocolate chips or curls.  You can’t go wrong with either flavor.  
    Our family uses a recipe that was served many years ago in a wonderful tea room in Farmersville, Tx.

  22. Do you think this crust can be used in a Chocolate Pecan Tart?  Any tips would be appreciated.  Thank you. 

  23. It doesn’t specifically state to Pat the crust evenly into the pie plate, before you put it in the oven. But I’m sure you meant to do that?

  24. This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. It reminds me of something my mom made when I was a kid. It was called Jimmy Carter Peanut Cake

    1. I haven't heard of that one! Do you happen to have a recipe that you could share for the Jimmy Carter Peanut Cake? I would love to try it!

  25. I'm determined to cook a delicious turkey this year for Thanksgiving. The last few years have been a real disappointment. For some reason I just can't get the bird to turn out moist and soft. This year is gonna be the one!

  26. Finally a pudding recipe that doesn’t call for instant. I hate instant pudding. There is something odd in the taste of it. So I am glad to see this … made from scratch is even better than boxed too. Thanks in advance!

  27. I live in NC. Possum, along with raccoon, squirrel, rabbit, etc, is trapped and adorns some dining tables. Me, no thanks!! I guess Possum Pie is like Hummingbird Cake...it doesn't have hummingbird in it, either.

  28. I so appreciate a recipe that doesn't call for boxed pudding mix and cool whip, since I can't easily get them where I live. I look forward to making this!

    1. I much prefer homemade pudding and whipping your own cream! It almost always tastes so much better! Hope you will like pie!