Lemon Chess Pie is a such a classic southern dessert that yields phenomenal flavor. The curd-like filling rests on a flaky pie crust and it all comes together with just a handful of ingredients!
Lemon Chess Pie
Another fantastic reader request coming at you today – Lemon Chess Pie!
I received an email several months ago asking if I could make a lemon chess pie. I had never had chess pie before so I put the request on the back burner until I had the chance to taste one then try to make one of my own.
The incredible thing about this pie is it is so easy. You bake the crust, whisk the filling together and pour it into the hot crust, then pop it back in the oven until the filling is almost set.
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Why is it called chess pie?
It’s debatable as to why they call it chess pie. Some say it is a mispronunciation of “cheese” pie while others say it got its name because it was served to men as they played chess. However it came about, we do know it is a classic recipe commonly made in the American South.
What does lemon chess pie taste like?
It tastes just like lemon curd and this is why I love it so much. Classic chess pie uses vinegar and reminds me of vinegar pie but the lemon version is by far the best. If you are a fan of lemon curd and lemon bars, you’ll love this pie.
Do you need to refrigerate lemon chess pie?
You can serve this pie immediately after it has cooled to room temperature without refrigerating it. If you have leftovers, it is best to refrigerate them. The pie will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for lemon chess pie
Pie crust – Make your own homemade pie crust or use store-bought refrigerated pie dough.
Sugar – The tanginess of lemons needs to be offset with a good amount of sugar. This recipe uses just enough sugar to do that without being overly sweet.
Lemons – The recipe calls for the zest and juice which is around one to two lemons depending on their size.
Cornmeal & flour – Both are used together to stabilize the filling.
Butter & eggs – There wouldn’t be a curd-like filling without butter and eggs!
The printable recipe card with full ingredient amounts and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
How to make lemon chess pie?
Step 1: Bake the crust
Prebake the pie crust until it looks dry and begins to bubble, about 8 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare the filling
Whisk the ingredients for the filling together and pour them into the hot pie crust.
Step 3: Bake the pie
Bake the pie for an additional 40 minutes or until the edges are set but the center jiggles slightly when shaken.
Tips for lemon chess pie recipe
- Freeze the pie crust for 20 minutes before putting it into the oven. This helps it keep its shape and it won’t “shrink” as much.
- Whisk the ingredients for the filling together while the crust is baking. The filling needs to be poured right into the hot crust so have it ready when the crust comes out of the oven.
- You don’t need to refrigerate the pie before serving it. Simply let it cool on a wire rack for 4 hours then it can be served. Do store leftovers in the refrigerator, though.
More lemon recipes you’ll love
Lemon Chess Pie
- 1 (9-inch) homemade pie crust, or use store-bought refrigerated pie dough
- 5 large eggs
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, from about 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from about 1-2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal, *
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- Prepare the pie crust according to the recipe and chill for at least 1 hour. You need only half the dough so freeze the second half for use at a later date.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the pie crust to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Place in pie dish; trim off any excess along the edges. Flute the edges with fingertips. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Freeze for 20 minutes.
- Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornmeal, flour, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in the butter. Set aside until the crust is finished baking.
- Bake the crust for about 8 minutes, until it looks dry and small bubbles begin to form on the surface. Remove and lower the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Give the filling a quick whisk then pour it into the hot pie crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the surface is light brown and the center jiggles slightly when shaken.
- Cool on a wire rack for 4 hours before serving.
Make ahead tip
- Pie will keep for up to 2 days covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.