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Lemon Chess Pie is a classic southern dessert with phenomenal flavor. The curd-like filling rests on a flaky pie crust and it all comes together with just a handful of ingredients!
I first made this Lemon Chess Pie at the request of a reader. I had actually never had one before, so when a reader asked for a recipe for one, I went in search of one before coming up with my own version.
Once I tried it, I was hooked. It’s so good, I was embarrassed that as a self-proclaimed pie-fanatic it took me this long to try this delicious bursting with citrus flavor bright and sweet lemon pie.
Chess Pie is a funny name. 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.
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. It’s tangy, sweet, and oh so creamy. You should know by now I’m a sucker for creamy desserts. If you need a reminder, check out my honey pie!
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.
It’s similar to a lemon meringue pie, but without the gooey sweetness from the meringue, and with a little more thickness, so that the filling is more like a pie version of my lemon bars. Trust me when I say this pie is one worth making.
It’s easy to make, delicious, and will be sure to be a fan favorite in your house.
Try my chocolate chess pie for a rich chocolaty version.
- TASTE: Bright and lemony
- TEXTURE: Crisp crust with a curd-like filling
- EASE: Super easy
- TIME: About 6 hours, including cooling time.
What You’ll Need
- 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 white granulated 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 – Unsalted sweet cream butter is almost always my butter of choice.
- Eggs – There wouldn’t be a curd-like filling without eggs!
- Pie pan
How to Make Lemon Chess Pie
Start with a hot oven for this pie – preheat it to 450°F – in which to bake the crust. Once the crust has baked, turn the oven down to 325°F.
- Bake the crust. Make the crust according to instructions, and prebake until it looks dry and begins to bubble, about 8 minutes.
- Prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice, cornmeal, flour and salt together and pour them into the hot pie crust.
- Bake the pie. Turn the oven down. Bake the pie for an additional 40 minutes or until the edges are set but the center jiggles slightly when shaken.
- Cool. Let cool on a wire rack for 4 hours before serving.
Cornmeal is a bit of a secret ingredient in this pie. It adds flavor and texture and thickens up the pie filling just a bit. If you have the option, use regular yellow cornmeal not stone-ground. The stone-ground cornmeal will have a slightly grittier texture and may not dissolve as well.
Tips For Success
- 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.
- Sprinkle a little confectioners sugar over the top when serving, if desired. Serve plain, with whipped or ice cream.
Storage & Freezing
This lemon pie will keep for up to 2 days covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.
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