Lemon Chess Pie

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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!

Overhead view of a single slice of lemon chess pie on a white plate.

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.

The filling reminds me of my lemon curd. 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!

Overhead view of lemon chess pie with a lemon slice on top.

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.

Overhead view of two slices of lemon chess pie on white plates.

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!

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.

overhead view of bake pie crust

Step 2: Prepare the filling

Whisk the ingredients for the filling together and pour them into the hot pie crust.

angled view of lemon filling being poured into a 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.

overhead view of a finished lemon chess pie

Angled view of a slice of lemon chess pie with a fork taking a bite out.

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.

Helpful Tools

More lemon recipes you’ll love

  1. Lemon Curd
  2. Lemon Bars
  3. Lemon Lime Cupcakes
Lemon Chess Pie Recipe Image
5 from 1 vote
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Lemon Chess Pie

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!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon chess pie recipe
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 48 minutes
Resting Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Yields 10 Servings
Calories 237 kcal
Author Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

  • 1 (9-inch) homemade pie crust or use store-bought refrigerated pie dough
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups 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 unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Cool on a wire rack for 4 hours before serving.

Make ahead tip

  1. Pie will keep for up to 2 days covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*Use regular yellow cornmeal not stone-ground for best results.

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Chess Pie
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 237 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 91mg 4%
Potassium 34mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 31g 10%
Sugars 30g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 1.5%
Iron 2.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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