Lemon Chess Pie Recipe

If you've ever visited or lived in the U.S. south, chances are you've tried — or at least heard of — chess pie. According to Southern Living, chess pie has been around for centuries, and it always has butter, sugar, and eggs in the recipe, and cornmeal is often a key player as well. Over the years, people have gotten creative with chess pie, and the variations that you can make to the classic recipe are nearly endless. Take, for example, recipe developer Hayley MacLean's rendition, which adds some fresh lemon flavor. Indeed, MacLean's lemon chess pie stays true to the classic version, but she throws some delightful additions in there as well.

"My favorite thing about this pie is the rich and bright lemon flavoring in every bite of the silky filling," MacLean says. "It is perfectly balanced by the buttery, flaky crust, making a simple, but perfect pie." MacLean goes on to describe the flavor of this pie as "full of fragrant citrus" and "just lightly sweet enough to balance out the tart lemon." She also likens the pie to "tasting like a sunny summer day," and can you really ask for more? If you want a little taste of sunshine, keep following this recipe!

Gather the ingredients for lemon chess pie

For this lemon chess pie recipe, you'll need a few staple ingredients to get going. You'll need a pre-made pie crust, eggs, whole milk, granulated sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest (two whole lemons should provide you enough juice and zest), cornmeal, flour, salt, and some unsalted butter. That's it! One of the reasons chess pie came to be so popular is because it's basic but delicious. Odds are that you have a lot of these baking ingredients ready to go in your pantry.

Focus on the pie crust first

One of the great things about this recipe is how easy it is to whip up, and the use of a pre-made pie crust greatly adds to this ease. To begin this recipe, you'll want to focus on the crust. First things first, preheat the oven to 450 F. Then, place the pie crust onto a 9-inch pie dish, covering the entire bottom and all the way up the sides. Be sure to cut off excess crust and finish off the edges however you prefer. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, then place the dish in the freezer. This way, the crust can chill as you work on the filling.

Make the citrusy pie filling

As promised, this pie filling is full of citrusy delight, so get ready to make the most out of your lemons. Grab a large bowl and add the eggs, milk, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Whisk all of these ingredients together until they're thoroughly combined. Then, slowly whisk in the butter, and place the filling to the side. Keep in mind that the butter should be melted but cooled by the time you add it to the filling.

Now, turn your attention back to the crust. Take it out of the freezer and pop it right into the oven, allowing it to bake for 8 minutes. Once those 8 minutes are up, remove the crust from the oven and turn the heat down to 350 F.

Bake the pie and enjoy

It's finally time to bake the pie. Whisk the filling one more time, then pour it into the pie crust. Pop the pie into the oven and allow it to bake for 35-40 minutes. "If the crust begins to brown too much, the pie can be covered with foil at about 30 minute[s] for the remainder of the cooking time," MacLean notes. When it's done baking, it should be lightly browned but still jiggly in the middle. Be sure to allow the pie to cool down before you dig in.

We're sure you'll love this pie on its own, but MacLean does have some serving suggestions. "Serving this pie with whipped cream or some fresh berries really takes it over the top," she says, adding that a sprinkle of flaky salt also adds some oomph. Also, if you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for 3-5 days. "You can also freeze individual slices of this pie, which will keep for about 1 month," MacLean notes. 

We hope this delicious lemon chess pie gives you a much needed taste of summertime.

Lemon Chess Pie Recipe
5 from 60 ratings
Mix up the standard chess pie recipe by adding a sunny taste of summer with lemon juice and lemon zest. This lemon chess pie takes less than an hour to make.
Prep Time
Cook Time
slice of lemon chess pie
Total time: 58 minutes
  • 1 9-inch prepared pie crust
  • 5 eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Place the prepared pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate so it covers the bottom and the sides. Cut off the excess and finish the edge however you like. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and place it in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, whole milk, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cornmeal, flour, and salt until combined. Slowly whisk in the butter, and set aside.
  4. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
  6. Whisk the lemon filling once more and pour it into the pre-baked pie crust. Bake again for 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned and still jiggly in the center.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
Calories per Serving 570
Total Fat 28.9 g
Saturated Fat 14.7 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 175.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 73.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g
Total Sugars 50.9 g
Sodium 311.1 mg
Protein 6.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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