Lemon Chess Pie

Meet the sunny rendition of a Southern classic.

lemon chess pie
Photo: Photographer: Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist: Christine Kelly Food Stylist: Ali Ramee
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 40 mins

Chess pie is a large and welcoming family within the world of Southern desserts. There are many types of chess pie, but lemon is a standout. Rich without being too eggy, the filling tastes bright and sunny with a hint of texture from cornmeal, which is one of the defining characteristics of classic chess pie. This recipe offers the shortcut of using a store-bought pie shell, and we appreciate that there are great ones on the market these days. That doesn't mean you can't make your own, if you prefer. The goal is to fill any pie shell with this delicious filling, which is the star of the show. And for that, only fresh lemon juice and zest will do, so don't compromise with bottled.


  • ½ (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts

  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon fine plain yellow cornmeal

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus ⅓ cup fresh juice (from 2 large lemons)

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • Powdered sugar

  • Sweetened whipped cream


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with 1 rack on middle rack for crust, and 1 rack on lower third for pie. Fit piecrust in a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Line crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in preheated oven on middle rack for 5 minutes. Remove from oven; remove weights and foil. Return crust to oven; bake on middle rack until lightly browned on edges and golden on bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  2. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Whisk together sugar, butter, flour, cornmeal, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl until combined. Add eggs; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared piecrust.

  3. Bake at 325°F on lower rack until lightly golden and set, 40 to 45 minutes, covering edges with aluminum foil during final 10 to 15 minutes to prevent over-browning, if needed. Remove from oven; let cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Garnish pie with sifted powdered sugar, and serve with whipped cream.

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