Lemon Chess Pie

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This Lemon Chess Pie has an irresistibly buttery, citrusy filling, making it a delicious twist on the classic recipe. So easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser!

If sweet-tart lemon desserts are your weakness, you’ll also love these classic Lemon Bars. Want to enjoy lemon for breakfast? Try my Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins!

Slice of lemon custard pie being lifted out of pie plate.

Why You’ll Love This Lemon Chess Pie Recipe

Chess Pie is an old-fashioned recipe that proves sometimes the simplest desserts are the most delicious! A rich custard filling is baked in a flaky pie crust until it’s caramelized on top and chewy along the edges.

This Lemon Chess Pie has all of that too, but it adds fresh lemon juice and zest to the mix for a bright, citrusy flavor.

Here’s why you’re going to love it:

  • Lemon chess pie is one of those magical desserts that manages to be rich without overdoing it. (Which means you might just have room for a second slice!)
  • Chess pie, including this lemon chess pie, is one of the easiest pies you can make. Just mix together the filling ingredients and pour them into the pie crust—no making layers or weaving lattice tops!
  • Above all else, lemon chess pie is absolutely delicious. It’s buttery, lemony, and the crispy, caramelized topping is the perfect finishing touch.

You’ll love the creamy custard in this pie. For more lemon treats, try our lemon meringue pie or lemon ricotta cake next!

Important Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make lemon chess pie.
  • Pie crust – You can use your favorite homemade pie crust or a store-bought crust.
  • Cornmeal – Just a bit of cornmeal is what gives this lemon chess pie its signature crispy top.
  • Eggs – Let the eggs come to room temperature before you make this recipe.
  • Lemon juice – Use fresh lemon juice! Bottled lemon juice doesn’t taste the same; that’s because it’s oxidized, which dulls the flavor.
  • Lemon zest – Be sure to zest the lemon before juicing it. It’s not easy to zest a juiced lemon! Get our tips and tricks on how to zest a lemon!
  • Unsalted butter – Using unsalted butter gives you more control over the taste of the recipe.
  • Milk – I recommend using whole milk for richer results.

For a lighter pie filling, try our lemon chiffon pie. A sweet mousse-like texture!

How to Make Lemon Chess Pie

Prepare the crust:

  • Press an unbaked store-bought or homemade pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. 
  • Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust, then fill the pie with pie beads or dried beans. 
  • Blind bake the crust for 10 minutes.
Step by step photos showing how to make lemon chess pie.

Make the Filling:

  • While the crust is baking, whisk the sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large bowl until the eggs are beaten and incorporated into the other ingredients.
  • Pour in the melted butter and milk.
  • Stir to combine and set aside.

Bake:

  • Remove the pie crust from the oven, then carefully remove the pie beads and parchment paper. 
  • Pour the pie filling into the warm pie crust.
  • Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the edges are set but the middle is still a little jiggly.

Cool and Serve:

  • Place the pie on a cooling rack for one hour. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. 
  • Dust the lemon chess pie with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

PRO TIP: A drizzle of icing is delicious too, or use our glaze from our orange scones, but make it lemon!

Slice of lemon pie with a bite taken out.

Recipe FAQs

How do I keep my chess pie from cracking?

Unfortunately, chess pie is prone to cracking. This doesn’t make it any less delicious! That said, to prevent cracking, set the pie pan on a baking sheet while baking it; after you pull it out of the oven, let the lemon chess pie cool completely before you move it.

How do you know when a chess pie is done?

The middle should still be a little bit jiggly; this means it should jiggle like a bowl of Jello. If it moves like lava or liquid, it needs longer in the oven.

Can I leave chess pie out overnight?

No, you shouldn’t leave chess pie out overnight. Once it cools at room temperature, you’ll need to store it in the refrigerator.

More Lemon Recipes

Easy Pie Recipes

See all Pies and Tarts recipes

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Lemon Chess Pie

5 from 1 vote
By: Aimee
This Lemon Chess Pie has an irresistibly buttery, citrusy filling, making it a delicious twist on the classic recipe. So easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8 slices

Ingredients 

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar, optional topping
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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using either a homemade pie crust or a refrigerated pie crust, press into a 9-inch pie plate. Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust, fill the pie with pie beads (or dried beans) and blind bake the crust for 10 minutes.
  • While the crust is baking, whisk the sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a large bowl until the eggs are beaten well.
  • Pour in the melted butter and milk and stir until combined. Set aside.
  • Remove pie crust from oven. Remove pie beads and parchment paper. Pour the pie filling into the warm pie crust.
  • Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the edges are set but the middle is still a little jiggly.
  • Place pie on a cooling rack for one hour. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours (or overnight). Dust with powdered sugar when serving.

Notes

  • You may need to use a pie shield or strips of foil to cover the pie crust at the halfway mark. This will keep the crust from browning too much.
  • 2 large lemons should be the amount of zest and juice you need for today’s recipe.
  • Store: cover the pie with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: tightly cover pie with plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw the pie overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Serving Suggestions: Add a dollop of Homemade Whipped Cream or get fancy and top each slice with a piped rosette of Stabilized Whipped Cream.
  • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice
Course: Pies and Tarts
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!
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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on January 23, 2024

Comments & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Everyone at Easter dinner loved this pie! No topping of any kind was needed; it was perfect on its own. Just the right amount of lemon flavor, tart but not too puckery, distinctly lemon. The only change I made was reducing the sugar by about 1/4 cup to suit my own taste, and using self-rising cornmeal because that was what I had on hand. This easy recipe is a keeper.

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