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Lemon Chess Pie

Lemon Chess Pie is a smooth and creamy lemon pie with a firm pudding texture. It’s a classic Southern favorite pie. A Chess pie can be made as buttermilk, chocolate, lemon or nut.

The difference between custard pie and Chess pie is cornmeal. Chess pie has cornmeal as an ingredient in the filling.

serving taking slice out of lemon chess pie

National Pie Day is January 23rd! Celebrate by baking a pie or by visiting your favorite pie establishment and ordering a fruit pie, berry pie, cream pie or savory pie. Use the hashtag #nationalpieday if you’re sharing your favorite pie on social media.

History of National Pie Day:

National Pie Day was created by a Boulder, CO teacher named Charlie Papazian in 1975. He declared his own birthday to be a day devoted to pie because he thought pies needed a day to be celebrated. The idea caught on, and here we are today.

“Cut my pie into four pieces– I don’t think I could eat eight.”

-Yogi Berra

The Chess pie was brought from England originally. A recipe for Chess Pie appeared in Estelle Woods Wilcox’s 1877 cookbook called Buckeye Cookery.

It’s hard to know where the name, “Chess” really came from. It could have been derived from “cheese” pie. It could be named after Chester, England. Or it could be named after the pie chest (a piece of furniture where pies were stored).

pie crust and ingredients displayed for lemon pie

How to make Lemon Chess Pie:

Make your favorite pie crust, or use a refrigerated crust to press into a pie plate. Prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork and the crust in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

lemon chess pie ready for the oven

While the crust is freezing, make the lemon filling for the pie. The filling is a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, cornmeal, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and melted butter. Let the filling sit while you bake the pie crust. This gives the cornmeal in the filling a chance to soften-up.

Give the filling another brisk stir with the whisk. Then pour the lemon filling into the partially baked crust.

lemon chess pie

The pie then bakes for 35 to 40 minutes until the filling turns a light brown color. The center of the pie will jiggle a little bit when the pie is shaken.

lemon chess pie with slice cut out it

Cool the pie completely before cutting and serving. This is such a delicious pie to serve for any holiday or celebration. It’s such an easy pie to make!

slices of lemon chess pie on plates

If you like this pie, you might like an old fashioned custard pie or a chocolate covered strawberry pie. Any pie will do on National Pie Day!

Fun Pie Facts:

  • Pies have been traced back to the Ancient Egyptians in 2500BC where we have knowledge of an oat/wheat crust with honey filling.
  • The Romans are credited with inventing pie “crust.”
  • In the Middle Ages, pies were savory (with meat fillings).
  • The 1st recorded apple pie recipe was in the 1300’s in England.
  • It’s said that the 1st cherry pie was made for Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500’s.
  • Pumpkin Pie was introduced by the Pilgrims at the 2nd Thanksgiving in 1623.
  • In the 19th century, fruit pies were a popular breakfast item.
  • “Easy as Pie” is an American expression stemming from the 1890’s — where “pie” meant “easy.”
  • Apple pie is the most popular variety of pie in the U.S.– followed by pumpkin, chocolate, lemon meringue and cherry.
  • “Pie Town” is a real town in New Mexico!
  • Boston Cream Pie is a cake, not a pie.
serving taking slice out of lemon chess pie

Lemon Chess Pie

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

A classic Southern pie with a delicious and tangy, sweet lemon filling.



  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (or your favorite one-crust recipe)


  • 5 large eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk or cream
  • 1¾ cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons regular (not whole grain) cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted


    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Place the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Press it firmly onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Do not stretch the crust. Cut the excess off the overhang and tuck the rest under to form a decorative edge around the pie. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and place it into the freezer for 20 minutes.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, cornmeal, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Whisk until well-combined.  Then whisk in the melted
      butter. Let the mixture sit while the pie crust is baking (to soften up the
    4. Bake the pie crust (from the freezer to the oven) for 8 minutes and then remove it from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
    5. Whisk the lemon filling to combine one more time, and then pour it into the pre-baked pie crust. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes- or until the pie is lightly browned and the center jiggles a little when the pie is shaken. Watch the crust on the edges to make sure they are not browning too much.
    6. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 197mgSodium: 397mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 1gSugar: 60gProtein: 8g

Nutritional information is estimated.


Sunday 4th of June 2023

It is really good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday 7th of December 2022

Can you tell me what role the cornbread plays in this recipe…can you really taste it?

Lori Lange

Monday 12th of December 2022

It softens up with the filling.


Sunday 4th of December 2022

Made this yesterday. Very easy. Results are delicious. Would really like to know how to turn this into a chocolate chess pie. Thank you.

Kathie A

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Make sure that the pie plate can go FROM the FREEZER to the HOT OVEN without exploding! I would use Corning French White. It can handle Freezer to Oven baking. Some glass pie plates and ceramic ones would BURST into a hundred pieces and you would have the BIGGEST MESS on your hands. Good luck.

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