Lemon Chess Pie

November 8, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Lemon Chess has garnered a close following in the pie shop, appearing most often on the menu during the winter months, when fresh fruits are scarce on the East Coast and we source from the West Coast for its bounty of citrus. This tangy but rich custard is a longtime favorite of our pie shop customers.ElsenEM

Serves: 8-10 people


  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 2/3 cups cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 Large eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe


  1. This pie uses our All-Butter Crust for a 9-inch single-crust pie, partially prebaked.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  3. Place the prebaked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. In large bowl, stir together the lemon zest, sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt.
  5. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir in the melted butter, then the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Mix briskly until the filling is thick and light colored. Stir in the heavy cream, followed by the lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  7. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell, or strain it into a separate bowl and then pour it into the shell. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 30 to 35 minutes through baking.
  8. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still wobbles slightly; it should be lightly golden on top.
  9. Be careful not to overbake or the custard can separate; the filling will continue to cook and set as it cools. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 3 to 4 hours.
  10. Slice and serve.
  11. The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days or at room temperature for 1 day.

More Great Recipes:
Pie|Cornmeal|Fruit|Lemon|Lemon Juice|Orange Juice|Milk/Cream|Christmas|Thanksgiving|Winter|Dessert

Reviews (7) Questions (3)

7 Reviews

neighome November 26, 2013
I wonder if this would work in a tart pan. All my pie pans have been earmarked for other pies, but this looks delicious!
booglix November 18, 2013
Made this last night, including the very pretty braided crust (took a bit of finagling, but not too difficult). It reminded me of a lemon meringue pie without the meringue. I love lemon but don't love eggy custards, so it won't be one of my favorites, but the recipe worked well and the people who ate it liked it very much. I took it to an office pie party and it was one of the first to go.

Kim M. November 18, 2013
A lovely rendition of the Chess Pie I grew up on in Tennessee, with lemon being my favorite.
Caroline M. November 18, 2013
My favorite winter pie is sour cherry pie with cherries picked in the longest days part of summer then stashed in the freezer for a cold winter day. One bite of the tart cherries brings back the memory of picking the cherries, fingers stained red from pitting the cherries and putting up the pie in the summer heat of my kitchen! Makes me feel warm again!
gay J. November 14, 2013
Love the rim on the pie crust. No directions for that beauty?
My grandmother made lemon chess pie--I loved it but had forgotten about it. Thanks for the memory.
P November 14, 2013
No directions for design but the pastry recipe is available here: http://food52.com/recipes/24906-all-butter-crust-recipe
Lindsay-Jean H. November 18, 2013
You can read about how to do a braided edge here: http://food52.com/blog/8744-6-ways-to-fancy-up-your-pies