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I sometimes think I was meant to be a southern belle.  I have this fascination with the south, even though the closest I’ve been to the south is parts of Texas.  (Is that even considered the south?  I don’t even know!)  I’m obsessed with books set in the south.  And don’t even get me started on the food…  Maybe it’s that whole “soul” part that has me so enamoured.

While I was browsing through recipes, looking for possibilities for food for the Easter table, I came across this Lemon Chess Pie.  I have heard of chess pies before, but I can’t remember ever having one.  I was so intrigued to read that this pie – that is popular in the south – it thickened with cornmeal.  I thought it sounded different, and since I know I’ll love lemon anything, I thought I’d give it a try.

If you are afraid of making pies, this is the one for you to try.  Seriously – it doesn’t get easier than this.  Just mix, dump and bake.  And if it’s the crust you are scared of, use a store-bought crust – I won’t tell!!  (I actually realized while making this that I don’t even have my go-to pie crust anywhere on my blog.  Once I can figure out how to make my crusts pretty, I definitely need to share the recipe!)

I actually really loved the texture of this pie.  I don’t think you’d realize that there is cornmeal in it.  At least my husband couldn’t tell.  The lemon flavor was perfect – not too strong and a little bit tart.  Top with some freshly whipped cream, and you have a simple, yet elegant dessert.  This pie would be perfect for your Easter table.  It’s so easy that it would even be perfect for a Tuesday night!




Lemon Chess Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A simple lemon pie, perfect for a holiday dessert or a weeknight treat!
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • 1 pie crust, prebaked and cooled
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, salt, eggs, and egg yolk. Whisk well. Whisk in the milk, melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Pour into the cooked pie crust.
  3. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Turn it 180-degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure it bakes evenly. The outsides should be set, but the middle may still feel slightly jiggly. Cover the pie edges with foil, if needed, to prevent overbrowning.
  4. Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.
  5. --------------------
  6. recipe from FamilyFun Magazine

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20 Responses to Lemon Chess Pie

  1. Rosa says:

    A delicious Southern pie! Really wonderful.



  2. I moved down south 5 years ago and I always say I was meant to be down here. Not just because of the weather, but because of everything you mentioned. This pie sounds perfect – love the idea of the cornmeal in the filling – it seems to pair nicely with lemon. I agree that this would be great for Easter!

  3. Katrina says:

    I love the south too, but in Canada I couldn’t be more oposite!! haha. This pie sounds lovely. Awesome recipe!

  4. Linda says:

    I made lemon chess pie as one of my first pies as a newlywed and love the flavor and texture, especially the little crunch on the top. My recipe was from a church cookbook and involved more sugar and the addition of flour. Your version looks delicious.

    I’m in south Texas, near Houston, and we are pretty far south. 😉

  5. Erin TDN says:

    Sounds great! I wonder if it would be good crust-less? My sister is gluten-free, so a pie crust is always troublesome in recipes.

  6. Im cooking my way through some of the recipes in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and the author says that the reason that Chess Pie has it’s name is because it used to be called “Just Pie” but with really thick southern accents and centuries later, the Ch and Ju sounds were interchanged…they made “just” pie when they had nothing else to use but eggs and sugar. How’s that for trivia today 🙂

  7. lovely pie for spring! I didn’t know there was cornmeal in here until I read that there was! I love the south, even though I’m technically “south”..i mean south south like Georgia, Texas, etc.. 🙂

  8. Kelly says:

    Texas is definitely the South, ma’am and Chess pie is a Southern great!

  9. Pat Bradley says:

    In the “real” South, this pie has always been a last-minute, Tuesday supper, “just because it tastes good” kind of pie. It is also a good pie to take to someone who is under the weather, who has done you a favor, or to someone who just loves chess pie. And that is because it is just as easy to make two at a time. One for you and one for me!

  10. Sarah says:

    My favorite dessert ever! I will have to try this recipe 🙂

  11. Chels R. says:

    I’ve never heard of a chess pie before! But this looks great, and for the record, in my opinion your pie crusts look great- wayy better looking than mine 🙂

  12. Asmita says:

    This pie looks fantastic. Love it!

  13. Cassie says:

    I have never had chess pie but our Milk Bar post on Monday is for a pie that was inspired by chess pie. I love it and I can imagine that this is fabulous. The lemon is a great addition!

  14. Joanne says:

    Secret – I totally love all things south as well. Especially southern desserts! They’re the best. I’ve never had chess pie before though I’ve heard of it…this lemony version sounds ideal for the citrus lover in me.

  15. you just made my favorite pie even tastier!! thank you

  16. Haha! There is always great debate in my house what is the ‘true’ south! I am from Texas and declare myself a Southern girl but my boyfriend and his family is from Georgia and argue Texas is not part of the true south. Then my family from Louisiana has even different views. I love that each part of the ‘south’ has different yet similar foods, traditions, and hospitality making each southern state special in its own way yet that familiar comfort!

  17. Kristy says:

    Mmmm! I’d take a slice tonight for sure. 🙂

  18. grace says:

    see–cornmeal is good for more than just cornbread! lovely work, deborah–you’re an honorary southern belle. 🙂

  19. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of chess pie, but I’ve never tried it. You’ve inspired me! I know I’d love the lemon-cornmeal combo.

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