Lemon Chess Pie Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 35 min. + chilling
Pucker up! This lemon chess pie is tangy and bright with a smooth, creamy lemon custard. A dust of confectioners’ sugar is the perfect decorative touch.

Updated: Apr. 08, 2024

Lemon chess pie is a classic southern dessert that’s made of a few pantry staples which bake up into a gorgeously rich pie. The creamy, citrusy pie has a smooth texture with bright, fresh lemon notes. It’s so easy to whip up and bake—and you might even already have all the ingredients on hand!

Ingredients for Lemon Chess Pie

  • Refrigerated pie crust: A premade refrigerated pie crust just makes everything easier! Our Test Kitchen pros found that the best premade pie crust is Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts, but you could also make your own single classic pie crust.
  • Eggs: Make sure you’re baking with room-temperature eggs in this recipe. They mix better with the rest of the batter for more consistent results.
  • Lemon juice: Don’t skimp on this ingredient. Freshly squeezed is the only way to go! Learn how to juice lemons the easy way.
  • Cornmeal: Cornmeal thickens the pie’s filling and adds a pleasantly coarse, gritty texture.
  • All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour thickens the pie’s custard filling.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: A quick dusting of confectioners’ sugar creates a beautiful finish to the top of the lemon chess pie.


Step 1: Prepare the crust

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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Unroll the crust into a 9-inch pie plate, and flute the edges.

Editor’s Tip: Get fancy with your fluting, and learn how to make decorative pie crusts.

Step 2: Whip the eggs and sugar

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In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer and beat the eggs for three minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until the mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored, about two minutes.

Step 3: Create the filling

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Beat in the lemon juice, butter, cornmeal, flour and salt until well combined. Pour the pie filling into the crust.

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Step 4: Bake

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Bake the pie until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the pie to room temperature on a wire rack for one hour.

Editor’s Tip: Place a baking sheet on a separate rack underneath the pie to catch anything that may bubble over in the oven. It’s easier to clean a baking sheet than the bottom of an oven!

Step 5: Chill and garnish

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Refrigerate the pie for at least three hours before serving. If desired, garnish with a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe Variations

  • Indulge in chocolate: If citrusy and fruity isn’t your thing, our chocolate chess pie recipe is the way to go.
  • Replace lemons for oranges: We get it, lemons aren’t for everyone. If you still want a citrusy dessert, replace the lemon juice with orange juice.

How to Store Lemon Chess Pie

Lemon chess pie should be stored in the refrigerator. After it has cooled to room temperature, cover the pie, and place it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Lemon chess pie will keep in the fridge for up to three to four days.

You can also freeze this pie, but it’s best to freeze it as individual slices. To do so, allow the lemon chess pie to cool to room temperature, then slice the pie into individual slices. Wrap each piece in storage wrap and then foil, and place in an airtight container. Before eating, just set out a single serving and let it come to room temperature.

Lemon Chess Pie Tips

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How can you keep the crust flaky on this lemon chess pie?

To keep the crust extra flaky on this lemon chess pie, implement our best kept secrets for the perfect pie crust, whether you’re making your own or using a store-bought crust.

Be gentle with your pie dough, and avoid overmixing! Overworking the dough will result in a tough pie crust, not a flaky one. Only mix the pie dough until it just comes together.

Keep the dough as cold as possible so the butter layers bake up flaky pie crust layers. Once the dough is mixed, let it relax and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Roll out the dough, assemble the pie, and pop the whole thing back in the fridge for about 15 minutes before baking to re-solidify the butter a bit.

Pick the right pie plates! Avoiding a dreaded soggy bottom pie crust has a lot to do with which pie plate you choose. We’ve found that shiny pie plates yield soggy bottoms, but pie plates like matte-finished aluminum or ceramic create the perfect crispy, flaky pie crust.

Why do they call it lemon chess pie?

Lemon chess pie’s origin has many different tales. The first is that the filling has a similar consistency to English cheese pies or American cheesecakes, and a mispronunciation of “cheese” resulted in “chess.”

Another take is that this pie was named after its preferred storage unit back in the day. Chefs believed that pies with a high sugar content could be stored in large chests at room temperature until spoilage a few days later. While that may have flown back in the day, we don’t recommend storing this lemon chess pie at room temperature!

Watch how to Make Lemon Chess Pie

Easy Lemon Chess Pie

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 35 min
Yield 8 servings.


  • 1 sheet refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners' sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Unroll crust into a 9-in. pie plate; flute edge. In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored, about 2 minutes. Beat in the lemon juice, butter, cornmeal, flour and salt.
  2. Pour into crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. If desired, garnish with confectioners' sugar.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 363 calories, 15g fat (7g saturated fat), 113mg cholesterol, 219mg sodium, 54g carbohydrate (39g sugars, 0 fiber), 4g protein.

This bright and creamy lemon chess pie cuts beautifully and has a smooth texture. It’s one of my favorites. —Hannah LaRue Rider, East Point, Kentucky