Lemon Curd Chess Pie

Lemon Chess Pie

Chess pie is a dessert that doesn’t give anything away in its name. It’s a Southern classic pie with a custard base made up of eggs, butter and sugar. So far as I can tell, there is no one standard version of the chess pie and I’ve had many variations of it before, some that had a very dense, sweet, eggy filling and some that were more like a classic custard. The flavors have ranged from vanilla to chocolate to citrus. One of my favorites is a lemon chess pie. The way I make it, the pie has a lemon curd-like filling that is similar to that of a lemon bar, with a thin cake-like layer on top.

This pie only requires a few ingredients, so it’s important that you don’t skip out on using fresh lemon juice in your filling. It will definitely give you the best flavor, plus it will provide plenty of zest for making the filling bright and citrusy. There is a little bit of flour in the filling that will help form the sponge cake layer on the top of the cake. This top layer gives the pie a beautiful golden brown finish and adds a little substance to the pie. The filling itself is very light and smooth, with a lovely lemon flavor that is sure to be a hit with citrus-lovers.

I like a graham cracker pie crust for this particular pie. They’re easy and provide a nice crisp contrast to the silky pie filling, as well as adding a little extra flavor to each bite. You could certainly use a regular pie crust as long as you blind-bake it and let it cool before adding the filling (a totally uncooked crust won’t be cooked through with this filling, so the crust must be par-baked if using pie dough).

Lemon Chess Pie
1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Place pie crust on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well-combined. Add in butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, flour and salt and whisk until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently whisk into the lemon mixture until batter is uniform, and no big streaks of egg white remain. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until filling is set and the top of the pie is a dark golden color. Allow pie to cool on the pan for 20-30 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack or to the countertop to cool (moving the pie while the filling is too hot may crack the crust).
Pie may be served slightly warm or chilled. If serving warm, allow pie to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Serves 8-10

18 comments

  1. Chess pie, when I grew up in the South, was a pie that had cornmeal added to it. That sounds odd I know but it gave the pie a slightly textured appearance and mouth-feel. That’s why I liked it so much. My favorite was lemon because it was not so much sweet textured pie as a lemon custard pie with a little texture. Definitely one of my favorites if not my favorite pie!

  2. It makes me think so much of a Canadian favourite that I’ve enjoyed since I was a little child. We called it Flapper Pie and it too had the graham wafer crust with some of the graham wafer mixture retained to sprinkle on top of the custard. Makes my mouth water just to think of it.

  3. I love lemon anything! I have never heard of Chess Pie – sounds interesting!

  4. Nice pie you have there! I’ve been long time didn’t make pie. This has inspiring me to make a pie soon. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe. Cheers!

  5. That looks good. I love any lemon pie. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sounds great, though I favor the Shaker Lemon-style pies for their strong lemon flavor.

  7. This pie looks and sounds like it would be pretty tasty. I also love the fact that it has simple ingredients as well. It’s hard to find old-fashioned, basic but good recipes anymore.

    Thanks

  8. I just want to eat my desktop right now..Chess pie looks so great im baking one today for my kids..

  9. And a happy Pi Day to you too. I wish I could eat this today :(

  10. I’m sure your Lemon Chess Pie is a tasty version, but in my part of the South we would never put it in a graham cracker crust. It goes in an unbaked pastry crust and is baked along with the filling. And most recipes I have used have a TB of cornmeal added for texture.

  11. I’m sure your Lemon Chess Pie is a tasty version, but in my part of the South we would never put it in a graham cracker crust. It goes in an unbaked pastry crust and is baked along with the filling. And most recipes I have used have a TB of cornmeal added for texture.

  12. Did you put cocoa or something else on top, or does it really bake up that dark?

    Thanks

  13. Looks fantastic. I had my first lemon chess pie last summer and it’s so refreshing. I love lemon desserts with shortbread crust.

  14. The Tangy Lemony taste serves as a perfect blended. Nice recipe.

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