Lemon chess pie elms of camden

Lemon Chess Pie

piece of lemon chess pie

APRIL 2021



I love desserts. I love the flavor of lemon. And I really love Lemon Chess Pie! This is a classic, southern dessert that many people are not familiar with, and that is a shame. Now, I don’t serve pie to guests at breakfast, but I have been known to have a piece with a good cup of coffee in the morning. I say whenever you make this pie, it’s perfect. 

No one has ever been able to determine how chess pie came about its name, but the colorful explanations make for great table conversation. Some say gentlemen were served this sweet pie as they retreated to a room to play chess. Others say the name was derived from Southerners’ dialect: It’s jes’ pie (it’s just pie). Yet another story suggests that the dessert is so high in sugar that it kept well in pie chests at room temperature and was therefore called “chest pie.” Southern drawl slurred the name into chess pie. Or, perhaps, a lemony version of the pie was so close to the traditional English lemon curd pie, often called “cheese” pie that chess pie became its American name.

Regardless, it’s a perfect lemon pie that’s easy to make and is great by itself or if you must, add some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top or on the side. It’s also a very forgiving pie with the ingredients. If you add a bit more flour or cornmeal, it’s okay. You can make your own pie crust but I’ve found a frozen one works just as well. Just use a good brand. Whichever you use put the filling in a frozen pie shell. I make the filling in a medium-sized mixing bowl and use a hand mixer.

– Gary, Elms of Camden


  • 1 Frozen Pie Crust (Deep Dish 9″)
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1.5 Cups Sugar (If you want it a bit more tart scale back to 1 cup)
  • 1/2 Cup Lemon Juice (I only use fresh lemons and I recommend straining the juice)
  • 1/4 Cup Melted Butter
  • Zest from One Large Lemon
  • 1 Tbsp Flour (All Purpose)
  • 1 Tbsp Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1/8 Tsp Salt (If you use Salted Butter you can skip this)


  • In a large bowl beat, or whisk, the eggs for three minutes.
  • Gradually add sugar and beat for two more minutes. The mixture should get thick and lemon-colored.
  • Add in the lemon juice, butter, cornmeal, flour, and salt, and mix until combined (about one minute).
  • Add the zest and stir.
  • Pour mixture into frozen pie shell and bake at 350 for 35 – 40 minutes.
  • When done the middle will be a bit jiggly, that’s okay.
  • Cool the pie for one hour and then refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
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