Old Fashioned Lemon Chess Pie

Here’s an easy, from-scratch lemon pie recipe my family really loves.

Southern Living shares a little of the history of this well known confection…

History of Chess Pie
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.

Here’s how to make an Old Fashioned Lemon Chess Pie yourself…

Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c. coconut oil, packed (solid, not melted)
  • 4+ Tbsp water

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour and salt until blended. Cut in the coconut oil until the mixture gets crumbly. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of water over the mixture and toss with a fork. Add more water one tablespoon at a time, tossing after each, just until the dough holds together. Be careful not to add too much water.

Pat the dough into a ball, then use your hands to flatten it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 12″ circle. Gently lift the dough and place it in a 9″ pie dish, trimming around the edges as needed.

Pie Filling

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 T. cornmeal
  • 1 t. lemon extract OR 20 drops lemon essential oil (make sure you use a brand that’s safe to ingest!)
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • 1/3 c. milk

In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the eggs and cornmeal, then add the lemon flavoring, vinegar, and milk. Blend well. Pour into a 9″ pie crust. Bake at 350* for 1 hour, or until browned on top and firm in the center.

The pie is somewhat custardy in the center. Very yummy, and very cheap to make at home!

2 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Lemon Chess Pie”

  1. I’d forgotten all about this pie. So glad to be reminded. I didn’t know I could use coconut oil instead of lard. Hope it’s good for me. Will certainly make this.


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