Lemon Chess Pie

Celina Garza
by Celina Garza
8 Servings
1 hr 15 min

Lemon Chess Pie is somewhat new to me but it was a special birthday request so I was feeling the pressure to make sure it did not disappoint. So what exactly is it? To be honest, I think of it like a giant lemon bar icon – it has a smooth sweet, yet tart lemon curd filling but with a flaky pie crust.

Lemon Chess Pie is also considered to be a traditional southern dessert and it seems like the jury is still out in regards to how this pie got its name but some attribute it to the southern accent on the phrase “just pie” which sounds like “chess pie.” Regardless of the name origins, it makes for a delicious bite of lemon pie!

I wanted to make this extra special so I wanted to make the crust fun and knowing lemon and berries go well, a berry sauce would need to accompany it. While thinking of the crust I was reminded of a cheesecake slice I had from The Cheesecake Factory a few months back that had coconut in its crust. It was absolutely amazing and went well with the mango cheesecake. Since this pie would have similar bright fruit flavors like the cheesecake did, I decided to make it with a shredded coconut flaky buttery crust. The coconut flavor is not as strong but it adds a nice textural element to this pie. If coconut is not your jam, feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe in its place.

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Recipe details
  • 8  Servings
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 55 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 15 min
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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ⅓ cup cold butter
  • 5 tbsp cold water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of 1 large lemon, about 3 tablespoons
  • 1 ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 6 medium eggs (can do 5 large eggs)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • pinch of salt
Berry Sauce
  • 1 ¼ c frozen mixed berries
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 1 tsp cornstarch , dissolved in one tablespoon of water
  • 2 tbsp water
For the Crust
Preheat your oven to 400F and make sure you have a 9-inch pie dish handy.
In a food processor combine the flour, shredded coconut, and salt. Mix until the coconut shreds and flour are well combined.
Dice up your cold butter into cubes and then add to the food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together. It will first look like pieces of wet sand, once it gets to that stage, you can dump out the contents onto a lightly floured surface and knead it together until it forms a ball.
Gently roll out your dough, starting from the center outwards, applying even pressure. You will want to rotate your dough clockwise after every couple of passes to keep a circular shape. Keep turning and rolling your dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick or about the thickness of two quarters stacked on top of each other. Once you have the dough at the desired thickness, gently roll it onto your rolling pin to transfer it to your pie pan. Gently lay the dough onto your pie pan and press it into the bottom and the edges of the pan.
Prick the bottom of your pie crust with a fork 5-6 times. This will help keep the crust from puffing up too much. You can cut off any excess dough that is hanging off the side. You can crimp the edges or simply leave it as is, or make a decorative border by gently pressing the edges of a fork around the dish. Bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is a light golden color. Take out the oven and turn down the heat to 325F.
For the Filling
While the pie crust is baking you can begin to prepare your filling by whisking together the following ingredients until well combined and smooth: eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, cornmeal, and salt. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Bake for 40 minutes. The center will not be completely firm when you take it out. The top should have a light golden color but the center will still jiggle a bit. It will completely set as it cools.
Cool on a wire rack for 3 – 4 hours and then refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. While the pie bakes, you can prepare your berry sauce.
Berry Sauce
In a small saucepan, combine your berries, water and sugar. Once the berries begin to pop, add in the dissolved cornstarch. Mix well and keep heat at a simmer. Add in lemon juice. Keep the berry sauce at a simmer until it has reached your desired consistency. If needed add more water, 1 tbsp at a time. Can be served warm or cooled and stored in the fridge.
  • Serve your lemon chess pie after it has completely cooled. Can be served on its own or with some dusted powdered sugar. Serve the berry sauce on top or on the side, also great with whipped cream!
Celina Garza
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  • Catherine LaFara Catherine LaFara on Sep 02, 2021

    Why the cornmeal?

  • MK McDonald MK McDonald on Dec 04, 2021

    Shredded coconut? Thank you I’ll pass. Just

    can’t choke it down. It’s the texture I think. I can taste coconut in any baked

    treat from the first bite. Weird huh? Bit looks so yummy otherwise!