Lemon Chess Pie – CitrusLove

The Lemon Chess Pie, or could be Lemon “Jess” Pie, is a true Southern classic.  There are a few stories that are shared of how the pie got its name.  Some say the Chess Pie originates in England, because of the “curd” like filling.  However, you will find that the pies’ true home is in North Carolina.

The first thought is that the name came from where the pies were stored, in a pine pie safe or pie chest years ago.  Depending on where you travel in the South, you may still find an antique pie chest.

The other story-  a husband comes home after a long day of work, his wife is making dinner.  He says to her, ” What are you making, it smells so good?”  She replies, ” Honey, it is “Jess” pie!”

Wherever the name originates, it is a true Southern classic.  I asked on Twitter and Facebook if anyone had heard of Lemon Chess Pie?  I loved the answers, so many started remembering how amazing it is.

There is one ingredient that truly makes the pie unique, the white cornmeal.  I made the original version, because I have never had a chess pie.  I also made my version, because that is what I do at CafeTerraBlog!

First recipe adapted from Alicia Ross:

I have my version of the lemon chess pie below.  The only thing different for the original version was 5 eggs instead of (in my adapted recipe) 3 eggs and 1 cup greek yogurt.  The original version will take 45 minutes to cook, and will have a light brown appearance, and a brown crust.

The second recipe I decided to try to incorporate my favorite, Chobani Greek Yogurt! The second pie tasted the same as the original version, and was the favorite at the party I took it too.  It did look different, and cook different.

Yields 8

Lemon Chess Pie

A delicious lemon filling, with a wonderful light brown crust!

20 minsPrep Time

45 minsCook Time

Save Recipe


2 cups of sugar
1 Tbsp of white cornmeal
1 Tbsp of flour
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup 2% Chobani Greek Yogurt
4 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup half and half
Zest of one lemon (about 2 Tbsps)
Single pie shell (packaged or homemade is fine)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, spray 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray. Place pie shell in pie pan, cut extra edges off, and pinch around edges to make a nice crust.

In large bowl, with electric mixer, mix sugar, flour, and cornmeal together. Then add in one egg at a time, then add in greek yogurt and blend well until pale yellow and slightly foamy. Add in lemon juice, half and half, and butter, continue to mix well, and still foamy in appearance.

Fold in zest into filling, then pour filling into pie crust, bake for about 45 minutes or until filling is set all the way through. You will look for a light brown appearance on top, and crust will begin to brown. Let cool. You can serve it once cool, or refrigerate until ready to serve.


To ensure a creamy filling, be sure to blend the eggs and sugar mixture until the eggs are light and slightly foamy. Under blending at this point will cause a gritty texture in the pie. Important The pie does not set completely when baking, even after 50 minutes of cooking. Your crust will start burning though. So cook for about 45 minutes, let it cool, and you can cool it in refrigerator too. It has a custard look to it, but tastes just like original. AND you can enjoy greek yogurt in a fun new way!


There is not only lemon chess pie, some other favorites are lime, molasses, chocolate pecan, and even chocolate chess pie!
Have you had a chess pie before? What is your favorite way to bake/cook with greek yogurt?
Until next time, Come on in, Have a seat,

Hugs, Terra

January is #citruslove month!
Please join in on the #citruslove fun by linking up any citrus recipe from the month of January 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #citruslove event! The twitter hashtag is #citruslove 🙂
Thank you to the lovely hosts of CitrusLove:


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  • So fun to co-host the #citruslovebloghop with you!!!! I have heard of this pie, but never sampled it...I think your lemon version sounds fantastic!!!
    • Thank you Liz! It was fun co-hosting with you too! oxox, Terra
  • Anonymous
    Oooohhhh!  I don't think I've ever tried a Lemon Chess Pie before, but I'm sure I would love it since I love all things lemon!  I am going to try this recipe soon. :)  
    • I have never had a chess pie, but I can tell you I will have it again! They are amazing:-) Thank you so much! oxox, Terra
  • I have never had chess pie before, but it sounds fantastic! And seems like it would be easy to make gluten free too - it looks lovely!
    • It would definitely be easy to make into a gluten free version, and I think a almond flour crust would be a pretty awesome compliment to the lemon:-) Thank you so much for the sweet comment! Hugs, Terra
  • i've never had lemon chess before, but it looks delicious! :)  sending some #citruslove to you!
    • Thank you so much! Sending citruslove back your way:-) oxox, Terra
  • Looks delish Terra.  Can I come over for a slice?  
    • Thank you so much Heather! You are always invited to my house, and there is a slice left actually:-) oxox, Terra
  • I have never had chess pie before but it sounds (and looks) amazing! Great #citruslove post! 
    • Thank you so much! I have never had chess pie before, but I am officially a fan:-) oxox
  • Oh this looks delicious!Even I've never had one before, but your's look amazing :) Happy Citruslove!
    • Thank you so much! So fun to co-host CitrusLove with you:-)
  • I love this Lemon Chess Pie & I just know if I make this my family would love it ! Thanks for sharing the citrus-love with us, Terra! Hugs always!
    • Thank you so much for your sweet words:-) It was fun to co-host CitrusLove with you! oxox
  • I've never had a lemon chess pie, but I know I'd love it! Thanks so much for posting it - just bookmarked it to make soon! Love co-hosting #citruslove with you!!
    • Thank you so much! I had fun co-hosting CitrusLove with you too:-) oxox
  • Georgie
    What a beautiful pie.  I've never had chess pie but I'm loving all the ingredients.  I must try it... very soon.  Happy New Year!
    • Thank you so much! Happy New Year to you too! I have never had chess pie, but I adore the pie now, really fun and delicious:-) Hugs, Terra
  • Ooh, this sounds delicious with the Chobani Greek yogurt. Yum!
    • Thank you so much! It was fun doing two versions, both honestly tasted the same:-) Enjoy! oxox
  • wow this looks so so good and beautiful pictures Terra 
    • Thank you so much! oxox
  • Hi, can I use plain yogurt instead of  Chobani Greek Yogurt , I am not sure if it is already available here in my place. I love the recipe it's looks really yummy.
    • Hi there! Absolutely:-) I would recommend maybe adding a bit more flour and cornmeal to thicken it up.  I think mine may have set better with more flour.  Since plain yogurt is thinner then greek yogurt, you will definitely need to help thicken it up.  I hope that helps? I am available if you have questions! healthyyou72 (at) gmail (dot) com
  • The pie looks so moist and yum Terra! Like the yogurt in the recipe.
    • Thank you so much! I love challenging myself, and adding Greek yogurt to so many dishes:-) oxox
  • I made chess pie once, after seeing it in some movie with Ashley Judd.  Loved it, but felt it needed something acidic to balance the sweetness.  Ummm..lemon chess pie...it's benn there but I never jumped.  Now that I've seen yours, I'm jumping in.  It looks spectacular!
    • Oh what movie are you talking about with Ashley Judd, where there was chess pie? I love that there are so many different variations to the chess pie. Enjoy! oxox
  • Sue
    that sounds wonderful!  Jess pie or not LOL.
    • Thank you so much! oxox
  • foodwanderings
    Never heard of a chess pie but I absolutely love curds and tangy desserts. This is gorgeous, now if only I could have a slice. Great blog hopping. Shulie
    • Thank you so much! It was so fun to co-host CitrusLove with you! oxox
  • Beautiful pie Terra!  Love learning a little bit about the origin of Chess Pie, which I've heard of before, but never made.  This would be so easy to convert to gluten-free-will definitely have to try making it. I've pretty much started using Greek yogurt as a sub for sour cream in everything I make.  Love it! Happy #citruslove my friend :-)
    • I actually think it would be fun to make the chess pie gluten free. Especially with an almond flour crust, YUM! Thank you so much for the sweet words! It is always fun co-hosting a blog hop with you:-) Sending love and hugs!
  • Juliana
    Wow, this lemon pie looks delicious, I especially like the idea of having yogurt in the lemon filling. Beautiful pictures. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead Terra :-)
    • Thank you so much for the sweet words! Have a lovely week:-) Hugs, Terra
  • Joanna Tham
    Hi Terra! I LOVE anything related to citrus.. they really add that little tang in every bite. Your Lemon Pie is making me crave for a lemon meringue tart right now. I will definitely be joining this blog hop, but at the moment I have not made anything with citrus yet.. Gotta start thinking so I can join in the fun. Thanks for stopping by over at my blog too. At least now I get to hop on over to yours. Happy New Year!!! Cheers~ @ChicGorgeous:twitter  http://chicgorgeous.blogspot.com
    • Thank you so much! This citruslove blog hop is so fun, so many beautiful blogs:-) So happy we connected, I look forward to reading more of your lovely blog posts! oxox
  • I keep seeing recipes for chess pie but neither the plain or chocolate versions I've seen seemed appealing...but this lemon one is right up my alley!! This looks amazing :)
    • Thank you so much! I think I need to try a chocolate chess pie next, I bet it would be fun:-) Enjoy! oxox
  • it almost looks like butter! it seems delicious
    • LOL! It was pretty delicious:-) Thank you so much! oxox
  • Anonymous
    This looks delicious. At first I thought it was related in some way to the chess game but it doesn't seem to be. Very glad to discover your blog and wonderful recipes
    • Thank you so much for the kind words! I was happy to learn about a new pie, and it tasted pretty wonderful too:-) oxox
  • TspCurry
    Wow gorgeous photos Terra! And love the other suggestions for Chess Pie. I'll have to experiment...but think Lemon may end up as my fave! Love doing #citruslove w/ you!
    • Thank you so much! I loved learning about this pie, it was really fun! Enjoy:-) I had fun co-hosting citruslove with you:-) oxox
  • Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan
    It looks soooo good! I've been trying to figure out how to veganize chess pie for ages and I still haven't mastered it. Your photos have me drooling!
    • Hmmmm....I wonder how you could veganize it....what about the egg substitute? Thank you for the sweet words! Hugs:-)
  • Lana @ Never Enough Thyme
    Love chess pie! But I haven't made one in quite a long time. It's on my list for the upcoming weekend :-)
    • Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy soon:-) oxox
  • Baker Street
    Oh Terra! Your pie looks divine! 
    • Thank you so much! oxox
  • Betsy
    Never heard of this before but I love all things lemon! 
    • Lemon is pretty fantastic! Thank you so much! oxox
  • Keia Mastrianni
    Terra- The chess pie looks divine.I like that you made two versions. The more pie, the better, IMO. Thanks for posting about Citrus Love too. My jalapeno-lime butter was right on time. Cheers! 
    • Hi my friend! Yay, so excited you shared your delicious recipe on citruslove!!! I agree, definitely two pies are better than one:-) Hugs!
  • ohh... *bigeyes* Lemon pie. I am melting away. I hadnt known about lemon chess pie. Thank u so much for sharing!
    • I am so excited I shared about chess pie, I learned a little something too! Thank you so much:-) Enjoy! oxox
  • bakingaddict
    I've never heard of a chess pie but I really want to try some. This looks delicious and its so versatile. It's been fun co-hosting  #citruslove with you :) 
    • Thank you so much! It was fun co-hosting citruslove with you too:-) oxox
  • Suzanne
    I love lemon pie and this recipe looks great.  My grandma was an awesome pie maker and she would make my sister and I a pie each time we visited.  I always chose lemon without fail and my sister always chose chocolate.  It always made us feel special that we got our own pies each visit.
    • Awww, thank you for sharing! Your Grandma sounds pretty fantastic:-) My Grammy always made us kids our favorite cookies! Something about enjoy a delicious treat made by our wonderful Grandma's, makes everything perfect! oxox
  • I love lemon curd but have never heard of this pie, maybe because I rarely travel south. Chess or jess, this pie sure looks great Terra! Wishing you a wonderful week!
    • Thank you so much!!! I am new to the South, so love learning about some of the fun traditions:-) oxox
  • I have read in the past about the whole chess pie meaning, so cool to see it here. And what a luscious pis it is! Just great terra!
  • Amee Livingston
    are you kidding me??? I want a piece right now!  This looks so amazing and I am a nut for any kind of citrus dessert!  Love it!!!  Thanks so much for sharing on Fit and Fabulous Fridays!  Your blog layout looks amazing, by the way. :)
  • justonecookbook
    I didn't know the meaning behind chess pie!  That's interesting!  I love citrus in sweets and I love afternoon teas because of lemon curd they serve (strange?)!  I know I'll go crazy with this pie...
  • kitchenriffs
    Good recipe.  I've eaten this loads of times, but never made it.  Now I'm hungry for some!  Thanks.