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.
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 Tbsp of white cornmeal
- 1 Tbsp of flour
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup 2% Chobani Greek Yogurt
- 4½ Tbsp butter, melted
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ 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.