Lemon Chess Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A bright, custardy chess pie with a hint of lemon and a flaky, buttery crust.
Serves: 8-10 slices
For the Crust:
  • 3 ¾ cups AP flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup cold shortening or lard
  • ⅔ cup ice water
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or vodka
  • 1 egg, beaten (for an egg wash, if desired)
For the Filling:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • powdered sugar, for decorating (optional)
  1. First, make your pie crust. Please note that you should always chill your pie crust for at least 3 hours before baking. You have been warned.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, and salt. Cube your butter quickly, so it stays as cold as possible, and add it to your flour. Cube your shortening as best as you can (mine usually just ends up as small dollops all over my flour) and add it to your flour. Use your hands to combine the flour with the butter and sugar, pressing the butter into the flour with your thumbs. The result should look like pea-sized crumbs, but with a few nice chunks of visible butter still in the dough (this creates nice, flaky layers).
  3. Combine your ice water and vinegar, and slowly drizzle it over your flour mixture, starting with about half. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together, then add in a few more tablespoons at a time, mixing as you go, but being careful not to overwork the dough. It should be a little shaggy and crumbly when you’re done, but still wet enough to form into a ball. Use a little extra water, if needed.
  4. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap, forming the dough into large disks. This recipe makes enough for two pies, or one two-crust pie. If you’re not making a second pie, then go ahead and freeze your extra disk for up to 6 months. You’re welcome.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When you're ready to make your pie, roll out one disk of dough onto a generously floured surface. Place this crust in your pie dish, crimp the edges as you see fit, and place it in the freezer while you make the filling.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and vinegar. Once whisked well, add in your butter gradually, mixing as you go, just in case your butter is still hot (you don't want to accidentally scramble your eggs). Whisk until smooth and fully combined. Pour the lemon mixture into your chilled pie crust, and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden and mostly set, but still a little jiggly. Let the pie cool completely before slicing and serving. This pie will keep well, lightly covered and at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at http://www.thecrepesofwrath.com/2015/12/21/lemon-chess-pie/