Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie

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A Southern favorite, this is an extremely easy pie to make and is delicious. The history of the Southern chess pie is deeply rooted in American culinary traditions, particularly in the Southern United States. The origins of this iconic dessert can be traced back to early European settlers who brought their pie-making expertise to the New World. Over time, as these settlers interacted with local ingredients and culinary practices, the chess pie as we know it today began to take shape. The exact etymology of the name "chess pie" remains a topic of debate among culinary historians. Some believe that the name "chess" might have evolved from "cheese" pie, as cheese pies were popular in England. However, the Southern chess pie doesn't typically contain cheese, making this connection speculative.

Another theory suggests that the name could be a derivation of the term "chest pie." This refers to the practice of keeping these pies in a pie chest, a cupboard-like storage cabinet common in early American homes, to preserve their freshness. Regardless of its name's origin, the simplicity and versatility of the Southern chess pie have made it a beloved dessert throughout the South. Its basic ingredients include pantry staples that were readily available to early American settlers: eggs, sugar, butter, and vinegar or buttermilk. These ingredients could be easily sourced and stored, making chess pie a practical and economical treat.

Chess pie has become a cherished part of Southern culinary heritage, passed down through generations. Different variations and regional adaptations have emerged over time, with some recipes adding ingredients like cornmeal, lemon juice, or chocolate to create delightful twists on the classic.

Make your favorite pie crust recipe or use one roll of store bought crust if you want and line a 9 inch pie pan crimping the edges.


2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
1/4 cup buttermilk powder reconstituted in 1 cup water, at room temperature or 1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Madagascar Vanilla Extract Double Strength or 1 teaspoon Madagascar Vanilla Paste
1 stick butter, melted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack at the lowest level.

Place the dough-lined pie plate on a baking sheet.

Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl to aerate and combine. Add the buttermilk, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

Add the melted butter and lemon zest and whisk until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the pie plate.

Bake until the filling is just set in the middle and the top is golden brown, about an hour.

Cool pie on a wire rack to room temperature before cutting.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.