• Yield: Serves 8

  • Time: 30 minutes prep, 1 hour cooking

While there is no consensus on how Lemon Chess Pie got its name, there is Splendid Table consensus that this Lemon Chess Pie belongs on the Thanksgiving table.  This recipe is from America: The Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz. Bright and light,  it is exactly the counterpoint we need at the Thanksgiving feast.  (Sally Swift, Managing Producer)


  • Basic Pie Dough for a single crust pie (recipe to follow)

  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar

  • Grated zest of 2 lemons

  • 4 eggs, at room temperature

  • 4 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose (plain) flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


For a single 8- or 9-inch (20 or 23 cm) crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups (163 g) all-purpose (plain) flour

  • 1 teaspoon sugar (omit if making a savory pie)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 stick (115 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubs

  • 3 – 4 tablespoons ice water

America: The Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz


Hand method: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter (using a pastry/dough blender or your fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add just enough ice water to bring the dough together. Begin by adding the smaller amount, blend in, then add more only as necessary. It is helpful to take a handful of dough and squeeze it: The dough should be neither wet, nor dry and crumbly.

Mixer method: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Blend in the butter on low speed. Add the water gradually. Stop the mixer before the dough comes together (use your hands to check the moisture content).

Form the dough into a ball (or two equal balls if making a double crust), flatten into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap (clingfilm), and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 24 hours in advance, or frozen at this point.)

For a single-crust pie shell (pastry case): Place the chilled disk of dough on a lightly floured surface. Using floured hands, flatten the dough slightly. Dust the rolling pin with flour, and roll from the center outward using light, even pressure. Roll until the dough is about 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick and 10–11 inches (25–28 cm) in diameter. Drape the pastry over the rolling pin and place it in a pie plate. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. If you like you can trim at this point: use a paring knife to trim the dough, leaving at least 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) all around.

Crimp the edges using the side of your forefinger and thumb, or the tines of a fork to press down along the edge. Place the pie shell in the freezer for 10 minutes (or chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes).


Prepare the single-crust pie shell (pastry case) and chill as directed.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4).

In a large bowl, using an electric stand or hand-held mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the cream and lemon juice. Beat in the cornmeal, flour, and salt.

Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake until the top is golden brown and the filling is set, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Adapted from America: The Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz. Copyright 2017 Phaidon.