Lemon Chess Pie Bars

Chess pie is a Southern dessert with ties to Virginia. These bars use old-fashioned buttermilk with a sunny splash of lemon juice instead of the traditional spoonful of vinegar.

Lemon Chess Pie Bars cut into triangles on white place with lemon slices
Photo: Jason Donnelly
Prep Time:
20 mins
Bake Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
32 bars


  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1 ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • 2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup chilled butter, cut up

  • 6 eggs

  • 2 tablespoon white cornmeal

  • ¾ cup buttermilk

  • ½ cup butter, melted

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • ½ cup lemon juice

  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

  • Powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray.

  2. For crust, in a food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 3 Tbsp. of the sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Pulse to combine. Add chilled butter; pulse until crumbly. Press evenly into the prepared pan.

  3. For filling, in a medium bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the remaining 2 cups sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt and the cornmeal. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the next five ingredients (through vanilla). Pour filling over crust.

  4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is almost set (the center should just jiggle). Cool in pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift out uncut bars. Cut into bars. If you like, sift powdered sugar over bars.

To Store

Layer bars in airtight container between sheets of wax paper; cover. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

146 Calories
7g Fat
20g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 32
Calories 146
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 141mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 1.8mg 9%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0.5mg 3%
Potassium 36mg 1%
Folate, total 17.4mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.1mcg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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