Buttermilk Chess Bars

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These from-scratch Buttermilk Chess Bars are wonderfully buttery and sweet with the wonderful tanginess of buttermilk and a little fresh lemon flavor. Such a great bar recipe!

Buttermilk Chess Bars stacked on a plate.


This easy from-scratch dessert is like the bar version of buttermilk pie. It’s very similar to these Southern Chess Bars, but there’s no cake mix used and there’s buttermilk added. I know quite a few people don’t like to bake with boxed cake mixes.

The tanginess of the buttermilk helps cut the sweetness some and the lemon juice gives the bars a fresh, bright flavor. These bars are made from simple ingredients you are likely to have on hand.

Ingredients Needed


  • All-purpose flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Butter- I use salted but you can use unsalted and add a pinch of salt.


  • Granulated Sugar
  • Whole Buttermilk
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Juice
  • Yellow Cornmeal
  • Flour
  • Vanilla Extract

Chess Bars cut into squares on parchment paper.


Buttermilk Chess Bars Recipe Tips:

Be sure to measure your flour correctly. Fluff the flour up some in the bag in case it is packed down. Use a large spoon and fill a dry measuring cup. Use the back of a knife and run it across the measuring cup to level the flour off.

When zesting the lemon, be careful to only remove the yellow part. The white part underneath is bitter.

These bars should be stored in the refrigerator. They will keep for 4 to 5 days.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Buttermilk Chess Bars stacked on a plate and a jug of milk.

Try These Other Amazing Bar Recipes:

Buttermilk Chess Bars stacked on a plate.

Buttermilk Chess Bars

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: buttermilk
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 342kcal
These from-scratch Buttermilk Chess Bars are wonderfully buttery and sweet with the wonderful tanginess of buttermilk and a little fresh lemon flavor.
Print Recipe



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold salted butter, cubed


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons plain yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lighty spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the baking dish with parchment paper, letting the paper come up the sides of the pan so that you can lift the bars out of the pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Add the butter cubes and use a pastry blender or two forks to cut it in until the mixture is crumbly.
  • Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornmeal, flour, and vanilla. Pour over crust.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until filling is set.
    Cool completely and then use parchment paper to lift the cooked bars from the baking dish. Cut into squares.
    Store in the refrigerator.
  • Optional: Sift powdered sugar over bars before serving.


You can use unsalted butter and add an extra pinch of salt.


Calories: 342kcal

Recipe adapted from Cooking with Paula Deen

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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