North Carolina Lemon Pie

5 from 9 reviews

Rich and creamy North Carolina Lemon Pie is made with just the right amount of sweet and tart and made with a secret pie crust ingredient!

North Carolina Lemon Pie- easy to make and you'll never guess what the crust is made from!

North Carolina Lemon Pie

Lemon lovers unite! This simple North Carolina Lemon Pie is going to surprise and delight you, and I can’t wait for you to make it so that I can hear how much you enjoyed it! This recipe comes from the May 2015 issue of Cook’s Country magazine. It’s the magazine version of my favorite cookbooks (produced by America’s Test Kitchen!) and it is always fabulous. If you aren’t currently subscribing, I’d pick up a few copies from the library because they are not only full of great new recipes, but they have tons of information, tips, and tricks. You get smarter and hungrier every time you read this magazine.

This North Caroline Lemon Pie is super simple to make. The crust is as easy to put together as a graham cracker crust, but here’s the secret, it’s made from Saltines! How neat is that? It’s crisp and delicious! The filling is just beat together and then baked (no stove top cooking first) and then it’s topped with a bit of whipped cream. Easy!

It’s a sour, sweet, salty perfect pie combo that’s easy with no traditional crust to roll out. North Carolina Lemon Pie is my kind of dessert!


How do I choose a good lemon?

When shopping for fresh lemons, there are a few tips to find lemons that are nice and juicy. One is to find lemons that feel heavy for their size- it means has lots of juice inside! Bright yellow lemons with no wrinkles are also a sign of a good lemon.


North Carolina Lemon Pie

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this Mess
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 1x


Rich and creamy North Carolina Lemon Pie with just the right amount of sweet and tart and made with an secret pie crust ingredient!



For the Crust

  • 6 ounces saltine crackers (about 1 sleeve)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

For the Filling:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-ounce)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus ½ cup juice (3 lemons)

For the Topping

  • ½ cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add the saltines and salt to the food processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs (about 15 pulses). Add the melted butter and corn syrup and pulse until the crumbs are about the size of oatmeal (another 15 pulses).
  2. Add the cracker mixture to a greased 9-inch pie plate. Use the bottom of a dry measuring cup or glass and press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the dish.
  3. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake until light golden brown, 17 to 19 minutes.
  4. To make the filling – whisk the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, cream, and lemon zest together in a bowl, add the lemon juice and whisk until well combined.
  5. With the pie plate on the baking sheet still, remove it from the oven and pour in the filling (the crust does not need to be cooled) and place it back in the hot oven. Bake until the edges of the pie are set but the center still jiggles, 15 to 17 minutes. Place the pie on a wire rack and let it cool completely. Refrigerate the pie until completely chilled.
  6. For the topping, use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk and whipped the cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium low until foamy (about a minute). Increase the mixer speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie and serve cold.


  • Be sure to measure the crackers by weight. A few packages sell them in 4 ounce sleeves so you’ll need 1 1/2 sleeves to get enough crackers for the recipe.
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon, pie, pie crust, America's Test Kitchen


If you are a lemon lover, you might also like these recipes:

This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in August 2019.

North Carolina Lemon Pie uses saltine crackers instead of a graham cracker crust for a sweet an tart dessert that is sure to please!

North Carolina Lemon Pie

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38 Recipes for Busy Moms
37 Responses
  1. Andrew C.

    As a Bachelor I enjoy cooking for myself and love all lemon deserts. I don’t have a fancy kitchen or tools. I used the old beaters my mom gave me. Worked great. Wow! Suck a sweet pie!!! Thankfully it’s all mine hahah
    Thank you very much for this recipe

  2. June

    Saw this recipe on @create TV show today never had a saltine cracker piecrust before willing to try . It looked really good , thanks for sharing the recipe .
    Have a great day
    Thanks June

  3. I made this pie a few weeks ago and my whole family loved it! It’s sweet and salty heaven! The filling is so silky and smooth and the crust is total salty deliciousness! Thanks for a great recipe!

  4. Val

    My good friend and neighbor made this pie, and she wanted an opinion…
    boy, am I glad I live next door. I am a lemon lover and lament the fact that I do not often find a good lemon pie, let alone one with a fantastic crust! Well, here I am leaving a comment, then printing the recipe so that I can make a whole pie for my home. Unfortunately, my neighbor only let me opinionate on one slice….

    1. Melissa

      This was such a fun comment. Thank you for being here and tell your neighbor for being kind enough to share the pie (and my recipe) with you!

  5. Mary

    Super easy and sooooo yummy!

    I made this for the first time and my husband and I just love it. Refreshing, mouth-watering combination of tart, sweet, and salty.

    I used about 1.5 sleeves of Premium Whole Wheat Saltines. Turned out great.

  6. Bev

    I saw this on ATK too. I’m glad I made this pie, it was really good. However, I am glad I weighed the crackers as one sleeve was only 4.4oz. 6 oz. was just under 1 1/2 sleeves. So cooks out there, weigh them to be accurate.

  7. Carla

    Thank you for posting this recipe. It was easy to make but tastes like I spent a lot of time and effort. I took it to work and I was a star!

  8. Betsy

    I made this before and the filing was plentiful, so this time I multiplied the crust by 1.5 because I love this crust. There was a little crust left over so I put it in the bottom of a cast iron Le Creuset dish and topped it with a thin layer of the filling for my own personal lemon bars, and it worked great.

    I wonder how whole wheat crackers would taste?

  9. Stephanie

    Thank you for posting this recipe so I don’t have to have a subscription to ATK or Cooks Country!

    PS – My pie filling didn’t giggle. 😉

    1. Melissa

      LOL, you’re welcome! And I’m glad your pie filling didn’t giggle. I actually have quite a few ATK recipes on here (I LOVE THEM) so take a look around!

  10. Erin

    Hi, question: if I bring this to a party, how long can it sit out without being refrigerated (i have a feeling they won’t have room with all the thanksgiving dishes). Thanks!

  11. Robert Welton

    I ha e not yet made this, but I will. But, do you know if anyone has tried to adapt this recipe into a lime pie by using lime zest and lime juice?

      1. J Moy

        Saw this on a recent episode of Cook’s Country and so glad to find the recipe here. To the commenter who asked whether this could be adapted to make a lime pie, this is basically the key lime pie recipe on the Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice bottle. They call for 1/2 cup of lime juice plus condensed milk, and 3 eggs (instead of 4) and no heavy cream.

  12. Robin Rasch

    I enjoyed watching the cooks on Cooks Country doing this recipe on TV. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try. It looks absolutely delicious.

  13. Vivian

    My husband loves lemon pie so I tried this recipe–it was delicious!! It turned out excellently!! I was concerned that I had a regular 9″ glass pie plate (not with high sides) but it fit into it perfectly! Thank you!

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

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