North Carolina Lemon Pie

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
Nutrition Information: YIELD: 8 SERVING SIZE: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 525.6 Fat: 31.7g Cholesterol: 178.3mg Sodium: 289.4mg Carbohydrates: 54.9g Sugars: 46.8g Protein: 8.2g Vitamin A: 295µg Vitamin C: 8.7mg

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

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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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Simply put, this is a fantastic pie! It is so refreshing on a warm summer evening. The crust is excellent and the lemon filling is SO good!

Sue G.

This is now my husband’s favorite pie.

Brenda Wilkins

I was excited to try this pie until I realize this was very if not the old lemon icebox pie from the fifties but with the saltine cracker crust. I made it but I was disappointed that it didn’t have enough lemon taste. I was really looking forward to a really lemony taste which this does not have even after adding more zest and juice of 4 lemons. I think reducing the sweetened condensed milk and the 4 lemons might help with cutting the sweetness and allow more of lemon taste to come through.


Thanks for sharing your recipe, since some on Instagram are so snooty they want to make you pay for it!

John Shea

Terrific recipe. Thinking of making it in orange flavor, chocolate or choc and hazelnut. Probably need to change the crust but donxt know. Probably old discussion.
Thxs for such a easy, delicious and I wonder versatile recipe. Grandkids loved it

Yanni Babelis

The crust was very difficult to cut, I couldn’t lifted it. Followed the recipe instructions but somehow the crust on the bottom was stuck. Any feedback would be greatly helpful.

Joanne Beebe

[I wonder about a meringue topping?? Be great to use the 4 egg whites.


Does this pie freeze well?
It looks and sounds amazing!

Bob miller

Just made one tonight.

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

Donna L

Holy cow. Pie gone in one sitting. The whole family raved!! Fantastic!! Best pie ever!!!!


Can I sub out limes for the lemons? It’s what I have on hand…..


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


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!

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.