North Carolina Lemon Pie

4.87 from 15 votes

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Rich and creamy North Carolina Lemon Pie combines just the right amount of sweet and tart flavors. It’s made with a secret pie crust ingredient too.

This 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!

top view of a lemon pie next to lemons and serving utensils
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North Carolina Lemon Pie

Lemon lovers unite! This pie marries tangy and sweet flavors in such a delicious way. It is simple to make and the finished product is so pretty. 

I can picture this lemon pie being served all summer long. It tastes light and fresh and works for all of your summer get togethers.  
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. You get smarter and hungrier every time you read this magazine.

a plate of lemon pie next to the pie

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does lemon pie need to chill in the refrigerator?

You will want to refrigerate the pie for several hours until it is completely chilled. This makes it ideal to make ahead so you don’t need to worry about it on the day you plan to serve it. 

How do I know when lemon pie is done baking?

Bake the lemon pie until the edges of the pie are set but the center still jiggles, about 15 to 17 minutes. Place the pie on a wire rack and let it cool completely. 

Should I use fresh lemon juice to make lemon pie?

Fresh lemons will always taste the best. You will need about 3 lemons for this recipe. 

How do I get juice out of lemons?

To get the most juice out of a lemon I like firmly roll the lemon on the counter with my hand before cutting and squeezing the juice. This will soften the lemon a bit and help you get the most juice out of each lemon.

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.

top view of a plate of lemon pie next to the pie

More lemon recipes:

If you’ve tried this Lemon Pie recipe or any other recipe on Bless this Mess, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some pictures of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories AND add your photo to your comment so that other can see your creation!

top view of a lemon pie next to lemons and serving utensils
4.87 from 15 votes

North Carolina Lemon Pie

Rich and creamy North Carolina Lemon Pie with just the right amount of sweet and tart and made with an secret pie crust ingredient!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 3 hours
Servings: 8


For the Crust

  • 6 ounces saltine crackers, about 1 sleeve or 36 crackers
  • 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
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  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 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).
  • 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.
  • Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake until light golden brown, 17 to 19 minutes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Serving: 1 of 8 slices, Calories: 483kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 177mg, Sodium: 251mg, Potassium: 241mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 37g, Vitamin A: 1027IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 175mg, Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

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!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Susan says:

    How do you keep the saltine crust from sticking to the pie plate…it doesn’t cut well at all .. just is stuck in the pie plate can you use a non stick spray instead??

    1. Melissa says:

      Oh that’s weird, the butter in the crust has been enough for me, but yes you can use non stick spray.

  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you thank you for this simple but wonderful recipe. Everyone, especially me, loved it

  3. Jude says:

    have you ever used an alternative for the crackers GF? Im making for someone else, not experienced with GF crackers? I love the idea of crunchy salty with the pie but worry GF crackers won’t be the right texture or hold together? Any Thoughts?

    1. Melissa says:

      I haven’t tried it but GF crackers are generally quite crunchy, I think it might work just fine!

  4. Bryan G Riendeau says:

    5 stars
    My wife loved this pie, she’s a huge lemon fan. Thanks for posting this. Bryan

    1. Kristi says:

      Always have wonderful recipe’s thank you.