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

Ingredients 

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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 slice (1/8 pie), 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!

About Melissa

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Recipe Rating




59 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 5 stars
    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?

  3. 5 stars
    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. 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!

  4. 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!

    1. I think it would be fine a couple of hours, more than three I might bring a cooler. It starts to get a little soft…

  5. 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. 5 stars
      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.

  6. 5 stars
    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.

  7. 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!