It’s been quite a while since I shared one of my favorite recipes. Actually, it’s one of Sweet Shark’s favorite recipes ~ Lemon Icebox Pie. A few years ago started begging me (Yes, the boy will grovel when he wants a certain type of dessert.) for a lemon icebox pie. One like his mom used to make him. I hated to deny him such a simple request. Especially since we had a Meyer Lemon Tree that over the years produced the most amazing lemons. One year we got 54 lemons ~ yes, I counted. So I set out to find the best lemon icebox pie recipe.
With spring in full force and summer not far away, Lemon Icebox Pie is the perfect light dessert. Its color just makes you think of warmer days and lighter eating.
This Lemon Icebox Pie had to be wonderful, one that he would swoon over, one that he would say was just as good as the one his mom made when he was a little boy. (The pressure was on.) But I did it; I came up with the best lemon icebox pie you’ve ever tasted ~ according to Sweet Shark.
The Best Lemon Icebox Pie You’ve Ever Tasted
The Story of Our Meyer Lemon Tree
We have had this tree for years, starting at our other house, moving to an apartment for a year, then at our present home. It’s always produced beautiful, sweet lemons. Here is the tree a few years ago, bursting with lemons. We had already taken a half a dozen lemons off the tree and it was still full.
Aren’t they pretty?
Isn’t this the prettiest, happiest picture? Back in 2015, we harvested 26 lemons, our second largest crop. The lemons, from 3 1/2 – 4 inches long, were such a pleasant sight when I glanced outside in 30~degree weather. I love lemons; they have such a bright, refreshing taste and add zip to any food. I used every bit of juice and zest I could. Most of the time, we used the juice in cocktails, but it was time to use them in the requested lemon icebox pie.
Sadly, in January, 2016, thankfully after we had harvested all the lemons and I had made the lemon icebox pie for the first time, we had a killer freeze. It came on so fast in the middle of the night that we didn’t have time to protect the tree. The next day we tried to bring it in the house, but the pot fell off the dolly and broke. We picked up the root ball (about 2 feet around), stuffed it in a large garbage bag and brought it in the house where it sat for about a month. Sweet Shark repotted it and has been nursing the tree back to health since then, It gets leaves, sets some blossoms, but hasn’t produced fruit in 2 years.
For a couple of years, I think Sweet Shark just about gave up on the Meyer Lemon Tree. It looked nice on the patio as a specimen tree, but no lemons. So sad. But that hasn’t stopped me from making him a lemon icebox pie with regular lemons.
Thankfully, a couple of years ago, the tree started producing lemons again. They are almost as good as the previous harvest. So now, definitely no excuse for not making a lemon icebox pie.
How I Find a Recipe
When I’m looking for a particular recipe, in this case, Lemon Icebox Pie, I look first in some of my files (I have 6 3-inch binders) and through my cookbook collection (over 100) that might have the type of recipe I’m researching. Then I look online. I may print off two or three recipes, lay out all my possibilities, read them over, examine the ingredients and directions and decide which recipe to use.
Sometimes, I’ll use parts of two recipes. For this pie, I found one recipe in my files and one from Southern Living. The two recipes had the exact same ingredients for the crust and the filling, but in different proportions. The file recipe called for 2 cups graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup granulated sugar; the Southern Living recipe used 1 cup graham cracker crust, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, and 3 tablespoons melted butter.
I liked the idea of using powdered sugar, but I didn’t think 1 cup of crumbs was enough. The file recipe called for 2 cups fresh lemon juice, which would require at least 12 of my precious Meyer lemons and seemed like too much; the Southern Living recipe called for 1 cup lemon juice. In the end, I compromised, making adjustments until I came up with the right combination of ingredients.
That decision made, I started making what Sweet Shark declared the best Lemon Icebox Pie ever.
Making the Best Lemon Icebox Pie
Crushing the graham crackers in the food processor is the absolutely easiest method. I use my food processor for making pizza dough, pesto, sauces, hummus, and so many tasks in the kitchen If you don’t have one, here’s the updated version of my favorite that I’ve had for 20 years.
After measuring 1 1/2 cup of graham crackers, I put them back in the food processor. I add the powdered sugar and melted butter, pulsing until the crumbs, sugar and the melted butter were completely combined.
The crumbs should look like coarse sand.
Covering the crumbs with a piece of plastic wrap makes spreading them and pressing down really easy.
The nice smooth crust is ready for the oven.
The baked crust needs to cool for about 30 minutes.
Making the Filling for the Lemon Icebox Pie
First, separate the yolks from the whites. I use the good old hand method. After I separate the egg yolks and whites (you can freeze the egg whites) into my bowl, I add the condensed milk and lemon juice.
NOTE: Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice. That makes all the difference in the world to the taste of this lemon icebox pie.
Whisk until the ingredients are completely blended.
Pour the filling mixture into the cooled pie crust.
After baking, cool completely and then chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to finish the pie, whip the cream with powdered sugar until soft peaks form and spread or pipe onto the filling. I like to pipe the whipped cream on the pie. Garnish with lemon zest, a spring of mint and serve.
Once again Sweet Shark said this is the best Lemon Icebox Pie he’d ever tasted. He likes it because it wasn’t quite as sweet.
I hope you’ll make this refreshing lemon icebox pie and let me know what you think about the recipe.
Best Lemon Icebox Pie
- 9~inch pie plate
- food processor
- mixing bowl
- measuring cups
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs about 10 crackers, crushed in the food processor
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
For the Filling
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream chilled
- 2 - 4 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1 lemon zested and thinly sliced
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Butter a 9" glass pie plate with some of the melted butter.
- Slowly add the remaining melted butter and powdered sugar to the graham cracker crumbs in the food processor and pulse just until combined. The mixture should be moist like sand.
- Transfer the graham cracker mixture to the pie plate and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to spread the mixture evenly across the bottom and sides of the pie plate, pressing the crumbs to form a crust.
- Bake the crust in the heated oven until firm and slightly brown, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the crust from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to completely cool to room temperature.
For the FIlling
- Briefly whisk the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl; gradually add the condensed milk, whisking until smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix just until combined.
- Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Carefully cover the pie filling with a piece of plastic wrap, not allowing the plastic wrap to touch the filling. The filling will thicken as it sets.
- Place the lemon icebox pie in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
For the Topping
- Place the chilled heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a chilled mixing bowl. Whip on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and turn the speed to high, whipping just until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated into the whipping cream.
- Decorate the pie with the whipped cream. Add slices of lemon and lemon zest for garnish.
If you would like to know how to make a light flakey pie crust, here’s a great tutorial.
This pie is so worth making, even if you don’t have your own lemon tree. Be sure to PIN it so you won’t forget where you saw it
Think of me when you are eating a piece of this pie. I’ll be thinking of you.
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