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The Best Lemon Icebox Pie You’ve Ever Tasted

Do you have a favorite dessert? One of ours is pie. Specifically, Sweet Shark thinks this is the best lemon icebox pie you have ever tasted.

It’s been quite a while since I shared one of my favorite recipes. Actually, this dessert is one of Sweet Shark’s favorite recipes – Lemon Icebox Pie.

A few years ago he 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.

lemon icebox pie

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 Ice Box Pie: Try This One

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 to 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 half a dozen lemons off the tree and it was still full.

lemon tree

Aren’t they pretty?

lemons on tree

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.

bowl of lemons

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 into 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 into 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 grows leaves, and 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, after a couple of years, 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

Making the Pie Crust

Crushing the graham crackers in the food processor is the absolutely easiest method. I use my food processor to make pizza dough, pesto, sauces, hummus, and many kitchen tasks. If you don’t have one, here’s the updated version of my favorite that I’ve had for 20 years.

raham crackers

After measuring 1 1/2 cups of graham crackers, I put them back in the food processor. Then I added the powdered sugar and melted butter, pulsing until the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter were completely combined.

ingredients in food processor
ingredients in food processor

The crumbs should look like coarse sand.

Place the crumbs in your favorite pie plate. I used one of my Le Creuset pie plates.

lemon icebox pie cracker crust

Covering the crumbs with a piece of plastic wrap makes spreading them and pressing them down really easy.

making lemon icebox pie crust

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, lemon juice, and granulated sugar.

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.

cracking eggs
pouring condensed milk into bowl

Whisk until the ingredients are completely blended.

miing lemon icebox pie filling

Pour the filling mixture into the cooled pie crust.

pouring lemon icebox pie filling into 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.

lemon icebox pie

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.

lemon icebox pie

I hope you’ll make this refreshing lemon icebox pie and let me know what you think about the recipe.

best lemon icebox pie
Print Pin
5 from 3 votes

Best Lemon Icebox Pie

A delicious light pie that is slightly sweet and tart with the bright flavor of lemon.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword easy pie, easy pie recipe, icebox pie, lemon icebox pie, lemon pie, southern pie
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 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

Whipped Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream chilled
  • 2 – 4 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1 lemon zested and thinly sliced

Instructions

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 and granulated sugar, 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.

What You Need to Make this Lemon Icebox Pie

pin for later graphic in blue

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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52 Comments

  1. This definitely something im gonna try! Can you freeze/thaw the pie or will it interfere with the texture?!

  2. I am a little confused. In the upper section it says”after baking” chillin refrigerator. However, the recipe below doesn’t mention baking. Do you bake the pie or not?

  3. 5 stars
    The pie tasted like my mom used to make, but it didn’t set. I even left it overnight in the refrigerator. I think it was because I used too much lemon juice!! Thank you for the recipe! I will try again!

    1. Hi Wanda, you have a good eye. The sugar is added to the filling with the condensed milk. I have updated the recipe in the post. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  4. 5 stars
    Carol, the recipe for the filling calls for 2 T granulated sugar, along with the lemon juice, egg, and condensed milk. But it is never mentioned in the directions. I made this with fresh juice from my tree, so I just used 1 T sugar, since the Meyers lemons run a little sweet anyway. Turned out just fine. But, still wondering if the 2 T sugar ingredient is a typo, or if it is intentionally included in the recipe.

    1. Hi Dr. Bob, You caught my oops. Yes, the sugar is added with the condensed milk for the filling. I have updated the recipe in the post. Meyer lemons can be sweeter than normal (that’s what make sthem so good). Good call in reducing the amount of sugar. Thanks for reading Bluesky at Home and trying one of my recipes.

  5. Carol, this has to be one of the prettiest pies I’ve seen! Also just bought a Meyer lemon tree last weekend and can’t wait to get my first crop. Lemons make me so happy- I even have a lemon print dress! Definitely pinning this as it’s the perfect warm weather dessert.

    1. Thank you so much, Candace. It does have a happy look. The hard part of growing them is hoping that a big wind doesn’t come in after the blooms have set and blow all the potential lemons away. Meyer Lemons come to harvest in the winter. We love to watch them turn from green to bright yellow. We start using them in February or March. I think we picked off the last bunch in mid~April. Good luck.

  6. Definitely need to try this, it looks delicious! We love ALL things lemon! And I am so jealous of your lemon tree – I have trouble keeping ivy alive, so I probably couldn’t grow one, but it’s so pretty and what a treat to have Meyer lemons in the house!

  7. Ooh! My mouth is watering just looking at it! I’d love to grow a lemon tree but our winters are too harsh and we don’t have the space to bring it inside. I’ll just have to make do with shop-bought lemons to make your wonderful pie 😉

    1. Jayne, ours did freeze one winter and we almost lost it. Even in Dallas, it can get very cold and we can have a hard freeze. It’s a funny story somewhere on the blog. Fortunately, many stores now carry them.

  8. This looks so good, Carol! My husband loves anything with lemons (his favorite is lemon meringue pie). I’m definitely going to make this for him. Congrats! You’ve been featured this week at Celebrate Your Story!

    1. Hi Paula, we were lucky that the lemon tree did start producing again. We just took off the last 6 lemons of this year’s crop. I see a Lemon Drop Martini in my future!

  9. This pie looks delicious. I’m definitely going to make this. Is there any concern for worry about the raw egg used in the uncooked filling?

    1. Sandra, I’ve never been asked that question, but no, shouldn’t be a problem (Think Caesar salad uses raw egg.). However, if someone has a compromised health issue, I would check with their doctor before using it.

  10. Carol, thanks for sharing the pictures of your lemon tree with us! I have never seen a lemon tree with so many lemons! You are so fortunate to have one outside!

    Sure wish we could have a lemon tree here in Manitoba but it would never survive here! (Our lake still has ice on it with no signs of melting any time soon!)

    This recipe looks so yummy! Thanks for this recipe and for “fine tuning” it for all of us! My husband loves lemon pie. I’m going to make this pie for him tomorrow! He will love it, I know — and he probably won’t stop at having one piece!

    Take care! Stay safe! Bless you!

  11. Your pie looks so good! I seldom make lemon things as my boyfriend is not fond of lemon. As a child, he ate all the meringue off his mother’s lemon meringue pie so his father made him eat the entire lemon pie. Turned him off lemon altogether. I occasionally make lemon squares for a potluck lunch at church so I end up with only a few–works for me!

  12. Hi Carol! Wow…you have spent a lot of time to narrow done recipes into THE BEST one. I am having out of town company soon and I think this would be the perfect dessert to impress them with. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the wonderful photos. I saw your post over at “Our Hopeful Home” blog party.

  13. Looks delish! My daughter is a huge lemon fan. Her birthday is coming up in 2 weeks and I think I will make this for her. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. What a beautiful lemon tree, Carol, and the pie looks lemonlicious! How wonderful to make a pie from your own lemons. I had a lemon tree once and only got one lemon from it. It had lots of delicious smelling buds, though. Maybe a need to try again!

    1. Kitty, thanks so much for your kind comments. I think it takes a few years for the lemon tree to mature. Our last two years far out produced all previous years.

    1. Christine, I’m so happy you are making this pie. We actually live in Dallas. My husband just takes really good care of the tree. Can’t let it freeze!

    1. Rue, it is delicious. I’ll be making another one soon. The Meyer Lemon Tree is easy to grow; just needs sun, water and prayers! Thanks for pinning.

  15. I love lemon pie.
    We live in the Rio Grande Valley where we have lots of citrus.
    I do not however have a lemon tree.
    Is it in the original pot?

    Amazing!

    Thank you for joining TOHOT! We are so glad you are here.

    1. Laura, no, that is not the original pot. Sweet Shark has had to repot it a few times. Last winter when a hard freeze was expected, he broke the pot when he was trying to bring the tree in the house. We put the tree with its dirt ball in a lawn bag and it sat in our breakfast room for a week in dirt! Fortunately we had removed all the lemons. It’s been such a mild winter (probably like in the Valley) that it’s a very happy tree.

  16. Oh wow! I was just talking to Joyce yesterday and she said she’d like to have a lemon tree. Do you have to bring it inside in the winter?

    I’m going to send her to your post. 🙂

    1. Stacey, we only bring it inside if we are going to have a hard freeze, which we have not had to do this winter. If it’s going to be really cold, we cover it with a sheet. We’ve had the tree for 6 or 7 years. Thanks for passing on.

      1. My Mother made this pie and everyone family and friends requested it every Christmas, I think I have answer about the raw egg issue, Mamma told me the acid in the lemon juice somehow cooks the egg yolk making thick custard that sets up nicely. Just thought I would share that we are this pie every Christmas no one ever got sick so something makes the raw egg safe to eat! Thanks for your recipe version.