Lemon Beach Pie

Must...eat...more...pie. Sweet, salty, sweet, salty, and oh yeah—creamy, crunchy, cool and tart.

Must…eat…more…pie. Sweet, salty, sweet, salty, and oh yeah—creamy, crunchy, cool and tart.

If you love your people—and I know you do—make this pie now. In the wilds of the Internet it is known as Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach pie. Anything called Beach Pie gets my attention. When its maker also calls it the “easiest recipe in the world,” I’m all in. This pie is not a secret. In fact, way before Ms. Kardashian tried to break the Internet I think this pie came close. For some reason, however, it took me until recently to make it.

What pushed me over the edge was the entire stick of butter on my counter, barely maintaining its solid form on a sweltering summer day. “Mix me with Saltines and a touch of sugar, then turn me into the crust of a glorious pie,” it seemed to be saying.

Perhaps that was the heat. At any rate, I obeyed the voice. The aforementioned Bill Smith created this version of a pie that is served up at coastal seafood restaurants in the North Carolina. It tastes darned good far from the beach too, and if for some reason you don’t finish it, just pop it in the freezer and bust it out whenever you need a taste of the beach. 

Make One Beach Pie

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 inch pie pan. (If you only have a 9-inch pan just top the pie with more whipped cream.)  Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Load it up with fresh whipped cream give it a sprinkling of sea salt.