North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe

North Carolina Lemon Pie

North Carolina Lemon Pie

This might be one of the best lemon pies I have ever had. It was simple to make, with a surprise ingredient in the crust. That ingredient is saltine crackers! They work so well in this crunchy and slightly salty/slightly sweet crust. Perfect with the lemon filling.

I first heard about this pie in one of my cooking classes. A woman mentioned it to me after class. Said she saw it on a TV show. I looked for it online. Odd thing was that every recipe was exactly the same. Even down to the wording in the directions.

I found one reference to the recipe first showing up in Cook’s Country Magazine about 4 years ago. I prefer to credit the source of a recipe, when possible.

I did change a couple of things from the original recipe. I added more lemon zest- from 1 tablespoon to 2. What can I say? I like a zesty pie.

I also thought it was odd to make so little whipped cream for the topping. Assuming you had a cup of whipping cream to start with, you use 1/4 cup in the pie filling. That leaves you with 3/4 cup of whipping cream. The recipe only calls for whipping up 1/2 a cup of whipping cream. I rounded it up in the recipe to 3/4 cup. Honestly, I would make even more topping the next time.

My guests really enjoyed the pie. I think you will, too.

North Carolina Lemon Pie

Crust

6 oz. saltine crackers (about 1½  sleeves)

1/8 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup light corn syrup

Filling

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-ounce)

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup heavy cream

1-2 T. grated lemon zest- I used 2 tablespoons

½ cup lemon juice

Topping

¾ c. heavy cream, chilled- increase from original recipe. I think even more whipped cream would be better. Just my preference.

1 T. sugar

1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 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 well combined.* 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. Prepare filling while the crust is baking. 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, 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.

*Note: I will admit to just crushing up the crackers by putting them in a bag and using a rolling pin. I had a few larger pieces. Still worked. I think it gave the crust a crunchier texture. Although it sank down into the pie pan when I baked it- so maybe next time I will crush the crackers a little more.   

Cooling down