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North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe/Atlantic Beach Pie

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Last week I had a shrimp boil for a few friends and chose to make this North Carolina lemon pie recipe for dessert. 

Made with just a few ingredients, what makes this lemon pie so good is its saltine cracker crust.

Often the only dessert on the menu at many Southern seafood restaurants, this easy dessert was perfect after our shrimp boil!

I’ve made plenty of key lime pies in my life, but this lemon pie was a first.

Very similar to a key lime pie, this lemon pie with a salty saltine crust was a hit.

Refreshing and tangy, this North Carolina Lemon Pie recipe is perfect summertime food!

north carolina lemon pie recipe with blue napkin

Why I Love this North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe

So easy to make, this lemon pie with a sweetened condensed milk filling, comes together fast!

Everyone loves it and it can be adapted in many ways.

Refreshing and light, this pie, made famous by Chef Bill Smith, was found at the now closed restaurant, Crook’s Corner, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

This is a simple recipe that every mom needs. That anyone who loves lemon needs!


Does this North Carolina lemon pie recipe go by other names?

Also known as an Atlantic Beach lemon pie as Atlantic Beach was the beach Bill vacationed at as a kid.
Bill Smith is known as the one who rescued the recipe and revived it from an old church cookbook.

Can Atlantic beach pie be frozen?

Absolutely, this North Carolina lemon pie recipe can be frozen, however I would make the topping before serving.

Can I make this North Carolina Lemon pie without Saltines?

North Carolina Lemon Pie also know as Atlantic Beach pie can be made with a graham cracker crust, a saltine cracker crust or Ritz crackers.

north carolina lemon pie recipe slice on white plate with lemon pie in background

Ingredients Needed For Creamy North Carolina Lemon Pie

Sweetened Condensed Mllk

Egg Yolks

Fresh Lemon juice or a combination of lemon and lime juice

Lemon Zest

Saltine Crackers


Unsalted Butter


Meringue/Whipped Cream/Sour Cream or Whipped Yogurt

Atlantic Beach Pie slice or North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe

How To Make this North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe

Begin by crushing the Saltines either in a food processor or by hand. Make sure not to crush them too fine. You want some coarse crumbs!

Place in a large bowl and stir in the sugar, then mix with room temperature butter or melted butter. (I tried the room temperature butter but think next time I will go back to melted.)

Press the cracker mixture into the sides and bottom of the pie pan and chill for 15 minutes in the freezer. While the crust is chilling, preheat the oven.

Bake crust on a baking sheet and then place on oven rack placed in the middle position of the oven about 15 minutes or until crust begins to turn golden brown along the edges.

Grate the lemon zest from the lemons and reserve some for garnish.

While crust is baking whisk together lemon juice, most of the lemon zest, condensed milk, large egg yolks, and a pinch of salt.

After crust has baked, pour the filling directly into the baked crust and continue baking for 16 minutes or until the filling is set.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Prepare your topping of choice.

I beat together a few tablespoons of heavy cream, some powdered sugar and yogurt.

North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe slice on plate with fork

You can also substitute a graham cracker crust or one made with Ritz crackers.

I used a deep dish pie plate. If you want the lemon filling to come to the top of the pie tin, then do not use a deep dish pie plate.

I used fresh lemon juice, but a combination ot lemon and lime juice works also.

Many people hate wasting egg whites, though there are many that love eating the leftover whites-such as my dog!

If you love meringue, feel free to add a meringue topping.

I, for one, prefer fresh whipped cream or in this case I made a tangy yogurt topping which helped offset the sweet lemon filling.

Atlantic Beach pie slice or North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe on white plate with fork

How To Garnish Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

If you didn’t go the meringue route, top with fresh whipped cream, sour cream mixed with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar, or try the whipped yogurt.

It was good.

Add a few lemon slices and sprinkle with lemon zest and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt is pretty good, too!

Whether you are making a shrimp boil, grilling swordfish or cooking salmon, or perhaps steaming mussels, this is the best lemon pie ever!

Perfect after a big seafood meal, you will love this salty cracker crust citrus pie!

And so will everyone else!

More Simple Dessert Recipes

Banana Split Pie Dessert

Banana Split Pie

cherry pie recipe with frozen cherries on white plate

Homemade Cherry Pie

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Recipe Card

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north carolina lemon pie recipe

North Carolina Lemon Pie Recipe/Atlantic Beach Pie

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  • Author: Abbe
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 68 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American


This North Carolina Lemon Pie recipe with its Saltine crust is otherwise known as Atlantic Beach Pie. I don’t care what you call it, this easy lemon pie with its salty crust is a crowd pleaser!


Units Scale

For the Crust:

1 1/2sleeves saltine (with salt) crackers (about 60 crackers/200 grams)

3tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature or melted


4egg yolks

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/2cup fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice, or a mix of the two (Grate the zest of the lemons to use in the pie and as a garnish)

Pinch of kosher salt

Fresh whipped cream, OR Sour cream or Yogurt, lemon or lime zest and flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)

Yogurt Topping:

1 c plain whole milk Greek Yogurt

1/4 heavy whipping cream

2 T powdered sugar

Vanilla extract (optional)


Make the  crust:  Using a food processor or your hands, pulse or crush the crackers finely. (Stop before all the crackers turn to dust; it’s O.K. if you have some little pieces.) Add sugar, then melted butter and stir to combine.

Press into the sides and bottom of a 9″ pie pan. (Not  deep dish.) Freeze for 15 minutes, then bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the crust gets a little color.

Make the filling: While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), in a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks into condensed milk, then whisk in the lemon or lime juice (or both), half of the lemon zest, and salt, making sure to combine completely.

Pour into the shell, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes until the filling has set. Let cool on wire rack and then refrigerate until completely cold, 4 hours or overnight. Serve with fresh whipped cream, lemon or lime zest and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, if desired. Yogurt or sour cream topping is also good and you could make a meringue.


Please see post above.

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