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Last Updated on November 2, 2020 by Chenée Lewis
I still remember the first time I watched my father make a lemon icebox pie. I was a little kid, and we were at my grandmother’s house in Sandusky, Ohio. Such a special place for our family, where we experienced so many moments filled with love and laughter. And on that day, my father was separating eggs.
Me: Daddy, what are you making?
Dad: An icebox pie.
Me: Why is it called that?
Dad: Because you don’t cook it in the oven, you let it set in the refrigerator.
Me: Why don’t you use part of the eggs?
Dad: Because you don’t need them.
And the conversation continued like that for some time. I asked too many questions back then (still do).
When I finally tasted the lemon icebox pie he made, it was SO good. And it seemed too easy — it was just eggs, lemon juice, and condensed milk in a pre-made graham cracker pie crust! This lemon icebox pie recipe is in honor of him, and the Lewis family’s love for desserts — there are some slight variations from how his mother and grandmother used to make it, but I got his seal of approval! 🙂
2020 Juneteenth Cookout
I’m so excited to be sharing this lemon icebox pie recipe in celebration of Juneteenth. I didn’t grow up knowing about the celebration, but it’s never to late to celebrate your history, and I am so excited to do that this year! One of my favorite parts about Black American culture is our food — how it brings us together and it sets us apart. How recipes are passed down like oral histories, and how our flavors and spices are unforgettable.
I chose to share this icebox pie for the Juneteenth Cookout because this classic Southern recipe, having traveled with my family up north to Ohio during the Great Migration, and then passing down to me, is a perfect representation of the spirit of Juneteenth — celebrating our joys in the face of struggle, remembering where we came from, and sharing love, food, and good times across the generations.
The ingredients list is not that different from what my dad used all those years ago. To make this pie, you’ll need:
- lemon juice & zest – for that amazing lemony flavor!
- egg yolks – to help the pie set and give it that rich texture.
- sweetened condensed milk – makes the pie sweet and creamy! My family uses Eagle Brand milk.
- graham cracker crumbs – for that crunchy crumb crust.
- salted butter – helps solidify the crust and adds buttery flavor.
- brown sugar – gives your crust a caramel sweetness.
- cinnamon – optional to add a little spice to your pie crust.
I’m also including a quick whipped cream recipe to serve with this pie! It’s not part of my family’s traditional recipe (my dad made sure to point that out, haha), but I love the contrast of the light, fluffy whipped cream with the richer, tart lemon pie. For the whipped cream, you’ll need:
- heavy cream
- vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
And with all those ingredients gathered, you’re all set to make this easy icebox pie!
Pie Pan with Removable Bottom
The most essential piece of equipment for this lemon icebox pie recipe is a pie or tart pan with a removable bottom, like this one. I use one like that for most of my pie recipes, because it makes serving the pie SO much easier than a traditional pie pan! No more sacrificing the first slice because it’s too difficult to neatly remove it from the pan. With this type of pan, you can remove the entire pie from the pan all at once, and then easily slice it like a cake.
Although a pan with a removable bottom is my preference, you are free to use any kind of 9-inch pie pan you like for this recipe, as long as it has sides that are at least 1.5 inches high.
If you like this lemon icebox pie, you should definitely try my Brown Butter Black-bottom Sweet Potato Pie for another amazing soul food pie that is perfect for family celebrations. If you’re in the mood for more citrus flavor, try my Key Lime Pound Cake. And for another rich, summery treat check out my Blackberry Lemon Sweet Rolls. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Equipment you may need
Graham Cracker Crust
Lemon Pie Filling
- 2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- juice of 6 medium lemons – about 1 cup of juice
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- In a bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix well until graham crackers are fully saturated with butter and mixture holds together when pressed.
- Pour graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with removable bottom. Use the bottom of a cup or jar to press the crust down and along the sides. Set aside.
- Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into prepare pie crust.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until filling is just set.
- Chill in refrigerator, loosely covered in plastic wrap for 6 hours or overnight.
- To make whipped cream, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip for 3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Serve immediate with chilled pie.
There are so many amazing recipes in the Juneteenth Cookout Takeover! Check out a few of them, and CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF RECIPES. Happy Juneteenth!
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