Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie

By • July 22, 2014 66 Comments

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Author Notes: A sweet-salty twist on a classic North Carolina lemon pie that's as lazy and beachy as summer should be. Adapted slightly from Bill Smith of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.Genius Recipes

Makes 1 pie

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers (about 6 ounces or 60 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream, for garnish
  • Coarse sea salt, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. 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. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  3. 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. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

More Great Recipes: Pie|Tarts|Eggs|Fruit|Desserts

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Comments (66) Questions (1)


24 days ago Third Floor Kitchen

Just wondering if this would work in an 8-inch springform pan. Is the crust firm enough that it would release and hold its shape? I'd like to make it this weekend. Thanks!


22 days ago Megan

Did you try it? I left quite a few fairly large hunks of crackers in the crust and found it a bit more crumbly than I was expecting, but it held together better after a day of chilling. Crushing the crackers more finely would have helped, I think. I think if you greased your springform pan, ran a thin knife around the edge after baking, and allowed for plenty of time to chill, it might work. Cutting will probably be messy, but I imagine it would hold together well enough to serve slices.


24 days ago Megan

Yum! I made it with only 3 egg yolks because that's all I had on hand and it still came out great.


about 1 month ago Mary

I guess, then, it would be a lemon meringue pie


about 1 month ago JJ Avinger-Jacques

It would be much more of a "genius" recipe if the egg whites were used within the about meringue instead of whipped cream???


about 1 month ago Beth100

Great idea! Could be a nice counterpoint to an already quite-rich dessert.


about 1 month ago oldunc

The genius who invented the recipe, evidently a Florida fisherman a century or so back, did in fact use meringue- there was practically no refrigeration in the area at the time.


about 1 month ago Carolyn

Beware if you're making this pie in Canada. Our sweetened condensed milk comes in 300ml cans which is equal to about 10 oz. The recipe calls for a 14oz can. I just made this pie for a dinner party then realized I didn't put enough milk in. I'm hoping it still turns out o.k. :(


about 1 month ago Scott Basye

I served it with some fresh sliced nectarines. WOW!!


about 1 month ago oldunc

The filling is simply a standard key lime pie filling (if you make it with key lime juice). Most people cook it nowadays, but if you trust your eggs, it will thicken without cooking (the traditional method).


about 1 month ago Mary

This was so easy to make, and soooo delish! And, a pinch of salt on top of the whipped cream=Wow! Best. Pie. Ever.


about 1 month ago Chloe Lawrence

Will try this on weekend


about 1 month ago karencooks

I made this pie over the weekend and it was delicious! The saltine cracker crust and lemon filling was a perfect combination! I will add a little lemon zest the next time I make it to add more lemon punch!


4 months ago Pam

I made this today and loved it, but I have a question for the other foodies.... Would you be able to store this pie for more than a day with homemade whipped cream? Or would it get deflated and watery? Also, has anyone else tried to use a whipped cream cheese topping (whipping cream, a bar of Philly, and some powdered sugar?) The plain ole' stuff was good, but it seemed like I could doll this up a bit.


4 months ago TaraP

If we have leftovers (rarely), they are quite delicious for breakfast the next morning. We save both pie and whipped cream in the Glad food storage container.


about 1 month ago oldunc

You can stabilize the cream with gelatine (about 1 tsp./c, if I recall)- it needs to be dissolved and then melted (usual way to handle it) and added to the cream when it's most of the way whipped.


about 1 month ago oldunc

There was also an article (I think on this site) recently about stabilizing cream with sour cream or cream cheese- haven't tried that.


5 months ago jake stavis

this pie is phenomenal. i'm wondering if anyone has tried making it for passover, using matzah instead of saltines for the crust?


4 months ago supershirl

Jake, it's past Passover but wanted to share that I've made this matzo crusted cheesecake w great success.


6 months ago weshook

I love saltiness so this recipe has been calling to me. I made it tonight and it's chilling for tomorrow night's dessert. I just trusted that the amount of butter was right, so it may be crumbly since I never got a dough. I figured that it would be like Graham cracker crust. Anyway, I didn't put it all in the pie tin and a few the rest of the prepared crumbs with a spoon. Anxiously waiting for dessert.


7 months ago TaraP

This made a wonderful and simple dessert. I used Meyer lemons and also grated in some lemon peel for extra tang. For topping, I passed around a can of Rediwhip - who doesn't like playing with their dessert? Next time I think I'll experiment with a pretzel crust.


9 months ago Harriet Lobegeiger

I made this last night and it is absolutely divine and so easy to whip up! The combination of salty and sweet is to die for! I will definitely make this again!


9 months ago gwe

Can you make this with Ritz crackers?


2 months ago Annie Kiely

I just did - it was good!


about 1 year ago bookjunky

I'm in the minority I guess. I thought this was pretty awful and another guest at the party I made it for agreed and couldn't eat hers. It was better without the whipped cream when I tried it next day, I thought. Several other guests did enjoy it made as above with the salt. I've made the same filling recipe in a different crust and would do so again. Not sure I would make this combination again, although the crust was good as well.
Made it in a 9" pie pan, BTW and it fit very well.


about 1 year ago lonewolf

I was originally turned off by the saltines...I have never in my life purchased them.
This filling is basically one I use for key lime pie, topped with a lightly sweetened sour cream and then fluffy whipped cream. I use crunchy coconut shortbread as a crust. Divine.

After reading all the reviews, I was intrigued and decided to go for it. I bought a 10oz bag of oyster crackers and added some flaky salt (Maldon) and a bit more sugar as the 10oz is more than the 6 called for. I ended up using about 3/4 cup butter. Used meyer lemons in filling and a bit of creme fraiche in the whipped cream. Oh my goodness. This is amazing. Wish I'd bought a whole box of saltines because I want to make this for everyone I know!!!!


8 months ago glutwin

I want to really, really attempt the saltine/oyster cracker riff AND your version involving a "crunchy coconut shortbread" crust…Could you pretty please share your personal take on Key Lime Pie with sour and whipped cream? Appreciating mightily any enlightenment!


about 1 year ago John Oakley

Made this for a potluck at work the other won best dessert! I didn't even get to try it, so I'm making it again this morning for a Labor Day BBQ with a bunch of foodies. Think they'll love it...


about 1 year ago Briget L

I made this pie last was a total hit. I ended up using a lot more butter than what it called for...possibly I used too many crackers. None the less, I would make it again in a heartbeat!