Serves a Crowd

Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie

June 29, 2021
4.3 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
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. Garnish with freshly whipped cream and coarse salt.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Cuisinart Food Processor
- OXO Glass Pie Plate
- Heart Pie Server

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Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • 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
  • 1 (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
In This Recipe
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Barb Lawrence
    Barb Lawrence
  • JCrys
  • Sharon Hanna
    Sharon Hanna
  • Vanessa R Leyba
    Vanessa R Leyba
  • tracy riser
    tracy riser
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

250 Reviews

Barb L. April 8, 2022
I thought it was okay, but I prefer key lime pie. I think the yellow color of this turned me off. Egg yolk color just isn’t appetizing. I do like the crust though, and one stick of butter is plenty. My crust held together fine.
Jim S. March 30, 2022
Not too pretty but absolutely delicious! Probably will do as others have done in the future and add a little more butter to the crackers to encourage them to stick together better. Even better the 2nd day in the fridge!
Cpruitt March 4, 2022
I’ve made this pie several times and it’s an instant hit with company. I do add approximately 2 extra tablespoons of butter to my crust to help it stick together
ChrissyA December 19, 2021
I made this beach pie a few years ago and it was a hit. Everyone loved it. So easy to make.
Lutonya August 8, 2021
This is was delicious. The flavors are perfectly balanced. I used a mister of lemon and lime juices. It was a hit with my dinner guests. I agree that it needs a couple more tablespoons of butter. nevertheless, it was delicious.
rob August 31, 2021
Same recipe we've used for many years, only add the zest of one of the lemons.

However the formula for the crust we've always used is 12 Tbsp of butter. Holds together just right.
Sjbakes August 8, 2021
Such a yummy and easy pie. Crust definitely needs more butter but will always be a bit crumbly.
LULULAND July 19, 2021
I just made this. I should have listened to the reviews, but I think it fair to make the recipe as written first. The crust did crumble as I tried to cut, should have added maybe 2 tablespoons of butter more to it. The flavor was great! I think I should have crumbled the crackers into more of a like crumb texture. But overall I will have another piece!
cosmiccook July 4, 2021
Okay peeps, IGNORE my comment below! NOT the "ice-box" pie. MEA CULPA! I saw the ingredient list and "ASSUMED" and we all know what happens when one ASSumes! I'm going to make this this weekend, AND turn on the oven (rain keeping the heat down)
cosmiccook July 4, 2021
I was intrigued by the name but this is basically what we've called (in New Orleans) Lemon ice box pie! The difference in the summer here we didn't and don't turn on the oven so we just used prepared pie crusts. Diamond makes a good Pecan crust that Fresh Market sells here. I believe the bulk of the recipe is on the Sweetened condensed can itself! We'd make meringue out of the whites and ate it (not a problem) quickly before the whites weeped. At least that was the excuse we used as kids.
Carla May 26, 2021
Lovely pie! Lemon zest in the crust used lemon and lime. Delicious Gracias
Marsha May 9, 2021
Oh my goodness. I am not a good writer and do not often leave reviews. But honestly, this was the easiest pie ever and I made two because there were quite a few gathering for dinner. As it turned out, I added a smidge of sugar and no salt to my whipped cream because the grandkids helped me make it and they like sugar. The pie was fantastic. Delicious. A huge hit with everyone!! If you like lemon and a salty sweet vibe, make this pie.!
Lsilvano February 21, 2021
This was amazing! Easy breezy! Added an add’l 2 tbls of butter to the crust and lemon and lime zest to the custard! Rave reviews from toughest critics, my kids!
JCrys February 15, 2021
I read some of the reviews before I tackled this was so very different. The changes I made were to increase the butter (1/4c more)for the crust and added zest from one lemon to the filling. My husband loved the pie especially the crust. I loved the filling but on the fence with the crust. I sweetened the cream instead of adding salt and thought it was good.
JCrys February 15, 2021
Gg December 19, 2020
Veronica needs to stay out of the kitchen… I’ve made this recipe so many times and every single time it came out awesome don’t know what you’re doing
mnehring December 19, 2020
That’s great it turned out every time for you-this forum is to be helpful, though.
Andrea R. July 4, 2021
Don't know why the meanness? This isn't a forum for only those people who have been successful. It's supposed to be feedback and suggestions, not just bragging. Kindness goes a long way.
mnehring December 18, 2020
Did anyone else have issues w/ the crust? Mine really did not hold together very well. At first, I thought it was because the crumbs were too big, so I ground them further (they were actually slightly smaller than the ones in the pictures) but after I parbaked the crust and poured in the filling, the bottom of the crust lifted up into the custard.
Veronica December 18, 2020
Yes I had that issue too, and like you I tried different crumb sizes to no avail.

The pie has become so popular with my family that I've had plenty of opportunities to experiment. The solution I have found is:

1. do not overground the crumbs
2. make sure there is enough butter, AAAND
3. do not bake the first time it says to bake, instead put the crust in the freezer so it hardens while you prepare the custard. Then pour the custard on top and bake together. The more you bake it the more it disintegrates.

Let us know if it works!
Alec M. December 18, 2020
not me
Alec M. December 18, 2020
mnehring December 19, 2020
Thanks for the tips! :)
Sharon H. October 11, 2020
OMG so excited - it's just getting ready to go into the oven for the second time. Having it here in Vancouver (BC) for Thanksgiving dessert. It seemed like a lot of crackers far so good! Thank you so much for this and for explaining it so clearly.
Gg September 17, 2020
Love this recipe! Made it...came out great... before I knew was gone.. and everyone had smiles on their faces.
Vanessa R. September 8, 2020
I made this recently and understand the hype. Not only is it stupid good with minimal effort, it’s a 10 outta 10 salty/sweet dream for those who crave this flavor profile. So, after reading the reviews I opted to increase the citrus (I used Meyer lemons) from 1/2 a cup to 3/4 cup because I enjoy a tart treat and, I doubled the butter-no judgement! It yielded a spectacular crust that held together without issue. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as-is and would happily make this again and again.
tracy R. September 2, 2020
Bill Smith might call it, "that stupid pie", but WOW, did it impress! Every piece eaten and I have made it a total of three times. Only change is I add more lemon as my family LOVES tart desserts. Will now buy saltines regularly just so I have everything I need to make this great, easy and very tasty pie!