Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie

Test Kitchen-Approved

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.

Genius Recipes

Makes: 1 pie
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min


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.

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Reviews (116) Questions (3)

116 Reviews

Melissa February 1, 2019
I've made this several times now and I LOVE IT! It's cold and rainy today (in CA), but there are some perfect lemons on the tree out front so I'm going to make it again!
ClaraLuisa November 28, 2018
Easy to make and delicious. I followed the recipe exactly. Use a ceramic pie dish (as opposed to glass or metal) and it came out great. Didn't need to wait 4 hours for it to cool before slicing - just one or 1.5 hours is fine.
ClaraLuisa November 28, 2018
Forgot to say - I actually did alter the recipe slightly - I use an extra half a stick of butter in the crust.
cookycat August 19, 2018
This pie is so delicious and so easy to make. Made one for a group of friends one Saturday. The next week made one for family just so I could have another piece. Yum!
jenncc June 7, 2018
Really enjoyed this recipe. And though I loved the idea of the saltine crust, I didn't get the hit of salt that I was hoping for. That said, this was terrific and disappeared quickly at our Mother's Day brunch.
linda May 30, 2018
Really delicious! Loved the saltine crust - nice change! Easy to make too! Will absolutely make it many more times!
Gj C. September 6, 2017
I really enjoyed making this summer dessert 🍨 the only things I changed was my pie dish, it was 9 inches and I also decided to do a meringue with the leftover egg whites. That tip came from one of the commenters. I used lemon 🍋 meringue recipe by food52's "Heinstirred"
heather J. September 1, 2017
This Pacific Beach family greatly prefers a traditional graham cracker crust. Love the filling.
shu-jin_rankin August 20, 2017
What a GREAT recipe! I made it for a dinner party and go rave reviews. I took the advice of other commenters and made a combo of ritz crackers and potato chips for the crust ingredients (no saltines). HEAVEN.
shu-jin_rankin August 20, 2017
What a GREAT recipe! I made it for a dinner party and go rave reviews. I took the advice of other commenters and made a combo of ritz crackers and potato chips for the crust ingredients (no saltines). HEAVEN.
Scott B. August 5, 2017
8 inch pie plate? I thought they were all 9 or 10? I'd hate to have to buy something for this one recipe.
Nancy M. August 5, 2017
I've made it twice in a 9" pan and it worked very well. I think the crust would be too thick in an 8" pan.
Baking D. July 26, 2017
If you love this sweet and salty, make chocolate pudding instead of lemon. Delicious! I won an office baking contest with the switch to chocolate.
rudder July 24, 2017
such a lovely and easy pie, and I love its name! the sweet-tangy-salty combo reminds me of a margarita. will definitely be making this again and again!
Lindsey July 22, 2017
I made this last night for a group of people that generally don't like dessert and everyone loved it. It is beyond delicious! I made it with lime juice and added the zest and it was phenom!!
Mary July 20, 2017
Why is this a "twist?" What is HIS recipe EXACTLY?
Lindsay F. July 17, 2017
I've made this a few times, always to rave reviews. This past weekend we had a guest who is gluten free so I had to get creative with the crust. As someone else had done, I used Glutino crackers but found them bland and definitely not salty. I used 4.4 oz of them (the entire package) then added 2 1/2 oz of potato chips. It was amazing! The chips really seemed to help hold the crust together as well as adding both salt and crunch. And Lay's potato chips mixed with butter and sugar? Need I say more?? I will be adding potato chips to the crust from now on!
Susanna July 20, 2017
The potato-chip crust sounds like heaven. Surprised Momofuku Milk Bar hasn't done a crust like this yet (though I know they have chips in their compost cookies).
Amy November 22, 2017
use a cinnamon-spiced pecan crust!! it makes all the difference
Nancy S. July 17, 2017
I've made this recipe for years except mine has blueberries in it.
Jayna July 2, 2018
When and how did you add the berries? Just in with the filling?
Nancy S. August 19, 2018
Yes, in the filling.
Melissa February 1, 2019
Yum! I'll definitely add some blueberries next time too, lemon & blueberry is my favorite flavor combo.
Elisa July 17, 2017
I didn't have enough saltines, so I tried ritz type crackers. I added about 1/3 c chopped, toasted salted pistachios. Added a bit of lemon zest to filling, but otherwise followed the very easy recipe. It was delicious!
chef J. July 16, 2017
I use coconut cookies for the crust! Yummmm
Nancy M. July 12, 2017
I hate graham cracker crust, so this looks fabulous to me. I will be making it tomorrow.
Megan July 1, 2017
This is even better eaten frozen in my opinion!