STOP whatever you are doing right now.  Go to your pantry, take out the box of Ritz Crackers, sugar and that can of sweetened condensed milk from last year’s holiday dessert extravaganza.  Reach into your fruit bowl grab a couple of lemons and from the fridge pull out eggs, butter and whipping cream.  That’s it, everything you need to make this absolutely scrumptious pie.  Six items to launch yourself into pie bliss.

During my drive to work one day, a segment on NPR caught my attention when I heard the word PIE followed by “Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God”.  It was cookbook author Katie Workman describing her first bite of Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie.  I adore pie and here was a story about a lemon pie that originated in North Carolina and is a favorite of the folks in the South.  Is it a lemon meringue pie?  Kind of, except the citrusy filling is topped with billowy mounds of whipped cream instead of a meringue and the crust, made with saltines instead of graham crackers, is delightfully crispy, sweet and salty .

I couldn’t wait to get home and make this pie.

DSC04239Though the original recipe calls for saltines, I used Ritz crackers instead mainly because I love Ritz crackers and I always have a box around.  The crushed Ritz crackers (leave some bigger pieces, do not pulverize your crackers) are mixed with sugar and softened butter.   The key is to mix the crumbs with the butter until they hold together similar to a dough.  This is best accomplished by using your hands.  Press crumbs into an 8 inch buttered pie plate and bake until golden color about 15 minutes.

The filling is a snap.  4 egg yolks, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice, 2 T heavy cream (not in the original recipe but an adaptation, you could use up to 1/4 cup), whisk together, pour the filling into the pre-baked crust and bake for 15 minutes. EASY.  As the pie cools, whip 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form and hold their shape.  I did sweeten my whip cream slightly (1-2 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla).  Chill the pie until set and then pile on the cream.  Garnish with a sprinkling of coarse salt and strands of lemon zest.  DIG IN!  Yum, yum, yum.

Yep, CRAZY good, STUPID easy.

Here is the link to the NPR segment on Atlantic Beach Pie in Found Recipes.

Crazy Stupid Lemon Love (Atlantic Beach Pie)

15 minutes

35 minutes

Crazy Stupid Lemon Love (Atlantic Beach Pie)


    For crust:
  • 1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers or Ritz crackers
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • For the filling
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
  • 2-4 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional) I added zest to increase the lemon flavor
  • 1 cup heavy cream , I took the 2 tablespoons for the filling from this
  • Coarse sea salt for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust.
  • 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 colors a little.
  • 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. Make sure filling is well combined.
  • Pour into the shell and bake for 14-16 minutes until the filling has set.
  • Chill until set.
  • Pile whipped cream on top of pie. Sprinkle with salt or garnish with lemon zest
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