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Deep Dish Lemon Ice Box Pie

Lemon lovers, this deep dish pie recipe is just for you. We’ve taken a Southern classic and turned it all the way up. For starters, we’ve made this lemon ice box pie thicker with a homemade graham cracker crust. The best part? More smooth, sweet, and tangy pie filling. Last (but certainly not least), a signature meringue topping. Who’s ready for this?

Meringue topping on a pie next to lemons and a pie server

Lemon Ice Box Pie is a Sweet-Tart Treat You Don’t Wanna Miss

I’m going to give it to your straight. When it comes down to the great Cake vs. Pie Wars of 1908, I’m definitely #teamcake. However, there is a time and a place for pie.

Chocolate pie, cherry pie, apple pie…and of course, this chilled Lemon Ice Box Pie. Wooo, lawd, lemme just go ahead and tell ya’, this deep dish dessert is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t dainty. It isn’t delicate. And it sure does pack a bright, citrusy punch.

Let me tell you all about it.

graham cracker crumbs in a metal pie next to fresh lemons

The Graham Cracker Crust

A lot of pie purists demand a flaky style pie crust. Not me. For this lemon dessert, only a buttery graham cracker crust will do. A thick one.

The crust is so easy to make right in the pie dish. No fuss, basic ingredients, and a perfect background for the lemon cream filling.

graham cracker pie crust

The Lemon Pie Filling

A lemon ice box pie is sorta like a key lime pie, only with lemons instead of limes. It is different from a “lemon meringue” pie, which usually has a lemon curd filling.

An ice box pie is chilled, which really makes the zesty-sweet filling so refreshing. You can make it with a hint of lemon, a lot of lemon, or lemon overload.

Me and my dad LOVE dabble on the edge of lemon pie extremes. You know, where it makes your right eye squinch close. But you can’t stop eating.

No worries, if you don’t like your lemon ice box pie on the wild side, we are going to give you amounts to determine your “lemon level”.

a bowl of lemon zest with lemons in the background

The Meringue Topping

Yes. Only a merginue topping will do. Sure, you could top this lemon pie with whipped cream. But there’s nothing quite like a light and fluffy, sweet and cloud-like meringue sitting on a pie.

If you’ve never made merginue, no worries. It is the easiest thing ever, and we will walk you through it from start to toasted finish. Even Paula Deen will be proud of this meringue.

meringue on a beater

Ingredients Needed to Make a Lemon Ice Box Pie:

  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Butter – I like salted for this recipe because it helps balance the sweetness.
  • Sugar
  • Eggs – They’ve gotta be room temperature. Set the eggs out 30 minutes before starting this recipe
  • LEMONS – You’ll be using the zest and the juice of fresh lemons. Keep reading to find out how much to use based on your preference.
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Cream of tartar
  • Vanilla
  • Salt – Just a wee pinch.

Since this is a deep dish pie, it requires more of everything. More crust. More filling. More meringue. This recipe is best made in a 9 inch pie plate that is 2 inches deep.

TIP: The eggs should be at room temperature because that will help create a bigger fluffier meringue.

How Many Lemons Do I Need?

Now, let’s talk lemons! You’ll be using ONLY fresh lemons for this recipe because we need all that zest. And face it, any time you can use fresh ingredients in your recipe, the better it will taste.

lemon pie filling poured into a graham cracker crust

The amount of juice you can get out of lemons depends on the size of the lemon, the internal “juiciness”, and how you juice it. Below is a chart on how much lemon juice to use along with an estimate of how many lemons it will take to get it.

Because not everyone is a lemon lunatic like me and my Daddy. 🙂

TIP: The amount of zest will stay the same. Lemon zest adds flavor and aroma without adding tartness. Use the zest of 2 lemons.

LEMON LEVELAMOUNT OF JUICEEQUIVALENT TO ABOUT
Light Lemon1/2 Cup3 Lemons
Medium Lemon3/4 Cup4 – 5 Lemons
Lotta Lemon1 Cup6 – 7 Lemons

Tips on How to Juice a Lemon:

  • Pick a large, soft lemon that…well…looks juicy. They have the most juice.
  • Nuke the lemon for 15 seconds in the microwave before juicing. The heat softens the fruit making it easier to squeeze.
  • Roll the lemon around on the counter, gently pressing down. This causes the pulp inside to burst which releases the juice.
  • Use an inexpensive citrus juicer for maxiumum yield. You can find them everywhere. You can go with an inexpensive plastic model or a heavier glass one. (TIP: Nab a vintage one at your local antique / junk store.)
  • After you’ve squeezed and juiced the lemon, turn it inside out and squeeze some more.
  • Here’s an article from Taste of Home on How to Juice a Lot of Lemons at once.
  • Strain the juice to remove the seeds and larger pieces of pulp before using in this recipe.
merginue topping on a pie

How to Make Lemon Ice Box Pie:

  1. First, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 9 inch, 2 inch deep dish pie plate, stir together graham crackers with sugar. Pour melted butter over the top and stir until crumbs are moistened evenly.
  2. Next, press the graham cracker crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Use your fingers and / or the backside of a spoon.
  3. Place the pie crust in the fridge to chill while you are preparing the lemon pie filling.
  4. Separate the eggs, carefully keeping the whites completely free of yolk. Set the whites aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg YOLKS on medium until smooth. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweetened condensed milk. Beat on low until creamy and smooth.
  6. Then pour the pie filling into the prepared graham cracker crust. Bake for 30 minutes on the center oven rack.
  7. Remove from oven and cool slightly while preparing the merginue topping.
  8. In a clean mixing bowl (you can use the same one, just rinse and dry it), beat the egg whites, water, and a pinch of salt on high until foamy.
  9. Next, add cream of tartar then beat on high speed until the egg whites are stiff.
  10. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until peaks form. Beat the vanilla in for 20 seconds at the very end.
  11. Using a plastic spatula, pile the mergine on top of the pie. Spread it gently, working toward the edges of the crust to seal in the filling.
  12. Return the pie to the oven and continue baking for about 15 minutes or until the top of the merginue is golden and toasted.
  13. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

Lemon Ice Box Pie really is easy to make. It requires simple techniques, basic ingredients and a little bit of effort. Trust me, it is so worth it.

This pie bakes a little longer because it is a deep dish pie. During the first bake, the pie should be slightly set. It will still jiggle in the middle. No worries, it will finish baking during the merginue portion. The pie will thicken and set in the fridge.

Using a little bit of water in the meringue topping helps it stay soft after chilling.

NOTE: You can speed up the chill time by popping the pie in the freezer. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the top (loosely), and freeze for about 3 hours. If you leave it longer it may get hard. No worries, just transfer it to the fridge and let it soften.

overhead picture of a pie dish with a slice removed, next to a plate with the slice of pie

TIP: Make slicing easy. Dip your knife into a cup of hot water before slicing. This helps cut through the meringue nicely without messing it up.

Lemon Ice Box Pie with Sweet Meringue Topping

More Recipes You Might Like:

Mini No Bake Key Lime Pies

Hot Cherry Crumble

Blueberry Cheesecake Dessert Pizza

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

This Deep Dish Lemon Ice Box Pie is a real treat. Great for Sunday dinner, perfect for potlucks, or just make it on a Tuesday, ya’ll. You deserve it. 🙂

a white plate with a slice of pie

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a slice of lemon pie on a white plate
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5 from 1 vote

Deep Dish Lemon Ice Box Pie

The ultimate Lemon Ice Box Pie featuring a thick graham cracker crust, a sweet-tart creamy lemon filling, and topped with light and fluffy meringue topping. Chilled to perfection for a refreshing dessert.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon ice box pie
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Chill Time in Refrigerator 6 hours
Total Time 7 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 Slices
Calories 515kcal
Author Buy This Cook That

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter melted

For the Filling

  • 5 egg yolks room temperature
  • 1 cup lemon juice from about 6 lemons, more or less to taste, see recommendations in post
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 28 ounces sweetened condensed milk

For the Meringue

  • 5 egg whites room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pinch salt optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

For the Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 9 inch, 2 inch deep dish pie plate, stir together graham crackers with 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour melted butter over the top and stir until crumbs are moistened evenly.
  • Next, press the graham cracker crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Use your fingers and / or the backside of a spoon.
  • Place the pie crust in the fridge to chill while you are preparing the lemon pie filling.

For the Filling

  • Separate the eggs, carefully keeping the whites completely free of yolk. Set the whites aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg YOLKS on medium until smooth. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweetened condensed milk. Beat on low until creamy and smooth.
  • Pour the pie filling into the prepared graham cracker crust. Bake for 30 minutes on the center oven rack.
  • Remove from oven and cool slightly while preparing the merginue topping.

For the Meringue

  • In a clean mixing bowl (you can use the same one, just rinse and dry it), beat the egg whites, water, and a pinch of salt on high until foamy.
  • Add cream of tartar then beat on high speed until the egg whites are stiff.
  • Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until peaks form. Beat the vanilla in for 20 seconds at the very end.
  • Using a plastic spatula, pile the mergine on top of the pie. Spread it gently, working toward the edges of the crust to seal in the filling.
  • Return the pie to the oven and continue baking for about 15 minutes or until the top of the merginue is golden and toasted.
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

Notes

This recipe makes 10 slices of pie, or 12 smaller slices. 
See the full post for suggestions of how much lemon to use based on your desired “tartness” level.
The filling will thicken during the baking and chilling process. You can speed up chilling by popping the pie in the freezer for a couple of hours before serving. See the post for more information and tips on making this lemon ice box pie.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Slice | Calories: 515kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 326mg | Potassium: 408mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 625IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 257mg | Iron: 1mg

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