Atlantic Beach Pie

August 26, 2022

Labor Day is at the transition point between summer and fall. With the heat of the summer, the thought of turning on the oven may not have appealed but do it anyway and make this pie. Embrace the bright lemony flavors of the Atlantic Beach Pie before the cooler weather sets in and you turn to the warm spices of fall.

Why I like this pie

When I first read about Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie on Food52 there were several things that appealed to me:

  • I was intrigued by the use of saltines for the crust rather than a more traditional crust or even a graham cracker crust (more about this below). 
  • I was struck by the pie’s similarity to a lemon meringue pie, without the hassle of making a meringue. In this case I prefer the whipped cream topping to the meringue.
  • And finally, I liked that the filling was not a cooked custard like with a lemon meringue pie.

Saltine cracker crust

After conducting a quick search of the internet, the saltine cracker crust comes up most often as a component to the Atlantic Beach Pie or other citrusy versions. But it was interesting to see that it is used for other types of dessert pies like peach, apple, and chocolate. There are even savory pies that incorporate this crust like quiches and even a dish called onion pie.

Sharing the same ease to make as its pressed crust cousin, the graham cracker crust, it’s great to see the versatility of this crust. While the recipe says you can crush the crackers by hand, saltines don’t break down into a fine crumb the way graham crackers do. I prefer using the food processor to get a smaller, more uniform crumb.

The tangy, citrusy brightness of the filling contrasts beautifully with the light saltiness of the crust.

A simple filling

Which brings me to the ease of this filling – egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweetened condensed milk. The ingredients are whisked together in a bowl, no stovetop cooking required. The filling is cooked once it’s poured into the pre-baked crust and placed in the oven.

And to top it off, literally, some simple whipped cream – sweetened or not, it’s up to you. There’s no need to whip up the egg whites to the perfect height and consistency and brown it perfectly. (Don’t waste the egg whites. Make an egg white omelet or freeze them for macarons.)

As you enjoy the last cookouts of the season, celebrate with the tangy, citrusy sweetness of the Atlantic Beach Pie.

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Atlantic Beach Pie

  • Author: Bill Smith
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 49 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


This sweet, tangy pie is an easier cousin to the lemon meringue pie. It is a perfect summer dessert.



For the crust

1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers (about 60 crackers)

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling

114-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two

Zest of 1 lemon

Fresh whipped cream, for garnish

Coarse sea salt, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Crush the crackers in a food processor (or your hands). You want the pieces fairly small but it doesn’t have to be as fine as a graham cracker crust.

Add the sugar, then pulse in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. If you are doing this by hand, knead in the softened butter until the crumbs hold together.

Press the crust into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the sweetened condensed milk, then beat in the citrus juice and lemon zest. It is important to completely combine these ingredients.

Pour the filling into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling is set. Cool on a rack for about 30 minutes then place in the refrigerator to cool thoroughly. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Inactive Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 34 minutes
  • Category: Pies
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 239.4
  • Sugar: 19.36 g.
  • Sodium: 64.3 mg.
  • Fat: 16.41 g.
  • Saturated Fat: 9.71 g.
  • Carbohydrates: 20.75 g.
  • Fiber: 0.14 g.
  • Protein: 3.74 g.
  • Cholesterol: 137.31 g.

Keywords: lemon, saltines, Bill Smith

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