Tart lemons and saltines combine in this outstanding summer dessert
Citrus desserts? Mais oui! Especially Atlantic Beach Pie, which features creamy lemon filling in a saltine crust.
It’s a lot like Key Lime Pie. But the salty factor takes this dish on a seaside holiday.
Serve Atlantic Beach Pie at your next dinner party – and dream of strolling on the sand. Swimsuits optional.
Recipe: Atlantic Beach Pie
We learned about Atlantic Beach Pie from the New York Times. Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, the dessert maven in our household, adapted this dish from their recipe.
Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Total time, including baking, is about an hour.
This pie is best when served cold. So allow it to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (or longer) before serving.
For the crust:
- ~1½ sleeves saltine crackers
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 5 egg yolks (preferably pasteurized; see Notes)
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
- Make the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a food processor, grind the saltines into small pieces. Add the sugar and mix well. Pour the ground saltines and sugar into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, then stir by hand until the mixture holds together. Press the crust mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust just starts to brown. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack while you make the filling.
- Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), whisk the egg yolks for about 1 minute. Add the sweetened condensed milk, then the lemon juice and salt. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour the filling mixture into the pie shell and bake for 15 to 18 minutes (or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the filling reads about 170 to 180 degrees F). Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack. Once it has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate the pie until ready to serve.
- You can make the entire crust (Step 1) in the food processor if you want (just pour in the melted butter and whirl). We prefer to mix the melted butter in by hand because we find it easier to control the texture of the crust that way.
- It’s easy to make this pie gluten free. Just use gluten-free saltines.
- You can substitute Ritz crackers for saltines if you want, but we much prefer the flavor of saltines.
- Alternatively, you could make a graham-cracker crust for this pie (though we think salty works better with lemons).
- You can substitute lime juice for some or all of the lemon juice.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So we suggest using pasteurized eggs in this pie filling (or anything else you’re going to taste before baking).
- You can serve this pie with whipped cream if desired (in fact, the original recipe calls for this). We prefer it neat, or garnished with just a lemon slice (or the zest from lemons and/or limes).
- You can also sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top of the pie before serving (the extra hit of salt works beautifully with the sweet flavor of the pie).
- This pie is fairly rich, so we usually cut smallish pieces. That means you can serve it for dinner, and still have enough left over for breakfast the next day. Win-win.
- Atlantic Beach Pie is a traditional North Carolina dessert that is well known in coastal restaurants. It became nationally famous through the efforts of Chapel Hill restaurateur and chef Bill Smith.
Life’s a Beach
“Yum,” I said. “This is my kind of lemon aid!”
“Well, lemons are my favorite squeeze,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “After you, of course.”
“I’ll happily pucker up to you,” I said. “And this crust is definitely worth its salt.”
“Yup, when life gives you lemons,” said Mrs K R. “Make Atlantic Beach Pie.”
“This is a pretty small piece, though,” I said. “I wouldn’t be a sour puss if you offered me another.”
“OK,” said Mrs K R. “Be careful, though. You don’t want to end up like a beached whale.”
No worries. A rising tide lifts all Riffs.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Blueberry Flaugnarde (Flan)
Lemon Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
Lemon-Almond Glazed Cookies
Quick Lemon-Coconut Fudge
Or check out the index for more
Wow, Lemon tastes and pies are my all-time favorites, and I’ve never heard of this one. Great idea.
Best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, this pie is terrific! We love it. Bet you will, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never had a pie like this before. It looks and sounds tasty!
Hi Pam, it's wonderful stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh, yum! This looks wonderful, John! I love all things lemon and this lemony-salty flavor sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing 😋
Hi Pat, this is really terrific -- TONS of flavor. And of course, we both love lemon desserts. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have never heard of this Atlantic Beach Pie but I love the sound of it. Saltines crust you say. Might make it this wkd for a lunch party, mais oui!
I have never had a Atlantic Beach Pie. It sounds and looks so tasty with the combo of flavours. I love esp. that crust made with crackers. Thank you for sharing, John.
I saw this recipe and saved it to try! It sounds so good and now with your recommendation I have no doubt. Seems like this weekend could be the charm! Thanks John!
Hi Evelyne, that crust is neat -- try it with a chocolate and/or salted caramel filling. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, it's good pie. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, you gotta try this! Really good -- one of the desserts we make again and again. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is new to me and it sounds divine! Lemon rules in the summertime so this would make a great dessert. Beats chocolate any day in my book. Kudos to Mrs. Riffs! And I love love NC!!! Thanks for the recipe, John!
I'm all about citrus desserts right now! Love the saltine crust!
Yum! I bet this would be good topped with unsweetened whipped cream!!! Cause it sounds sweet!
Hi Pam, this is wonderful! SO refreshing and flavorful. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, that crust tastes fantastic. And is SO easy to make! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mimi, this is pretty sweet -- so unsweetened whipped cream would be the ticket. Thanks for the comment.
I love everything that had lemon in it...but never heard of using saltines crackers for crust...and yes, the combination of the slightly salty, sweet and tart sounds delicious...thanks for the recipe. Have a great rest of the week John!
Hi Juliana, we hadn't heard of that crust, either, but now use it for all sorts of stuff -- it's wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Sounds like a perfect summer dessert....now if I could eat a slice by the seaside, I'd be in heaven!!
Hi Liz, wouldn't it be nice to have this on a seaside vacation? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Salty, sweet, sour , this delicious pie has it all going on. Looks like a super creamy bite too. Personally speaking, we would not need to be on the beach to eat this delicious pie. We would eat it in any season! Hope you and Mrs. Riff are doing well. Take care
Hi Bobbi, we'd eat this anywhere, any season too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Sounds delicious! I've made a crust with pretzels but never crackers. Must be time! The salty with the sweet lemon must be divine!
I've never heard of beach pie before! It sounds delicious and I love the delicate yellow colour.
I should make this for my husband, he loves anything lemon ☺
This is a recipe I have never seen and I love it. I bet it will be delicious with my Meyer lemons from my tree.
John, this is a new one on me! I like the sound of a saltine crust. And, of course, lemon is just about my favorite flavor!
John, what a unique pie! Love the lemon, it looks so creamy. And the saltine crust is so intriguing! Can't wait to try it!
Hi Valentina, the saltine crust is a bit better than a pretzel crust, IMO -- has a kind of buttery flavor (in addition to the salt) which is nice. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, gotta say I'm a lemon freak too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gerlinde, haven't tried this with Meyer lemons, but bet it'd be spectacular! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jean, hard to beat lemon, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, isn't that color great? Flavor is too! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kelly, we really, really like the crust. And the filling even more! :-) Thanks for the comment.
What an interesting pie your Atlantic Beach Pie is. We love a good lemon tart, but the saltine crust is what makes me excited to taste it. Believe it or not, we don't have American style saltine crackers here, so I'll have to improvise on this one. I'm looking forward to trying this one.
I've never heard of this pie! I'm loving the combination of flavors, sweet, salty and lemony! A must try. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.
Hi Ron, no saltines!! Oh, no! Although we hadn't bought saltines for years until we made this pie. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, this is a wonderful dish! We knew the minute we read the recipe that we had to make it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have always heard of Atlantic Beach Pie but have neither had it or seen a recipe! I had no idea how close it was to Key Lime Pie. I definitely want to try this when lemon season returns!
Hi David, the flavor is really similar to Key Lime Pie -- it's the crust that's so different. The extra salt really adds a lot. Thanks for the comment.
oh my this sounds fabulous KR. i love lemon desserts, the more lemon the merrier. we don't have graham crackers nor saltine here, so i guess we could use a plain biscuit with a bit of salt thrown in. Aussie biscuits=crackers/cookies as i'm sure you know:) cheers S
Hi Sherry, biscuits with some salt sounds like it'd work. Be fun to try, at any rate. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum saltine crust sounds so mouthwatering. Love this citrus dessert.
Hi Amira, citrus is so nice in desserts, isn't it? Perfect in this dish! :-) Thanks for the comment.
My mother used to make a lemon pie with sweetened condensed milk but not a saltine crust. That sounds awesome! What a delicious looking pie John. Thanks for sharing.
Hi MJ, this crust is SO worth making. The pie, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hmmm...You now have me thinking about all sorts of salty/sweet combos. Never heard of pie crust from saltines but I can see how this would work well! Your witty banter at the end made me smile this morning!
Hi Debra, this crust is wonderful -- you'll like. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the combo of salty and sweet. Add some zingy lemon and it's even better. I've never heard of this pie, but now, I so want to make it! ;)
Hi Carolyn, this is really good pie! And it has your name on it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It's always great to come across something I haven't heard of before, especially when it sounds so delicious and so approachable! Thank you for the inspiring recipe.
Hi Jeff, this is a wonderful recipe -- loads of flavor. Enjoy! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Saltines in pie crust? No way! Now I've seen it all ... and all that is left is to taste it! I am always a YES for lemon, so this is a must.
Hi Judy, we're lemon freaks, so we LOVE this dessert. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So is one left to assume that they cannot eat this near the Pacific Ocean? LOL! I wonder what Pacific Beach Pie is comprised of ;)
Hi GiGi, you can eat this wherever you want! :-) Good question, though, about Pacific Beach Pie! Thanks for the comment.
I'm not much of a dessert maven myself, but I do like citrus desserts, and could really go for this!
Hi Frank, this is a fantastic dessert -- really nice flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Citrus desserts? YES PLEASE! �� I am a sucker for citrus in my bakes and desserts.
Hi Taruna, we're suckers for citrus too -- love the stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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