When it comes to classic no-bake desserts, the lemon icebox pie with sweetened condensed milk is the ultimate choice. A classic cookie crust topped with creamy lemon and cream cheese pie filling turns dessert into a delight every time. Often found at summer barbecues and church potlucks, this classic dish is one every home cook needs in their repertoire
Lemon Icebox Pie
Whether you have had this in a traditional pie or as a pudding, the no-bake lemon filling is absolutely delicious. Bright and tart with just enough cream cheese flavor to make it creamy, it's the ultimate summertime recipe treat.
If you love lemon as much as I do, then you will probably also want to check out these yummy lemon meringue cupcakes or this easy strawberry lemon cheesecake recipe. Of course, nothing is as good as this easy lemon cake recipe for a sweet treat for breakfast or dessert.
Who Invented Lemon Icebox Pie?
While it is not known who exactly made this delicious creation first, the idea of icebox pies became popular in America in the 1930s. The variety that started with eggs and a simple custard cooked over low heat on the stovetop was popular in the 1930s to 1950s, but as refrigerators became standard in most homes, the no-bake version of this pie became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s. It has continued to be a favorite pie with many variations since then.
What is the Best Crust For Icebox Pie?
This recipe uses a classic graham cracker crust. You can use other options, but it is the easiest and most common for an icebox pie. Below are other options you can use if preferred.
- Vanilla wafers
- Shortbread cookies
- Lemon cookies
- Sugar cookies
- Baked traditional pie crust
Of course, you don't even have to add a crust if you don't want to! This pie is delicious by itself! You could even use it as a layered option in a trifle! The possibilities are endless.
Why is My Lemon Icebox Pie Runny?
If too much liquid was added, it can become runny and not set. Sometimes this also happens when not refrigerated properly or when using the wrong type of cream cheese. This requires the traditional block of cream cheese rather than whipped cream cheese.
The recipe calls for the juice of 2 lemons, which is around ⅓ cup lemon juice. If you are worried about the pie being too runny, you can start by adding in ½ of the lemon juice to begin, and then adding the remainder in 1 tablespoon increments until you are satisfied with the thickness of the pie filling.
Tips for Thickening Icebox Pie
Since this is a no-bake version, the best option for thickening the pie is to freeze it or to add a cornstarch slurry to the mixture. You will know that the filling isn't going to set up when it is just a bit too runny in the bowl. You can mix in equal parts and lemon juice and then stir into the filling. Typically 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon is added.
How Long is Lemon Icebox Pie Good For?
There is a large difference in what most consider the time this is good for. Having made this pie multiple times throughout my life, rarely have I seen it last past the first day, let alone need to be stored longer. However, if you want the best taste and texture, serve within 3 days of preparing.
Can Lemon Icebox Pie Be Frozen?
If you find that you won't be able to eat this before the 3 days are up, you may want to freeze leftovers. You can even make this in advance and freeze until the night before or even the day of serving.
When preparing it, simply cover it tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing for longer than one week, I do recommend placing the wrapped pie inside a large freezer storage bag or wrapping it with aluminum foil over the plastic wrap as well for added protection.
- Cream cheese
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Lemon juice and zest
- Vanilla extract
- Graham cracker crust
Optional: whipped cream and lemon or lime slices
Handy Kitchen Tools
While you may use the graham cracker crust that is already made if you make your own a springform pan is the easiest option for making one and easily slicing the pie after refrigeration.
How to Make a Graham Cracker Crust
If you do not use a prepared pie crust, you can make your own. Graham cracker crusts can be baked to solidify, but do not have to be baked if you prefer to use the no-bake method. If you do not bake the crust it will be crumbly while the baked crust will hold up better when the pie is sliced.
In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups Graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and 6 tablespoons melted butter together.
Press the crumbs into the bottom of a springform pan into an even flat layer.
Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes then set aside to cool or place into the freezer for 15 minutes before topping with pie filling.
How to Make Lemon Icebox Pie
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until it softens.
Add in the sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Mix until the mixture is combined with no lumps.
Pour over the prepared Graham pie crust.
Spread evenly across the top and then cover loosely and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
Before serving, pipe whipped cream around the edges or on top of individual pieces.
Pie can be stored for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator before serving.
More Easy No Bake Dessert Recipes
If you love no-bake as I do, then you will love the recipes below. Dessert doesn't have to mean spending hours in the kitchen or heating up the whole house with the oven. These recipes are delicious, easy, and sure to be a hit at your dinner table. Make sure to pin, print, or bookmark these for future use!
- Easy No-Bake Banana Pudding Recipe
- Fluffy No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe
- The Best Ever OREO Cheesecake Recipe
- Macerated Berry Granola Frozen Yogurt Bars
- No-Bake Coconut Layer Cake Recipe
- The Best Ever Easy Chocolate Mousse Recipe
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 ½ cups Graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For Lemon Pie Filling
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
How to Make Graham Cracker Crust
- If not using a prepared pie crust: in a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups Graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and 6 tablespoons melted butter together.
- Press the crumbs into the bottom of a springform pan into an even flat layer.
- Place into freezer for 15 minutes before adding lemon pie filling.
How to make Lemon Icebox Pie
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until softened.
- Add in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Beat until the mixture is smooth with no lumps.
- Pour into the prepared or purchased pie crust and spread evenly.
- Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
- Top with whipped cream and additional slices of lemon or lime.
This pie can be frozen for up to 3 months before serving.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 485Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 250mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 1gSugar: 48gProtein: 8g