Lemon Ice Box Pie

lemon icebox pie

We’re fortunate to enjoy a winter harvest with the mild southern California weather. Our garden is full of winter vegetables such as bok choy and edible chrysanthemum, but the harvest we look forward most is our Meyer lemons.  Our baby Meyer lemon tree only yielded 6  lemons last winter, but with more nurturing throughout the year, our tree more than tripled it’s bounty this winter. Thought to have been crossed from a Eureka lemon and a mandarin orange, we love Meyer lemons because it’s sweeter and more fragrant then a regular lemon, without the mouth puckering sourness.  While juicing them for lemonade is perfectly acceptable, we’re always trying to find other ways to maximize our harvest and the unique flavors of Meyer lemons. That’s where the lemon ice box pie comes in. Sarah‘s version of this classic southern pie at Hollywood’s new The Hart and the Hunter restaurant won us over with it’s silky smooth and tart bright flavors. Plus, the chilled texture of the pie was a pleasure to eat. We immediately went home to harvest our Meyer lemon tree and attempted to recreate the pie.


A lemon ice box pie differs from a classic lemon meringue pie in two key ways. First, you’re not cooking the lemon custard ahead of time and second, it’s a frozen pie, which sets the lemon filling and also a great way to enjoy the bright citrus flavors. There are many recipes on the internet, many using cream cheese and whipped cream topping. Our recipe is adapted from Food and Wine magazine and based on what we ate from Sarah’s creation.  We didn’t grow up in the South eating grandma’s lemon ice box pie, but if you did and care to share, please do!
This is the perfect make ahead dessert as it requires freezing at least overnight. It also stores well, at least a week if well wrapped, perfect for a daily slice of heaven or unexpected guests.



Lemon Ice Box Pie


2 packets (14 crackers) graham crackers
6 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup sugar, divided in 1/4 portions
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 cups fresh Meyer lemon juice (or any fresh lemon)
2 tbs lemon zest
2 cans condensed milk
9 inch spring form pan


Preheat oven at 350. Process the graham crackers and 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor until fine and add the melted butter and pulse until butter is incorporated. Pour into spring form pan and spread out the mixture evenly and 1/2 way up the sides to form the crust. Press a measuring cup against the side of the pan to even out the crust. Set aside.

In mixing bowl, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, zest, eggs until well incorporated. Poor mixture into the pan. Whip the meringue by combining remaining 1/4 sugar and egg whites until stiff peaks and spoon on top of the pie, spreading evenly to seal the pie. Bake for about 25 minutes or until top of meringue is golden brown, remove and allow to cool. Cover well with plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight. To serve, do not defrost. Remove from freezer and run a knife around the edge pie to release the meringue and then release the spring form pan. Run knife in hot water, slice and serve.

Optional: torch the sides of the meringue of each slice before serving. The cake will last a week in the freezer if well wrapped.


lemon icebox pie

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15 Responses to “Lemon Ice Box Pie”

  1. 1

    Sarah — March 11, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    Wow! I love that the good old LIBP is spawning imitators. I don’t have an old Southern grandma to draw from either–heck, I didn’t even know if the icebox was a fridge or a freezer. But coming up with the recipe was a fun experience. I bet it’s lovely with meyer lemons–YUM!

  2. 2

    The Ravenous Couple — March 13, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    that’s the beauty of food–makes you want to explore other regions/cultures/cuisines.. thanks for introducing it to us!

  3. 3

    Rit — March 12, 2013 @ 3:02 am

    OMG that looks amazing! I had never seen this type of cake frozen, but it looks just great :)

  4. 4

    sippitysup — March 28, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    I did grow up in the South eating grandmas Ice Box Pies and this one would make her proud. GREG

  5. 5

    The Ravenous Couple — March 28, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

    thanks, Greg!

  6. 6

    Junell — March 30, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

    Just made this today. Searched the internet for my Grandmothers recipe which when growing up was printed on the inside of the paper wrapped around the can. She did not freeze it but since you raved about that aspect it is now in the freezer. Just food for thought you might find this fun. We always used Ritz crackers for the crust with no sugar. The sweet & salt thing really works. Thx for the recipe, will post results tomorrow.

  7. 7

    The Ravenous Couple — April 3, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    do tell, we hope it turns out well!

  8. 8

    Chi — April 9, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    Delicious! I cut the ingredients in half – perfect amount for two. I didn’t have a foam pan so used a regular pie pan – turned out fine.

  9. 9

    The Ravenous Couple — April 10, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

    so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. 10

    Eve — May 10, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

    Too complicated. Condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice…….all you need………line pie plate with vanilla wafers,,up sides too, don’t break up, use whole…..put in fridge……done.

  11. 11

    Eve — May 10, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

    Just noticed you used 2cups lemon juice. You only need one cup for 2cans milk, 4 egg yolks, 1 cup lemon juice……. Top with kool whip ….easy

    I know yours is wonderful but if you ever need a quickie one, try mine.

  12. 12

    malea — May 12, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

    We use Vanilla Wafers crushed for the crust and whole around the sides of the pie pan to frame the whole shabang. And the meringue had to have those wonderful peaks kissed with a tan by the oven.

  13. 13

    Charla — May 27, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

    You don’t cook a lemon ice box pie in a spring foam pan- period! We aren’t doing cheesecakes here. And my Southern Grandmom and Mom NEVER froze it; you put in in the fridge for 4-6 hours before serving. I also don’t use 2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice- one cup is quite enough. I never liked the meringue though my sweet Grandmom’s always were beautiful. She got to watch me push her hard work aside as a kid because I don’t like meringue. Brings back some fond memories watching her get mad when I did that, too. Since I don’t bake mine, I don’t use the eggs and it still tastes AWESOME and I am a Southern cook. We also use Nilla Wafers for our crusts.

  14. 14

    OcalaCakeLady — November 19, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

    Will plastic wrap come off easily from meringue? Don’t want to ruin that beautiful topping.

  15. 15

    The Ravenous Couple — November 28, 2014 @ 9:02 am

    whipped cream tops the meringue so should hide any blemishes :)

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